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Mistakes of Fact When Using Lethal Force in International Law: Part II

  If a state believes that it is the target of an ongoing or imminent armed attack and uses force to repel that attack, but it later turns out that it was mistaken and that there either was no such attack or that there was no necessity to respond to it, is that use of force in putative self-defence ipso facto a violation of Article 2(4) of the Charter? Or would the state’s mistake excuse it? There are three possible options in answering this question: An honest mistake of fact would excuse the state, as in ICL; An honest and reasonable mistake would excuse the state, as in IHL and IHRL; No mistake, however honest and reasonable, would excuse the state – it violated the prohibition on the use of force, and would have to provide reparation for any injury caused. Any one of these options is plausible in principle. In particular, I do not think that the text of Article 51 of the Charter is entirely dispositive of the issue.

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Mistakes of Fact When Using Lethal Force in International Law: Part I

  The tragic shooting down of the Ukrainian airliner over Tehran last week, which Iran has admitted to after several days of denial, has led me to think about a set of issues that was already on my mind when we were discussing the legality of the US strike on Soleimani. How exactly does international law…

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The Killing of Soleimani, the Use of Force against Iraq and Overlooked Ius Ad Bellum Questions

  As most people know by now, the US killed Qassem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Quds force, in a drone strike on 3 January. Most commentators seem to agree that Soleimani’s killing was unlawful, but one issue has received less attention: the legality of using force against Iraq. The strike occurred in Baghdad, killing not only Suleimani…

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Iran Unlawfully Retaliates Against the United States, Violating Iraqi Sovereignty in the Process

  Today Iran launched a number of ballistic missiles against two US military bases in Iraq, in response to the US strike on Soleimani last week. As of now it is unclear whether the missiles caused any American or Iraqi casualties. Donald Trump will address the public in this regard in the morning today US time.

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The Soleimani Strike and Self-Defence Against an Imminent Armed Attack

  The US drone strike on Qassem Soleimani, one of the most important members of the Iranian leadership, raises many complex questions of international law. This post will examine the lawfulness of the strike from the standpoint of the law on the use of force. It will first set out the parameters of the US justification…

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