Interpretation of Security Council Resolutions and the Function of Explanation of Votes – Protecting the Status Quo or Agents of Change?

43 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2019 Last revised: 9 Sep 2020

See all articles by Mark Klamberg

Mark Klamberg

Stockholm University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 27, 2019

Abstract

The UN Security Council has within the UN system the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council adopts resolutions, which are the decisions with the greatest potential consequences. Security Council resolutions are not always clear and need to be interpreted. Members of the Security Council may make statements in connection with their votes, so called explanation of votes. What is the purpose and role of these explanations of votes, if any?

Explanation of votes may have at least three functions. First, they may contribute to the formation of customary international law. Second, they can be used as a means for interpreting Security Council resolutions in relation to a specific matter. Finally, even if legal arguments are never the sole or even the decisive factor in Security Council deliberations, they may shape the debates and by being available for the public have an impact on positions taken, at least indirectly.

The study examines three debates which show Security Council resolutions and explanation of votes may protect the status quo in some instances and act as agents of change in others. The states need to consider that the Security Council does not operate in a legal vacuum; its decision has legal consequences in specific situations and may also contribute to the formation of customary international law.

Keywords: Explanation of votes, Security Council Resolutions, Interpretation, Interpretative Community

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Klamberg, Mark, Interpretation of Security Council Resolutions and the Function of Explanation of Votes – Protecting the Status Quo or Agents of Change? (November 27, 2019). Faculty of Law, Stockholm University Research Paper No. 69 (2019), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3494337 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3494337

Mark Klamberg (Contact Author)

Stockholm University - Faculty of Law ( email )

S-106 91 Stockholm
Sweden
+46 8 16 11 90 (Phone)
+46 8 612 41 09 (Fax)

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