Osama bin Ladens death impacts the future of the world in more ways than is obvious to the casual observer. I strongly believe that the creation of United Nations changed the approach of the states, in the sense that the states starving for power and territory could not simply use force against anothers sovereignty. According to the new order, states had to abide by international laws that they themselves had consented to be binding upon them. This, for instance, would be the reason why no sane would propose the idea of nuking a territory, which is believed to be harvesting high-profile terrorists. Simple reasoning: The benefit of achieving a military target cannot be accomplished at the cost of violating international laws. On a personal note, I stand by the entire laissez-faire international community, who applauds the death of Osama, including the President of Pakistan, but there is one thing that both the President and the international community have shrewdly failed to comment upon, that is, the legitimacy of US intervention in Pakistan for achieving its military target. None, including the UN, have either approved or disapproved the intervention formally. The US has categorically clarified that the operation was carried out by its Navy Seals and that no prior information was given or authorisation obtained from Pakistan due to the apprehension that the trickling of the information could have compromised the entire mission. This official stance is coming from a country where free trial is so embedded a notion that it is sometimes considered more integral rather than a constitutional right. It is the same country which claims to be a key advocate of international law. Historically, any violation of a states sovereignty would call for a straightforward interpretation of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which prohibits nations from use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. The only exception to this broad prohibition is provided in Article 51 of the Charter, which allows the use of force in self-defence if an armed attack occurs on a member of the United Nations. This traditional restriction was later expanded through the concept of humanitarian intervention that in essence allows the use of military force by state(s) to put an end to gross human rights violations occurring in another state. However, prior consent needs to be taken before any such intervention, which is only given in exceptional circumstances as in the case of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity. The most recent example is the intervention in Libya where the Security Council (SC) expressly authorised the use of military force and, of course, the gravity of the situation demanded such authorisation. The US maintains that it had the right to carry out such an operation as self-defence measure under the UN Charter and also in compliance of its obligations under the UNSC resolutions. However, both these arguments lack the necessary legal basis. The argument of self-defence, as originally envisaged in the Charter or even the doctrine of pre-emptive self-defence, may have carried some weight if the US had informed Pakistan about Osamas whereabouts and Pakistan was either unable or unwilling to carry out the operation itself, or if the US had obtained an authorisation from the SC as in Libyas case. This was certainly not the case here and Pakistan - a key ally in the war on terror - was not only willing but also the recent military operations carried out by the army against terrorist factions inside the country depicts that it had the capability to carry out such sensitive operation. According to Clause 2 read with Clause 5 of UNSCR 1267, every state was under an obligation to apprehend Osama and turn him to a country where he has been indicted (i.e. the US). Or else, the state apprehending Osama could even bring him to justice as per its own domestic laws, following a formal indictment. Likewise, Clause 3(A) of UNSCR 1373 obliges states to find ways of intensifying and accelerating the exchange of operation information, especially regarding actions or movement of terrorists persons The same obligation has been replicated in numerous subsequent resolutions on the subject matter. While all these resolutions stress upon the need of sharing information, none of them permits a state to violate another states sovereignty or refer to the word intervention anywhere. In this way, the US had a legal obligation to share Osamas location with the Pakistan agencies, who could have either formally allowed it to intervene (in which case Pakistans sovereignty would not have been violated), or otherwise carried out the operation itself. But the question is, in this new world order where non-state actors are seen as a greater threat compared to a belligerent state, is the international community ready to have such a precedent in place? Remaining silent on this intervention would imply a tacit approval by the international community, which would eventually lead to the crystallisation of this one time precedent into a rule. The practical implications of this rule would be state A violating state Bs territorial integrity or political independence, by carrying out a simple cost and benefit analysis. It could at its own discretion decide whether the benefit of achieving a prime military target is greater than violating the established norms of international law. The formal legal argument should not be considered in isolation of the broader political context surrounding it. Regardless of the objective morality of the strike, it sets a precedent of using unauthorised force to eliminate enemies beyond national boundaries, which should be a cause for grave concern for all. In a world where Iran and Israels state rhetoric extends to total annihilation of the adversary nation, shooting from the hip may not always be the best course. n The writer is a practicing Barrister of the High Courts and a Research Fellow at the Research Society of International Law. Email: hamzarandhawa@rsilpak.org.