The Dutch Contribution to the Armed Coalition Against ISIS

  • Gelijn MolierEmail author
  • Martijn Hekkenberg
Part of the Netherlands Yearbook of International Law book series (NYIL, volume 47)


The central topic of this chapter is Dutch state practice with regard to the international armed fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. This state practice manifested itself as a Dutch contribution to aerial bombardments in Iraq from October 2014 onwards, and in Syria from January 2016 onwards. In order to uncover its details, the authors primarily examined the various parliamentarian debates held on the international legal aspects of contribution to this armed struggle. What is striking about these debates is that international law played a particularly important role in answering the question of whether the Netherlands should contribute militarily to the fight against ISIS. Remarkably, the Dutch government changed its legal position on the legality of bombarding ISIS in Syria within a period of nine months. The fact that the Dutch government and an increasing number of Western states have started to give a more extensive interpretation of the right of collective self-defence with regard to the fight against ISIS in Syria, has everything to do with the current global disorder, in which failed states and militant non-state actors are commonplace. Public international law adapts to this new ‘world disorder’ by incorporating that state practice which allows for more lenient interpretations of the rules regarding the use of force.


International armed coalition against ISIS Use of force Right of (collective) self-defence Humanitarian intervention Responsibility to protect Syria Iraq Non-state actors Failed states State practice Customary international law The Netherlands Parliamentary debates 


  1. Arimatsu L, Schmitt MN (2015) Attacking ‘Islamic State’ and the Khorasan Group: Surveying the International Law Landscape. Columbia Journal of Transnational Law Bulletin 53:1–29Google Scholar
  2. Becker T (2006) Terrorism and the State – Rethinking the Rules of State Responsibility. Hart Publishing, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Kammerhofer J (2007) The Armed Activities Case and Non-State Actors in Self-Defence Law. Leiden Journal of International Law 20:89–113Google Scholar
  4. Molier G (2006) Humanitarian Intervention and The Responsibility to Protect After 9/11. Netherlands International Law Review 53:37–62Google Scholar
  5. Molier G (2011) The War on Terror and Self-Defence against Non-State Actors. In: Ellian A, Molier G, Suurland D (eds) Terrorism: Ideology, Law and Policy. Republic of Letters Publishing, Dordrecht, pp 305–336Google Scholar
  6. O’Connell ME (2013) Dangerous Departures. The American Journal of International Law 107:380–386Google Scholar
  7. O’Connor L (2016) Legality of the use of force in Syria against Islamic State and the Khorasan Group. Journal on the Use of Force and International Law 3:70–96Google Scholar
  8. Ruys T, Verhoeven S (2005) Attacks by Private Actors and the Right of Self-Defence. Journal of Conflict and Security Law 10:289–320Google Scholar
  9. Tams CJ (2009) The Use of Force against Terrorists. The European Journal of International Law 20:359–397Google Scholar
  10. Van Steenberghe R (2010) Current Legal Developments – Self-Defence in Response to Attacks by Non-State Actors in the Light of Recent State Practice: A Step Forward? Leiden Journal of International Law 22:209–240Google Scholar
  11. Wettberg G (2007) The International Legality of Self-Defence against Non-State Actors. State Practice from the U.N. Charter to the Present. Peter Lang, BerlinGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of JurisprudenceLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations