The legality of the use of force in international relations

The legality of the use of force in international relations

The subject is the legality of the use of force in international relations,

As part of this research, I would like like combine International law theories such as just war theory and international relations theories such as imperialism, neocolonisalism and neoliberalism.


Within the analytical context of neoliberal imperialism, this research will critically review the different wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996. A country rich in natural resources, including gold, coltan, diamonds, copper etc…, the DRC?s population amongst the poorest on the planet. The DRC is also surrounded by poor neighbours with a complex history, including genocide and relatively better organized armies. During the first (1996) war, all its nine neighbours were part of a coalition that overthrew President Mobutu Sese Seko. The second war (1998) was fought between erstwhile allies on Congolese soil; Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi on the side of a proxy force aiming to overthrow the government. Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe fought alongside of the government in a context of collective security as members of the Southern Development Community (SADC). A subsequent peace agreement between the warring parties created a government of national unity in 2003 and for the first time in the history of the country Congolese people went to the polls in 2006 to elect their leaders. Two more wars stemming from sources supported by Rwanda and Uganda have been fought since the 2006 elections. These recurring wars have resulted in what Mary Kaldor describes in her new war theory as part of a globalised war economy underpinned by transnational ethnicities, globalised arms markets and internationalised Western-global interventions. The new type of warfare is a predatory social condition which damages the economies of neighbouring regions as well as the zone of conflict itself, spreading refugees, identity-based politics and illegal trade. It is also characterised by new forms of violence (the systematic murder of ?others?, forced population expulsion and rendering areas uninhabitable) carried out by new militaries (the decaying remnants of state armies, paramilitary groups, self-defence units, mercenaries and international troops) funded by remittances, diaspora fund-raising, external government assistance and the diversion of international humanitarian aid.

Of the four wars fought in the DRC, Rwanda has played a leading role and has justified its insetervention as national security motivated to avert an attack on its soil, by its armed opposition operating out of Congolese soil. The question here is whether violating Congo?s sovereignty against the principle of non-intervention as stated in the December 1965 UNGA declaration constitutes a legal basis for waging war against a neighbour?

I am a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo and have active in political events since the beginning of the war. During the intercongolese dialogue starting in Botswana in 2002 and eventually in South Africa, I was covering the peace talks as a reporter for New World Outlook and Radio Africa for the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church based in New York. This helped me create a network with politicians, diplomats and members of the civil society. I am also in touch with many warlords, military and the security apparatus involved in different armed conflicts in the DRC. Based on research and other work that I have conducted in the DRC, I have concluded as have many other Congolese scholars, and academics that the armed conflicts in the DRC being motivated by imperialism and neo-colonialism are illegal.




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