The protection of nationals abroad: lawfulness or toleration? A commentary

Graham Melling, Francis Grimal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The forcible protection of one states’ own nationals on another state’s territory is
one which stretches the boundaries of the broader, inherent right of self-defence
available to states under international law. Known as the ‘protection of nationals
abroad’ this doctrine is the one that remains at best, highly controversial. This
article examines the lawfulness of action taken by British forces when they
rescued and evacuated British nationals prior to Libya descending into civil
war. It also considers the extent to which action by British forces fits within the
highly controversial paradigm of ‘protection of nationals abroad’. This article
suggests that the paradigm operates along a continuum. Certain instances of
forcible protection are clearly unlawful yet are ‘tolerated’ by the international
community. Meanwhile other means of forcible protection are both unlawful and
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-554
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Conflict and Security Law
Issue number3
Early online date1 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


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