Humanitarian Intervention in Somalia Research Paper

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Humanitarian Intervention in Somalia (1990)

What is genocide?

When it comes to genocide there is a lot of disagreement amongst legal scholars as to what is enough to qualify as genocide. But basically genocide is described as the logical, structured, planned attack or in other words the deliberate destruction of a national, religious, racial or ethnic group. The said destruction could be in whole or in part. Scholars of the legal system have long since debated as to what is enough so as to qualify as genocide. The 1957 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) has laid out what it believes to be a precise definition. As described by article 2 of 1957 (CPPCG) the act of genocide is described as any act that is mean to destroy in entirety or in part any racial, ethnic, or religious group by the following acts; causing members of the said group to suffer serious mental or bodily harm, or murdering members of the group, or forcing the group members to live in a certain way, or a calculated or methodical enforcement that is designed to cause harm or destruction to the group. The acts also include the prevention of continuity of the generation in the said group[footnoteRef:1]. Simply put genocide is the intent to cause the destruction of a group. The intent could be the destruction in entirety or in part. However for a crime to be termed as genocide the intent must be proven. Otherwise the crime, no matter how heinous, will not constitute genocide. [1: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. (2008). Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, The Wayback Machine.]

What is humanitarian intervention?

Simply put, humanitarian intervention is the use of military force against another state to end human rights violations practised by the state against its citizens[footnoteRef:2]. Humanitarian is a much disputed subject. There exist multiple definitions and descriptions of the term. The definition chosen depends a great deal on the lens through which the subject is currently being viewed. The term has different limits if viewed through the lens of politics, law and ethics. There exists a whole variety of reasons for the difference in definition. Some of the reasons accounting for the differences are discussed below[footnoteRef:3]. [2: Marjanovic, Marko. (2011). Is Humanitarian War the Exception?, Mises Institute.] [3: Ibid]

One reason is that there is a demonstrated absence of agreement from the host state. Another reason that becomes a factor is the question of whether or not humanitarian intervention is restricted to actions of punishment. Another case that causes much disagreement is whether intervention is limited to cases where the United Nations Security Council has given explicit authorization for the use of military force[footnoteRef:4]. On the other hand there is some agreement when it comes to the general traits of the term[footnoteRef:5]: [4: Welsh, J.M. (2004). Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations. Ed. Jennifer M. Welsh. New York: Oxford University Press.] [5: Alton, F. (2000). Humanitarian Intervention: Crafting a Workable Doctrine. New York: Council on Foreign Relations.]

One feature that is agreed on is that Humanitarian intervention entails the use of military force. This is an intervention in the sense that the rights of a sovereign country are violated by another country in the sense that the aggressor violates the country's territory or air space. This in when the sovereign state has not committed any acts of aggression against the state that is committing itself to the intervention. This act is undertaken when the aggressor is under no threat by the sovereign states polices. It is done purely in the interest of humanity. The issue of humanitarian intervention is a bright topic of interest when it comes to foreign policy of a state. The issue has seen more debate ever since NATO intervened in Kosovo in the year in 1999. This brings to light two different principles. The two principles stand in stark contrast to the UN's two policies of state sovereignty and international law[footnoteRef:6]. The issue has created several long running debates. These debates include the discussion of whether it is feasible to use military force in response to a situation of human rights violation. Questions abound such as when the said intervention should take place, which should intervene and others[footnoteRef:7]. [6: Tharoor, S. And Daws, S. (2001). Humanitarian Intervention: Getting Past the Reefs. World Policy Journal 2001.] [7: Ibid]

The issue represents different things to different people. For people who are all for the intervention it is a symbol of hope. To them it is a military intervention in light of human rights abuses. To them it marks the end of human rights violations. But to the people who are against the intervention is viewed as an excuse for the achievement of ulterior motives. The humanitarian intervention excuse was used with increasing frequency after the end of the cold war. Some people thought that it was a new form of politics. However that theory has now been put to rest with the war on terror that the United States has declared following the September 11 attacks[footnoteRef:8]. [8: Cottey, A. (2008). Beyond Humanitarian Intervention: The New Politics of Peacekeeping and Intervention. Contemporary Politics: pp. 429-446.]

Background to the Somalia intervention in 1990

It was an unfortunate dawn of May 1986 when Mohamed Siad Barre, the President of Somalia, met a serious road accident in heavy rainstorm[footnoteRef:9]. It was a life threatening situation created by clash of a car and a bus. He got head injuries, a serious shock and few of his ribs broke[footnoteRef:10]. During his treatment at Saudi Arabian hospital, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ali Samatar, who was the Vice President of Somalia at that time, assumed the position of head of the state. After few months, Barre started recovering and tried to take the charge himself. He participated in elections on Dec 23rd, 1986. His opponents included his Vice President Lieutenant General Samatar and his son-in-law General Ahmed Suleiman Abdille[footnoteRef:11]. People doubted his performance and power handling on the grounds of poor health. He could not succeed in his efforts to win election of President for the coming seven years. [9: World of Information (Firm). (1987). Africa review, World of Information, p.213.] [10: National Academy of Sciences (1988). Committee on Health and Human Rights, Scientists and human rights in Somalia: report of a delegation. U.S. Committee on Human Rights, Institute of Medicine. National Academies, p.9; Arthur S.B., Muller, T.C., Overstreet, W. (2008). Political Handbook of the World 2008, CQ Press, p.1198.] [11: Ibid 9; Arthur S.B., Muller, T.C., Overstreet, W. (2008). Political Handbook of the World 2008, CQ Press, p.1198.]

It was the time, when Barre had lost his power and control in SRC (Supreme Revolutionary Council). During the decade of 1980, his rule gradually declined and Cold War got to an end. Somalia lost its strategic significance and many citizens disapproved military dictatorship in the country. The resistance movement continued to spread far and wide in the country as government became more and more totalitarian. Ethiopia supported the resistance movement and it turned into a civil war in 1991. There were few other supporting entities like SPM (Somali Patriotic Movement), SSDF (Somali Salvation Democratic Front), SNM (Somali National Movement) and USC (United Somali Congress), etc. Somalia National Army (SNA) was disbanded. There were few others political oppositions who were non-violent in nature but supported the rebellion movements. Their names include SMG (Somali Manifesto Group), SDM (Somali Democratic Movement) and SDA (Somali Democratic Alliance). All these entities joined hands to weaken the rule of Barre and they succeeded in their efforts as well[footnoteRef:12]. [12: Arthur S.B., Muller, T.C., Overstreet, W. (2008). Political Handbook of the World 2008, CQ Press, p.1198.]

During the last few days of the dictatorship, it had been impossible to settle on a political solution. It is due to this fact that the capital was taken over violently. Though there had been efforts made in that direction, they left behind consequences. A manifesto was published by a group on politicians in the spring of 1990, which called for the resignation of President Siad Barre and for the national conference to be summoned. Their call had gone unheeded; in fact any chance of transition of power in an orderly manner was lost as many faced detention by the crumbling regime. At any rate the scheme had probably been unclear: on one side members of Siad Barre regime were concerned and aimed at protecting their own survival. On the other side, it attracted the moderates, those who were apprehensive about the armed takeover in Mogadishu and its consequences. The Manifesto group gathered around its numerous survivors or moderates looking for an escape, this was because both Egypt and Italy had encouraged the idea of a settlement conference, in Cairo, till right at the end. In 1990 they found a common ground quite quickly, with the USC branch in Rome. USC, since the beginning of 1989, has been split…

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