The Inherent Right of Individual Self-Defense in the Iran-Iraq War
On September 22, 1980, Iraq launched a large-scale attack against Iran. As a result of their surprise attack, the Iraqi forces were able to cross international boundaries without much difficulty 1 and, after a few days of fighting, occupied 30,000 square kilometers of Iranian territory. 2 To justify its action, Iraq resorted to the concept of "legitimate preventive defense." 3 Below, I shall reject the validity and credibility of Iraqs recourse to this concept. In my opinion and that of my colleagues, Iraq, by violating the provisions of the United Nations Charter, resorted to force, and we believe Iraqs action has all the characteristics of an act of aggression as defined in the annex of UN General Assembly Resolution 3314. 4
Faced with armed aggression, Iran reacted immediately and spontaneously in order to exercise its right of individual self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter. 5 There is no doubt that in this case we are talking about subsidiary and provisional competence that cannot be exercised, in accordance with Article 51 of the charter. This article provides for such action until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Accordingly, the negligence and incapability of the Security Council to assume its responsibility can be taken by Iran as a legal basis for pursuing military operations.