Retaliation and Reprisal
OXFORD HANDBOOK ON THE USE OF FORCE, Marc Weller, ed., Oxford University Press, 2013
24 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2012 Last revised: 23 Oct 2013
Date Written: 2012
This book chapter explores the evolution of the law on the use of force as it relates to armed reprisals and retaliation, particularly since the adoption of the Charter of the United Nations in 1945. While the preponderance of scholars, and indeed States, view armed reprisals or countermeasures involving force as prohibited under international law, the doctrine would seem to retain appeal for those seeking to legitimize force not falling within the Charter’s exceptions. The counterpart applicable in times of armed conflict, belligerent reprisal, has been restricted but not completely outlawed under international humanitarian law. The chapter examines the development of international law on the use of force relating to reprisals and consider claimed instances of State practice, as well as judicial and scholarly consideration of the lawfulness of such reprisals. It concludes with a look at calls for the revival of reprisals or retaliation as permitted exceptions to the prohibition on the use of force.
Keywords: armed reprisals, retaliation, use of force, international law, United Nations Charter
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