Journal Article

Arguments of Mass Confusion

Dino Kritsiotis

in European Journal of International Law

Published on behalf of The EJIL

Volume 15, issue 2, pages 233-278
Published in print April 2004 | ISSN: 0938-5428
Published online April 2004 | e-ISSN: 1464-3596 | DOI:
Arguments of Mass Confusion

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While public discourse has been correct to question the credibility of Operation Iraqi Freedom, it has demonstrated the extent to which international law remains exposed to a set of serious — and serial — confusions in terms of the justifications used for analysing where a given intervention stands as a matter of the jus ad bellum. These confusions have presented international law with an important methodological challenge and, to address this challenge, the essay returns to the jurisprudence of the Nicaragua case (1986), where it finds that the International Court of Justice outlined discrete principles for the identification and assessment of justifications for the application of force under international law. In its judgment, the Court distinguished between legal and political justifications for action, but it also recognized that states operate in formal and informal spheres of action. The principles form part of a coherent and viable framework for use beyond the four corners of the courtroom, in simulated scrutinizations of legal justifications given for the application of force. That framework is articulated and explained, before it is considered in the context of Operation Iraqi Freedom - where it provides us with a sense of how best to organize and evaluate the arguments made in defence of that intervention: the authorized enforcement of Security Council resolutions, the right of pre-emptive self-defence, humanitarian intervention and pro-democratic intervention.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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