Research Handbook on International Law and Peace
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Research Handbook on International Law and Peace

Edited by Cecilia M. Bailliet

Peace is an elusive concept, especially within the field of international law, varying according to historical era and between contextual applications within different cultures, institutions, societies, and academic traditions. This Research Handbook responds to the gap created by the neglect of peace in international law scholarship. Explaining the normative evolution of peace from the principles of peaceful co-existence to the UN declaration on the right to peace, this Research Handbook calls for the fortification of international institutions to facilitate the pursuit of sustainable peace as a public good.
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Chapter 6: Protection of human rights and the maintenance of international peace and security: necessary precondition or a clash of interests?

Ola Engdahl


This chapter discusses how peace, in its various connotations, may be achieved through the use of military force. Protection against grave violations of human rights may also require the use of military force, and the connection between international peace and security and the respect for human rights is evident in the practice of the UN Security Council. The concept of a ‘Responsibility to Protect’ has grown out of a need to protect against grave violations of human rights when the Security Council has not been able to respond. The ideas behind this concept may thus to some extent be described as emphasizing protection of human rights over the prohibition on the use of force—and the maintenance of peace between states. International law does not yet provide a right of states to intervene with military force in another state to protect against human rights violations without a mandate from the UNSC, and thus seems to value peace among states more highly than protection against human rights violations. This begs the question how respect for human rights contributes to the maintenance of peace and how peace contributes to the protection of human rights, and, in a longer perspective, whether one could exist without the other.

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