Lawbreaker or Lawmaker? Britain and International Law on the Use of Force

Nigel D. White

in Democracy goes to War

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780199218592
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191705595 | DOI:
 Lawbreaker or Lawmaker? Britain and International Law on the Use of Force

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This chapter gives an account of the current debate on the international rules governing the use of military force, its approach differs from the normal approach in that seeks to discern the rules accepted by the international community by viewing international law from the perspective of the British government. In recent years, the perception is that Britain is more willing to challenge — arguably flout international law — with its actions in Kosovo (1999) and Iraq (2003) in particular. However, the chapter shows that British practice has — on a number of occasions since the new world order introduced by the UN Charter of 1945 — been problematic from an orthodox international legal perspective. The UK's arguments before the International Court in the Corfu Channel case of 1949, its initiatives in creating the first UN sponsored coalition of the willing in Korea in 1950, its military venture to secure the Suez Canal in 1956 are examples drawn from earlier times that, together with recent practice in Kosovo, Afghanistan (2001), and Iraq all raise the question of whether Britain is a law-abiding state.

Keywords: just war; UN Charter; customary law; self-defence; reprisals; humanitarian intervention; Corfu Channel; Suez

Chapter.  13636 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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