The idea that Article 2(4) UN Charter is subject to a gravity or 'de minimis' threshold, and that small-scale forcible acts remain outside its scope, appears to be gaining ground in recent years. This is illustrated by the finding of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia that Article 2(4) allegedly does not cover targeted killings of single individuals, forcible abductions of individual persons, or the interception of a single aircraft. The question arises whether the acceptance of a gravity threshold does not risk opening Pandora’s box by enabling States to rely on various 'grounds precluding wrongfulness' to justify small-scale forcible actions. Against this background, the aim of the present contribution is to take a fresh look at the notion of the ‘force’ and the conceptual difficulties surrounding it, and to shed further light on the way Article 2(4) UN Charter operates in different settings.
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