3 October 2018

UNAI Quiz: Refrain from threat or use of force
















The United Nations Academic Impact is informed by a commitment to support and advance ten basic principles, out of which the tenth is A commitment to the principles inherent in the United Nations Charter.

Principle number 4 in the United Nations Charter reads: All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Test your knowledge about this UN principle of the with the UNAI Quiz!!

Scroll down to the bottom of this article to find the answers.


1. Is the signalled intention to use force illegal in all cases?

a) Yes.

b) No.

c) It depends upon various factors.

2. Is any agression of a State to another State a breach of this principle?

a) Yes.

b) No.

c) It could be, depending of the circumstances.

3. What can be defined as an aggression?

a) A set of acts defined as such by international law.

b) The violation of the responsibilities derived from a treaty.

c) Any of the above.

4. Has the UN reacted to an invasion of one of its Members?

a) Never.

b) It might in the future.

c) Yes.

5. Can the use of force be consistent with the Purposes of the United Nations?

a) It might, if approved by the UN Security Council.

b) Yes.

c) No.



1.c) While there is no concrete answer regarding this, the main judicial body of the United Nations, the International Court Justice, in its Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, stated: "In order to lessen or eliminate the risk of unlawful attack, States sometimes signal that they possess certain weapons to use in self-defence against any State violating their territorial integrity or political independence. Whether a signalled intention to use force if certain events occur is or is not a "threat" within Article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter depends upon various factors (...) In short, if it is to be lawful, the declared readiness of a State to use force must be a use of force that is in conformity with the Charter. For the rest, no State - whether or not it defended the policy of deterrence - suggested to the Court that it would be lawful to threaten to use force if the use of force contemplated would be illegal".

2.a) Says the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States adopted by the UN General Assembly that indeed an aggression does violate this principle because: "A war of aggression constitutes a crime against the peace, for which there is responsibility under international law". Moreover, a war of agression can derive into a 'crime of aggression' as stated in article 8 bis of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which notes that such a crime "means the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations".  

3.a) Aggression implies, as per Resolution 3314 (XXIX) adopted by the UN General Assembly, the following acts: "(a) The invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State, or any military occupation, however temporary, resulting from such invasion or attack, or any annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof; (b) Bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State or the use of any weapons by a State against the territory of another State; (c) The blockade of the ports or coasts of a State by the armed forces of another State; (d) An attack by the armed forces of a State on the land, sea or air forces, or marine and air fleets of another State; (e) The use of armed forces of one State which are within the territory of another State with the agreement of the receiving State, in contravention of the conditions provided for in the agreement or any extension of their presence in such territory beyond the termination of the agreement; (f) The action of a State in allowing its territory, which it has placed at the disposal of another State, to be used by that other State for perpetrating an act of aggression against a third State; (g) The sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to the acts listed above, or its substantial involvement therein".

4.c) Yes. In one case for instance, the UN Security Council decided through its Resolutions 660 and 661 (1990), to apply sanctions against Iraq for what was called the "invasion" of Kuwait, which was firmly condemned. Back then, the Council was aiming, as stated in the preamble of Resolution 661, "to bring the invasion and occupation of Kuwait by Iraq to an end and to restore the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Kuwait".

5.a) The UN Security Council, as provided in the article 42 of the Charter, if "consider that measures provided for in article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations". This would be a use of force, if approved by the Council, consistent with the Purposes of the Organization, the first one of which is: "To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace (...)".