2 août 2015

REVUE : Journal on the Use of Force and International Law (vol. 2, issue 1, 2015)

Olivier CORTEN

It is with great pleasure that we introduce the first issue of the second volume of the Journal on the Use of Force and International Law. As ever, legal questions regarding both threats and uses of force can be witnessed within the international community. The crisis continues in eastern Ukraine, despite a ceasefire agreement being reached in Minsk in February 2015, and forcible responses against Islamic State have continued apace within Iraq and Syria, with Egypt broadening the geographical scope of the response to Libyan territory. While the facts on the ground make for disturbing reading, the ways in which some states have justified their actions can also leave a slightly sour taste in one's mouth. While understandable from some perspectives, the use of punitive language by Jordan in responding to the gruesome killing by Islamic State of one of its military pilots whose aircraft had been shot down over Syria raises questions over whether, and, if so, how, the distinction exists between unlawful reprisals and self-defence. Or does the jus ad bellum ultimately have anything to say about this incident, given that it is entirely plausible that Jordan was engaged in a non-international armed conflict with Islamic State?

Volume 2(1) begins with an editorial comment by Tom Ruys, who engages with, and responds to, the article by Agatha Verdebout in volume 1(2) of the journal. Following on from this, Olivier Corten makes an important a contribution to the debate regarding the legal issues raised by the Ukrainian crisis. In this piece, as opposed to addressing issues of whether the rules and norms were violated, Corten asks questions as to if and how the international rules governing the use of force have been impacted upon as a result of the actions that have taken place in the crisis.

Moving on to another issue of particular topical relevance, Jennifer Trahan exposes and explores the ‘grey area’ between Security Council authorised humanitarian interventions (which would not constitute a crime of aggression), and patently unlawful unilateral humanitarian intervention actions (which may do). She argues that many international uses of force to protect human rights would fall into this ‘grey area’ and, as such, would not qualify as criminal acts of aggression; while humanitarian intervention has received considerable attention in the academic literature, the connections of such actions with aggression as set out in the Rome Statute have not been thoroughly explored.

The third piece in this issue, by Raphaël van Steenberghe, address a perennial question for lawyers interested in the jus ad bellum, namely how one assesses and evaluates state practice in the context of the modification and evolution of the law governing self-defence. In his article, van Steenberghe expertly clarifies this methodological debate. In another piece that aims to elucidate a controversial issue, James A Green closes the articles section of the issue by exploring and illuminating the ratione temporis elements of the right of self-defence.

A highly valued regular feature of the JUFIL is its Digest of State Practice. Three recent instances of state practice are in particular responsible for the significant length of this issue's digest: the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine and the indications of Russian involvement in the conflict; the US-led military coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; and Israel's Operation ‘Protective Edge’ in the Gaza Strip. In addition, numerous other less ‘high profile’ developments are scrutinised in the digest, including, for instance, the Japanese cabinet's cautious embrace of ‘collective self-defence’.

Finally, the journal contains two excellent book reviews. The first, by Mikael Baaz, is a review of Governing the Use-of-Force in International Relations: The Post-9/11 Challenge on International Law by Aiden Warren and Ingvild Bode, while Victor Kattan provides us with a critical account of The Politics of Justifying Force: The Suez Crisis, the Iraq War, and International Law by Charlotte Peevers.

As some readers may have noticed, from this issue onwards the journal is no longer published by Hart Publishing but by Routledge Law journals. We are, however, pleased to say that this was not a forcible annexation. While it is with some sadness that the journal is leaving Hart, we are also excited and very much looking forward to our new partnership with Routledge. The JUFIL continues to grow: this month, for example, it was nominated for the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) 2015 Legal Journals Award, which is a great achievement for our fledgling journal.

As ever, we are indebted to all involved with the journal, especially the authors, the Advisory and Editorial Boards, the digest's regional coordinators, and all of those at Hart, and now Routledge, who bring everything to life.

James A. Green, Christian Henderson & Tom Ruys
« Introduction »


Journal on the Use of Force and International Law, James A. Green, Christian Henderson & Tom Ruys
Editorial comment
From passé simple to futur imparfait? A response to Verdebout, Tom Ruys
The Russian intervention in the Ukrainian crisis: was jus contra bellum ‘confirmed rather than weakened’?, Olivier Corten
Defining the ‘grey area’ where humanitarian intervention may not be fully legal, but is not the crime of aggression, Jennifer Trahan
State practice and the evolution of the law of self-defence: clarifying the methodological debate, Raphaël van Steenberghe
The ratione temporis elements of self-defence, James A. Green
Digest of State Practice
1 July-31 December 2014, Tom Ruys & Nele Verlinden
Book Reviews
Governing the Use-of-Force in International Relations: The Post-9/11 Challenge on International Law, Mikael Baaz
The Politics of Justifying Force: The Suez Crisis, the Iraq War, and International Law, Victor Kattan

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