At the outset of the book the author reviews the historical context and the customary evolution of the right of self-defense. Reference is made to the famous Caroline Case of 1837, which set the necessary conditions of lawful exercise of self-defense. Next, the author examines the concept and legal nature of self-defense, carefully assessing the customary conditions of necessity, proportionality and immediacy derived from the Caroline Case. As the occurrence of an "armed attack" is a conditio sine qua non of lawful invocation of self-defense, several modalities of an armed attack are attentively evaluated such as its constituent elements, beginning or scale.
The author explores, whether reactions to acts of international terrorism committed by a non-State may be based on the right of self-defense. In times of global terrorist networks it is highly desirable to attach special attention to use of force in self-defense as a remedy against serious acts of terrorism. Thorough analysis of State practice is shown on several examples from recent history - the U.S. air raid on Libya in 1986 and on Baghdad in 1993 and relatively recent air strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan in 1998. Reference is also made to the most striking example - the Al-Qaeda attack on the United States in 2001.
The validity of claims of anticipatory/preventive self-defense is examined on a theoretical level and then applied to the specific details of the Israeli air strike on the Osiraq Nuclear Reactor in 1981. The two main approaches to preventive self-defense - "restrictive" and "traditional" - are then discussed in detail. Brief analysis is also devoted to the nature of the so-called - pre-emptive - self-defense indicating its current position under international law.