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Eboe-Osuji, C. Military Necessity and Aggression. German Yearbook of International Law, 65(1), 11-36.
Eboe-Osuji, Chile "Military Necessity and Aggression" German Yearbook of International Law 65.1, 2024, 11-36.
Eboe-Osuji, Chile (2024): Military Necessity and Aggression, in: German Yearbook of International Law, vol. 65, iss. 1, 11-36, [online]


Military Necessity and Aggression

Eboe-Osuji, Chile

German Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 65 (2022), Iss. 1 : pp. 11–36

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Article Details


Eboe-Osuji, Chile


Abstract: ‘Military necessity’ is a doctrine of international law which permits a belligerent to use a kind or level of force necessary to subdue an enemy during a war, even when such force is directed at civilians in order to kill them or destroy their means of livelihood – as long as the use of force is reasonable, lawful, and proportional. The doctrine had its greatest value in an era when wars – including aggressive wars – were considered the prerogative of States; although States were required to observe certain norms designed to protect vulnerable interests, particularly civilian populations, their neighbourhoods, their property, and their means of livelihood. In the event of a clash between the prerogative to fight and win a war (even a war of aggression) and the humanitarian imperative, ‘military necessity’ operated to give the right of way to the prerogative that States had to fight and win the war, provided the force which was brought to bear was also reasonable and lawful. But, the march of progress in international law continued to the present era when wars of aggression are no longer permissible in international law: they are not only unlawful, they are criminal. The question now is whether ‘military necessity’ must be doctrinally reconsidered in the context of an unlawful and criminal war of aggression.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Chile Eboe-Osuji\nMilitary Necessity and Aggression 11
I. Introduction 11
II. War as a Sovereign Prerogative 16
III. Aggression as Unlawful or Criminal in International Law 20
IV. A Time Warp 24
V. Reconciling Military Necessity and Aggression 26
A. The Nullity of Turpitude: Ex Injuria Jus Non Oritur 26
B. The Doctrine of Non-Recognition in International Law 29
VI. Conclusion 35