Despite the optimism with which the end of the Cold War was greeted, the post-Cold War period has seen a continuation of violent and protracted internal conflicts in many parts of the world. Rapid enhancements in communications technology in the late 20th century had the effect of bringing individuals within the stable and largely peaceful societies of the West into greater and more immediate contact with vivid images of human suffering in often distant conflicts. The awareness of how human beings are harmed needlessly in other parts of the world and the recognition of our shared capacity to experience suffering and pain, provide channels through which our ability to empathise with other members of our species might be translated into a widening of moral community beyond state borders. The experience of violence and atrocity, whether it be in Mogadishu, Sarajevo, Kigali, Darfur, Benghazi or Horns, has become increasingly, though by no means universally, morally significant for those living beyond the borders of the affected states. Shocking images of killing and physical destruction from societies affected by internal conflict have spurred the conscience of outsiders and has created greater impetus for the international community to ‘do something’ in response.
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