Internationallaw is comprised of different aspects such as treaties, charters (for examplethe UN Charter), protocols, international agreements, customs and legalprecedents (Wet 2002). Traditionally,international law was mainly concerned with governing of relationship betweenstates. However, the law has undergone considerable evolution over the years toinclude relations between international organizations’, individuals and states.This has greatly broadened the international law. Internationallaw plays an essential role in solving global concerns/issues affectingdifferent facets of humanity such as insecurity.
Focarelli (2012) supports theview that international law can enhance promotion of global justice if it isconsidered as a social phenomenon. Oneof the fundamental responsibilities of the state is to ensure security in thesociety. According to Ruka (2017), individual states and the internationalcommunity have duties and responsibilities that they are required to fulfilunder the substantive and formative law amongst them promoting security in thesociety. Thus, the state is linked to international law. Unlikedomestic/national law, implementation of international law by states isvoluntary (Janzekovic & Silander 2014). States are required to voluntarily accept the commitments stipulatedunder the international treaty in order to be bound by such commitments.
The voluntary nature of international law hasconsiderable implications on the extent to which states may comply with theinternational treaties. Childress (2011)emphasise that the lack of central enforcement under international law meansthat states must be motivated to comply by other factors rather than the threatof facing internal sanctions. This indicates that international law may becharacterised by challenges in shaping state behaviour.
This research paper evaluates the extent towhich international law shapes state behaviour with reference to the UN Charterand international law governing the use of force. The analysis evaluates thecircumstances and extent to which international law either prohibits or allowsstates to use force. Analysis International law and state behaviourIninternational law, the phrase state behaviour is used to refer to how acountry’s domestic behaviour is influenced or altered by the goals andobjectives of stipulated by international institutions or treaty obligations(Withana 2008). In an effort to promote global peace following occurrence ofWorld War I and II, the United Nations formulated a Charter whose goal was toeliminate the use of armed force in dealing with conflicts between states.Article 2(4) of the Charter prohibits UN member states from threatening orresorting to use of force against another politically independent state orthreatening its territorial integrity or acting in a manner that is contrary tothe purposes of the UN (Joyner 2005; Arend & Beck 2014). In spite of theserequirements, there are grounds on which the UN Charter allows states to resortto use of force as expounded herein. Self-defence States’involvement in transnational intervention is considered violation of anothercountry’s territorial integrity and national independence (Withana 2008). States may only be permitted to resort toforce as self-defence.
A state has a right to self-defence and hence may takethat action by itself. Alternatively, a state may seek assistance of anotherstate. An attack on one of UN member states may compel other states to respondby attacking the aggressor (Reus-Smit 2004). For example, according to Article5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, an attack on a member state is considered anattack on all the NATO member states. Under such circumstances, the memberstates are obliged to attack. This indicates that international law may compelstates to act collectively in response to use of force. A decision to use force in self-defence musthowever be authorised by the UN Security Council in accordance with Chapter 7of the UN Charter (Withana 2008).
Ingranting a state the right to use force in self-defence, the UN SecurityCouncil evaluates whether the situation faced poses a breach of a state’speace, threatens peace or is an act of aggression. The Security Council’s goal in granting astate permission to use force is to enhance restoration and maintenance ofinternational security and peace (Focarelli 2012). This indicates that the UNCharter, which forms a key component of international law, advocates for statesto adopt the state of non-intervention unless a decision to resort to force isratified by the UN Security Council (Mgbeoji 2003). Through this approach,international law has been successful in shaping state’s behaviour byrestricting them from resorting to use of force or acting violently towardsother states in their international relations. Ifa state resorts to use of force against another state under the principle ofself-defence, the particular state must prove a number of elements in order toits actions not to amount to an illegality under the international law. The state must prove that its decision to useforce was a necessity of self-defence. A state can prove necessity ofself-defence by illustrating that its decision to use force was as a result ofa looming armed attack by another state. Therefore, a state cannot rely oneconomic reasons in using force against another state (Scott, Billingsley 2010).
In the event of an imminent armed attack, the state may notnecessarily use force against another country but also an organisation. This assertion is evidenced in the 1976 caseof Israel and Uganda in which Israel commandos conducted an armed raid onEntebbe Airport in an effort to save a number of Israeli nationals takenhostage by a Palestinian terrorist group. Israel’s justification in using forcein another state was because the Ugandan government was either unable orunwilling to respond in saving the Israel nationals (Aust 2010). Article 51 ofthe UN Charter allows states to resort to use of force in the event ofterrorist attack. In light of this, internationallaw provides states the capacity to respond to security threats posed by notonly states but also non-state actors such as terrorist groups.
The rationaleof the concept of imminent attack is to enable a country pre-empt such anattack. The action to use force should have beeninstant and did not leave choice of means. In proving that the use of force of necessary, a state must show thatthere was no any other feasible option under the circumstances faced(Tsagourias & Buchan 2015).The state should also prove that there was notime for deliberations. Moreover, the state must also prove that itsapplication of force in self-defence was not unreasonable or excessive becausethe actions were limited by the need for self-defence and hence limited to that(Gross & Aolain 2001).
On the basis of this, states are required toensure that their behaviour in the event of self-defence is proportionate.Subsequently, if states consider using force as self-defence, they must refrainfrom applying force that is more than what is necessary in repelling an act ofaggression, breach of or threat to its nation peace. Disproportionate use offorce in situations of self-defence is illegal under international law(Malanczuck 2002). This aspect is underlined in the 1987 and 1988 case in whichthe US launched an attack on Iranian oil platforms in response to Iran’s attackon the US and a number of its ships with mines and missiles. Inaddition to attacking the Iranian oil platforms, the US also sank two Iranianfrigates, naval vessels and destroyed Iranian aircrafts. In response to USactions, the International Court of Justice ruled that US’s actions weredisproportionate in enacting its right to self-defence (Solis 2010). In case ofself-defence, the UN Charter specifically requires states to ensure that forceis specifically restricted for the instant purpose.
Thus, states are prohibitedfrom resorting to use of force for purposes of punitive attack, reprisals orretribution (Aust 2010). Ifa state uses force contrary to the UN Charter, sanctions may be used againstsuch a country. The use of such strategy has greatly enabled countries torefrain from using force in their international relations. This underlines thatinternational law influences how states should behave in resorting to use offorce as an approach to self-defence.Enforcement action Under the UN Charter, the SecurityCouncil has the power to compel states to use force on its behalf as anenforcement action. This situation may occur if the Security Council, which ischarged with the responsibility of maintaining international security andpeace, determines that attainment of this goal as stipulated by Article 39 ofthe UN Charter is under threat or has been breached. In its legal capacity, theSecurity Council may direct its member states to use force in assisting a stateunder threat to quash the threat.
Through this approach, the Security Councilis able to assist states undertake their responsibility hence improving itssuccess in promoting international peace and security (Abass 2012). Forexample, in 1990, the Security Council compelled states led by the US to apply’all necessary means’ to liberate Kuwait from an attack and subsequentoccupation by Iraq (Aust 2010). Therefore, a resolution based on the UN Chartercan allow states to either individually or collectively apply armed forceagainst another state that violated peace and security or a non-state actoroperating within the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, states may berequired to use force as a matter of obligation. Through this approach, the UNCharter on use of force is able to influence states’ behaviour. Humanitarian intervention Inaddition to the exception on use of force on ground of self-defence and as anenforcement action, states may also be required to use force on humanitariangrounds. Humanitarian intervention is an important subset of international lawthat governs the use of force. According to Zaid (2013), humanitarianintervention ‘occupies an institutional position alongside securityauthorisation and self-defence as a legitimate and legal reason for war'(p.
1). In spite of the fact that the UNCharter is not explicit on the use of force in response to humanitarian issues,the UN Security Council may authorise use of force such as militaryintervention against other sovereign states in an effort to safeguard thelivelihood of people and societies that might be threatened by the actions ofthe state (Aust 2010). This aspect is underlined on the concept of responsibilityto protect, which stipulates that the international community is obliged tooffer assistance to a state that which has failed to protect its citizens or isinvolved in acts of repression on its population. Under such circumstances, useof force is considered necessary as a measure of last resort (Abass 2012).
Thecapacity to international law in influencing states to resort to use of forceon ground of humanitarian intervention is well illustrated in the case of 1991military intervention by British, US and French forces in Iraq. The militaryintervention was ratified under Resolution 678 (1990) of Chapter VII (Wet2002). The objective of the military intervention was to offer protection tothousands of Kurds in Northern Iraq who were faced by a serious security threatfrom the Iraq government forces. The livelihood of thousands of Kurds wasthreatened through as a result of internal displacement and subsequently faceda serious humanitarian problem because of lack of basic necessities such aswater, food, shelter and medicine. Failure to provide the affected communitiescould have resulted in thousands of deaths.
However, the Iraq forces restrictedhumanitarian agencies from accessing the affected communities (Aust 2010). In response to the situation, the UN SecurityCouncil approached the entry of the US, UK and French military forces in orderto create an environment for humanitarian aid workers to provide the basicnecessities to the affected (Aust 2010). However, considering the use of forceby the Iraq forces in an effort to bar the foreign military forces fromoperating in the affected region, the French, British and American forcesresorted to use of force in spite of the fact that it was not approved by theUN Security Council on the ground that such an approach would have increasedhuman casualties. Nevertheless, the UK, US and French governments proved thatthe use of force in the military intervention was necessary in dealing withsuch a matter involving extreme human distress. This underlines the fact that the UN Charter is not rigid in controllingstates approach to use force against another state if the use of force isjustifiable on humanitarian ground (Davidson 2013).
Conclusion Thisessay confirms that international law with reference to the UN Chartergoverning the use of force greatly influences and shapes state behaviour. Inspite of the fact that the Charter prohibits use of force in internationalrelations, there are exceptions on which states may be permitted to use force.One of the grounds relate to cases of self-defence in which a country may applyforce in an effort to protect its national sovereignty. However, states arerequired to ensure that use of force is proportionate and necessary. States mayalso be required to use force by the UN Security Council in undertaking anenforcement action under the responsibility of the UN Security Council topromote international peace and security.
Alternatively, states may alsolegally use force in cases of humanitarian intervention. In summary, theseaspects highlight that international law significantly impacts how statesbehave in response to promotion of domestic and international peace andsecurity. Thus, the international law on use of force under the UN Charter isflexible which improves its effectiveness in promoting international peace andsecurity.