Just or unjust war? : unilateral use of armed force by states at the turn of the 20th century
The principle of the prohibition on the use of force or threat of force has been repeatedly stressed in United Nations General Assembly resolutions and nowadays, the principle is not only a conventional general principle but it has also become a principle of customary international law as indicated by the International Court of Justice in its decision in the Nicaragua Case and the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons. It is also included by many writers in the commanding principles of international law (Jus Cogens). In spite of this restriction and deep transformation in the legal system, however, at the turn of the 20th century (starting from September 1996 until February 2001), some important unilateral uses of force by some permanent members of the SC in the Persian Gulf and the Balkans took place in the name of the just war theory or under claims of self-defence or defence of others. The present author, however, seriously doubts the legitimacy of those actions under the just war theory or any other rules of international law. It is in this context that this study aims to examine the traditional theory of just war in the light of modern principles of international law relating to the prohibition on the use of force and non-intervention, with a view to assessing the actions of the allied powers in both the Persian Gulf region and the Balkans. In doing so, this project is designed to analyse the claims made by the allied powers to justify use of force under the traditional just war doctrine in an era when such use of force is regulated by the Charter of the UN without any direct reference to the just war doctrine. This project will also examine the significance of the transformation in the limitation and prohibition of use of force in the contemporary international legal system by studying the origin of those tenets and their reflection in both national laws of individual States, and the international laws of armed conflict as formalized in the Geneva and Hague Conventions and United Nations Charter, in order to explore and determine the legitimacy of those unilateral actions in the light of the controversial concepts of human rights and humanitarian intervention under both traditional and the new criteria.