David Wippman


This article examines the legality and wisdom of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (“NATO”) intervention in Kosovo in 1990. The Kosovo campaign pushed at the boundaries of international law in at least two important respects. First, NATO's decision to engage in large-scale military action without prior Security Council authorization raised significant doubts about the status of the law governing the use of force and the viability of United Nations (“U.N.”) primacy in matters of international peace and security. Second, NATO's high-altitude bombing campaign, conducted without a single NATO combat casualty but with significant civilian casualties within the FRY, called into question the appropriate relationship between means and ends in an intervention designed to save lives. The long-term impact of the Kosovo intervention in each of these areas of law remains uncertain.