Will a Policy of Preemptive Self-Defense Make Us All Safer?

24 Pages Posted: 2 May 2018

Date Written: March 8, 2018


Under the stress of technological changes in weaponry, the prohibition on unilateral resort to the use of force in the United Nations Charter has come under pressure for change. “Armed attack” as the justification for exercising a right of self-defense as the exclusive justification for the right of self-defense has yielded to “anticipatory self-defense” and is now further challenged by the claim of so-called “preemptive self-defense”. The tension with North Korea raises the question of whether allowing preemptive self-defense can actually contribute to international security by restraining the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The lecture analyzes the differences between self-defense, anticipatory self-defense and preemptive self-defense, some of the claims made by the United States in this regard and whether these developments promise greater security or undermine it.

Keywords: self-defense, anticipatory self-defense, preemptive self-defence, nuclear proliferation, North Korea

JEL Classification: Y

Suggested Citation

Reisman, W. Michael, Will a Policy of Preemptive Self-Defense Make Us All Safer? (March 8, 2018). Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 638, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3162033 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3162033

W. Michael Reisman (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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