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Part 1 The Cold War Era (1945–89), 36 The US Intervention in Panama—1989

Nicholas Tsagourias

From: The Use of Force in International Law: A Case-Based Approach

Edited By: Tom Ruys, Olivier Corten, Alexandra Hofer

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 23 June 2024


This chapter examines the legality of the 1989 US intervention in Panama and assesses its impact on the use of force regime. After recalling the facts of the incident, it goes on to analyse the legal arguments provided by the US government to justify its action. More specifically, the US invoked its right to protect American citizens abroad as part of its right to self-defence; the right to intervene to protect the Panama Canal provided by the Panama Canal Treaties; and the invitation of the democratically elected Leader of the Opposition. The chapter then presents the reactions of states and the views of legal commentators. It concludes by saying that the incident affirms existing law but also contributes to the development of the rules regulating the use of force in international law.

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