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The War on Terror: Self-defence or Aggression?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on inter- rather than intra-state conduct and relations: the policy of using pre-emptive strikes against States harbouring or assisting terrorists. It discusses the post-1945 prohibition against the use of force between States and the potential arguments for and against, and restrictions upon, the pre-emptive use of force per se. The chapter discusses the particular context of anticipatory self-defence in the War on Terror, having regard to particular difficulties posed by such a war and the fact that terrorist conduct is generally perpetrated by non-State actors. The use of force between States, or threat of such, is prohibited by the United Nations Charter. Finally, the policies face the considerable problem of attributing responsibility to States for conduct of terrorist, non-State, actors. While a "but for" test to attribute responsibility seems appropriate, it does not advance the argument in favour of the anti-terror pre-emptive strike policies.

Keywords: non-State actors; pre-emptive strikes; terrorist conduct; United Nations Charter



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