Taking Stock: The UN Security Council and the Rule of Law
8 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2010
Date Written: October 28, 2010
Dialogue with Member States on the Rule of Law at the International Level, Thursday, 28 October 2010, United Nations Headquarters: Keynote Address.
It is now six years since we organized, working with the Austrian Mission to the UN, the first panel on the UN Security Council and the Rule of Law. The series of panels culminated in a report that summarized key findings and proposed concrete recommendations that would enhance the role of the Council in strengthening a rules-based international system.
From the beginning, we decided that our work should be pragmatic and realistic. We decided not to consider proposals that would require amending the Charter (such as expanding the membership of the Council) or look narrowly at the foreign policy of specific states. We also attempted to take into account the interests of large and small states, permanent and non-permanent members of the Council, and those from the global South as well as the industrialized North.
At the same time, the report that was produced in 2008 was intended to be the starting point for further, more concrete discussion to support the Council’s role in strengthening a rules-based international system and maintaining international peace and security under the rule of law.
Today is a billed as a “stock-taking” exercise. I’m an academic, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to grade the performance of the Council in this area.
Instead, what I would like to do is take the opportunity to look back at why we started this process; consider what has been happening in recent years, in particular since the report; and look forward at where we might be going.
I will refer to these three parts of my presentation as “past”, “present”, and “future”.
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