The ICJ and the Use of Force

31 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2013

See all articles by Christine Gray

Christine Gray

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 16, 2012


The ICJ has played a central role in the development of international law on the use of force. Its role has proved extremely controversial. Overall the ICJ has taken the clear view that the prohibition on the use of force in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter is a strict one, and it has resisted calls to widen its view of the scope of self-defence. It has been consistent in its approach to the use of force. It has repeatedly referred to its judgment in Nicaragua, and has reaffirmed its findings in that case. It has also referred back to its general statements in Corfu Channel. The Court’s approach has been strongly challenged by the USA whose arguments on the use of force have been rejected in two cases. It has also been harshly attacked by many commentators who argue for a wider right to use force. This paper analyses and defends the Court’s approach.

Keywords: International Court of Justice, use of force, Corfu Channel case, Nicaragua case, Oil Platforms case, DRC v Uganda, self-defence, prohibition of force, intervention

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Gray, Christine, The ICJ and the Use of Force (December 16, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Christine Gray (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

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