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Canadian Yearbook of International Law. Volume 42 (2004), p. 3-34.


When the United Nations was created in 1945, its main purpose was to deal with threats to international peace and security in order to prevent states from waging aggressive wars. Today, especially since 9/11, terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and internal conflicts involving massive violations of human rights are some of the new challenges confronting this organization. The Security Council, which is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security, has not been very consistent and quick in addressing these issues. As a result, when it has failed to authorize collective action, some states have resorted to unilateral military action to respond to real state and human security needs. Such action has prompted the international community to reconsider the international law rules applicable to these new challenges. This article considers whether a state or a coalition of states without UN authorization may or must take military action against another state sponsoring terrorism or depriving its nationals of their internationally recognized human rights.

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