“Whoever ill-treats a citizen indirectly injures the State, which must protect that citizen.” Vattel, on ‘The Law of Nations’
The corpus of international law is the most controversial area of law opened for legal battles, when different actors interpret it to favor their interest while taking actions. This regime of law has faced criticism for not having enforcement mechanisms which can be consider as an area of law like a lion without having a teeth. Leaving this behind, this piece assess the US drone strike of Iranian commander which took place in 3 January 2020 in light of international law through doctrinal analysis of different sources.
The world has learn from the atrocities of the two world wars and promised among other things to maintain international peace and security as well as to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war under the preamble of the UN charter. The charter under article 2(4) urge all member states to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. This system of territorial integrity is a matter of sovereignty which is attributable to the Westphalia system of 1648. However, states have an inherent right in exceptional circumstances to resort to use of force under the ambit of art. 51 of the UN charter in situations of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. It’s only in these two scenarios that the charter allowed use of force by states against another state. In this vein, unsettled issues are evolving which are controversial to employ force by states such as, use of force for humanitarian intervention, protection of nationals abroad and national liberation movements.
The US action: Where it falls? Is it under the ambit of International Law?
In the first days of 2020 the Trump administration employed the bush doctrine of anticipatory self-defense in assassinating the Iranian Commander Soleimani in Baghdad. The action of US is not only limited in affecting one UN member state’s sovereignty (Iran) rather it is also unwarranted interference against the territorial integrity of a third UN member state which is Iraq without its knowledge. This shows how power affects the international system and how it gives unfettered freedom for the superpowers in disregarding international law.