International Law, the Use of Force in Self-Defense and the Southern African Conflict
65 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2009
Date Written: 1987
This article argues that the South African government's policy of apartheid constitutes a threat to international peace and security. Hence, a United Nations-sponsored use of force against South Africa is legal. Even if it is argued that apartheid does not constitute such a threat, the South African government's use of force in the territory of its neighbors violates both the established principles of international law and the U.N. Charter. This is so even when South African force in the territory of its neighbors is directed against guerrillas alone. Section II of this article discusses the legal rules governing the use of force against insurgents operating from a neighboring territory under both customary international law and the Charter. Section III examines the illegal use of force by the South African government against neighboring countries. Section IV analyzes the illegality of apartheid, the illegitimacy of the South African government, and the legality of the use of force against South Africa. The South African government's flagrant disregard for its international responsibilities demands a firm response. Section V suggests one form such a response might take.
Keywords: South Africa, apartheid, self-defense, international law, guerrilla attacks, illegitimate governments, United Nations, U.N. Charter, insurgents, illegal use of force
JEL Classification: K33, K42, K49, H56, N47
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation