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International Law and the War in Iraq


John Yoo


University of California at Berkeley School of Law; American Enterprise Institute


UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 145

Abstract:     
Many international legal scholars and foreign governments have argued that the recent war in Iraq violated international law. This paper, published as part of an Agora in the American Journal of International Law, criticizes this view on two grounds. It explains that these scholars have failed to properly read existing United Nations Security Council resolutions that authorized the use of force against Iraq. Even putting the United Nations to one side, this paper explains that the use of force could have been justified, at the time of the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003, as an exercise of self-defense. It argues that traditional notions of self-defense, which permit the anticipatory use of force before an offensive attack occurs, have changed to take into account the greater magnitude of destruction of weapons of mass destruction and the behavior of rogue states.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 19

Keywords: international law, use of force, Iraq war, self-defense

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Date posted: February 20, 2004  

Suggested Citation

Yoo, John, International Law and the War in Iraq. American Journal of International Law, Vol. 97, p. 563, July 2003. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=492002

Contact Information

John Choon Yoo (Contact Author)
University of California at Berkeley School of Law ( email )
Boalt Hall
890 Simon
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-643-5089 (Phone)
510-643-2673 (Fax)
American Enterprise Institute ( email )
1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States
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