Self Defence

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On Attacks Against Missions Abroad and Whether International Lawyers Really Ought to Be Zoologists: A Rejoinder to Tom Ruys

In Beyond Tehran and Nairobi: Can Attacks against Embassies Serve as a Basis for the Invocation of Self-defence? we have argued that both the empirical analysis of more than 730 incidents and the review of jurisprudence suggest the unlawfulness of invoking self-defence in response to attacks against diplomatic and consular missions. We are grateful to Tom Ruys, who has raised several important points challenging our methodology and some of our findings in his witty and sophisticated Reply. In our Rejoinder, we will address three main issues in response to his criticism. First, the fact that almost all attacks against missions emanate from non-state actors and are small-scale in nature (the appraisal of ‘pink elephants’). Second, the alleged paradigm-changing role of certain ‘black swan’ events. Finally, we will test the implications of Ruys’ policy argument for the jus contra bellum system. 1) Of pink elephants – the appraisal of allegedly unprecedented events missing from our research Ruys voices two concerns about our method of identifying the customary rules…

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Is All Self-Defense Worth Exercising Under International Law? Revisiting the Use of Force in Nagorno-Karabakh from a Human Rights Perspective

The international law of self-defense is a central branch of international law implicating fundamental matters of sovereignty. In the 20th Century, it also became associated with a broader defense of international peace and security, although these are notoriously hard to define. The jus contra bellum has emerged as premised on a simultaneously complex yet simple idea: states must…

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The Law and Tech of Two Targeted Killings

The New York Times recently published two fascinating pieces on two separate instances of targeted killings. The first is on the tragic denouement of the 20 years of US presence in Afghanistan – a drone strike conducted on 29 August by the US military in Kabul, purportedly against terrorists planning a second deadly attack against…

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Use of Force in Self-Defence to Recover Occupied Territory: When Is It Permissible?

In a recent piece on Just Security, Tom Ruys and Felipe Rodríguez Silvestre argue that a state whose territory is unlawfully occupied by another state does not have the right to use of force in self-defence to recover the occupied territory. The post considered the position in relation to the recent armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan…

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Mistake of Fact in Putative Self-Defence Against Cyber Attacks

I am glad that Marko has taken on the task of tackling the issue of mistakes of fact in international law, as I completely agree that it is a very important yet so far largely overlooked aspect, surprisingly so. While I’d mostly approve of Marko’s deliberations and conclusions, I wanted to add a brief point that I…

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