Saturday, May 30, 2020

Lieblich: Why Can’t We Agree on When Governments Can Consent to External Intervention? A Theoretical Inquiry

Eliav Lieblich (Tel Aviv Univ. - Law) has posted Why Can’t We Agree on When Governments Can Consent to External Intervention? A Theoretical Inquiry (Journal on the Use of Force and International Law, forthcoming). Here's the abstract:

It is uncontested, in international law, that governments may lawfully request assistance from third parties in a myriad of scenarios, from cooperation in law enforcement to disaster mitigation. However, once a government is internally contested by force, the picture becomes markedly different. For decades, the question endures: when, if at all, do governments possess the authority to invite external assistance in their fight against armed domestic opposition?

This Article does not attempt to answer this question in positive law, nor to offer a normative account on whether or when such authority should exist. Rather, it sets out to ask a "meta" question: why is this question so difficult to resolve? It does so, by utilizing three theoretical approaches to international law: instrumental, critical, and ethical approaches.

As the Article demonstrates, these theoretical approaches expose why the question of authority to consent is especially vexing. From an instrumental perspective, it is difficult both to agree on desirable outcomes, and to construct a forward looking, general standard on authority that would deliver them. From a critical point of view, it seems that standards on authority very quickly collapse into politics. From an ethical prism, the question of authority to consent cannot be disentangled from the authority to use force internally, an issue scantly addressed by international law.

Conceptualizing the difficulties that make consent authority such an enduring problem, can clarify the commitments required – or, in other words – ‘what does it take to believe’ that this or that approach on the question is the better one. Ultimately, this Article seeks to uncover some of the key theoretical problems that must be overcome in order to defend a standard on authority to consent.