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The Threat of Force in International Law

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Part of Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law

  • Date Published: September 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521133616

$ 51.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Threats of force are a common feature of international politics, advocated by some as an economical guarantee against the outbreak of war and condemned by others as a recipe for war. Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter forbids states to use threats of force, yet the meaning of the prohibition is unclear. This book provides the first comprehensive appraisal of the no-threat principle: its origin, underlying rationale, theoretical implications, relevant jurisprudence, and how it has withstood the test of time from 1945 to the present. Based on a systematic evaluation of state and United Nations practices, the book identifies what constitutes a threat of force and when its use is justified under the United Nations Charter. In so doing, it relates the no-threat principle to important concepts of the twentieth century, such as deterrence, escalation, crisis management, and what has been aptly described as the 'diplomacy of violence'.

    • Provides readers with a guide to state practice from 1945 to 2003
    • Shows readers how international law and international relations can be combined, and how empirical research on state practice can be conducted in international law
    • Allows readers to understand how the UN Security Council works in crisis situations
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    • Awarded the American Society of International Law Certificate of Merit in a Specialized Area 2008

    Reviews & endorsements

    "[...] Nikolas Stürchler deserves not only the credit for having submitted the first comprehensive analysis on "Art. 2 (4)'s blind spot" (1), but also for having approached this subject matter in a well-balanced, historically informed, and excellently written manner. The overall objective of his treatise is to both explore the legal meaning of the no-threat principle and to draw conclusions on how it operates in practice, and it shall be stated right at the outset that Stürchler succeeds in having this aim. [...] Stürchler's book is an excellent piece of academic work which deserves a wide readership, not only with a view to the detailed and standard-setting examination of State practice contained therein."
    --Alexander Proelβ, German Yearbook of International Law

    "...Nikolas Stürchler wisely presents his findings in careful language, surrounded with many caveats....Stürchler has accomplished an admirable piece of work, setting a high standard especially for those who seek to study state practice in a systematic, nonimpressionistic way. He combines finesse in legal thinking with a thorough knowledge of international relations readings. While breaking new ground on an important legal subject, he never overreaches himself...."
    --ALFRED VAN STADEN, Leiden Journal of International Law, 21 (2008), pp. 995–1003

    "...there is every reason to be thankful to the author for bringing the topic of threats of force to the fore. There is no doubt that the book identifies a regrettable gap in the legal literature..."
    --Yoram Dinstein, Tel Aviv University, The American Journal of International Law

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521133616
    • length: 384 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 150 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Birth and infancy of a Charter rule: the open framework
    2. The menu of choice: a guide to interpretation
    3. Precedents of the International Court
    4. Deciphering post-Charter practice: means and limits
    5. Open threats to extract concessions
    6. Demonstrations of force
    7. Countervailing threats or threats in self-defence
    8. Findings and conclusions
    9. Epilogue: the law in operation.

  • Author

    Nikolas Stürchler, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland
    Senior research fellow at the World Trade Institute and visiting lecturer in international and constitutional law at the University of Basel.


    • Awarded the American Society of International Law Certificate of Merit in a Specialized Area 2008

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