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The Nicaragua Judgement and the Use of Force – 30 Years Later
The Nicaragua Judgement and the Use of Force – 30 Years Later

Author(s): Roman Kwiecień
Subject(s): Law, Constitution, Jurisprudence, International Law
Published by: Instytut Nauk Prawnych PAN
Keywords: armed attack; counter-measures; customary international law; Nicaragua; judgement; non-State actors; self-defence; UN Charter; use of force

Summary/Abstract: In light of contemporary circumstances, on the 30th anniversary of the Nicaragua judgement it is worth revisiting and considering again certain legal problems decided by – and raised by – the ICJ judgement. This article addresses the importance of the judgement in terms of international legal regulations on the use of force. First and foremost, the article examines the concept of armed attack based on the “gravity” criterion elaborated by the Court and the exercise of the right of self-defence. Moreover, the relationship between customary international law and treaty law, as well as forcible counter-measures and military actions against non-State actors are also discussed in the article. It is argued that the “gravity” criterion used by the ICJ seems controversial and, consequently, may limit the right of self-defence. On the other hand, however, the judgement established a strong barrier to the realization of individual political interests by militarily powerful States. This is the Nicaragua judgement’s long-lasting legacy. In this sense the judgement has stood the test of time.

  • Issue Year: 2016
  • Issue No: 36
  • Page Range: 21-36
  • Page Count: 16
  • Language: English