The use of indirect force and international law

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The indirect use of force by states has seen a steady rise in recent years. With the emergence of new modes of asymmetric warfare, the state use of indirect force is gradually moving away from the covert style of the Cold War era to a more overt form. Despite such changing trends, this is a state practice that has received very little critical scrutiny and, as a result, its position within the existing international legal framework remains unclear. By viewing this practice through both doctrinal and critical, theoretical lenses, particularly in the context of indeterminacy and TWAIL approaches, this thesis seeks to demonstrate that the inadequate scrutiny of the state use of indirect force can be attributed to the inherent weakness of positivist legal frameworks in accommodating the tensions between state sovereignty and state power. The central argument of this thesis is that the current structure of international law and mainstream jurisprudence on the meaning and scope of the prohibition of the use of indirect force is suited to favour powerful states, while marginalising weaker and/or developing states. This thesis proposes that the existing modes of interpretation in mainstream legal doctrines need urgent revision to adequately accommodate the tensions between state sovereignty and state power.
Date of Award6 Sept 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Sussex
SupervisorTarik Kochi (Supervisor) & Richard Vogler (Supervisor)

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