Unresolved Legal Questions Concerning Operation Inherent Resolve
32 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2017
Date Written: April 1, 2017
Since August 2014, the United States and several of its allies have been embroiled in military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq, Syria, and later on also in Libya. Those military engagements raise a plethora of vexing legal questions both on the domestic, constitutional law plane in the United States and on the international level. This Article seeks to explore and examine the legal justifications for the United States’ military operations against ISIS under international law.
After briefly sketching the rise of ISIS and the contours of Operation Inherent Resolve, the Article examines critically the four main legal justifications put forward in support of the U.S.’ (and its allies’) military operations against ISIS, namely acting in pursuance of Security Council authorization (in reliance on Security Council Resolution 2249 of 2015), invitation by the Iraqi government to its friends and allies to intervene militarily in order to defeat ISIS, claims of humanitarian intervention, and last, but not least, arguments that in pursuing military options the United States exercises its inherent right for individual or collective self-defense.
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