Self-Defence in International and Criminal Law : The Doctrine of Imminence book cover
1st Edition

Self-Defence in International and Criminal Law
The Doctrine of Imminence

ISBN 9780415859776
Published April 11, 2013 by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

Drawing from scholarship across law, history, politics and philosophy, Self-Defence in International and Criminal Law provides a broad and interdisciplinary approach to the doctrine of self-defence in both domestic criminal and international law. It focuses on the requirement of imminence, which deals with the question of when individuals or States may legitimately resort to defensive force against a serious danger or harm. In both national and international law the imminence requirement, if strictly applied, renders any defensive measure taken in anticipation of a would-be attack illegal. Recently, however, attempts have been made to relax the temporal requirement of the self-defence doctrine (imminence) with a view to allowing individuals or States to employ deadly force to arrest an anticipated threat when they ‘believe’ that using ‘pre-emptive’ lethal force would be the only way to thwart an expected harm. In domestic criminal law, it has been argued that it is necessary to relax the rule of imminence in domestic violence cases where women employ lethal force against their abusive partners when there is no imminent threat to justify defensive force. At the international level, while there has long been controversy as to the justifiability of pre-emptive force in non-confrontational settings, following the September 11 attacks, the Bush Administration’s ‘war on terror’ policy radically shifted the focus from the notion of anticipation to that of prevention, making it clear that, if necessary, it would invoke unilateral force against emerging threats before they are fully formed.

The book surveys the roots, role, rationale, and objectives of self-defence and questions whether the requirement of imminence should be removed from the traditional contours of the self-defence doctrine in national and international law.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. The Doctrine of Self-Defence and its Limits in Criminal Law  2. The Laws of War and the Roots of International Self-Defence  3. From Sovereignty to Unilateralism: A Critique of the Preventive War Doctrine  4. The Role and Rationale of the Imminence Requirement in National and International Law  5. Conclusions

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Onder Bakircioglu is a Lecturer in the School of Law at Queen's University Belfast.


"Bakircioglu explores the state of international law regarding self-defensive preemptions by states in the wake of war or blatant abuse of it by the US in invading and occupying an Iraq that posed no possible threat. He covers the doctrine of self-defense and its limits in criminal law, the laws of war and the roots of international self-defense, a critique of the prevention of war doctrine from sovereignty to unilateralism, and the role and rationale of the imminence requirement in national and international law."—Book News