Use of Force: Is It Justified?

The use of force by is often justified as the ultimate measure against the scenarios that involve an immediate threat to the well-being of any of the parties involved, especially the victim or innocent bystanders. However, the problem of power abuse by the party that ostensibly uses it in self-defense forces also does not exist in a vacuum, which means that the extent to which the police is capable of utilizing brute force when addressing specific situations warrants a discussion. Although the threat of people using force far too often is always a tangible problem, deaths caused by the lack of action out of the fear of overstepping the boundaries of the allowed use of force represents a far greater threat to possible victims of crimes, which is why they use of force should not be restricted in critical situations.

In the context of international law, the application of force as the means of addressing a critical situation is allowed in several instances. The use of force as the self-defense mechanism is the best known and by far the most common one. In addition, the use of force is typically considered in the statewide context, primarily, when examining the idea of a military intervention performed by another state. In this case, the presence of non-state actors in the application of force is deemed as an armed attack, which implies the breach of the existing standards for peace. However, in the instances of war and other cases where innocent bystanders or citizens, in general, suffer extensively, the use of force can become the only tool for humanitarian intervention. Therefore, even in the UN collective security system and the existing standards for maintaining peaceful relationships between states, the concept of the use of force remains very vague, with the boundaries between the allowed amount of force and the one that is considered a breach of rights being quite blurred.

Furthermore, the blurred line between the distinction between the allowed use of force and the scenarios where the application of forceful interventions becomes highly questionable implies the lack of clarity in the choice between rhetoric and control as thee methods of addressing the dilemma of the use of force. Consequently, the issue of the use of force remains a critical aspect of international law and international relationships. Specifically, the clash between the existing international regulations and the traditions for managing civil unrest within specific countries may entail major global conflicts. The specified misunderstanding needs to be addressed on a global level as the source of major disagreements. Specifically, the strategies that could potentially allow controlling the use of force within a state could include considering and eliminating the existing controversies regarding the rules for the use of force.

Despite the differences in the perspective on the use of force within a state, there are rigid standards for the subject matter established in the UN. The specified regulation serves as the standard for gauging the extent of force brutality within a specific state and, thus, defining the necessity to intervene to secure the rights of individuals. Namely, the current UN regulations state the following: “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” (United Nations, n.d.b, para. 8). Therefore, the existing standards imply that the use of force should be applied as the extreme measure that will help to curb the rates of violence within a state and secure the rights of its citizens.

In other words, the current international legal framework suggests that the use of force should be seen as the extreme measure to apply when facing violence and having no other way of resolving the issue, such as contacting the authorities. However, the current international legal framework also states that the UN does not restrict the rights of individuals, organizations, or states for self-defense, which blurs the lines between the justified use of force and the unwarranted one. However, making further adjustments to the existing set of standards does not seem to be possible without harming vulnerable groups, which is why the justification of using force should be provided on a case-by-case basis.

Furthermore, it may be helpful to consider what constitutes self-defense under the current UN standards. Article 51 restricts the reasons for military actions within a state to self-defense, thus creating a chance to control military actions in the global political environment tighter and ensure that the rights of vulnerable groups are not violated (United Nations, n.d.a). Specifically, the actions that are deemed “necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security” are considered the exact definition of self-defense under the regulations provided by the United Nations (n.d.a). Therefore, the current definitions are quite generalized, yet they give a rather clear idea of the circumstances in which force can be applied. However, the lack of clarity and accuracy in the specified definitions creates premises for the existing rules to be used in bad faith.

Namely, the issue of proportionality deserves to be addressed as one of the items that could have been discussed in greater detail. The proportionality concern may arise in the instance of a nuclear attack, in which case a proportional response may entail a literal chain reaction of disasters across the globe. Likewise, the cases of violence being incited by non-state actors suggest that a proportional response may be deemed as unwarranted. The issue becomes even more problematic as one discovers teat there is no clear line marking the distinction between state and non-state actors. Likewise, the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention may be brought into questioning in case the response is considered disproportionate. Therefore, the current UN collective security system will benefit from greater precision in determining the instances in which the use of force can be deemed as reasonable. Thus, the balance between rhetoric and control needs to be found.

The idea of the use of force in critical scenarios, which may easily entail the abuse of the allowed self-defense regulations, is quite questionable. However, the use of force should remain an important legal distinction and a mechanism for defense since it creates the opportunity for people to avoid the threat of violence toward them by perpetrators, as well as the scenarios that involve their possible death. Thus, the notion of the use of force should be considered an important part of the self-defense strategy and the means of securing one’s well-being unless other tools are available. However, for this purpose, it is crucial to draw a clear line between the amount of force that can be used in self-defense and the extent of force that can be considered the abuse of self-defense laws. Thus, the problematic aspects of the phenomenon will be addressed, while the well-being of citizens will be secured.


United Nations. (n.d.a). Chapter I. Web.

United Nations. (n.d.a). Article 51. Web.

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