The question of whether, when and how the international community should react to violations of humanitarian norms and related humanitarian crises is undoubtedly one of the most controversially debated issues on the agenda of today's international politics. However, the problem did not suddenly emerge at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century, but was already the subject of controversy during the course of the "long 19th century".
Focusing on selected case studies such as the international fight against the slave trade (1807-1890), the military interventions of the major European powers on humanitarian emergency aid for Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire (1827-1878) and the intervention of the United States in the Cuban War of Independence (1898), Fabian Klose investigates the emergence of the military practice and related legal debates on the protection of humanitarian norms by violent means. The idea of humanitarian intervention established itself as a recognized instrument in international politics during this period. In this respect, the international fight against the slave trade became the primal type of this new practice and played a key role in the emergence of a new understanding of humanitarian interventionism. As a result, guidelines under international law were developed, that served as justification for military intervention in various crisis regions of the world. Thus, the "long 19th century" can be indeed described as the genuine "century of humanitarian intervention", in which military interventionism under the banner of humanity was significantly intertwined with colonial and imperial projects.
PD Dr. Fabian Klose war Mitarbeiter am Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte und ist seit Oktober 2018 Vertretungsprofessor am Historischen Institut der Universität München.