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While debates over jus ad bellum-the principles governing the lawfulness of states' resort to the use of force-have raged for centuries, state action in the latter part of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century has raised important new questions, challenging what many states and international law commentators formerly viewed as established public international law on the use of force. For example, the 1990s witnessed an important evolution in the justification for the resort to use of force in the Balkans, where massive human rights violations formed the basis for armed interventions by coalitions of states. Indeed, even in the face of seemingly contradictory procedural requirements in the U.N. Charter that required U.N. Security Council action before force could be applied in Serbia, when the Council became deadlocked, a coalition of states nevertheless decided to intervene, provoking a firestorm of argument in international legal circles over the legality of such interventions. A similar controversy developed around the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, which coincided with the Bush administration's announcement of a new doctrine of pre-emptive force, justified in certain circumstances by reasons of national security.

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