International Law Studies


Jens Ohlin


The following article reorients mainstream conceptions of self-defense by defending a broader doctrine of legitimate defense that, in limited circumstances, justifies unilateral intervention. The source of the doctrine is natural law, which was explicitly incorporated into the text of UN Charter Article 51. The effect of this incorporation was to preserve, as a carve-out from the prohibition against force in Article 2, the natural law rights of defensive force. Specifically, the Article concludes that defensive force under natural law included, in extreme situations, a right of intervention in rogue States that refused to comply with natural law.