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

Exercises in Futility: Can Military Exercises Constitute Provocation for an Attack in Anticipatory Self-Defense?

Cody Marden, Vol. 37 Associate Editor

In November 1983 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) conducted a ten day military exercise known as Able Archer 83. This exercise was arguably the closest the world has ever come to WWIII. The realistic nature of the exercises, combined with the deteriorating relations with the U.S., led many in the USSR to suspect that Able Archer could be a ruse that was actually obscuring preparations for a U.S. first strike.[1] In response to the exercises the USSR placed their nuclear arsenal on standby and placed air units in East Germany and Poland on alert.[2] Luckily, the situation defused itself with the end of the NATO exercise.[3] Continue reading

Understanding the Legality of Russia’s Actions in Syria

Erin Collins, Vol. 37 Associate Editor

Over the past few months we have seen the dramatic increase in Syrian crisis, culminating most recently with a Russian airstrike campaign in Syria. Under the United Nations charter Article 2(4) there is a general prohibition on the use of force. [1] There is a specific exception carved out for self defense in the UN Charter in Article 51 guaranteeing States the “right to individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occur” as well as a more controversial possible exception of humanitarian intervention.[2] Continue reading