International Law, the Use of Force in Self-Defense and the Southern African Conflict

65 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2009  

F. Michael Higginbotham

University of Baltimore - School of Law

Date Written: 1987

Abstract

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

Higginbotham, F. Michael, International Law, the Use of Force in Self-Defense and the Southern African Conflict (1987). Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 529-592, 1987. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1511883 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1511883

F. Michael Higginbotham (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States

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