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Cover International Law Concentrate

11. Use of force  

This chapter examines under what circumstances States may use armed force under customary international law and Arts 2(4) and 51 UN Charter. After noting that the use of armed force is generally prohibited and only limited to self-defence, and then only if the target State is under an armed attack, we show that several States have expanded the notion of armed attack. Besides self-defence, the United Nations Security Council may authorize the use of armed force through a process of collective security. Several examples of collective security are offered, as well as the ICJ’s position on what constitutes an armed attack. In recent years, the range of actors capable of undertaking an armed attack has included terrorists. Moreover, the development of the doctrine of the responsibility to protect is a significant achievement.

Chapter

Cover International Law

16. The Responsibility to Protect  

Spencer Zifcak

This chapter discusses the responsibility to protect, which has become the primary conceptual framework within which to consider international intervention to prevent crimes against humanity; it provides the background to the new doctrine’s appearance with a survey of the existing law and practice with respect to humanitarian intervention. It traces the doctrine’s intellectual and political development both before and after the adoption of the World Summit resolutions that embodied it. Debate about the doctrine has been characterized by significant differences of opinion and interpretation between nations of the North and the South. In that context, the chapter concludes with a detailed consideration of the contemporary standing of the doctrine in international law.

Chapter

Cover International Law

14. The use of force and collective security  

This chapter looks at the use of force and collective security. Today, the United Nations Charter embodies the indispensable principles of international law on the use of force. These include the prohibition on the unilateral use of force found in Article 2(4), and the recognition of the inherent right of all States to use force in self-defence found in Article 51. Finally, under Chapter VII, a collective security system centred upon the Security Council was established for the maintenance of international peace and security. A key debate over the scope of Article 2(4) is whether a new exception has been recognized which would allow the use of force motivated by humanitarian considerations. It is argued that these ‘humanitarian interventions’ would allow a State to use force to protect people in another State from gross and systematic human rights violations when the target State is unwilling or unable to act.