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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: December 2009

X - Use of Force and Arms Control



One of the signature developments in U.S. practice in international law during 2002–2004 was the U.S. military intervention in and occupation of Iraq, which commenced in March 2003. While some viewed the intervention as the exercise of a new use of force doctrine on “preemptive self-defense,” as announced by the Bush Administration in 2002, the U.S. legal justification for the Iraqi intervention was principally based on an interpretation of Security Council resolutions dating back to 1990, which authorized the use of force against Iraq to achieve certain objectives set by the Security Council. The intervention also spawned a variety of legal issues of relevance to the jus in bello, including: the conduct of Iraqi military forces against U.S. and allied forces; the treatment of Iraqis as prisoners of war (discussed principally supra Chapter IX); plans for the prosecution of alleged Iraqi war criminals, including the deposed and captured Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein; and the development of extensive occupation laws and regulations by a “Coalition Provisional Authority.” While much of the intervention was viewed as the United States pursuing its interests without UN backing, once major combat operations ended, the relevance of the United Nations loomed large, on issues such as the lifting of UN economic sanctions against Iraq, but subject to certain UN restrictions, such as on the ability to exploit Iraqi oil.

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