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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law [MPEPIL]

Self-Defence

Christopher Greenwood

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 23 February 2020

Subject(s):
Self-defence — Armed attack — Collective security — Necessity — Conduct of hostilities — Military necessity

Published under the auspices of the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law under the direction of Rüdiger Wolfrum.

1 The right of a State to use force in self-defence is long-established in customary international law. Nevertheless, while it can be traced back at least as far as the correspondence between the United Kingdom and United States governments regarding the Caroline incident in 1837 (Caroline, The), its importance in the 19th century was limited by the fact that international law then recognized a general right of resort to war, so that self-defence was significant (at least in legal, as opposed to political, terms) only with regard to lesser instances of the use of...
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