Academic journal article Naval War College Review

War, Aggression and Self-Defense

Academic journal article Naval War College Review

War, Aggression and Self-Defense

Article excerpt

Dinstein, Yoram. War, Aggression and Self-Defense. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994. 325pp. $110

In this second edition of his classic 1988 study of the topic, Yoram Dinstein, president and professor of international law at Tel Aviv University, has authored what many scholars believe to be the single best study of the jus ad bellum-that body of international law governing the resort to force by states. His analysis is three-tiered. The study begins with an examination of the legal boundaries dividing war from peace. The discussion of status mixtus, that is, conflicts which exhibit characteristics of both war and peace, is especially noteworthy. With "war" defined, Dinstein turns to its legality under treaties, including the Charter of the United Nations, and customary international law. Particular attention is paid to the concept of aggression, as explicated both in the UN General Assembly's resolution purporting to define it and in the Nuremberg Tribunal's holding regarding crimes against peace. Finally, in the most "provocative" section of the book, Dinstein dissects the most widely recognized exception to the prohibition on the use of force-self-defense. Not only is self-defense authorized in the UN Charter when facing an "armed attack," but it is also considered an inherent right of victim states under customary international law. …

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