Introduction: Legality and Legitimacy

Richard Falk

in Legality and Legitimacy in Global Affairs

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199781577
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932887 | DOI:
Introduction: Legality and Legitimacy

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This chapter undertakes to explore the distinction between legality (as specified by rules and procedures of international law) and legitimacy (as specified by the merger of moral imperatives and political feasibility), The relationship between legality and legitimacy is considered mainly with respect to humanitarian intervention that seems inconsistent with applicable rules of international law prohibiting uses of force that cannot be validated as self-defense but morally necessary in the face of severe violations of human rights or imminent threat of ethnic cleansing and genocide. The situation in Kosovo in 1999 prior to the NATO War posed these issues. The chapter argues that departures from legality should bear the burden of persuasion as to their overwhelming urgency and necessity, and than claims of legitimacy should be implemented only in exceptional circumstances, and then within a framework of principled restraint.

Keywords: legality; legitimacy; humanitarian Intervention; force; international Law; ethics; human rights; Kosovo

Chapter.  19367 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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