Use of Force

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On Attacks Against Missions Abroad and Whether International Lawyers Really Ought to Be Zoologists: A Rejoinder to Tom Ruys

In Beyond Tehran and Nairobi: Can Attacks against Embassies Serve as a Basis for the Invocation of Self-defence? we have argued that both the empirical analysis of more than 730 incidents and the review of jurisprudence suggest the unlawfulness of invoking self-defence in response to attacks against diplomatic and consular missions. We are grateful to Tom Ruys, who has raised several important points challenging our methodology and some of our findings in his witty and sophisticated Reply. In our Rejoinder, we will address three main issues in response to his criticism. First, the fact that almost all attacks against missions emanate from non-state actors and are small-scale in nature (the appraisal of ‘pink elephants’). Second, the alleged paradigm-changing role of certain ‘black swan’ events. Finally, we will test the implications of Ruys’ policy argument for the jus contra bellum system. 1) Of pink elephants – the appraisal of allegedly unprecedented events missing from our research Ruys voices two concerns about our method of identifying the customary rules…

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What does the ‘hybrid attack’ carried out by Belarus against the EU borders mean in reality? An international law perspective

In reaction to the fraudulent 2020 Belarusian presidential elections and violent suppression of oppositionists by the State apparatus, the European Union imposed sanctions on Belarus, including a travel ban and an asset freeze. After the forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Minsk, it also prohibited various aircraft operated by Belarusian airlines from taking off…

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Is All Self-Defense Worth Exercising Under International Law? Revisiting the Use of Force in Nagorno-Karabakh from a Human Rights Perspective

The international law of self-defense is a central branch of international law implicating fundamental matters of sovereignty. In the 20th Century, it also became associated with a broader defense of international peace and security, although these are notoriously hard to define. The jus contra bellum has emerged as premised on a simultaneously complex yet simple idea: states must…

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The Law and Tech of Two Targeted Killings

The New York Times recently published two fascinating pieces on two separate instances of targeted killings. The first is on the tragic denouement of the 20 years of US presence in Afghanistan – a drone strike conducted on 29 August by the US military in Kabul, purportedly against terrorists planning a second deadly attack against…

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Tensions in Crimean Waters: Can Russia’s Actions Amount to Threat of Force?

On 23 June 2021, multiple reports (here and here) suggested that the British warship HMS Defender sailing in the Black Sea en route to Georgia, found itself involved in maritime tensions offshore of the Crimean Peninsula. Reports were officially confirmed the same evening by the Ministry of Defence of Russia stating that Britain violated…

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