V. Some Concluding Observations
The recent practice of the Security Council, which commenced to
a certain extent with SC Res. 688, to address internal human rights violations
as falling within the scope of Article 39 of the Charter and to indicate the
Council's willingness to take enforcement measures under Article 42 of the
Chapter to redress such purely internal situations, is an enormous improvement
of the United Nations collective security system. Continuation of the practice
of the Security Council would offer various opportunities for a further
development of the concept of humanitarian assistance and may, furthermore, lead
to a more effective implementation of principles of international humanitarian
law, as far as such principles can be described as manifestations of
humanitarian assistance. Such principles are already well known and have been
laid down in various treaties like the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the
Additional Protocols of 1977. Whether it is preferable to refer to those
accepted principles instead of using the generic term "humanitarian assistance"
within the concept of enforcement measures, is of course another question.
At the same time it must be acknowledged that the Security
Council has taken the liberty to explore new avenues and has introduced new
notions of assistance which were hitherto unknown in international humanitarian
law. It is still too early to assess these developments and to evaluate the
usefulness of the generic term "humanitarian assistance", but it cannot be
denied that in a relatively short time, new trends have emerged. This practice
seems, furthermore, to have been accepted by the public at large.
On the other hand, the Security Council should work towards a
more consistent use of terminology and reserve terms like "humanitarian relief
operations" or "emergency relief action" for peace-time operations.
Another, almost inescapable, conclusion is that with the recent
Security Council practice on humanitarian assistance and the Council's
willingness to consider purely internal human rights violations as a threat to
the peace, the prospect for the doctrine of humanitarian intervention seems
rather bleak: if one accepts the difference between humanitarian intervention as
it is generally understood in international law and enforcement measures under
Chapter VII, it may very well indeed become an echo from the