Skip to main content

Striking a Sensible Balance on the Legality of Defensive First Strikes

Posted by on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 in Articles, Vol. 42 No. 2, Volume 42, Volumes.

This Article seeks to develop a clear and sensible legal standard governing defensive first strikes writ large in inter-state conflicts.  Imprecise or improperly gauged legal parameters can contribute to an increased risk of hostilities, whether due to abuse, error, or even reasoned calculation.  The implications of such conduct for states and their populations alike can be enormous.  Although many proposals posit constructive guideposts for such a standard, they tend to be either abstract in structure or limited in material application.  This Article sets forth a legal standard that aims to be simultaneously systematic in approach, comprehensive in scope, and functional in operation—all while embracing the elemental virtues of clarity and realism.  After defining the presumptive baseline standard, the Article sets forth a legal policy framework upon which to erect a standard premised on several key attributes and contemporary security circumstances while fostering legal legitimacy and diminishing the incidence of armed conflict.  The specific proposal for reform consists of three substantive elements: an evidentiary standard, a set of procedural safeguards, and a standard of review.  The Article also compares the prevailing standard with the proposed standard and evaluates the latter’s prospects for adoption.



  • Lazor

    June 7th, 2018

    It’s usually and so special and as well rich in a lot of fun for me personally and also my personal company friends to find your website at the least 3 times in a week to find out the modern direction you have got.

Leave a Response

ExpressO Top 10 Law Review


The Journal is pleased to announce its 2018-2019 Board of Editors. Complete-Masthead-2018-2019

Vanderbilt University Law School Professor Michael A. Newton’s 2016 VJTL Article entitled How the International Criminal Court Threatens Treaty Norms  was cited by the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s November 2017 filing seeking investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan.

May 2018 Issue on the Second Israel Defense Forces International Conference on the Law of Armed Conflict. Read more about the Journal’s May 2018 issue here.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Journal’s 50th Anniversary celebration on October 5, 2017! View photos from the event here and read about the Journal’s history here.

Connect with the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law on LinkedIn.

The Journal is pleased to listed as the #5 International Law Journal by the 2017 Washington and Lee Law Journal Rankings.

The Journal is very excited about the success of our February 2017 Symposium, “Sovereign Conduct on the Margins of the Law.” Read more about our February 2017 Symposium here

Please join us in congratulating the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 2017-2018 Write-On Competition Winners.

Video is available from the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law’s 2015-2016 SymposiumThis is Not a Drill: Confronting Legal Issues in the Wake of International Disasters. Watch here.