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The purpose of this essay is to examine some aspects of the legal framework for military activity in the internal law of some of the world's most powerful states. The international community has a major stake in the constitutional evolution of member states as regards the authority to decide to go to war. That stake – or those interests, since they are plural (and hold some possibility for contradiction) – can be identified as follows:

(1) to strengthen trends toward constitutionalism generally, by which I mean the concept of governance based on law;
(2) to strengthen trends toward civilian control over military forces;
(3) to support the adoption of constitutional safeguards governing war powers, so as to reduce the possibility of international conflict;
(4) to ensure that states are in a position to fulfill their responsibilities under international treaties, including those concerning collective defense and collective security;
(5) to ensure that decisions concerning the use of force within an international system of collective security are made on a rational and responsible basis.


Constitutional Law | Law | Military, War, and Peace


© 1991 American Society of International Law. This article has been published in the American Journal of International Law and is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use.