Humanitarian intervention is always controversial, especially if it involves the use of repressive measures, be it through military means or sanctions. The human security approach undoubtedly provides an interesting blueprint for the EU to improve coherence in its external action, as it is better suited to translate the Union’s founding principles (and its inherent emphasis on non-military conflict resolution) into policy practice.
At the same time, though, political considerations remain relevant as demonstrated by the analysis of the EU’s involvement in four human rights crises (Darfur, Zimbabwe, Gaza and Lebanon). In order to strengthen its credibility and consistency as a humanitarian actor, the EU should prioritize the protection of civilians, avoid double standards at all costs, and prioritize genuine multilateralism, which requires a real involvement of all parties. In this regard, therefore, the EU should refrain from posing “take it or leave it” conditions and recognize that real multilateralism might well lead to non-optimal outcomes for the EU’s interests.