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Part 1 The Cold War Era (1945–89), 6 The U-2 Incident—1960

Ki-Gab Park

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

Third party participation — Armed conflict, international — Warfare, air — International organizations — International peace and security

This chapter examines the aerial incident between the US and URSS that occurred on May 1960: an unauthorized incursion into Soviet airspace by a US reconnaissance plane U-2. This incident led to a serious international dispute. This chapter explains the relevant facts and context of the dispute. It then analyzes the position of the main protagonists and reactions of third states and international organizations, especially those expressed in UN Security Council debates. It deals with three main questions of legality, namely espionage, principle of sovereignty over air space and definition of aggression. The U-2 incident confirms that in order to protect its aerial sovereignty, a state is in principle permitted to use force in the face of an unauthorized incursion by a foreign military aircraft.

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