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Use of force by States
International dispute settlement
- R.M.M. Wallace and O. Martin-Ortega, International Law, Sweet & Maxwell, 2013,
chapters 11 & 12;
- Charter of the United Nations, Arts. 1-2 (with emphasis on Art. 2(4)), and Arts. 39-51
(known as Chapter VII of the UN Charter), in: Elementary International Law, Asser
Press, 2013/2015;
- Statute of the International Court of Justice (Arts. 34-38), in: Elementary International
Law, Asser Press, 2013/2015;
- Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, Arts. 1-11, 2027, 34-39 and 49-54, in: Elementary International Law, Asser Press, 2013/2015.
- Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities In and Against Nicaragua
(Nicaragua v. United States of America); Merits, International Court of Justice (ICJ), 27
June 1986, paras. 191-195, in: Elementary International Law, Asser Press, 2013/2015;
- Case Concerning Oil Platforms (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of
America, International Court of Justice (ICJ), 6 November 2003, paras. 25, 45, 48, 50, 51,
61, 62, 64, 72, in: Elementary International Law, Asser Press, 2013/2015.
Teaching objectives:
During this seminar students will practice and acquire skills in:
- assessing information from a public international law perspective in light of international
- understanding the notion of use of force by States under public international law;
- understanding the procedure through which a dispute may be brought in front of the
International Court of Justice and the related political considerations;
- formulating legal arguments relating to both procedural and substantive international law;
- comprehending the interrelationship between dispute settlement and international
Discussion topics:
The seminar will focus on the use of force by States and the possibility of taking a dispute
concerning the legality of use of force in front of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Students will be introduced to these topics via the reading material provided above and the
fictional case provided. The latter will have to be studied in advance of the Seminar. This will
give the students greater time to understand certain complexities of the case and come to the
class with a rough idea of the various arguments to be made. The arguments will be discussed in
class in a mock ICJ hearing.

The Bellum Imminentum Incident

(Supreme Democracy of Antarsia v. the High Kingdom of Revengia)
The Supreme Democracy of Antarsia (henceforth Antarsia) is a neigbouring State of the High
Kingdom of Revengia (henceforth Revengia). The relations between Antarsia and Revengia have
always been tense, and at times violent, but for the time being there is tentative peace. Recently,
fighting has flared up in the border regions where various liberation movements are active. One
of these groups involved is the Groningeneros, who are particularly interested in taking control
over some of the territory of Revengia to establish their own State. The government of Revengia
has employed its military forces to crack down on the Groningeneros operating within its own
territory, so far without success.
One reason why Revengia has failed to get a grip on the Groningeneros is that Antarsia
has been harboring high-ranking members of the Groningeneros and allowing them to use
Antarsian territory in order to prepare and carry out minor incursions into Revengian territory.
Several NGO reports have been published that provide evidence that Antarsia has also been
bankrolling the Groningeneros, offering them not only money, but intelligence, training and
military bases.
On 2 September 2014 the Groningeneros managed to stage a successful attack on three
members of the Revengian government. The Minister of Education was killed in the attack. On 3
September the Antarsian Supreme Chancellor made a broadcast in which he stated that:
Antarsia applauds the bold attack carried out by the Groningeneros. As you know, we support
them in their righteous struggle against Revengia. In fact, we look forward to seeing more attacks
Upon hearing the aforementioned broadcast, the Revengian government immediately
stationed its military on the Antarsian border. It also launched ten drones on Groningeneros
bases, on both Revengian and Antarsian territory. It was reported that two Groningeneros leaders
based in Antarsia were killed. One drone went astray, and landed in an Antarsian village. The
Antarsian Prime Minister broadcast a statement stating: We are outraged at this attack by
Revengia. We have lost so many fellow Antarsians. Antarsia gave no consent to Revengia to
launch these attacks on our territory. This is a violation of international law.
Assess the Revengian attack from the perspective of public international law, in particular the
UN Charter, to which both States are party. Also use the assigned case law. In particular assess:
(1) whether the actions of the Groningeneros gave rise to a right to self-defence by Revengia; (2)
if Antarsia wants to resolve the dispute with Revengia and gain reparation, what steps could it
take?; and (3) if Antarsia wants to take Revengia to the ICJ, what are the procedural