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Home Articles posted by Gina Heathcote

Is it the right time to reconsider jus ad bellum proportionality?: a response to Kretzmer’s “The inherent right to self-defence and proportionality in jus ad bellum”

Published on April 18, 2013        Author: 

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 Dr Gina Heathcote is a lecturer at SOAS, University of London

I shall begin by answering the question posed in my title in the negative.  The very technical and detailed discussion of the scope of jus ad bellum self-defence, as is found in David Kretzmer’s article, plays down the contemporary spaces where the Charter is being re-imagined by States. The post-millennium era has been characterised by state practice that seems to conveniently forget the constraints of the Charter structure, in particular the importance of Articles 2(3) and 2(4) of the Charter, in favour of unilateral force. In returning to the scope and permission embedded in the principle of proportionality, Kretzmer acknowledges but neatly avoids contemporary debates on the use of force in humanitarian crisis and the use of targeted strikes through identification but little analysis of the rhetoric, practice and confusion of the vast literature that has characterised post-millennium debates on jus ad bellum. This is an unfortunate consequence of Kretzmer narrowing in on, first, a component of the use of force (self-defence) and, second, to a specific aspect of that component (proportionality). This avoids looking, seeing or acknowledging the harm – the deaths – caused by targeted strikes and the consequences of both collective and unilateral interventions justified on humanitarian grounds, allowing international lawyers to retell stories of technical legal knowledge that are far removed from ‘what we talk about when we talk about war’ (see B.Stark ‘What We Talk about When we Talk about War’, 32 Stanford Journal of International Law (1996) 91). Read the rest of this entry…