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Volume 42, Issue 4

Intervention's Idiosyncrasies: The Need for a New Approach to Understanding Sub-Forcible Intervention

International law prohibits intervention in the domestic affairs of other states. But this prohibition, which is once again in the news in connection with the crisis in Venezuela, is now generally portrayed as either so strict that it precludes common elements of foreign policy like economic sanctions or so vague as to be meaningless. This Article seeks to restart what once was a thoughtful debate regarding nonintervention. It traces the negotiating history of the non-intervention norm in an effort to understand why some states have characterized it as clear in its stringency. And it unpacks the crucial concept of “coercion” to show that those states that see non-intervention as difficult to apply stand on solid ground. Throughout, the Article takes a broad, comparative approach, looking to analogies in domestic law and other areas of international law to try to explain how we got to where we are today. The Article concludes by applying the “rules” versus “standards” dichotomy to sketch a potential path forward—a reframing of the prohibition of intervention as more standard-like.

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Recommended Citation

Stephen Townley, Intervention's Idiosyncrasies: The Need for a New Approach to Understanding Sub-Forcible Intervention, 42 Fordham Int'l L.J. 1167 (2019). 
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ilj/vol42/iss4/4