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http://ssrn.com/abstract=530022
 
 

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Using Force


John Yoo


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


University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 71, Summer 2004

Abstract:     
This paper explores the international law governing the use of force in the wake of conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Developments since the conclusion of World War II, such as the emergence of international terrorism and rogue states and the easier availability of weapons of mass destruction, have placed enormous strain on the bright line rules of the UN Charter system. This paper argue that a more flexible standard should govern the use of force in self-defense, one that focuses less on temporal imminence and more on the magnitude of the potential harm and the probability of an attack. It further argues that the consensus academic view on self-defense - that force is justified only as a necessary response to an imminent attack - which was largely borrowed from the criminal law, makes little sense when transplanted to the international context. It concludes by questioning whether self-defense, grounded as it is in a vision of individual rights and liberties in relation to state action, is the proper lens through which to view the use of force in international politics. Rather than pursuing doctrinal or moral approaches, this paper addresses the rules governing the use of force from an instrumental perspective. It asks what goals the international system, and its most currently powerful actor - the United States - should seek to achieve with the use of force, and whether the current rules permit their pursuit. An approach that weighs costs and benefits to the stability of the international system, which could be seen as an international public good currently provided by the United States and its allies, might better explain recent conduct and provide a guide for future action.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 62

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

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Date posted: April 13, 2004  

Suggested Citation

Yoo, John, Using Force. University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 71, Summer 2004. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=530022

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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