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Israel and some Muslim countries (e.g. Syria) have been engaged in a "forever war". Quoting from Wikipedia:

[T]he State of Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic [...] have been locked in a perpetual war since the establishment of Israel in 1948, with their most significant and direct armed engagements being in the First Arab–Israeli War in 1948–1949, the Third Arab–Israeli War in 1967, and the Fourth Arab–Israeli War in 1973. Additionally, Israeli and Syrian forces also saw relatively extensive combat against each other during the Lebanese Civil War, the 1982 Lebanon War, as well as the War of Attrition. Both states have at times signed and held armistice agreements, although all efforts to achieve complete peace have been without success.

Likewise, the relations of Iran with Israel have been under the same mark of non-recognition since 1979:

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran severed all diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel, and its theocratic government does not recognize the legitimacy of Israel as a state. [...] Since 1985, Iran and Israel have been engaged in an ongoing proxy conflict that has greatly affected the geopolitics of the Middle East, and has included direct military confrontations between Iranian and Israeli organizations, such as in the 2006 Lebanon War.

So how does the UN prohibition against a "war of aggression" square with something like this? If one country doesn't recognize another's right to exist at all (from the beginning or due to a change in policy/government at some point), is there anything in the UN charter that still applies, short of prohibition against crimes against humanity?

Of course, in practice, it depends who is the judge of that, and who can veto what, given how the UNSC is set up.

But in theory, under the UN charter, does non-recognition (sudden or from the beginning) excuse any and all attempts to (say) "liberate" the territory of another country or even to annexate it, given that territorial integrity appears bound to the notion/existence of a state in the UN charter?

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The UN Charter requires "Members" to "settle their disputes by peaceful means" It therefore only requires a "member" to recognise another "member". Iran may not recognise the State of Israel as a legitimate government of a country, but as a member of the UN it must recognise Israel as another Member of the UN, and is obliged by the above Article 2, Paragraph 3 of the UN charter to settle its dispute peacefully.

Moreover the UN claims for its members the right to police states which are not members (eg RoC or Palestine), to the extent necessary for peace.

Now in the situation that a member says to another, "I don't recognize your right to exist, and so I shall send my troops into the region that you currently control" that would be a violation of this article, and the UN reserves to the security council the right to decide to take such action as they deem necessary to restore peace and order. There does not need to be specific accusation of crimes against humanity.

As you say, there is scope for judgement. And the UN has a specific system for deciding "who the judge is": the UN Security Council is the judge of who invaded who. The UN Charter applies to all its members, including those that are partially recognised.

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  • Is it different for the rare states that aren't part of the UN at all (thinking specifically about Taiwan here, as there can't really be a reasonable argument that Taiwan is acting to actively attack the PRC). Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 4:45
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    That becomes progressively less black and white, and more a matter of judgement. Few members of the UN would doubt the acceptability of the UK stationing troops in Cornwall. Few would accept an armed invasion of Taiwan as a legitimate domestic action. The UN Organisation does claim the right to apply the general principals of peaceful resolution to non-members, and reserves the right to use force to actions sanctioned by the security council, or act in self-defence. Taiwan is really a dispute left over from before the UN existed: its conflict with the PRC is really part of WWII.
    – James K
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 6:57
  • it states members should settle their international disputes by peaveful means. does international relations only mean relations between members of UN ?
    – user45449
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 14:49
  • @OldAccount2005 I think my previous comment already addresses this.
    – James K
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 17:14
  • my question really was wheather "international disputes" in n "members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a way that international peace and security and justice aren't compromised" only applies to disputes between members themselves ? or does it apply to their disputes with non members as well ?
    – user45449
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 22:28

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