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1 Action taken by a person to whom a wrong has been done to protect his rights without recourse to the courts. Self-help is permitted in certain torts, such as trespass and nuisance. A trespasser may be evicted provided only reasonable force is used. A nuisance may be abated (see abatement). See also recaption.

2 Independent and self-directed action taken by an injured state against the transgressing state in order to gain redress. Until the middle of the 20th century the right of self-help was claimed by states as one of the essential attributes of sovereignty. In the absence of an international executive agency, an injured state undertook on its own account the defence of the claim it was making. Forcible measures falling short of war might prove sufficient; failing these, war might be resorted to as the ultimate means of self-help. Since self-help was regarded at international law as a legal remedy, the results secured by it were recognized by the international community as a final settlement of the case. Since the establishment of the United Nations, self-help with regard to use of force can only be legal in so far as it forms part of a legitimate claim to self-defence. The remaining forms of self-help are countermeasures, such as retorsion and reprisals.

Subjects: Law.

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