Iraq and the Use of Force in International Law

ISBN : 9780199595303

Marc Weller
312 Pages
162 x 239 mm
Pub date
Sep 2010
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The prohibition of the use of force is one of the most crucial elements of the international legal order. Our understanding of that rule was both advanced and challenged during the period commencing with the termination of the Iran-Iraq war and the invasion of Kuwait, and concluding with the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The initial phase was characterized by hopes for a functioning collective security system administered by the United Nations as part of a New World Order. The liberation of Kuwait, in particular, was seen by some as a powerful vindication of the prohibition of the use of force and of the UN Security Council. However, the operation was not really conducted in accordance with the requirements for collective security established in the UN Charter. In a second phase, an international coalition launched a humanitarian intervention operation, first in the north of Iraq, and subsequently in the south. That episode is often seen as the fountainhead of the post-Cold War claim to a new legal justification for the use of force in circumstances of grave humanitarian emergency-a claim subsequent challenged during the armed action concerning Kosovo. There then followed repeated uses of force against Iraq in the context of the international campaign to remove its present or future weapons of mass destruction potential. Finally, the episode reached its controversial zenith with the full scale invasion of Iraq led by the US and the UK in 2003. This book analyzes these developments, and their impact on the rule prohibiting force in international relations, in a comprehensive and accessible way. It is the first to draw upon classified materials released by the UK Chilcot inquiry shedding light on the decision to go to war in 2003 and the role played by international law in that context.


1. Introduction: The Vision of the New World Order and its Collapse
2. Iraq and Kuwait 1990/1
3. Forcible Humanitarian Action and the Aerial Exclusion Zones
4. The Use of Force in Relation to Iraqi Disarmament Obligations 1991-1998
5. Resolution 1441 (2002) and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq
6. The Role of International Law in UK Decision-Making
7. Conclusion: The Use of Force in International Law after Iraq

About the author: 

Dr Marc Weller is a leading expert in international law and on the law governing the use of force by states. Based in the University of Cambridge, he has documented and analyzed international action relating to Iraq since the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. His work has covered a variety of other conflicts ranging from the former Yugoslavia and Georgia, to Afghanistan, Burma, Liberia and Sudan. In addition to his scholarly work reflected in some 20 authored, edited or co-edited books, Dr Weller has been active as an advisor to governments and as an expert consultant to the United Nations and the Council of Europe. He has served as the director of the Cambridge Rockefeller Project on the Restoration of an International Consensus on the Rules Governing the Use of Force and the Cambridge Carnegie Project on the Settlement of Self-determination Conflicts.

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