Article 51 of the United Nations Charter allows for the right of self-defence to be exercised if an armed attack occurs. Modern state practice deviates from a strict interpretation of Article 51. Since 2002 there has been an intense debate as to the legality of self-defence against an imminent threat. States are called to protect their peoples and the international peace and security from the contemporary threats of stateless terrorism, the so-called rogue states and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This article discusses recent claims that the right to self-defence should be extended to include preventive action not against an actual armed attack, even an imminent one, but against a potential threat the consequences of which, if realised in practice, would be devastating and incorrigible.
Until 2007 the King's Law Journal was known as the King's College Law Journal. It was established in 1990 as a legal periodical publishing scholarly and authoritative Articles, Notes and Reports on legal issues of current importance to both academic research and legal practice. It has a national and international readership, and publishes refereed contributions from authors across the United Kingdom, from continental Europe and further afield (particularly Commonwealth countries and USA). The journal includes a Reviews section containing critical notices of recently published books.