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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the relevance of the international law and institutions governing the use of force (jus ad bellum). It considers a number of critiques centred on whether the rules expressed in the UN Charter are effective in practice, too indeterminate, or too strict. First is the realist critique that views the rules on the use of force as ineffective. Second is the legal critique that the prohibition on the use of force does not amount to international law at all. In particular, the chapter discusses Michael Glennon’s argument in Chapter 3 of this volume that the principle of ‘sovereign equality’ has prevented the United Nations, especially the Security Council, from addressing emerging crises. It also argues that the UN Charter rules, while not always optimally effective, have played a key role in reducing interstate armed conflict since 1945.

Keywords: international law, use of force, UN Charter, Michael Glennon, interstate armed conflict, jus ad bellum, United Nations, sovereign equality

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