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Part I Introduction, Ch.1 Too Much History: From War as Sanction to the Sanctioning of War

Randall Lesaffer

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Use of Force in International Law

Edited By: Marc Weller

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

Armed conflict, international — Self-defence — Prisoners of war — Peace treaties — Belligerents — Armed conflict, non-international — Collective security — Disarmament — Propaganda for war — Customary international law — Treaty provisions — State practice — Codification

This chapter examines the evolution of the jus ad bellum from the use of war as a sanction to the sanctioning of war. It provides an overview of the doctrine of just war in the Middle Ages before turning to the concepts of just and legal war in the early modern period. It considers how, during that period and the 19th century, the argument of self-defence came to play a prominent role in the justification of war, leading to a contamination of the concepts of just and legal war. It explains why the concept of legal war was abolished by the international community of states and looks at major treaties and state practice relating to war and self-defence of the interwar years leading to the formation of an international customary rule against aggression. It analyses the transfer of the natural right of self-defence to the domain of positive international law.

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