Universität Wien FIND

030263 KU On the history and practice of humanitarian intervention (2021S)

From the protection of persecuted co-religionists to the protection of universal human rights

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 3 - Rechtswissenschaften
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 150 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Thursday 11.03. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Thursday 18.03. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Thursday 25.03. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Thursday 15.04. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Thursday 22.04. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Thursday 29.04. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Thursday 06.05. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Thursday 20.05. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Thursday 27.05. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Thursday 10.06. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Thursday 17.06. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

The primary target of this course is to acquire a broad and critical understanding of the theory and practice of humanitarian intervention in historical perspective. In order to achieve this objective the course combines three methodological tools: contextualization, longue durée and diachronic approach. Looking at the subject matter in context means that we’ll investigate the history of humanitarian intervention as history of human rights, as diplomatic and military history, as history of communication and the public, as history of sovereignty and the international community and as history of international law. This approach does not only provide a broader understandig of the history of humanitarian intervention, but also an opportunity for the critical reflection of concepts and practices that are central to our understanding of politics and law, such as the „sovereign state, the „international community“, „public opinion“ or „human rights“. Looking at the history of humanitarian intervention in the longue durée, from the 16th century to the present allows us, to study different patterns of interventions on behalf of foreign persecuted citizens by military or alternative means. By adopting a diachronic perspective the course differs from attempts to construct a more or less linear evolution of humanitärian intervention. It rather makes use of the early modern period in order to highlight the contingency of the modern international order based on sovereign states and to provide a measure of orientation for challenges of current international law, which is characterized by the conditionality or even erosion of the classical sovereign state, which we got used to in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Assessment and permitted materials

The grade is determined by three factors: regular attendance and active participation (students may miss not more than two sessions), an exam and a brief essay or translation.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

The successful completion of the course is conditional on regular attendance, the writing of a brief essay or a brief translation and the performance in the exam. The exam makes up for two-thirds of the final grade.

Examination topics

- cases and other subject matters as discussed in class
- reading assignments on the e-learning platform

Reading list

- Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia. Human Rights in History, Cambridge, Massachusetts/London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010.
- Stephan Wendehorst, Theory and practice of humanitarian intervention in historical perspective: From the protection of persecuted co-religionists to the protection of universal human rights. Script, 2nd ed., Vienna: University of Vienna, Law Faculty, Institute for Legal and Constitutional History, 2021.

Association in the course directory

MA Geschichte; APMG Neuzeit; Exkursion und transdisziplinäre Öffnung; Geschichte der Neuzeit im transdisziplinären Kontext(4 ECTS)| MA Zeitgeschichte;Disziplinäre und transdisziplinäre Kontexte; Zeitgeschichte im transdisziplinären Kontext (4 ECTS)

Last modified: Th 05.05.2022 10:08