The United Nations Charter

The United Nations Charter

Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter :

[a]ll members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

  • regarded now as a principle of customary international law
  • such is binding upon ALL States
    • – Skubiszewski; L. Henkin, R.C. Pugh, O. Schachter and H. Smit; St Paul; Cot and Simma

Article 2 (6) of the UN Charter :

UN ‘shall ensure that states which are not members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.’

elaborated as a principle of international law in 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations

  1. Wars of Aggression : constitute a crime against peace for which there is responsibility under international law
  2. States must NOT threaten or use force to violate existing international frontiers (including demarcation or armistice lines) or to solve international disputes.
  3. States are under a duty to refrain from acts of reprisal involving the use of force.
  4. States must not use force to deprive peoples of their right to self-determination and independence.
  5. States must refrain from organising, instigating, assisting or participating in acts of civil strife or terrorist acts in another state and must not encourage the formation of armed bands for incursion into another state’s territory.
  • 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law is NOT of itself a binding legal document, it is important as an interpretation of the relevant Chapter provisions.
  • Exceptions to banned “Use of Force” :
    • Collective Measures taken by UN
    • Right to Self Defence
    • Humanitarian Intervention ( controversial )


  • Article 2 (6) of UN Charter : addressed to “All States,” NOT “Member States” only
    • UN Council Resolution 757 (1992) adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter is another example