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ABSTRACT


This dissertation employs the doctrinal method of research to appraise the doctrine of Self
defence as one of the fundamental principles of International law, and as one of the exceptions to
the prohibition on the use of force. To this end, this dissertation centers on Article 51 of the
United Nations Charter which provides for the right of self defence in International law. The
dissertation contends that the provisions of Article 51 have generated some controversies among
scholars of International law. These controversies have tended to obscure the scope of self
defence in International law. The major problem of this research is that it is not clear whether
Article 51 has abrogated or preserved the doctrine of anticipatory Self defence in Customary
International law. This problem has been complicated by the use of the phrases ‘inherent right of
individual or collective self defence’ and ‘armed attack’ in Article 51. The question therefore is
that ‘does international law expect a State to do nothing where it is a target of an imminent
attack’? The objective of this dissertation therefore is to examine the relationship between
Article 51 and rules of customary International Law, and the circumstances in which the right of
self defence can be exercised. The dissertation makes some findings by submitting that the
doctrine of preemptive Self defence is contrary to Articles 2(4) and 51 of the Charter which
prohibits unilateral use of force. Furthermore, both Article 51 and customary international law
provide different rules for the exercise of the right of self defence .The writer suggests that there
is urgent need for an amendment of Article 51 to bring it in line with current global challenges to
global security. The phrase ‘armed attack’ should be well defined and the concept of collective
self defence should be deleted from Article 51.

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