Do Humanitarian Interventions Help Humanity? An Economic Analysis of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ Norm in Intrastate Conflicts

Vincent Auger, Yang-Ming Chang, Shane Sanders


In this paper, we present a two-stage game of intrastate armed confrontation and third-party humanitarian intervention to examine political, human, and economic implications of the ‘responsibility to protect’ norm for reducing the human cost of conflict. At stage one, a third party optimally determines the provisions of humanitarian intervention resources to a state and its rebel group. These provisions reduce the effectiveness of arms in inflicting casualties and injuries upon members of each combatting party (and affiliated civilians of each party).  At stage two, the state and the rebel group decide upon private allocations of armaments in the contest for political dominance. We identify a combatant moral hazard effect associated with humanitarian intervention. However, we find that a completely biased (unbiased) humanitarian intervention unambiguously generates a reduction in the human cost of conflict.

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