Latest in International Law: Self-Defense

International Law: Self-Defense

One Piece at a Time: The ‘Accumulation of Events’ Doctrine and the ‘Bloody Nose’ Debate on North Korea

Over the past few weeks, experts have engaged in a debate over the legality of pursuing a “bloody nose” strike on North Korea, an option reportedly being considered by the Trump administration (at least until recently). This debate has been propelled forward by an article published in Lawfare by Shane Reeves and Robert Lawless where they describe the “bloody nose” strike strategy as follows:

International Law

Prime Minister May’s Use-of-Force Claim: Clarifying the Law That Governs the U.K.’s Options

British Prime Minister Theresa May made the remarkable statement Monday that, absent a credible response from the Russian government, the United Kingdom will conclude that the use of a nerve agent against a former Russian informant, Sergei Skripal, was “an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.” News reports have proliferated, but some of them are inaccur

International Law: Self-Defense

U.K. Prime Minister's Speech on the Russian Poisoning of Sergei Skripal: Decoding the Signals

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday that it was “highly likely” that the Russian government was behind the poisoning and attempted murder of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal on British soil using a Russian-developed nerve agent from the “Novichok” neurotoxin family.

International Law: Self-Defense

Soldier Self-Defense and the Strikes in Syria

On Tuesday, U.S. forces shot down an armed Iranian drone in southern Syria, a few days after a similarly justified strike on a Syrian aircraft that dropped a bomb near a U.S. training outpost. Combined with the U.S. decision to ramp up support to Syrian Kurds seeking to retake Raqqa, these actions could be interpreted as initial steps on the road to war with Syria.

International Law: Self-Defense

Which States Support the 'Unwilling and Unable' Test?

As readers of Lawfare know, a growing number of States believe that use of force in self-defense against a non-state actor on the territory of a third State, without the consent of that third State, may be lawful under international law if the non-state actor has undertaken an armed attack against the State and the third State is itself unwilling or unable to address the threat posed by the non-state actor.

International Law: Self-Defense

More on Obama v. Bush on Preemption: Response to Lederman

Marty Lederman says in response to my posts that the big difference between the Bush and Obama preemption doctrines was that the Bush Administration “argued that international law permits the United States to engage in a ‘first use’ strike, in a nonconsenting state, against a state or nonstate actor that has not already engaged in an

International Law: Self-Defense

Sometimes a Name is Only a Name

Daniel Bethlehem says that my claim that the Obama administration has embraced the Bush doctrine of preemption for anticipatory self-defense “misses an essential element.” The essential element I missed was that the 2002 National Security Strategy that first announced the preemption doctrine “invented new language and, in doing so, suggested that the United States was moving away, with deliberate thought and careful


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