The War in Iraq and the Dilemma of Controlling the International Use of Force
Arthur Mark Weisburd
University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law
Texas International Law Journal, Vol. 39, No. 4, 2004, pp. 521-560
War has been a principal focus of public international law since the discipline took shape. While lawyers have, over the centuries, concerned themselves with many aspects of war, the twentieth century was distinguished by an effort to establish international institutions intended to prevent states from initiating armed conflicts with other states without some form of international authorization. The longest-lived such institution is the United Nations; the most recent armed conflict that that institution has neither specifically authorized nor prevented is the attack on Iraq by the United States and the United Kingdom.
This article advances two theses. First, the attack on Iraq was a violation of the Charter of the United Nations (the Charter). Second, the events leading up to that attack demonstrate that the system established by the Charter has flaws so fundamental that no government can reasonably rely on the United Nations to address its security concerns. That system, often characterized by its intention to subject international relations to the rule of law, is in fact entirely arbitrary at its core. Paradoxically, therefore, the legal obligation that Iraq's attackers breached was a requirement of submission to a system that is itself lawless. The article concludes with an effort to consider the implications of the inadequacies of the Charter system for any effort to control states' choices to go to war by legal means.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 23, 2013
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