Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Since the adoption of this article the meaning of the word force has been disputed by political leaders and delegates to the United Nations. Invariably these disputes have centered on whether the prohibition against "the threat or use of force" in article 2(4) applies only to the threat or use of military force or extends to the threat or use of political and economic force as well.

Prompted in some instances by the economic and political coercion of the Arab oil boycott, international scholars have begun to study the legal definition of the term force, as it is used in article 2(4). After examining the history of international regulation of the use of force, this note will compare the legal arguments enunciated by these scholars and reach its own conclusions with respect to the definition of force. This note will also examine possible approaches to regulating the economic and political use of force and determine if effective principles can be developed. Even if such rules could be developed, this note questions whether the use of economic and political force should be regulated. Finally, it examines the prospects for United Nations development of rational prohibitions on the use of economic and political coercion.