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International Law and Armed Conflict

Ward Thomas

Subject International Studies » International Security Studies

Key-Topics institutions, social norms, United Nations, war

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444336597.2010.x


Comment on this article   Within the field of international studies, international law governing armed conflict presents a paradox. On one hand, the idea that law affects how states use force has always met with considerable skepticism, from Cicero's aphorism that “in time of war the laws are silent” to twenty-first century realists. On the other hand, international law played a central role in the development of the discipline of international relations (IR), and today defines some of the most significant and contentious debates in both scholarly and policy realms. Indeed, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, international law has if anything become more prominent, with the decision of the United States and other countries to invade Iraq in 2003 triggering what one observer called “the largest public engagement with international legal issues regarding the use of force in the United Nations Charter era” ( Henderson 2007 :150). This chapter contains four sections. The first section reviews theoretical perspectives on international law on armed conflict, and considers how the problem of compliance figures into differences among them. The second section addresses international law governing when it is permissible to use military force – or, to use the terminology borrowed from the just war tradition, the jus ad bellum . It examines the United Nations Charter provisions ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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