Stopping Genocide Through International Agreement When the Security Council Fails to Act

27 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2014

See all articles by George Critchlow

George Critchlow

Gonzaga University - School of Law

Date Written: August 01, 2008


There is tension between two core international law values: respect for state sovereignty and a commitment to peaceful relations among states, on the one hand, and the protection of basic human rights, on the other. While the UN has recently adopted a new norm -- the Responsibility to Protect -- regarding the positive meaning of sovereignty and the obligation of states to prevent genocide, the veto power of the Security Council's permanent members continues to block effective international coercive action. The UN is not likely to reform itself any time soon with respect to this issue. The tension inherent in UN values combined with the UN's inability to reform itself suggests that international law reform needs to take place outside the framework of the UN. This article argues two propositions: (1) that emerging customary law norms permit, and in some cases compel, humanitarian armed intervention to stop genocide when the Security Council has failed to do so; and (2) that the international community should adopt a treaty that allows for enforcement of the Genocide Convention by permitting action independent of the UN in accordance with specific criteria tailored to ensure that armed force is necessary, proportional, limited in duration, and has reasonable prospects for success.

Suggested Citation

Critchlow, George, Stopping Genocide Through International Agreement When the Security Council Fails to Act (August 01, 2008). Georgetown Journal of International Law, Vol. 40, No. 311, 2009. Available at SSRN:

George Critchlow (Contact Author)

Gonzaga University - School of Law ( email )

721 N. Cincinnati Street
Spokane, WA 99220-3528
United States
509 313-3791 (Phone)

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