This thesis aims to approach some of the moral issues surrounding the concept of humanitarian intervention by performing a comparative analysis of two cases, the Indian interventions in Bangladesh in 1971 and in Sri Lanka in 1987-1990.
While the intervention in Bangladesh is frequently invoked as a “classical example” of morally legitimate humanitarian intervention, the Indian experience in Sri Lanka is far less well-known, and is, to the extent that it is discussed, rather described in such terms as “India’s Vietnam.” The aim of the thesis is to see what, if anything, differentiates the two cases from a strictly moral perspective.
To do so, I apply a normative framework based on the Just War Tradition on the two cases, assessing them against six criteria for what constitutes a “just war” to determine their respective moral status. Subsequently, a comparison of the two case studies aims to uncover which factors seem to be the most important in determining the final moral status of the respective interventions. Based on the results, the thesis aims to make some generalizing comments regarding the conditions under which humanitarian intervention can be a morally just undertaking.