Resolved: The United States is justified in intervening in the internal political processes of other countries to attempt to stop human rights abuses.

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Resolved: The United States is justified in intervening in the internal political processes of other countries to attempt to stop human rights abuses.

The trend of poorly worded resolutions continues. This one leaves an unending void for abuse and sketchy definitions. That being said, it’s what we have to work with, so let’s get to it.


Justified – Justified means that there is good reason to do something. This good reason can either be something like a moral obligation which is more important than any other consideration, or it can simply mean that the positive outcomes outweigh the negative outcomes. This will be the hinge of you case. You must determine what it means for a government’s action to be justified. This is where your value structure will come from.

Intervening in the internal political processes of other countries – Here’s where the vacuum for abuse appears. With the way the resolution is currently worded, the affirmative needs to defend all actions which can interfere with the internal political processes of other countries. This includes military invasion, nuclear strike, assassinations, embargoes, election engineering, and essentially all other things. If you’re on the affirmative, I recommend dealing with this using an observation. Just say that you’re arguing for the principle of intervention, not necessarily any particular action. The actual form of the intervention will depend on the particular situation. Some situations may call for negotiations, while others may call for military invasion. What you’re essentially saying is, if the situation calls for a particular type of intervention, then the U.S. is justified in carrying it out.

Human rights abuses – Don’t try to get complicated with this part of the resolution. We all know what human rights abuses are, and there are plenty of historical examples to draw upon. People will try to make the affirmative defend absurd things like high taxes as part of human rights abuses. Don’t fall for it, and just call them out on their shenanigans.

Attempt – This word is important because people will try to abuse it to say that the affirmative doesn’t need to consider the outcome of the intervention because it’s just an attempt. It’s irrelevant whether or not it succeeds. While this may be technically true, you should pay attention to the affirmative’s case. They will likely be arguing a consequentialist position. This means that they must consider the likely outcome in the calculation of whether or not to invade.

Alright, with those definitions set, let’s talk about case positions.


1. Just War Theory – Just war theory dictates that cases of human rights abuses merit intervention by those who have the ability to do so. Because just war provides us justification for the most dramatic for of intervention, military invasion, it necessarily provides justification for all other forms of intervention. Therefore, the United States in justified in these interventions.

2. Self Interest – Human rights abuses occurring across the world are a threat to the United States. Regimes which carry out human rights crimes also often promote anti-U.S. sentiment and action. If these regimes and political processes are stopped, the U.S. will not only be helping those whose rights are being violated, but it will also be helping itself.

3. Moral Obligation – Peter Singer contends that if we are in a position to help somebody without sacrificing anything of comparable value to us, then we are morally obligated to do so. The scale of human rights violations occurring across the world puts the United States in this position. Because the U.S. is in a position to end these human rights abuses, it is incumbent upon it do so.


1. Governmental Legitimacy – While human rights abuses may be terrible, the U.S. is not justified in unilateral action. In order to remain legitimate, and preserve the legitimacy of international contract, the U.S. must go through the United Nations in order to conduct any intervention. Unilateral action violates international convenants which preserve governmental legitimacy.

2. Likelihood of Success – One of the key elements of Just War Theory is that an intervention must have a reasonable chance of success. History demonstrates that political interventions of any form are not likely to succeed. They often end up causing more damage than they prevent. Because the reasonable chance of success condition isn’t met, the U.S. has no justification for conducting these interventions.

3. Self – Determination – Every peoples has the right to self determination. When the U.S. intervenes, it inevitably violates that right by imposing ideas and rules on a people who have not elected to have those rules put upon them. The only way a country can truly attain stability is if the people decide their own fate. The U.S. needs to stay out of the business of other countries to preserve the rights of global citizens.


36 responses to “Resolved: The United States is justified in intervening in the internal political processes of other countries to attempt to stop human rights abuses.

  1. -.- I’m confused couldn’t the just war theory also apply to the neg? Also, on the aff, would Political Realism work in saying, in the interest of our people, we have to intervene i.e. diseases, terroristic threats, etc.

    • Hi Joshua,

      Yes, the Just War Theory could apply on the negative as well. That’s why I have a negative position about reasonable chance of success. And yes to the second question as well. Political Realism would work. In fact, one of my points specifically mentions that the U.S. should intervene in the interest of its own people. I’m starting to think you haven’t actually read the entire post 😛

  2. Hello!
    Could you help fill in a gap? I am very interested in the Peter Singer argument however, could that be contradictory to Self- Interest? During a talk to my teammates about the resolution, Self- Interest was mentioned. Anyway, if saying we are to be interested in others when we have what is needed, then why should we primarily be concerned about ourselves? I am having a hard time deciding which one I want.

    • Hi Ken,

      The two are clashing ideas; and that is the point. Remember that what I’ve provided above are not contentions; they are frameworks. Therefore, you generally won’t run them together. However, it’s possible in this case for you to argue that following Singer’s advice in this case is actually good for U.S. self-interest. I would recommend just picking one, though.

  3. One thing that confuses me about this topic is the scope of affirmative fiat. A lot of objections in the topic evidence talk about how intervention fails because the intervener isn’t committed enough, doesn’t send enough troops, or doesn’t use the right strategy, etc… Can the aff say that these concerns are irrelevant because we assume the U.S. will act in a way that meets these conditions? (i.e. we have to assume that the U.S. will act responsibly, strategically, and committed) Or can the neg just indict the Aff with instances in which the U.S., for whatever reason, failed to intervene as best it could?

    • The Aff can say it’s irrelevant. Just because we’ve messed up in the past, it doesn’t mean that we’ll mess up again. People use evidence like that which doesn’t have any impact all the time. It’s good that you recognize it.

      • Plus, the resolution says attempt. You don’t necessarily have to succeed, only say that you have a good reason to attempt it.

      • This depends upon the framework that you have. If you are using Just War Theory, then you must argue that there is a reasonable chance of success as it is one of the criteria. Furthermore, the negative can still argue that the U.S. is not justified because there is not a chance of success. It’s impossible to justify taking a 1% chance on a hand in poker. How can you justify taking that same chance when human lives are at stake?

  4. This is probably a really annoying argument, but couldn’t i say that the human rights abuse isn’t neccessarily coming from the government? As in even if there is domestic abuse, or some other form of rights violation that is apart from the government, according to the resolution, we should intervene. I probably wont use that, but I just want to know if that is possible.

    • Sure, you can say that, but you should think about what impact it has. Why does it matter where the human rights abuse is coming from? And if you argue the point, you’re only talking about a small number of cases under the resolution; you’re not categorically arguing the point.

  5. Okay, the frameworks provided make sense, but would you say this particular resolution would be given over to abusive observations?

    • Hi Kyle,

      I agree there’s a lot of room for abuse. Unfortunately, the resolution is worded quite poorly. If you look at the definitions part of the post, I provide some insight into where this abuse can occur so you can be a little better prepared to handle it.

      • Would a good observation be that the affirmative is only to prove that intervention is justified, and does not have the burden of providing any results of intervention, based off the resolution? this is taken in part from your idea of an observation of defending the principle of intervention also

  6. Admitted that observation is abusive when you see that the negative would have to prove that not protecting human rights is beneficial in any way, however I do not imagine an opponent would be able to see this during the debate. so the abuse would be fairly hidden unless the opponent caught on quick

    • You can make this point, but not in an observation. If you use JWT, for example, you necessarily have to argue that the results are positive as one of the criteria is proportionality. If you use a different framework which is not dependent upon consequences, however, then you’re fine in making that argument. Categorically, however, it isn’t true that you are not required to provide any results. It all depends on how you’re approaching the resolution.

      • I see your point, but if you are using the criterion of deontology, wouldn’t deontology itself justify intervention as long as you proved that intervention improved the rights of others?

      • Let me start by saying deontology isn’t actually a criterion….or really a specific thing. Deontology is just a category of ethical theories which hold that the consequences of an action do not determine the morality of the action, something else does. There are a variety of deontic theories out there, and you should pick one to argue.

        That being said, if you’re using a deontic theory, you don’t need to prove that intervention improves anything. Improving rights is a consequence, and deontology cares not for consequences. The intervention will be justified through something else.

  7. Okay, I would be using Kant’s theory of Deontology, which states that an action is justified as long as it advances Humane Standards. I have used this as a criterion before, and it has won me a tournament. That being said, I am curious as to your opinion of the case so far. Would you be okay with reviewing what I’ve made for my affirmative case so far? I would greatly appreciate your opinion.

    • I will be glad to review your case. Just email it to It may take me a week or so to get back to you.

      There is also no such thing as “Kant’s theory of Deontology.” Kant never argued that an action is justified based upon how it impacts humane standards because he was not a consequentialist. Kant’s moral theory is something entirely different. You should be aware of this. If you are using Kant in your case, take some time to read the Metaphysics of Morals and gain a deeper understanding of what Kant had to say.

  8. I hit some dead ends on the NEG in my tournament a couple days ago; first, is there a strong non-consequential framework to work with on Neg? And second, if on NEG you make the argument that intervening imposes US ideas/expresses US self interests; how do you respond to the Affirmative saying that the resolution implies the motive is completely human rights.

    • Hi Kenny,

      Thanks for the question. There are many strong non-consequentialist frameworks for the negative. Two of the frameworks I provide in the post are non-consequentialist.

      Linguistically speaking, the resolution doesn’t imply that the motive is completely human rights. Multiple motives can exist for the same action, and statements expressing one of those motivations are true.

      For example, suppose I’m thirsty, and I have the choice to drink water or drink milk that will expire in 3 days. I choose to drink the milk.

      If I said, “I drank the milk because I was thirsty,” it would be a true statement.

      If I said, “I drank the milk because it was going to expire, and I didn’t want to waste it,” it would also be a true statement.

      Similarly, the U.S. can say, “We’re intervening to protect human rights,” and, “We’re intervening to get oil,” and both statements can be true.

      That all being said, unless you’re using a Just War framework, the argument saying that U.S. intervention implies U.S. interests has no impact. So what if there are selfish motivations? Why does that mean the intervention isn’t justified?

  9. Do you think that a value crieterion of Aquina’s doctrine of double effect (affect?) could be used for AFF if the value is justice. I remeber running this frame structure for targeted killing.

    • That’s funny; I also remember a number of people running that for targeted killing. In my opinion, the doctrine of double effect is a very weak ethical doctrine in general. Its four formulations have a number of problems.

      That being said, how do you plan on using it on the Aff? The doctrine addresses the problem of inconsistent motivations for an action. How will you use it to justify humanitarian intervention?

  10. Well i was mainly using it because when neg says that there are bad outcomes of intervening I can kind of somewhat say that because of the doctrine of double effect the attempting to help is still the lesser evil as opposed to doing nothing. No? Is it a particularly bad idea? What would you suggest to better uphold that idea?

    Thanks for your help!!

    • Hi Kate,

      If you think about it, that type of position isn’t actually justifying the intervention. You aren’t saying, “This is why you’re allowed to do it.” Instead, you’re saying, “This is why you are not prohibited from doing it.”

      Say, for example, that murder was legal. That doesn’t mean I would be justified in murdering somebody; it just means that it is legal to do so. Similarly, if you say that the doctrine of double effect says that the motivation is OK, you’re still not actually saying the intervention is justified.

      I would avoid trying to predict what the negative is going to say to build your affirmative case. Your job is to prove the resolution, so focus on that. Then, you can think about things the negative may potentially say against your case and prepare for those.

      To effectively address arguments your opponent brings up, you should study logic so you can easily deconstruct arguments and argue against them in the round.

    • Hi Derks,

      I’m not sure how to answer that question. What do you mean by a self determination neg? What are you trying to argue? What are you trying to achieve? All arguments regarding self determination are not the same. I also don’t just give students value structures. You can purchase the briefs I publish or get private coaching with me for that. I will offer you feedback if you come to me with ideas or post them here.

  11. Hello, in my neg case my contentions are:
    1)Humanitarian interventions do not improve human rights and can worsen the situation among many other disadvantages
    2)Selectivity Undermines Intervention Legitimacy
    3) and interventions fail (probably not using this one)

    I was trying to work out a Value of Global Welfare or Utilitarianism maybe? With a VC of either governmental legitimacy or maximization of life. Do any of those somehow fit together with my case??? Do they make some sort of sense?

    I know you don’t provide case structures so I don;t know how well you can respond to my questions but also, what would be the best way of defining global welfare???

    Thanks for any help possible!

    • Hi Kelly,

      I appreciate the question. Your first problem is that you’re thinking about this the wrong way. You have two different concepts (welfare and legitimacy) that you’re trying to address with one value structure. This will not work. Theories regarding governmental legitimacy comment on the “rightness” of government existence, whereas ethical doctrines like utilitarianism discuss how we evaluate the morality of an individual action. So, you need to pick one framework instead of trying to account for multiple ones.

      Also, what do you mean by intervention legitimacy? Is your argument that you should either intervene all the time or none of the time? In that case, the resolution is asking for a categorical evaluation of humanitarian interventions; it doesn’t have any selectivity.

      You ask me if all of these makes sense with your case, but you don’t define any of them. What is global welfare? What is utilitarianism or governmental legitimacy? I cannot comment on the coherence of your structure and your contentions if you don’t tell me specifically what you’re talking about.

      So, moving forward, answer this question, “What is the most important thing I am trying to achieve?” That will be your value. After that, ask yourself, “How am I getting there?” That will be your value criterion. Then, you can build your specific contentions.

  12. In my aff case, one of my justifications for intervention is that the U.S. has the right to intervene in another political process because it is abusing human rights, and therefore it diminishes its own sovereignty according to the social contract. I argue that one of the main functions of government under the social contract is to protect its citizens from any harm. If it is government itself that is committing the wrong, than it is violating its main job, and therefore is giving up that sovereignty. Any comments or suggestions on

    • My only real suggestion is that, at this point, that is a fairly standard argument. Judges will have heard it a number of times, and your opponents will probably know how to respond to it. If that’s OK for you, then the argument is a decent one.

  13. I placed 3rd in my State tournament on this topic. This topic was bomb. I wrote my case the night before too. 😛

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