Self - defence in the Post - 9/11: An Examination of the Jurisprudence of the ICJ



In the new millennium, the scope and limits of the use of force in international relations are still the subject of strong debate. It is generally accepted that resort to force in self - defence is lawful under contemporary international law, but several doctrines have been advanced in recent decades as to the meaning and scope of this right. Some legal scholars and states representatives favour an expanded interpretation of the right of self - defence. It is certainly true that September 11 generated a new dimension in legal and political discourse. The International Court of Justice after 9/11 dealt with disputes involving the use of force, allegedly in self - defence, in the case concerning oil platforms, the Palestinian Wall advisory opinion and the Armed Activities case. We conclude that the ICJ reaffirmed and outlined the conditions for the legitimate use of self - defence established in the Nicaragua case, namely the existence of an armed attack; proportionality and necessity of the actions taken, and employment of force in self – defence against a military target. The court strengthened the condition of an armed attack, on the basis of treaty and customary law, thereby opting for a restrictive interpretation of the right of self - defence.