Evaluating self-defence claims in the United Nations collective security system: between esotericism and exploitability

Roele, Isobel (2009) Evaluating self-defence claims in the United Nations collective security system: between esotericism and exploitability. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis is about identifying valid self-defence claims in the UN collective security system. The thesis suggests a fresh theoretical approach to balancing the imperative for adaptation of the right of self-defence with the danger that too broad a right could be exploited by states wishing to justify national policy. The starting point for the thesis is the twin realist criticisms that the right of self- defence is either too narrowly drawn and therefore not fit for the purpose of protecting states‘ interests, or too broadly drawn and therefore hostage to the subjective interpretation of states using force. These problems were intensified during the Administration of former President G.W. Bush in the USA. In this work, these two criticisms are dubbed 'esotericism' and 'exploitation' respectively.

The problem of self-defence, as an exception to the general prohibition on the use of force, is often phrased in terms of a choice between the is of state practice and the ought of abstract norms. In this thesis, it is suggested that no such choice needs to be made. In order to identify a valid self-defence claim, the is of evaluative state practice is harnessed and constrained by a process of argumentation grounded in mutual understanding of the facts of a given case. Two strands of social theory are used to accomplish this. One of them questions whether states have to be conceived as rationally self-interested actors and suggests that the key to the identification of valid self-defence claims is for states to take responsibility for their claims and evaluations of the right. The other strand of theory expands on Habermas‘ idea of the criticizable validity claim. The report that self-defence has been used should act as a starting point for argumentation and not the last word in national process of decision.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Cryer, R.
Keywords: Self defence, international law
Subjects: K Law > KZ Law of nations. Law of the sea. Space law
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Law
Item ID: 11526
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2010 13:43
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2017 16:12
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11526

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