The Inherent Right of Self-Defence in International Law

  • Murray Colin Alder

Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 19)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Murray Colin Alder
    Pages 25-44
  3. Murray Colin Alder
    Pages 45-69
  4. Murray Colin Alder
    Pages 71-90
  5. Murray Colin Alder
    Pages 125-174
  6. Murray Colin Alder
    Pages 175-181
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 183-221

About this book


Determining the earliest point in time at which international law authorises a state to exercise its inherent right of self-defence is an issue which has been debated, but unsatisfactorily reasoned, by scholars and states since the 1960’s. Yet it remains arguably the most pressing question of law that faces the international community. This book unravels the legal and factual complications which have obscured the answer to this question. In contrast to most other works, it takes an historic approach by tracing the evolution of the rights, rules and principles of international law which have governed the use of force by states since the 16th century. Its emphasis on self-defence provides the reader with a new and complete understanding of how and why the international legal framework limits defensive force to repelling an imminent threat or use of offensive force which is directed at the territory of a state. 

Taking an historic approach enables this book to resurrect an understanding of the human defensive instinct which has guided the formation of the international law of self-defence. It also explains the true legal nature and scope of the inherent right of self-defence, of anticipatory self-defence and provides a definition of the legal commencement of an armed attack for the purpose of Article 51 of the Charter. Finally, the reader will receive a unique source of research materials and analysis of state practice and of scholarly works concerning self-defence and the use of force since the 16th century, which is suitable for all readers of international law around the world.


Anticipatory Self-Defence Armed Attack Armed Attack Between Sovereign States Controversial Instances of the use of Force Covenant of the League of Nations 1919 General Treaty for the Renunciation of War 1928 Inherent Right of Self-Defence Inherent Right of Self-Defence International Customary Law International Law Judgments of the International Court of Justice Offensive and Defensive War Preemptive use of Armed Force Prohibition of the Threat or use of Force Recognition of the Inherent Right of Self-Defence Sovereign Right to Use War Theory of Just War Treaties Restricting the use of War Use of Force Between States

Authors and affiliations

  • Murray Colin Alder
    • 1
  1. 1.School of LawMurdoch University,Western AustraliaMurdochAustralia

Bibliographic information