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The Contribution of the International Court of Justice to the Law on the Use of Force: Missed Opportunities or Unrealistic Expectations?

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In recent years, the International Court of Justice has been presented with opportunities to pronounce on important dimensions of the law on the use of force. An assessment of the court's handling of these issues must consider first the role attributed to the Court within the international legal regime for preventing and mitigating the use of force, and thus what exactly would amount to 'success' for the Court in such cases. Notwithstanding the inherent limitations on the Court's capacity in this area, this article argues that the Court has largely failed to provide clear guidance on pressing legal questions. An unwarranted caution in utilising the judicial tools at its disposal is one important factor in this regard. Finally, this article highlights some potential consequences of the Court's recent work for the development of international law on the use of force.

Affiliations: 1: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal; M.St (Oxon), LL.M (Cantab)


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