The continued relevance of established rules and institutions relating to the use of force

James Crawford, Rowan Nicholson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the relevance of the international law and institutions governing the use of force (jus ad bellum). It considers a number of critiques centred on whether the rules expressed in the UN Charter are effective in practice, too indeterminate, or too strict. First is the realist critique that views the rules on the use of force as ineffective. Second is the legal critique that the prohibition on the use of force does not amount to international law at all. In particular, the chapter discusses Michael Glennon’s argument in Chapter 3 of this volume that the principle of ‘sovereign equality’ has prevented the United Nations, especially the Security Council, from addressing emerging crises. It also argues that the UN Charter rules, while not always optimally effective, have played a key role in reducing interstate armed conflict since 1945.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Use of Force in International Law
EditorsMarc Weller
Place of PublicationOxford, UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print) 9780199673049
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • international law
  • sovereign equality
  • UN Charter rules
  • legal critique
  • United Nations


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