The Concept of Common Humanity and Humanitarian Intervention
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis explores the rise in the use of the term ‘common humanity’ in justifying humanitarian intervention and the effectiveness of its use. The concept of common humanity is a rising phenomenon in international politics which makes it important to critique it. A theoretical analyse of current literature surrounding humanitarian intervention and the concept of humanity is used. The thesis structure starts by establishing the use of the concept in international politics and in particular humanitarian interventions. I then go on to critically analyse the liberal and cosmopolitan thought that gave rise to the concept of common humanity being used in international politics and its justification for humanitarian intervention. The third chapter analyses the criticisms made of the concept from a communitarian, realist, and poststructuralist perspective. Finally, the concept of common humanity is applied to the practical case of humanitarian intervention in Libya, in order to assess its effectiveness and applicability to international politics. The conclusion reached is that the concept has been unsuccessful in practical real world scenarios as demonstrated in Libya. This does not rule out future use of the concept as it can continue to develop into an accepted norm of international politics but in contemporary international politics the term is problematic, and potentially dangerous.