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Mónica Pinto

The maintenance of international peace and security is the very first purpose of the United Nations. The International Court of Justice, the single most important source of international jurisprudence in this area, has a clear understanding of this goal and of its role in achieving it. From the landmark Corfu Channel case to the seminal Nicaragua case and afterwards, the International Court of Justice has developed a sustainable case law on the use of force in international law, in which the Nicaragua case endures as the single pre-eminent judgment. This chapter considers three key aspects established by the Court’s case law — the illegality of unilateral uses of force by states, the necessary threshold for a use of force to give rise to an entitlement to self-defense, and the complementarity of action by United Nations organs in this field. KEYWORDS: peace and security judgments, International Court of Justice, Nicaragua case, use of force, aggression, self-defense