3 Direct Military Assistance on Request During Civil Wars
Erika De Wet
- Military assistance
This chapter examines whether the right to self-determination in international law prevents military intervention on the side of the recognized government during a civil war. Post-Cold War state and organizational practice does not convincingly support the claim that direct military assistance at the request of a recognized government is prohibited during a civil war, otherwise known as a ‘non-international armed conflict’ (NIAC). Attempts to explain current state practice by means of counter-terrorism and counter-intervention exceptions to a general prohibition of such assistance also is not grounded in state or organizational practice, nor are such exceptions viable in practice. Instead, state and organizational practice seems to confirm the right of recognized governments to request military assistance from third states, also during civil wars/NIACs, as long as they retain their recognized, de jure status. The potential lack of ‘representativeness’ in such a situation does not seem to limit the extent to which the de jure government can act on behalf of the state (and its people) in matters pertaining to the use of force.