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The ICRC’s position on "humanitarian intervention"

30-06-2001 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 482, by Anne Ryniker


Anne Ryniker
is a legal adviser and Deputy Head of the ICRC’s Legal Division.
This paper was prepared by the ICRC’s Legal Division to aid in internal discussions intended to clarify the organization’s position in this topical debate.    

Executive summary 
  • International humanitarian law cannot serve as a basis for armed intervention in response to grave violations of its provisions; the use of force is governed by the United Nations Charter.

  • It is not for the ICRC to pronounce on the legality or legitimacy of such intervention.

  • International humanitarian law applies when intervention forces are engaged in hostilities with one or more of the parties to the conflict.

  • The ICRC seeks to promote the term “armed intervention in response to grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law”.



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