Self Defence

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When did the Armed Attack against Ukraine become ‘Imminent’?

When did Russia’s armed attack on Ukraine begin? And, before it began, when did it become imminent, as that term is commonly understood in the international law on the use of force? In this post I will offer some thoughts on these two questions, not because they are directly relevant to the situation in Ukraine – they are not, because Ukraine’s defensive actions against Russia were not pre-emptive – but because, I submit, Ukraine as a case study can teach us some useful lessons on the workability of the notion of imminence. And that notion may be central in evaluating future conflicts, some of which may be at least as dangerous as Russia’s assault on Ukraine. If, say, the United States or Israel ever choose to intervene militarily against Iran or North Korea, the justification they would offer would almost certainly revolve around a necessity to stop an imminent armed attack. Some background Whether Article 51 of the UN Charter permits recourse to self-defence against armed attacks that are yet to occur…

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EJIL:The Podcast! Episode 15 – Now or Never, Or Maybe Later: The Use of Force to Recover an Occupied Territory

This episode accompanies the launching of a new rubric in the European Journal of International Law – Legal/Illegal. The first installment of Legal/Illegal, which appears in issue 32(4), focuses on the question whether the use of force by a state to recover a territory that has been occupied for many years may be considered a lawful act of self-defence.

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Russia’s Recognition of the ‘Separatist Republics’ in Ukraine was Manifestly Unlawful

The rush to judgment can be deceptive. A recent contribution to these pages cautions us against making instant assumptions of fact and law when considering Russia’s recognition as states of parts of Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts within Ukraine as manifestly unlawful. Two questions arise: Do the Oblasts meet the criteria of statehood and, if so,…

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Will a state supplying weapons to Ukraine become a party to the conflict and thus be exposed to countermeasures?

According to the time-honoured law of neutrality, the territory of neutral powers is “inviolable” (Art. 1 Hague “Convention (V) respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land, October 18, 1907). Parties to a conflict may therefore not use it in any conflict-related manner, e.g. to transport war material (…

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What is Russia’s Legal Justification for Using Force against Ukraine?

With missile and aerial strikes across Ukrainian territory and Russian ground forces entering Ukraine from multiple directions, there is now no doubt that the Russian Federation has used ‘force’ in the sense of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter against Ukraine, and has done so on a large scale. The burden is now on Russia to attempt to…

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