The 2008 conflict in South Ossetia, involving both Georgian and Russian armed forces, attracted much international attention and debate. This article seeks to analyse the international legal framework regarding the use of force which should have applied to this conflict. It will first look at the history of, and circumstances surrounding, the South Ossetian conflict, and then examine the jus ad bellum regarding wars of national liberation and aggression. The concept of intervention to protect nationals abroad will also be discussed. These legal paradigms will then be applied to the events of August 2008 in the region of South Ossetia to analyse the legality of the use of force in this conflict.