International Law and the Use of Force by States

International Law and the Use of Force by States

International Law and the Use of Force by States

International Law and the Use of Force by States

Synopsis

The most authoritative work in the field, this classic study is once again available. Professor Brownlie has confined himself to the pursuit, on historic lines, of an estimation of the extent of legal prohibition of the use of force by states. He includes the deliberations and findings of political organs of the League of Nations and the United Nations, as well as a study of the quality of prohibition of force, making some indication of relevant corollaries.

Excerpt

The object of this Part is to trace the history of legal limitations of recourse to force by rulers and states from the earliest times to the present. The first three chapters are devoted to the period before 1920 and, as there already exists a considerable literature on the history of war and the doctrine of just war, an historical survey of any length must be preceded by an apology. It is desirable that any assessment of the legal limitations of the use of force which have appeared in the twentieth century should be made with an historical perspective. More particularly is it desirable that the state of the customary law before the era of the Covenant of the League of Nations and of the Charter of the United Nations should be appreciated. There was then a presumption, of considerable strength, of the legality of war as an instrument of self-interest, and as a form of self-help.

Chapter IV is concerned with the Covenant of the League of Nations and the particular forms assumed by restrictions on resort to force which appeared in that instrument. The Covenant provides a basis for a transition from the customary law of the previous period. The actual transition is described in Chapter V, the content of which establishes the basic norm of the illegality of forcible self-help in the modern law. The historical succession of declarations, resolutions, and multilateral treaties does not make for elegant exposition but it is precisely this succession, the process of accumulation, which is of such importance in establishing how far the customary law of the earlier period has been modified. In Chapter VI the bases of the law in the period since the Second World War are considered.

However, the extent of the illegality of resort to force by states will not be determined with any precision in this Part and the justifications for the use of force which may still remain in the law will be considered in detail in Part III. A possible drawback to this form of presentation, which is nevertheless balanced by . . .

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