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'New Wars': the Sierra Leone Case
Unformatted Document Text:  of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). The battle for Freetown and ensuing three week rebel occupation of the capital was characterized by the systematic and widespread perpetration of all classes of atrocities against the civilian population, and marked the most intensive and concentrated period of human rights violations in Sierra Leone's eight-year civil war. Government and ECOMOG forces also carried out serious abuses, including over 180 summary executions of rebels and their suspected collaborators. The UN did not authorize humanitarian intervention in Sierra Leone despite a clear understanding of the dire humanitarian situation. However, in October 1999, the Security Council did authorize the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), a coalition of the willing, to assist ECOMOG. UNAMSIL was responsible for peacekeeping under terms put forth in the Lomé Peace Agreement. Franck (2003, 225) argues that the creation of this support force suggests that: a regional military initiative taken without prior UN authorization may be tolerated where the emergency is palpable, there is no prospect of UN-led military operation, and the regional organization appears to be acting with clean motives and not solely to advance its members’ national ambitions. He further suggests that, humanitarian intervention, even if it has not been authorized by the Council in strict compliance with the terms of the Charter, may later be retroactively validated by the Council. This approval may be expressed explicitly, or implicitly through a ‘commendation’ followed by the Council authorizing a UN presence to cooperate with the intervening force. Thus, even though the UN did not authorize humanitarian intervention, later actions indicate UN support for the actions ECOMOG took. Class Discussion Questions1. How does humanitarian intervention challenge states sovereignty? 2. Is it possible for a state or organization to remain neutral when intervening on behalf of human rights? 3. To what degree should the United States take on the responsibility for humanitarian intervention? Should states intervene even if it is not in their own interest? What if the public is against intervention? 4. What should the goals of the intervention be? 14

Authors: Parker, Sara.
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of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS)
Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). The battle for Freetown and ensuing three
week rebel occupation of the capital was characterized by the systematic
and widespread perpetration of all classes of atrocities against the civilian
population, and marked the most intensive and concentrated period of
human rights violations in Sierra Leone's eight-year civil war.
Government and ECOMOG forces also carried out serious abuses,
including over 180 summary executions of rebels and their suspected
collaborators.
The UN did not authorize humanitarian intervention in Sierra Leone despite a clear
understanding of the dire humanitarian situation. However, in October 1999, the Security
Council did authorize the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), a
coalition of the willing, to assist ECOMOG. UNAMSIL was responsible for
peacekeeping under terms put forth in the Lomé Peace Agreement. Franck (2003, 225)
argues that the creation of this support force suggests that:
a regional military initiative taken without prior UN authorization may be
tolerated where the emergency is palpable, there is no prospect of UN-led
military operation, and the regional organization appears to be acting with
clean motives and not solely to advance its members’ national ambitions.
He further suggests that,
humanitarian intervention, even if it has not been authorized by the
Council in strict compliance with the terms of the Charter, may later be
retroactively validated by the Council. This approval may be expressed
explicitly, or implicitly through a ‘commendation’ followed by the
Council authorizing a UN presence to cooperate with the intervening
force.
Thus, even though the UN did not authorize humanitarian intervention, later actions
indicate UN support for the actions ECOMOG took.
Class Discussion Questions
1. How does humanitarian intervention challenge states sovereignty?
2. Is it possible for a state or organization to remain neutral when intervening on behalf
of human rights?
3. To what degree should the United States take on the responsibility for humanitarian
intervention? Should states intervene even if it is not in their own interest? What if the
public is against intervention?
4. What should the goals of the intervention be?
14


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