The UN Security Council and the Rule of Law
United Nations General Assembly Security Council, Doc. A/63/69-S/2008/270, 2008
34 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2008 Last revised: 1 May 2014
Date Written: May 7, 2008
The UN Security Council is the most powerful multilateral political institution. It has grown well beyond its initial function as a political forum and serves important legal functions. Traditionally, this included determining that a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression had occurred and prescribing specific, legally binding obligations on Member States under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Today it embraces establishing complex regimes to enforce its decisions and passing resolutions of general rather than specific application. These expanded powers can facilitate swift and decisive action, but have raised questions about the legal context within which the Council operates and the extent to which the Council itself adheres to the rule of law.
This report, circulated as a document of the United Nations in all UN languages, draws on a series of meetings convened by New York University School of Law and the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations and are intended to advance debate on the Council's role in strengthening a rules-based international system and maintaining international peace and security under the rule of law.
Keywords: United Nations, Security Council, rule of law, resolutions, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, WMD, counter-proliferation, accountability
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By Aurel Sari