Aggression, from Cyber-Attacks to ISIS: Why International Law Struggles to Adapt

Albi Kocibelli
Vol. 39 Editor In Chief

Ius ad bellum and the notion of aggression have been a ‘yin yang’ for centuries.[1] Nevertheless, international law did not prohibit states from engaging in aggression until the conclusion of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.[2] Even then, the term was not defined.  In the aftermath of World War II, the act of aggression was equated with ‘waging of war’ by the Nuremberg Tribunal.[3] Twelve defendants were convicted of that crime.[4] The trial constitutes the fundamentals of the modern understanding of aggression. The term is used twice in the UN Charter. Paragraph 1 of Article 1 lists as one of the Charter’s purposes “the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.” Article 39 empowers the Security Council to determine which acts constitute aggression. However, aggression is nowhere defined in the Charter. Instead, it imposes a general prohibition on the use of force in Article 2(4)[5] and exceptions under Article 51[6] and Chapter 7.[7]  Continue reading