Self Defence

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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 and Armenia and suggested that even if it is accepted that the region belongs to Azerbaijan, and is unlawfully occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan will have lost any rights it may have had to act in self-defence because the status quo has lasted for a quarter of a century. Yesterday, in a post on this blog addressing a range of international legal issues regarding the conflict in Nagorno-Karabkh, Bernhard Knoll-Tudor and Daniel Mueller agreed with the position taken by Ruys and Silvestre arguing that 'continued occupation cannot be equated with “continued attack” permitting the recourse to self-defence in line with Article 51 [of the UN Charter].' Ruys and Silvestre set themselves the following question: ‘When part…

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

  To briefly recapitulate our examination of mistake of fact when using lethal force in various sub-fields of international law: such a doctrine is, in its purely subjective form, black letter law in international criminal law. It is also established (even if not labelled as such) in international human rights law and (somewhat less clearly) in international humanitarian…

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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…

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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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