The use of force in the Nicaraguan Cases

Schabas, William A. ORCID logoORCID: (2018) The use of force in the Nicaraguan Cases. In: Nicaragua Before the International Court of Justice. Sobenes Obregon, Edgardo and Samson, Benjamin, eds. Springer, pp. 305-326. ISBN 9783319629612, e-ISBN 9783319629629, pbk-ISBN 9783319874395. [Book Section] (doi:10.1007/978-3-319-62962-9_13)

PDF - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Download (297kB) | Preview


The 1986 judgment in Nicaragua v. United States is of seminal importance in the development of international law governing the use of force, crowning a process of legal development that began in the first decades of the century. The case concerned various forms of material and logistical support provided by the United States to contra rebels in Nicaragua who were directly responsible for armed attacks. After unsuccessfully challenging Nicaragua’s request for provisional measures and failing at the jurisdiction and admissibility stage, the United States boycotted subsequent proceedings. The Court relied upon customary international law, given the multilateral treaty reservation to jurisdiction of the United States. It distinguished the most grave forms of the use of force (those constituting an armed attack) from other less grave forms. The Court rejected the idea that collective self-defence might have justified the use of force. The judgment has been considered in several subsequent cases before the Court and its holdings on the use of force continue to influence the broader debate, in particular with respect to the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as amended by the Kampala Review Conference, governing the crime of aggression.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
Item ID: 23184
Notes on copyright: This version of the chapter has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:
Useful Links:
Depositing User: William Schabas
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2017 12:52
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 20:20

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.