Use of Force

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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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Legal Justification for FIFA and UEFA’s Ban on Russian National Football and Club Teams

Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has invited global censure. States have resorted to sanctions against Russian institutions and individuals. Response by non-state actors includes MNCs suspending their operations, boycotts, condemnations, cancellation of cultural events and banning of Russian athletes and teams from participating in international sports. On 28 February 2022, FIFA…

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Three Options for the Veto Power After the War in Ukraine

If any good can come out of the war in Ukraine, it should be a resumption of the decade-long process in the United Nations aiming at reining in or even removing the veto power of the permanent members of the Security Council. President Zelensky’s recent call for reforming the veto system may help to create the necessary…

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Anarchy and Anachronism: An Existential Challenge for International Law

The war in Ukraine has opened our eyes to two things that have long been there to be seen.  The post-1945 world order has collapsed into a new world disorder. The utopian dream of inevitable social progress across the human world has revealed itself as an illusion. History has ended, not in improbable optimism but in a sense…

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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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