International law should be clearer in regulating the use of armed force based on invitation by targeted states

A recently completed doctoral dissertation in law indicates that armed intervention based on the consent and invitation of states is in desperate need of a new supranational party to control the deployment of this concept. Recent examples of armed intervention include the occupation of Crimea by Russia and, increasingly, the crisis in Venezuela.

In her doctoral dissertation, Heini Tuura examines armed intervention based on invitation from the perspective of international law. This entails the use of force based on consent given by the target state.

“Modern instances of such interventions include Russia’s intervention in Crimea in 2014 and several anti-terrorist military operations across the globe. Furthermore, what makes the topic extremely current is the crisis ongoing in Venezuela, for which armed intervention based on invitation has been offered as a solution,” the doctoral candidate states.

“My research looks into how intervention based on invitation has been able to maintain its status, even though the rules for the use of force are stricter than ever in the history of humanity,” she adds.

The dissertation focuses on the legislation related to the use of force by states and several recent international conflicts. The relation between intervention based on invitation and the Charter of the United Nations, including its provisions for the use of force, receives special attention.

“These regulations are based on a very clear plan, according to which the use of force was to be limited to the UN with the exception of self-defence. This has relegated intervention based on invitation to the sidelines: no direct mention of the doctrine exists in the UN Charter, leaving its status fairly ambiguous for a long time in both theory and practice,” Tuura explains.

Interventions based on invitation maintained the Cold War balance of terror at a manageable level

The doctoral dissertation to be defended at the Faculty of Law on 12 April demonstrates that the Cold War resulted in a regulatory failure as regards the use of force, since the use of military force could not be made the sole responsibility of the UN, as planned in its Charter.

“The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, principally the United States and the Soviet Union, can be considered the main culprits. The clash between those two states made it impossible to put a collective use of force into practice, which in turn led to the re-emergence of intervention based on invitation as a pawn used by the superpowers,” Tuura notes.

On the other hand, the doctoral candidate believes that the doctrine also had a balancing effect: it provided the Cold War parties with a proxy through which to settle scores without direct confrontation.

After the Cold War, the doctrine regulating the use of armed force has been in a state of fermentation. Today, it is no longer tied to values that emphasise national sovereignty and date back to the Cold War era. Then again, neither does it possess the same kind of purpose of curbing the use of force between two global superpowers as it did earlier.

“Since armed intervention based on invitation by the target state is a concept based on international law, its use and aims are linked with a framework established by the international community. After the Cold War, the world order has been in flux, subjecting intervention based on invitation also to pressure for change. Thus, the concept is looking for its place between national and supranational interests,” the doctoral candidate explains.

“This may be a positive opportunity, but it may also turn out to be a threat, of which the occupation of Crimea by Russia serves as an example.”


The dissertation is also available in electronic format through the E-thesis service.