Use of Force

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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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A plea for a right of Israel to self-defence in order to restrict its military operations in Gaza: when jus ad bellum comes to the aid of jus in bello

Numerous States, making statements before the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly during the last resumption of its tenth Emergency Special Session, have recognized the right of Israel to respond in self-defence to the Hamas’ October 7 attacks in accordance with international law. Those States include the United States (S/PV.9439, at 3), the United…

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Does Israel Have the Right to Defend Itself?

This is a deceptively simple question. It has several possible answers, each of which rests on different (and highly contested) assumptions. In this post I will try to explain what these possible answers are, and what are their implications. I don’t myself know what the ‘correct’ answer here is. It is not my intention to argue for one.

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The Lessons of 9/11 for October 7

October 7 is being called Israel’s 9/11. The comparison is apt for the lessons that can be learned as to the legality of launching a ground offensive to respond to terrorism. The United States and the United Kingdom invaded Afghanistan in response to 9/11. Israel has announced it will undertake a full-scale…

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The Legality of the Downing of the Turkish Drone by the US

On 4 October 2023, the US downed a Turkish drone in Syria after it came within 500m of a US military base in a region controlled by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in eastern Euphrates. Multiple Turkish drones carried out airstrikes in the region as part of a response to a terrorist attack…

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