Legality of Foreign Military Intervention in International Law: Four Case Studies

In: Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law Online
Mindia Vashakmadze
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Foreign military intervention in internal conflicts remains an important feature of today’s international relations. At the same time, the paradigms of interventions in international law are changing. In today’s world, questions related to legality and legitimacy of foreign military interventions are more often raised than ever. However, in many cases, there is a gap between legality and legitimacy of such interventions. Concepts such as humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect attempted to bridge this gap; however, both concepts remain contested. Complex questions of substantive law and the institutional framework of collective security are discussed in this context. Meanwhile, classic exceptions to the general prohibition on the use of force, such as self-defence, are broadly interpreted. Certain States aspire to revive their ambitions by using military means to protect nationals abroad. The paper examines four cases (Georgia, Libya, Syria and Ukraine) in which different arguments have been held to justify military interventions. It attempts to answer the question as to whether there are new paradigms of military intervention in international law and to what extent the arguments made by the States to justify military interventions have influenced relevant norms and the structure of international law.

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