When May UN Peacekeepers Use Lethal Force to Protect Civilians? Reconciling Threats to Civilians, Imminence, and the Right to Life

Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 28, 2023

65 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2023

See all articles by Hanna Bourgeois

Hanna Bourgeois

KU Leuven - Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies

Patryk I. Labuda

Polish Academy of Sciences - Institute of Legal Studies

Date Written: August 9, 2022

Abstract

UN Security Council now regularly deploys peacekeeping missions with robust mandates to protect civilians and encourages their proactive implementation, including by using force. While this turn to robust civilian protection is usually celebrated, the legal parameters of using force are rarely scrutinised, with scholarship focused on self-defence and UN policy to justify mandate implementation. By analysing the relationship between peacekeeping mandates and international law in light of the shift from defensive to proactive peacekeeping, this article argues that the legality of using force for civilian protection purposes must be reconciled not only with Security Council resolutions but also with human rights law, which imposes strict temporal conditions for lawful deprivations of the right to life outside the conduct of hostilities. Drawing on the UN’s current practice of protecting civilians in hostile environments, this article attempts to reconcile proactive civilian-oriented peacekeeping with the concept of imminence as understood in human rights law.

Suggested Citation

Bourgeois, Hanna and Labuda, Patryk I., When May UN Peacekeepers Use Lethal Force to Protect Civilians? Reconciling Threats to Civilians, Imminence, and the Right to Life (August 9, 2022). Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 28, 2023, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4332069

Hanna Bourgeois

KU Leuven - Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies ( email )

Patryk I. Labuda (Contact Author)

Polish Academy of Sciences - Institute of Legal Studies ( email )

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