Publication of the week: Dr Francis Grimal9 November 2015
Grimal, F., “Jus ad bellum: Nuclear weapons and the inherent right of self-defence” in Nuclear Weapons, Non-Proliferation & Contemporary International Law: Essays and Commentaries Volume II: General Issues (The Hague: Asser Press, 2015), 337-350. ISBN: 978-94-6265-074-9.
The lawfulness of a state’s recourse to the ‘nuclear option’ as a means of self-defence is still a discussion which sits uncomfortably amongst most scholars, partly, because the seminal advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons delivered by the International Court of Justice in 1996 remains shrouded in legal uncertainty and, perhaps more importantly, because the threshold needed to lawfully invoke the doctrine of self-defence is set so high, and rightly so. Only under exceptional circumstances would a state meet the cardinal requirements of ‘necessity’ and ‘proportionality’. The use of a nuclear weapon as a means of self-defence lies at the very edge of the spectrum. That is not to say that recourse to conventional weapons automatically fulfils the necessity and proportionality requirements.
Dr Francis Grimal is Senior Lecturer in Public International Law at Buckingham, Book Review Editor of Journal on the Use of Force in International Law (see website), and member of the Committee of the International Law Association’s British Branch on Nuclear Weapons, Non-Proliferation and Contemporary International Law.