US Air Strike Against the Iraqi Intelligence Headquarters – 1993
29 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2017
Date Written: July 14, 2017
This contribution analyses the normative implications of the US raid against the headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service in 1993 in reaction to a foiled assassination attempt against former President Bush. Its main focus is on an assessment of the legality of the operation, its precedential value and its evolutive potential with regard to the regime on the ‘ius contra bellum’ and here specifically the right to self-defence as enshrined in Art. 51 of the UN Charter. After analysing the multiple contentious dimensions of the US claim of justification, the article comes to the conclusion that the raid constituted an illegal ‘armed reprisal’. In light of observable state practice its precedent-setting nature should not be overstated. However, albeit qualified as an ‘one-off incident’ the US raid did not leave the prohibition on the use of force and the contemporary discourse surrounding it untouched. Hence, it appears essential to demystify its frequently asserted evolutive potential particularly with regard to the temporal limitations of Art. 51 UN Charter to which this article is dedicated.
Keywords: anticipatory self-defence, preemptive self-defence, armed attack, normative evolution, immediacy, protection of nationals abroad, ‘accumulation of events’ doctrine, armed reprisals, ‘defensive armed reprisals’
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