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date: 17 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses France’s foreign relations law in relation to the use of force. It presents both domestic rules (in particular constitutional rules) that are applicable in France to the use of force abroad and France’s legal position as regards the permissible use of force under international law. As a permanent member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, as a nuclear-weapon state, as a military power involved in many UN or other collective peacekeeping or antiterrorism operations, and as a state specially affected by international terrorism, France is particularly interested in the identification and development of international rules related to the use of force and collective security and has developed over time domestic rules governing activities of its military forces abroad as well as some doctrine on the use of force in the international sphere. As the chapter shows in particular, the decision to use force or to participate in collective security is, as a matter of principle, a decision that has to be taken in France by the executive branch. This being said, the Parliament has recently been granted some powers on the use of force, which vary depending on the nature of the operations concerned. On the other hand, there is no judicial control of the decision to use force. Besides, there is still no clear doctrine as regards the circumstances in which French authorities consider that the use of force can be resorted to under international law.

Keywords: France, use of force, executive branch, role of courts, parliamentary approval, constitutional democracies, acte de gouvernement, self-defense, terrorism, rescuing nationals abroad

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