Glasnost in the Security Council: The Value of Transparency

22 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2016

See all articles by Devika Hovell

Devika Hovell

London School of Economics - Law School

Date Written: November 11, 2016


The value of transparency in decision-making is regarded as something of a truism in the public sphere; something that is uncontroversial and requires little by way of justification. In the Security Council setting, there are mounting calls for greater transparency as if publicity is some form of unconditional virtue. However, this easy embrace of transparency evades difficult questions and fails to consider the tensions it conceals. The principle of transparency is not as easy to sustain, either in theory or practice, as it first might seem. Publicity might be necessary to justify policy, but secrecy may also be necessary to effect some policies. The primary aim of this essay is to ask a question to which an easy answer is sometimes presumed: why do we need transparency in the Security Council sanctions context? In this essay, I set the foundations for a value-based theory of transparency for Security Council sanctions decision-making. It is only when we understand ‘why’ transparency is needed in this context that we can adequately answer other questions, including the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ questions.

Suggested Citation

Hovell, Devika, Glasnost in the Security Council: The Value of Transparency (November 11, 2016). LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 15/2016, Available at SSRN: or

Devika Hovell (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law School ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
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