May the force be with you: The legal classification of intervention by invitation

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that states can consent to the military presence of other states on their territory. This is better known as intervention by invitation. Yet many issues surrounding this concept remain unclear or are too easily accepted, e.g. its name and its place within the rules of jus ad bellum. This article seeks to clarify and resolve these issues. First, an analysis is conducted into what the two terms intervention and invitation actually entail. The term intervention is contrasted with the use of force and the entire concept of intervention by invitation is differentiated from collective self-defence. It is concluded that the threshold of force has been met and thus the focus should be placed on the rules regulating this field of law, rather than the rules of non-intervention. The concept would be more aptly labelled as the use of force by invitation. Second, this article examines where intervention by invitation finds its place in relation to the prohibition of the use of force. Alternative perspectives are investigated encompassing the scope of Article 2(4) UN Charter and the circumstances precluding wrongfulness under the rules of state responsibility, of which consent is of particular relevance here. This article concludes that intervention by invitation falls outside the scope of Article 2(4) as the force is not used within international relations. The prohibition of the use of force therefore does not apply to intervention by invitation. Consequently, an action of intervention by invitation is legal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-45
Number of pages25
JournalNetherlands International Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • (Prohibition of the) use of force
  • Circumstances precluding wrongfulness
  • Collective self-defence
  • Consent
  • Intervention by invitation
  • Jus ad bellum
  • PART

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