1 Law and force
- Self-defence — Crimes against humanity — Genocide — War crimes — Armed conflict — UN Charter — International peace and security
This introductory chapter provides a background to the renewed debate about the legal constraints on the use of force imposed by the UN Charter after the Second World War. The increasing conflicts within states have raised legal questions, first, as to whether there can be a right of unilateral humanitarian intervention to protect citizens from their own governments, second, as to the content of the more recent doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P)—the responsibility of the ‘international community’ to protect a population from war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity by the government, and third as to the existence of a right to intervene to overthrow a repressive regime. Even more controversially, the conflict in Syria has brought renewed debate about the scope of the right to self defence in counter terrorism operations. This chapter discusses the problems with the identification of international law on the use of force, the role of international law in this area, and the complexities of any inquiry into its effectiveness.