The Soviet Intervention in Hungary - 1956

International Law on the Use of Force: a Case-Based Approach 48 (Tom Ruys, Olivier Corten & Alexandra Hofer eds., OUP, 2018)

19 Pages Posted: 3 May 2017 Last revised: 31 Jan 2018

See all articles by Eliav Lieblich

Eliav Lieblich

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 30, 2017

Abstract

The nascent prohibition on the use of force, enshrined in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, faced a significant challenge at the end of its first decade. In late October 1956, the Soviet army crushed a burgeoning rebellion in Hungary, ostensibly upon the invitation of the Hungarian government, and allegedly in conformity with the provisions of the Warsaw Pact.

While the intervention was widely condemned, international law could not prevent the Soviet invasion nor secure the USSR's withdrawal from Hungary. Seven decades later, this Chapter analyzes the Soviet intervention under jus ad bellum. It focuses on the positions of relevant actors in real-time, as well as on the enduring aspects of the affair.

As the Chapter reveals, the Hungary intervention presented dilemmas that plague the international law on the use of force even in contemporary times. It raised questions that remain burning today, such as the role of consent in legalizing external forcible intervention, the ability of international law to face superpowers, and the dialectics between effectiveness and legitimacy in the determination of lawful authority during internal strife.

Although international law has ultimately failed Hungary, the international discourse on the affair was distinctly legal, and - perhaps surprisingly - was very much centered on the language of international human rights. The conflation of the law on the use of force and considerations of human rights, perhaps, was a harbinger to the contemporary debate on the meaning of sovereignty in international law, especially in an increasingly divided world.

Keywords: International Law, History of International Law, Use of Force, Jus ad Bellum, Cold War, Intervention, International Human Rights Law, UN Charter

Suggested Citation

Lieblich, Eliav, The Soviet Intervention in Hungary - 1956 (April 30, 2017). International Law on the Use of Force: a Case-Based Approach 48 (Tom Ruys, Olivier Corten & Alexandra Hofer eds., OUP, 2018), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2960865 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2960865

Eliav Lieblich (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv, IL
Israel

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