Bombing to Stop the Killing: Humanitarian intervention and violence against civilians in Kosovo 1999
Past third-party military interventions in situations of domestic armed contention attest to the emergence of a new global norm–the ‘responsibility to protect’–that temporarily suspends the international principle of non-interference for humanitarian concerns. Whether and how military intervention is and can be effective at protecting civilians has become an important concern to scholars and practitioners alike. To date, there is a lack in both theoretical understanding as well as military doctrine regarding how exactly intervention is to stop state-sponsored mass violence. In this paper, I develop a theory of how coercive humanitarian intervention can increase the cost of continued mass violence against civilians by adopting military strategies of denial and risk, given an available degree of intelligence and precision. Adopting a subnational research design, I perform an empirical test of the suggested intervention model using newly available micro-level data on NATO’s intervention in Kosovo 1999. While I find that NATO’s air strikes did not succeed at reducing violence against ethnic Albanians via denial and risk strategies, the theory suggests that intervention could be more effective in cases of humanitarian concern for which better intelligence and precision are available to interveners.