Clarifying the Concept of Circumstances Precluding Wrongfulness (Justifications) in International Law

Bartels & Paddeu (eds), Exceptions and Defences in International Law (OUP) (Forthcoming)

University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 18/2017

22 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2017 Last revised: 31 Aug 2018

See all articles by Federica Paddeu

Federica Paddeu

Queens' College, University of Cambridge

Date Written: March 18, 2017

Abstract

This paper seeks to clarify the concept of circumstances precluding wrongfulness in international law which, according to Ian Brownlie, is a concept that 'had never been properly worked out' by the ILC during its work on the Articles on State Responsibility. Indeed, it is not infrequent to find in the case-law and the literature diverse, and often contradicting, explanations of this concept and its effects.

Two misunderstandings which are recurrent in international law are especially troubling:

(i) the notion that justified conduct is nevertheless a 'breach' of international law; and

(ii) the qualification of justified conduct as 'non-wrongful' or 'unlawful with precluded wrongfulness', and variations thereof.

The paper first elucidates the concept of circumstances precluding wrongfulness and its relation with the notions of breach, internationally wrongful act, and excuse. It then considers the operation of these circumstances by means of two different models for the representation of reasoning with justifications: one based on deductive reasoning and the other on dialogic reasoning. The paper concludes that justified conduct does not constitute a breach of international law and that it must be qualified as lawful.

Keywords: circumstances precluding wrongfulness, justifications, excuses, defences, state responsibility, primary and secondary rules

Suggested Citation

Paddeu, Federica, Clarifying the Concept of Circumstances Precluding Wrongfulness (Justifications) in International Law (March 18, 2017). Bartels & Paddeu (eds), Exceptions and Defences in International Law (OUP) (Forthcoming); University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 18/2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2935563

Federica Paddeu (Contact Author)

Queens' College, University of Cambridge ( email )

Silver Street
Cambridge, CB3 9ET
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/academic/fi-paddeu/2208

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
146
rank
194,252
Abstract Views
560
PlumX Metrics