Chicago Journal of International Law


The 1999 U.S.-led, NATO-assisted air strike against Yugoslavia has been extolled by some as leading to the creation of a new rule of international law permitting nations to undertake forceful humanitarian intervention where the Security Council cannot act. This view posits the United States as a benevolent hegemon militarily intervening in certain circumstances in defense of such universal values as the protection of human rights. This article challenges that view. NATO's Kosovo intervention does not represent a benign hegemon introducing a new rule of international law. Rather, the United States, freed from Cold War competition with a rival superpower, is both less restrained by the Charter's norms and more compelled to rely on different rationales to justify military action. Particularly in light of the Afghanistan, Sudan, and Iraq military interventions, the Kosovo operation does not portend a new rule of international law. Rather, it poses a serious threat to the rule of law.