IBA Annual Conference Sydney 2017

8 Oct - 13 Oct 2017

Room C2.2, Convention Centre, Level 2

Session information

The use of force in the territory of non-consenting states: expansive interpretations, justifications and the status of customary international law

Wednesday 11 October (0930 - 1045)

Room C2.2, Convention Centre, Level 2


War Crimes Committee (Lead)
Criminal Law Committee
Judges' Forum


The prohibition against the use of force among sovereign states is embedded within the UN Charter, as well as many other instruments of international law. The only exceptions to said prohibition are instances of individual or collective self-defence, and the enforcement of international peace and security. Both these exceptions have been, and continue to be, topics of fascinating debates among international law scholars and practitioners. Discussions concerning the concepts of pre-emptive and anticipatory self-defence, for example, or on the scope of Chapter VII enforcement of international peace and security abound in international legal circles. In view of the likely activation of the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction on the crime of aggression, these questions are destined to remain at the centre of the international community’s legal debates. Questions surrounding, for example, whether self-defence can be invoked against non-state actors, what are the limits of non-combatants evacuations operations, on the scope and existence of a right to humanitarian intervention, and on the classification of an armed conflict are ever-consequential in that they enable, prevent, or otherwise infringe upon considerations on the use of military force in the territory of a non-consenting State. By discussing international jurisprudence on the subject, State’s understanding of customary international law as evidenced by their State practice and opinio juris, and doctrinal and scholarly views, this panel will offer an informed discussion on the fundamental question of whether or not expansive interpretations of the exceptions to the prohibition against the use of force, or emerging ‘justifications’ for contraventions to the prohibition, are taking root among the international legal community, and on what is the status of international law on the subject.

Session / Workshop Chair(s)

Federica D'Alessandra Oxford Institute for Ethics Law and Armed Conflict, Oxford, England; Co-Chair, War Crimes Committee


William Campbell KC Attorney-General's Department, Other City, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Georgia Hinds International Committee of the Red Cross, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Gregory William Kehoe Greenberg Traurig, Tampa, Florida, USA; Co-Chair, War Crimes Committee