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Self Defense Against Non-State Actors in the Post-9/11 Era

Michal Onderčo / Ed. 7. 3. 2016

Research paper of Michal Ondrečko focuses on self defense against non-state actors. The Article 51 of the UN Charter does not limit the right of self-defense to attacks launched by a state, although during travaux preparatoires and through the subsequent state practice, certain degree of state involvement was required. During the past years, however, multitude of non-state actors became able to launch significant attacks on states without any direct state help. This development poses a new challenge to international law. The war on terror signifies a new twist in the common understanding of self-defense.

Firstly, it is widening of the scope to the groups which are not under direct control of a state, as required by the International Court of Justice in Nicaragua case. Secondly, the problems arise as to what actions are justified in self-defense. Thirdly, the issue of preventive self-defense arises, especially after the 2002 US National Security Strategy widened its application far beyond limits set by customary and case law. Three case studies will illuminate several legal and political aspects of law of self-defense at the beginning of the 21st century.

Research paper was originally prepared for the conference Global Security in Obama’s Age held on April 9, 2010 in Prague.


UN 3
international security 287
terrorism 23
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