Women and humanitarian intervention Chapter uri icon

Book Title

  • Challenges for Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical Demand and Political Reality


  • This chapter examines the prospects for the R2P framework in combating women’s oppression, with specific attention to Bosnia in the 1990s and in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. It argues that while mass rape in Bosnia did constitute ‘just cause’ for humanitarian intervention, other desiderata, like proportionality and likelihood of success, present greater difficulty. The chapter notes two assumptions commonly present in the humanitarian intervention debate. One, humanitarian intervention is supposed to target repressive states or murderous militias, not the cultural traditions of the population. Two, the repressing regime is ethnically, racially, religiously, or ideologically distinct from the repressed. It is argued that these assumptions did not hold in Afghanistan, since the Taliban’s repressive laws regarding women had some prior cultural basis in parts of the society. The chapter is more optimistic about a focus on women’s oppression in aspects of R2P other than military intervention: namely in prevention and rebuilding.

publication date

  • 2018