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Part 1 The Cold War Era (1945–89), 3 The Korean War—1950–53

Nigel D White

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: 20 May 2024

Self-defence — Aggression — Warfare, air — Warfare, land — Collective security

This chapter examines the background of the Korean War, the positions of those states and UN organs involved in the conflict as the war ebbed and flowed across the Korean peninsula, and the many questions of legality it raised. Although its legal basis is disputed (sometimes analysed as collective self-defence or intervention at the request of the established government), the evidence presented in this chapter is that the Korean War helped to shape a decentralised UN collective security system, a model in which the UN Security Council acts under Chapter VII to mandate willing states to tackle aggressors or other threats to the peace. Furthermore, the peculiarity of the politics in the UN at the time allowed only a small window of opportunity for action by the Security Council, leading to another vision of collective security in which the UN General Assembly would play a more central role.

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