Use of Force

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Are sabotage of submarine pipelines an ‘armed attack’ triggering a right to self-defence?

On 26 and 27 September 2022, explosions damaged NordStream 1 and NordStream 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea (here). These are major transboundary pipelines (consisting of two pipelines each) transporting gas from Russia to Germany. They cross the territorial sea of three States (Russia, Denmark and Germany) and the exclusive economic zone (‘EEZ’) of five States (Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany). Nord Stream 1 is owned and operated by NordStream AG. NordStream 2 is owned and operated by NordStream 2 AG. Both companies are incorporated in Switzerland. NordStream AG announced that the damages on NordStream 1 took place in the EEZ of Denmark and/or Sweden (here). No State or non-State actor has claimed responsibility for the explosions, and it is unclear whether the damages can be attributed to a particular State, despite the fact that different sources have pointed the finger to specific States (here and here). Here, we are not concerned with whether the explosion is attributed to any particular State (or non-State actor). This…

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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…

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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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