Threats of Force

International Law and Strategy

By Francis Grimal

© 2013 – Routledge

222 pages

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Paperback: 9781138843394
pub: 2014-09-12
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Hardback: 9780415609852
pub: 2012-11-21
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About the Book

Despite recent attempts by scholars to examine the absolute prohibition of threats of force under Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, threats remain a largely un-chartered area in international law when compared with actual uses of force. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach and utilising strategic literature and international relations theory, this book examines the theoretical nature behind a threat of force, which, helps to inform and explain why and how the normative structure operates in the way that it does. In addition to considering the normative rules regarding threats of force, this book focuses heavily on understanding the theory of threats of force or "threat theory". Drawing on strategic studies for an insight into practical workings of international law, the heart of the book examines whether international law, or indeed the international community, should distinguish between a threat of force which is little more than mere "sabre rattling" and one that is serious enough to send a state to DEFCON 1. Finally, the book considers the point at which a state pursuing nuclear capabilities may breach Article 2(4) with particular reference to both North Korean and Iranian efforts to pursue nuclear technology.

This topical book will be of great interest not only to scholars and postgraduates in international law but also to academics and students in the fields of political science, international relations and strategic studies.


‘Dr Grimal is to be commended for a thought-provoking and scholarly contribution to the debate’ - Peter Slinn for The Denning Law Journal (2013, Vol 25, pp 263-264 )

'The author’s analysis is comprehensive, his approach is solid and his attempt to (re)define the concept of threats of force is admirably well grounded in practical examples and a broad theoretical base.' - Karen Hulme for the Netherlands International Law Review (Vol 60, Issue 3, December 2013)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Historical Analysis 2. International Instruments Post-Charter 3. Judicial Interpretation 4. UN Practice 5. Threat Theory 6. Iran and North Korea 7. An Alternative Means of Prohibiting Threats of Force within Article 2(4) 8. Conclusion

About the Author

Francis Grimal lectures in International Law at the University of Buckingham. He is a member of the Committee of the International Law Association’s British Branch on Nuclear Weapons, Non-Proliferation & Contemporary International Law. His research interests include the use of force, nuclear non-proliferation, self-defence, collective security, humanitarian intervention and international humanitarian law and he has published in North American and European International Law Journals.

About the Series

Routledge Research in International Law

The series offers a space for new and emerging scholars of international law to publish original arguments, as well as presenting alternative perspectives from more established names in international legal research.  Works cover both the theory and practice of international law, presenting innovative analyses of the nature and state of international law itself as well as more specific studies within particular disciplines. The series will explore topics such as the changes to the international legal order, the processes of law-making and law-enforcement, as well as the range of actors in public international law. The books will take a variety of different methodological approaches to the subject including interdisciplinary, critical legal studies, feminist, and Third World approaches, as well as the sociology of international law. Looking at the past, present and future of international law the series reflects the current vitality and diversity of international legal scholarship.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / International
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Diplomacy