5 Formal Requirements for Valid Consent to Direct Military Assistance
Erika De Wet
- Military assistance — Armed conflict — Customary international law
This chapter explores potential formal requirements that may affect the validity of consent to direct military assistance. Customary international law only imposes two specific, formal limitations on the legal construct of military assistance on request. The first would be that the request for or consent to military assistance must be issued (and withdrawn) by the highest officials of a state, namely, the head of state and/or government. Where these two positions are not combined within the same person and there is disagreement between them as to whether consent exists, the domestic law of the country in question may be decisive in determining who has the final say in the matter. However, such disagreement between the two highest state officials is likely to be an indication of the political fragility of the consent, which should caution against relying exclusively on consent as the legal basis for the forcible measures. The second constraint imposed by customary international law concerns the requirement that ex ante consent as expressed in pro-invasion treaty clauses must be complemented by ad hoc consent at the time of the forcible measures. Apart from these two constraints, customary international law does not seem to impose any particular formal requirements on states expressing consent to forcible measures on its territory.