The Use of Force as a Plea of Necessity
American Journal of International Law Unbound, Vol. 111 (2017), 301
5 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 10, 2018
In recent practice, states have claimed authority to act forcibly in two circumstances that go beyond the Charter-mandated justifications: against non-state actors conducting attacks from within another state, and in cases in which a foreign state is engaged in atrocities against its own citizens. This essay explains why, at best, states can only try to excuse these actions after the fact. It demonstrates that the law on the use of force has accommodated certain pleas of necessity that have often been mistakenly categorized as self-defense. Necessity as a self-standing defense is not a justification; it is conceptualized as an excuse under the law of state responsibility.
Keywords: use of force, self-defense, necessity, unwilling or unable, state responsibility
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