use of force

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The use of offensive military action, whether amounting to war or not, is prohibited under Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter. The only exceptions to this strict rule are as follows: (1) when the use of force is by way of an enforcement action (Article 39 within Chapter VII of the UN Charter); (2) when force is used for the purposes of self-defence under Chapter VII (Article 51); and (3) controversially, when a state uses force for the purposes of self-defence under customary international law (arguably preserved by Article 51). Resort to force upon any other basis is illegal under international law. The leaders of states (and their confederates and agents) who are responsible for initiating such illegal conflicts can be individually tried for war crimes.

Subjects: Law.

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