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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter deals with the concept of imminence within the context of anticipatory self-defence under international law. It examines the meaning of imminence, its interpretation, what it might justify and/or exclude, and whether it can be upheld as a criterion to face modern challenges. It outlines the requirement of imminence in relation to the debatable right to anticipatory self-defence, paying particular attention to the development of state practice and the opinions of commentators. It considers the specific context of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and examines the reasons that these are sometimes seen as necessitating a new conception of imminence. The chapter provides an analysis of what new approaches might mean, and whether they can be contained within an understanding of imminence. In so doing, the chapter analyses the notion of certainty, the need for evidence, and the effect of the scale of threat on the decision-making process.

Keywords: imminence, anticipatory self-defence, international law, preventive action, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction

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