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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: September 2009

4 - Use of force


Use of Force: A Brief Background

As Article 1(1) and (2) of the UN Charter state, the primary purposes of the United Nations are:

1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;


2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.

Moreover, as I have noted elsewhere, “[t]he ‘law’ on the use of force that has developed through the United Nations is substantial indeed.” The focus in this chapter is on the jus ad bellum (the recourse to force) rather than on the jus in bello (the conduct of combatants in armed conflict). Aside from a parenthetical reference or two, this chapter does not discuss jus in bello issues.

Elsewhere, also, I have discussed the jus ad bellum in considerable detail. There will be no effort to reprise this discussion in this chapter.