Preventive War and the legitimacy of Self-Defence reasoning

  • Paschalis Pechlivanis

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


The central theme of the present dissertation is the question whether preventive war can be legitimised on self-defence grounds. Prevention despite being an old concept gained momentum due to the 2003 war in Iraq. The basic justification evoked in favour of preventive war was a radically revised reading of the right of self-defence as it was expressed in the 2002 National Security Strategy of the USA. However the relevant argumentation was developed in a confusing and inconsistent way triggering much controversy. Therefore, this thesis aims to clarify the content of both concepts; self-defence and preventive war. The intention of this work is to engage initially with the composing ideas of its central research question and after their analysis to proceed to their synthesis. The conceptual compatibility of the two composing notions will be examined in scrutiny pointing to the direction of their parallel and thus never intersecting nature, exposing the futility of several theoretical attempts to justify the preventive version of self-defence. The analytical method will be largely interdisciplinary meaning that the concepts in question will be approached through a variety of lenses including international relations theory, international law and the Just War tradition along with historical, ethical and philosophical elements. The purpose of this combination is an in depth and spherical apprehension of the particular qualities and attributes of this complex issue
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorToni Erskine (Supervisor)

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