Published in Issue 2, December 2018

The United States has considered the use of military force against North Korea in response to ongoing threats of nuclear attack. International law, stemming from the United Nations prohibits such action save for narrowly defined circumstances. This paper explores the web of customary and black letter law determining the current position of the United States and whether the use of military force would be considered a breach of the Charter of the United Nations (the Charter). It concludes that, in consideration of events up until 5 December 2017, the United States does not fall within the exception to the general prohibition on force due to the absence of sufficient action by North Korea which could be interpreted as an attack for the purposes of the Charter. Hypothetical situations are drawn on throughout the analysis to identify events which may alter the United States’ position against North Korea.


Key words:

Use of force, self-defence, armed attack, prohibition of force, proportionality, necessity,