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Democratic Accountability and the Use of Force in International Law

By Charlotte Ku; Harold K. Jacobson | Go to book overview

1 Broaching the issues

Charlotte Ku and Harold K. Jacobson

The attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in the Washington, DC area on September 11, 2001 were a sobering reminder that the use of force to destroy is still very much a part of life. The instruments of war may have changed and the field of battle been redefined, but the use of force to change the existing political order cannot yet be relegated to history. For the United States, September 11 was a further reminder of one of the principal functions of government–protection of its citizens. For the world, this event added the dimension of states waging war against a non-state enemy. Applying traditional methods and means to fighting a global but non-state threat and attack will engage lawyers, analysts, and policy makers for some time.

International responses to September 11 showed how the world had changed since 1941, the last time the United States was attacked from abroad on its territory. In 2001, the United Nations Security Council invoked Chapter VII and the North Atlantic Council took action under Article 5 to authorize US measures to counter a threat to the peace and restore stability to the North Atlantic area. The US government paid close attention to the reactions, not only of its own citizens, but of a diverse global public opinion, to the attacks and its response to them. Almost immediately, officials around the world began to think about how the United Nations could contribute to nation-building and post-conflict reconstruction. All of these elements–non-state actors, global public opinion, international institutions–will play major roles in the political order of the early twenty-first century.

Since the end of the Second World War, states have sought to limit their right to use military force unilaterally and to establish ways in which military forces could be used for collective purposes under the auspices of international institutions. This book is about both of these trends, but especially about a question that has largely been ignored in the literature on using military forces under the auspices of international institutions: how to ensure democratic accountability. The gap in the literature is striking, because establishing and maintaining democratic accountability in the

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