Since the creation of the International Law, the issue of the peaceful settlement of disputes has attracted the attention of the international community. And with the creation of the United Nations and the adoption of its charter, which places an obligation to states for the pacific settlement of disputes, this idea was closer to the realisation. But, the world division during the Cold War era led these efforts to a stalemate. After its end, the international community entered into a new era of co‐operation and development. The belief of a multilateral international system in which states would resolve their disputes by peaceful means with respect to the fundamental principles of International Law, was widely spread. Furthermore, since then conflict prevention has been recognized for its effectiveness by the international community. However, the 9/11 terrorist attacks marked the beginning of a new era in the international relations. They challenged the international environment of security affairs and triggered a debated over the effectiveness of the existing international legal order. One year after the attacks the US administration published its first National Security Strategy in which it drew the attention of the international community toward new threats such as weapons of mass destruction and terrorism and envisaged a new future for the International Law governing the use of force and the right to self‐defence. For years these issues were, and should be still, regulated by the provisions of the UN Charter, which crystallize the customary law.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact that the US NSS (US National Security Strategy) could have if adopted by the majority of stated on the obligation for the pacific settlement of disputes. The main question the paper posses is the prospect for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in a supposed era of unilateral recourse to force, justified by the special character of modern threats posed to the international community. A related issue that would be investigated is the prospect for conflict prevention and the role of United Nations in this field under the new international legal order that the US NSS envisaged. To this end, the focus will be on the existing international legal framework of the peaceful settlement of disputes, with reference to the International Law of the use of force and conflict prevention, through the UN charter as well as other sources, such as the Manila Declaration and the Friendly Relation Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly. And this paper is devoted to the US foreign policy after the attacks in the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon and the development of the so‐called Bush Doctrine of preemptive self‐defence.