2021 Summer School Courses

maxine david 2020 course


International Intervention and the Myth of the "International Community"

Course Description

In 1991, George Bush Senior spoke of a ‘New World Order’, one in which the United Nations would now be free to fulfil its founders’ visions. Since then, in the face of terrible conflicts, whether in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur or Syria, it has become common to make reference to the “international community” and the need for them to respond. Indeed, in 2005, the United Nations General Assembly voted to accept the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), charging states, the main components of the so-called international community, with the obligation to respond under circumstances of genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes. However, in the mere 15 years or so after R2P, circumstances are suggestive of a limited and certainly wavering commitment to the principle of rights protection. States such as China and Russia particularly have brought sovereignty rather than human rights firmly back to the centre of UN debate: more old world order than new. In a context of doubt about the future of US global leadership, in a context in which old divisions have re-surfaced and even older alliances are declining, questions must be asked about the international community, about whether it really exists and if so, in what form; and about its responsibilities to help civilian populations when their state will not or cannot. As the Syrian case has shown, while the more powerful states squabble and debate, while they deny their responsibility to protect others, the price is paid by other in thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of lives and in lost generations.

In this course, students will be introduced to the underpinning concepts and competing understandings of (non-)intervention in situations of conflict. Students will learn to identify and deliver a critical analysis of those factors that shape conflict and the “international community’s” responses to it. Emphasis is placed on the application of concepts and theories to real-life scenarios, examining a combination of historical and ongoing cases that offer insights for us as analysts.

Course Themes and Case Studies

Throughout the course, students will be asked to consider the origins of conflict as well as the conditions under and means through which it can be ended, focusing particularly on the role of the so-called international community. By examining at least four different cases, the course aims to help students understand the arguments for and against a military intervention, the debate about who should undertake such an intervention and the authority and legitimacy under which it should be done. Four core themes in the study of intervention will therefore sit at the heart of our studies: sovereignty, legitimacy, legality, human rights. The case studies will comprise: Uganda-Tanzania War 1978-79; the former Yugoslavia 1991-99; Darfur 2003-?; Syria: 2011-?



maxine david

Dr. Maxine David has a PhD in International Relations from the University of Surrey, UK and is a Lecturer in the Institute for History, Faculty of Humanities at Leiden University. She is a Foreign Policy analyst, specialising in the EU-Russia and Russia-US foreign policy relationships.

Maxine has recently completed work with Dr Tatiana Romanova as co-editor and contributor to: Handbook on EU-Russian Relations: Structures, Actors, Issues, to be published by Routledge in 2020. Previous works include ‘Learning in and from International Relations’ in Political. ‘Russia’s Challenge to US Hegemony and the Implications for Europe’, in Global Cooperation or Conflict? Emerging Powers and the Future of American Hegemony. Open access online publications include: ‘Eclipsed by Russia: Trump’s First 100 Days’ in Critical Studies on Security; ‘Transitional Times. Russian Agency and International Intervention’, in Comillas Journal of International Relations. ‘The EU in Russia’s House of Mirrors’, in JCMS Annual Review. Further information can be found at: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/staffmembers/maxine-david/publications#tab-1

Maxine has an extensive teaching portfolio, incorporating courses related to: the EU, its policies and relations with others; International Relations theory; and International Intervention. She is currently Leiden’s Academic Coordinator for its joint, two year MA programme, European Politics and Society. She has been one of the course convenors for the CFCCS Summer School for nine of the ten years it has (so far) run and, as in all her teaching, employs an experiential, student-centred approach to learning there, making room for all students to have their voices heard. Thus, students can expect to be encouraged to engage actively in the course and to reflect on their experiences there, especially in relation to listening to their peer’s experiences with conflict and its aftermath. As ever in Maxine’s classes, students will be stimulated to think and conceptualise in a critical fashion, to challenge their own preconceptions and opinions and to challenge others on theirs.



  • Karadjordjeva 65
    11000 Belgrade, Serbia


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