Use of Force

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Targeted Killings: New Allegations Against India and Ukraine

Yesterday, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, stood up in Parliament and formally accused the government of India of committing a targeted killing on Canadian territory. The victim, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, was a prominent leader of a Sikh separatist movement in India, who was designated as a terrorist by the Indian government. He was assassinated in June in front of a Sikh temple. From an international law standpoint, this kind of public accusation raises two sets of issues. The first is attribution, which can be legal, technical, and political; for our purposes, the key question is the identity of the assassins and the nature of their link to the Indian government (were they, for example, individuals who worked for Indian intelligence services, i.e. state organs, or were they contractors of some kind, acting allegedly under the Indian state’s instructions, direction or control). Related to this question, but conceptually distinct from it, is the issue of the evidence supporting an attribution claim. In the context of an accusation of this…

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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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Having Taiwan in Mind? The Principle of Non-Use of Force and the ‘Peacefully Established Status of Territories’

‘The nomos of the earth’ is changing again as US-China relations are spiralling downwards rapidly. The increasingly likely scenario of a hot war between China and the US appears to be on everyone’s mind. Here Taiwan finds itself everywhere in the conversations of various international fora (here, here, and…

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Ukraine’s Involvement in Cross-Border Raids by Russian Paramilitary Groups: Illegal Use of Force and Intervention or Lawful Self-Defence?

On 22 May 2023, two Russian paramilitary groups – the Liberty of Russia Legion (LSR) and the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) – conducted a cross-border raid from Ukrainian territory into the Belgorod region of Russia. After briefly ‘liberating’ some border villages, the fighters were forced to retreat on to Ukrainian territory again. This was not the first such…

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The Law of Neutrality and the Russian/Ukrainian Conflict: Looking at State Practice

One of the distinctive features of the Russian/Ukrainian conflict is the massive provision of belligerent materials (and intelligence, here and here) to Ukraine (here): around 30 States have provided lethal war materials, including the EU through its European Peace Facility; other countries have only provided non-lethal materials.

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