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The Power and Purpose of International LawInsights from the Theory and Practice of Enforcement$
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Mary Ellen O'Connell

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195368949

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195368949.001.0001

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Unilateral Armed Measures

Unilateral Armed Measures

(p.153) Chapter 4 Unilateral Armed Measures
The Power and Purpose of International Law

Mary Ellen O'Connell

Oxford University Press

The UN Charter regulates the use of force by states. It permits states to use armed force to enforce a limited set of rights under international law. Principally, states may use force in individual or collective self-defense against a significant armed attack. Even in such a case, force may only be used against the state responsible for the armed attack and only to the extent necessary and proportional to the goal of defense. These rules limit the use of major military force to respond to terrorism. The coalition liberation of Kuwait in 1991 is an example of the lawful use of force in self-defense. The coalition use of force against Iraq in 2003 violated the law. International law clearly prohibits uses of force to pre-empt or prevent threats.

Keywords:   UN Charter, self-defense, state responsibility, necessity, proportionality, armed attack, terrorism, pre-emption, prevention

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