Conclusion: The Thirty-year War and its Impact on the International System

Marc Weller

in Iraq and the Use of Force in International Law

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199595303
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595769 | DOI:
Conclusion: The Thirty-year War and its Impact on the International System

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This chapter summarizes the discussions in the preceding chapters. It argues that the use of Resolution 1441 (2002) as principal justification for the very war that most states on the Council had sought to avoid by adopting it was seen a very severe, blow to the international system. The United States and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom, appeared to have arrogated to themselves the right to judge when force might be used on behalf of the organized international community, bypassing the institutional structure established for that purpose. The case for war was undermined still further when it emerged subsequently that Iraq did not possess any of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that had been alleged to exist. Moreover, the outbreak of severe internal conflict within Iraq confirmed the predictions made before the war was launched. However, in this instance the international system proved more resilient to the challenges posed by US and UK actions. The episode is now widely seen as confirmation of the international rule of law, rather than its destruction. The UN membership and the collective security mechanism withstood tremendous pressure to render lawful a military action that could not be accommodated by accepted justifications for the unilateral use of force.

Keywords: use of force; Resolution 1441; Kuwait; United States; United Kingdom; international law; UN Security Council

Chapter.  6103 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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