In the case of individual self-defence, the exercise of this right is subject to the State concerned having been the victim of an armed attack. Reliance on collective self-defence of course does not remove the need for this. There appears now to be general agreement on the nature of the acts which can be treated as constituting armed attacks. In particular, it may be considered to be agreed that an armed attack must be understood as including not merely action by regular armed forces across an international border, but also ‘the sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to’ (inter alia) an actual armed attack conducted by regular forces, ‘or its substantial involvement therein’.

2 Answers 2


it may be considered to be X
is equivalent to
[for the purposes of the current discussion] let us agree that it is in fact X

So in the cited context, all the writer is really saying is let us agree to agree [that an armed attack must be blah blah]. Which is just a long-winded way of saying An armed attack is blah blah. Don't copy this style.


It is neither agreed upon nor denied. It is intentionally left ambiguous so as to decide on a case-by-case basis.

It is only agreed to consider acts of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries acting on behalf of a State as an actual armed attack conducted by regular forces. However it may not directly be agreed that all acts of such entities might constitute an actual armed attack from the State. Because the extent and extremity of an attack varies remarkably.

"It may be considered to be agreed" is the way of saying we will consider such external acts as an actual attack by a State, but we need to investigate it further before we decide.

  • I see nothing in the cited usage to imply that "further investigation might be required" in any specific circumstances. Apr 20, 2020 at 12:43
  • It is implied from the context of the citation.
    – ruth
    Apr 20, 2020 at 12:52
  • 1
    Like I said, I see nothing implying that. What I do see is X must be understood as Y, which unequivocally states that the category X must be broadened to include Y. This despite the fact that in other circumstances, or from a different perspective, Y might not be included within the category X. Apr 20, 2020 at 14:16
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica, X must be broadened to include Y under certain circumstances. Could you please say how to arrive at these certain circumstances? How do they decide a circumstance has enough girth to be classified as a Y?
    – ruth
    Apr 20, 2020 at 15:09
  • I don't see how any of that makes any difference. The relevant "certain circumstances" are simply the context of the current "conversation". Within which context it's quite true that an expression like X may be considered to be Y does indeed imply that strictly speaking, X is not Y - but for the purposes of the discussion, it's easier if we assume / agree that X is Y. Which has no implications whatsoever regarding whether in the real world, outside the context of this discussion, there might be some "marginal" cases to be decided upon. Apr 20, 2020 at 16:07

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