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Self-Defence as an Exception to the Principle of Non-Use of Force: Debunking the Myth

Introduction Marko Milanovic recently wrote a blog for EJIL: Talk! examining whether Israel can rely on the right of self-defence to justify its military action against Hamas. Marko’s post addresses many difficult questions relating to the law of self-defence and is a must read. In this post I want to focus on one of Marko’s core claims, which potentially has significant implications for the law of self-defence and in particular its scope of application. Marko questions the relevance of the right of self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter to the Israel/Hamas conflict because, unless Palestine is recognised as a State under international law (which Israel resists), the essentially internal character of the conflict means that Israel’s conduct does not engage the prohibition on the use of force under Article 2(4) of the UN Charter; and if Article 2(4) does not come into play, Article 51 ‘cannot logically apply’. But Marko goes on to explain that ‘[s]elf-defence is an exception to the prohibition on the use of force in Article…

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Victims of Informal Institutions: The Status of National Personnel of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)

International organizations are famous for the jungle of contractual relationships with its officials and agents. Particularly within the United Nations (UN) system, critical voices are often raised for the way in which non-staff personnel are exploited to carry out the same activities and assume similar responsibilities of staff personnel. The unfair treatment of certain categories of workers…

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The Crime of Apartheid beyond Southern Africa: A Call to Revive the Apartheid Convention’s “Group of Three”

The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the “Apartheid Convention”) is a much understudied and overlooked human rights treaty. This is surprising given how often apartheid is mentioned in public discourse. The Apartheid Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 30 November 1973, and entered into force on…

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Assessing the Legality of ECOWAS Planned Military Intervention in Niger

On July 26th, a military junta overthrew Niger’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. International condemnation followed culminating in the ECOWAS order, on August 10th, to deploy “its standby force to restore constitutional order in Niger”. In an excellent article published on West Point Lieber Institute, Professors Russell Buchan and Nicholas…

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Contested Statehood and Jurisdiction: Palestine and the Mangisto and al-Sayed Case

On 23 March 2023, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Committee) issued the first-ever decision against the State of Palestine of an international human rights body with the competence to hear complaints from individuals. The Mangisto and al-Sayed v the State of Palestine decision pertains to the disappearance of two Israeli…

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