Symposium hosted by Achievers University Law Students Association, LIFIN CHAPTER ON THE 15TH OF NOVEMBER 2021. A critique of the role of the United Nations Security Council in promoting peace and secure under International Law

Fabusiwa Precious
Ajani Beloved Kudirat
Opawoye Victory
Facilitator:  Olatunde Temidayo Olamide

Due to the failure of the League of Nations in ensuring peace among nation-states, the United Nations was created in 1945 after the Second World War.

The topic is “ A critique of the role of the United Nations Security Council in Promoting Peace and Security  under International Law”

The United Nations Organisation is an intergovernmental organization with a goal to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve worldwide alliance, and be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations. It is the world’s biggest and most familiar international organization. It was established by countries to maintain international peace and security, to formulate friendly relations among nations and to enhance social  its progress.With extraordinary global character, and the powers vested in its founding Charter, the Organization can take action on a wide range of matters, and furnish a forum for its 193 Member States to convey their views, through its organs. Apart from its peacekeeping function, the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe and works on a vast range of fundamental issues; from sustainable development, environment and refugees protection, disaster relief, counter-terrorism, disarmament, and non-proliferation, to promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality among other.

Chapter 1, Article 1 of the United Nations Charter states the purposes of the United Nations which include
1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace,
2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace,
3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion,
4. To be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends. 

Also, Chapter III, Article 7 establishes the principal organs of the UN which include: a General Assembly, a Security Council, an Economic and Social Council, a Trusteeship Council, an International Court of Justice, and a Secretariat. The General Assembly is empowered to make recommendations to States on international issues within its competence. It has also initiated actions (political, economic, humanitarian, social and legal) which have benefitted the lives of millions of people throughout the world. The Security Council regulates the work of UN peace operations on a constant basis, including through periodic reports from the Secretary-General and by holding Security Council sessions to discuss the work of specific operations. Also, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) organizes the work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, ten active commissions and five regional commissions, receives reports from nine UN funds and programmes and issues policy recommendations to the UN system and to the Member States. 

Under the UN Charter, ECOSOC has the duty of promoting higher standards of living, full employment, and economic and social progress; specifying solutions to global economic, social, and health problems; facilitating international cultural and educational coalition; and encouraging universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Again, under the Charter, the Trusteeship Council is upheld to examine and review reports from the Administering Authority on the political, economic, social, and educational improvement of the peoples of Trust Territories and, in consultation with the Administering Authority, to examine petitions from and undertake periodic and other special missions to Trust Territories
The International Court of Justice’s role is to settle, in conformity with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory viewpoints on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.

Also, the Secretariat does the substantive and administrative work of the United Nations under the supervision of the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the other organs. The head of this organ is the Secretary-General who provides overall managerial guidance. No doubt, the UN is worth the “hype” going by its history.
The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.

So I’m going to continue from where my colleague stopped. The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered. This means that the state involve in international disputes will settle in such a way that the peace , security and justice won’t be endangered. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action. This is telling us that the states will give the United nations every assistance it needs in any action taken.

The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.

All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action. This is telling us that the states will give the United nations every assistance it needs in any action taken

The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.

Now we are going to discuss quickly one the functions and power of the United nations
The function and power of the united nations is contained in article 10,11,12,13 &14 of the united nation.

Article 12 is telling us that when the Security Council is exercising in respect of any dispute or situation the functions assigned to it in the present Charter, the General Assembly shall not make any recommendation with regard to that dispute or situation unless the Security Council so requests.

The other time my colleague mentioned to us that chapter 3 article 7 establishes different principal organs in which the security council and general Assembly is among the organs.

The Secretary-General, with the consent of the Security Council, shall notify the General Assembly at each session of any matters relative to the maintenance of international peace and security which are being dealt with by the Security Council and shall similarly notify the General Assembly, or the Members of the United Nations if the General Assembly is not in session, immediately the Security Council ceases to deal with such matters.

Article 13 is talking about The General Assembly shall initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of promoting international co-operation in the political field and encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification;
Promoting international co-operation in the economic, social, cultural, educational, and health fields, and assisting in the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

Subject to the provisions of Article 12, the General Assembly may recommend measures for the peaceful adjustment of any situation, regardless of origin, which it deems likely to impair the general welfare or friendly relations among nations, including situations resulting from a violation of the provisions of the present Charter setting forth the Purposes and Principles of the United nations. I believe after this we have more knowledge about the function and power of the United nations and the things expected of it members to do.

In other words, an APPRAISAL
I’ll be discussing the duties of the security council in promoting peace and security in international law with historical examples. I’m open to questions which would be taken after the session and contributions
The United nations was created in 1945 following the devastation of the second world war with one central mission the maintenance of international peace and security.

The United Nations accomplishes this by working to prevent conflicts helping parties in conflict make this deploying peacekeepers and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish, these activities often overlap and should reinforce one another to be effective. The United Nations security council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security. The general Assembly and secretary-general play Major importance and complementary roles along with all the UN office and bodies. The security council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or an act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommend methods of adjustment or terms of peaceful settlement. Under chapter VII of the UN charter, the security council can take enforcement measures to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such measures range from economic sanctions to international military action.

The council also establishes UN peacekeeping operations and special political missions. The security council as a unique responsibility and decision-making powers and as a range of tools at it disposal. When faced with a potential conflict, the first response of the council is to recommend to the parties that they reach agreements through peaceful means. The council may appoint or ask the UN secretary-general to appoint special exhibit is to assist and guide effort towards conflict resolution.

In cases where conflict is occurring the council may issue cease fire directives send in un peacekeeping forces or use enforcement actions such as sanctions. with or without agreement of national government, the council can take steps to protect civilians caught in the conflict for example by allowing access across national borders for humanitarian organization. The council can direct government to limit stockpiling of certain weapons, or disarm for example by non-proliferation and destruction of chemical weapons.
The councils day-to-day functions include the review of un peacekeeping operations consultation on specific country situation and monitoring the implementation of un sanctions regimes through the work of its sanctions committee.

Article 24- in order to ensure prompt and effective action by the union its members confer on the security council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the security council acts on their behalf.

UN’s Role in maintaining peace and security.
The UN security council is the organ with the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security outlining its structure and function is an essential first step for determining its success. It consist of 15 members, five of which are permanent and have veto power namely, the U S. , UK, Russia China and France. These were considered the main military powers when the UN was founded and their veto right would prevent them from going to war against each other, why is creating a necessary balance when taking decisions on security issues that would be collectively enforced.

This illustrates how the constellation itself was based on peace and security considerations, and there is in fact never been a direct physical war between the five powers since the UN’s beginning. Despite a period of inaction during the Cold war, many UN security resolutions have also been passed to support peace processes, solve disputes, respond to illegitimate uses of force, and enforce sanctions in situations where peace and security has been threatened. This involvement ranges from Bosnia in 1993 to Afghanistan in 2001 to its anti-piracy resolution in 2008.

Un security council resolutions have been central for tackling conflict situation and also demonstrated that extensive joint action can be taken to respond to crisis, such as in the case of iraq’s occupation of Kuwait in 1990 where it condemned it’s action and authorised state to “use all necessary means” to stop the occupation. Such examples would challenge the realist assumption that there is an inherent collective action problem in international relations and the system of anarchy

Nevertheless, the United Nations security council has attracted vast criticism for upholding procedures that impede robust action in important situations where international law has been violated but the five permanent members disagree, such as Syria as well as for keeping an outdated permanent membership and for being undemocratic.

In the mentioned example of Iraq 1990, the agreed resolution authorised a us-led military operation, but un oversight was weak and the autonomy of us action as well as the lack of inclusion of supportive States outside of the council in the decision making process is one example that point to the undemocratic structure of the council as well as the continued importance of powerful States during interventions rather than the UN itself. Furthermore security council votes have not always manage to stop Nations from proceeding with their endeavors, which was the case with the US invasion of Iraq 2003. This shows that the individual interest of some state make them deviate from institutional constraints pointing to flaws in the theory of liberal institutionalism that laid the basis for the UN.

Some examples back doubt about the credibility of the UN and United Nations security council and disrupt the balance that the composition of United nation security council is to uphold, which is one important obstacle to its success in maintaining peace and security.

Beyond internal tensions, the UN as an active presence in the world peace operations which has become Central for the United Nations security council and its approach to maintaining peace. The mandate range from protecting civilians to supporting States building efforts, a list that has become more expensive in its attempt to improve the strategy towards sustainable peace.

There is no mention of Peace operations in the United nation charter and the concept of Peace keeping as adopted in line with shifting nature of war and understanding of security, leading up to today’s multi-dimensional peace operations. Traditionally, the presence of UN Force was to be approved by all parties in the Host country the way to the impartial, lightly armed with the main goal to maintain a truce.
The peace has indeed being kept between States such as Israel -Syria or iraq-kuwait, indicating the success of un deployment for preventing interstate conflicts. With the increase of intrastate wars in the 1990s however, conflict and become more complex requiring a more complex response. Peacekeepers deployed in situations where there was no place to keep and they encountered atrocities that puts both them and civilians in danger demanding greater military response.
The amended day for expanded and started bodering on enforcement, as was the case of Bosnia in the 1990s. one problem was the discrepancy between the expectations of the operations and the actual capabilities in form of manpower or resources, showing a political unwillingness to transform their operations to more robust ones. Bosnia was a clear example of the failure that can ensure when undertaking adult responses to a situation that does not match the original mandate, as it might lead to the inability to perform the envisioned as interested upon peacekeepers as they are prevented by nation-states reluctance. This shows the importance of broad member states support of Nations in today’s complex situations and the need for Nations to be willing to adapt to challenges that might arise.

Underline the UN peace operations in the ideal of a Liberal democratic peace which has been in for the Indians to success in some context. Afghanistan is a telling example where democratization rule of law and economic restructuring was promoted showing a disregard for every state right to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system the State building efforts saw the quick establishment of governance structures based on Western ideals. it was a rushed affair that eventually failed as the government was neither representative nor accountable.

Post-colonialism offers is valid critique of the idealtional dominance of Western values and understandings and its failure to recognise imperialist tendencies in division that liberal peace is universally applicable and desirable. Imposing structures in a top-down fashion can have important consequences in fragile situation where society is multi-dimensional. the conception of Peace should not be equated with liberalism but rather promoted in a balanced effort to combine considerations for basic democratic principles with local understandings of governance this is called hybrid peace-building by authors. only then will the UN enable long-term success as it would empower the local community through an inclusive bottom-up approach

Recognizing the normative power of the UN
The active presence of the UN in the world through it different missions as resolved disputes in heated escalation of conflict and sparred peace in some situations, but the inherent problems that were highlighted continue to attract criticism the failure of the UN to Foster long-term peace in settings with complex Dynamics shows an important limitation to the claim to success an alternative area in which its role as a place and security defender has been most successful and in my view most successful, is true The spread important norms that have ranged from expanding the security agenda to upholding a nuclear taboo. A telling example is the role of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

As authors such as Scotts Sagan argue, names embedded in the NPT shapes State identities an expectation and even powerful actors become constrained by the norms created. The NPT regime helped establish shared understanding of what was considered prestigious legitimate or illegitimate and state their virtues to the same rather than be classified as rogue Nations by the international community. It has also constrained both Russia and the US in their attempts to modernize their arsenals. Even in cases where this norm has been contested, such as when UN recognised India as a nuclear weapons state, it never seriously challenged the core assumptions of the nuclear nonproliferation norm. Critics would disagree and argue that the accomplishments in the area of nuclear disarmament has been weak, as with collective security, but the UN efforts have evidently hindered armament and possible escalation, pointing to a major success for maintaining peace and security in the world
Beyond nuclear disarmament, there is also the shared understanding of illegitimate and legitimate uses of force.


The United Nations security council hold strong authority in this realm, which again points to the normative power of the UN in its role for maintaining international peace and security. Even though tensions are high between states in the security council, this shared understanding as enhanced the risk that an aggressor might face when breaking these norms, as the response from the international community can take the form of international condemnation, coordinated functions even humanitarian intervention. The last point particularly derives from the enhanced focus on human rights and human security within the UN, as well as a shifting nature of war after the cold world war. The principles of sovereignty and non-interference came into question with the atrocities committed during intrastate conflicts such as in Rwanda and Bosnia.

The “responsibility to protect” principal was there by born during the 2005 world summit which came to mean all states have a responsibility to protect civilians from genocide, ethnic cleansing war crimes or crimes against humanity. In cases where a state couldn’t or wouldn’t fulfill this function, humanitarian intervention by the International community would be legitimate. This inline with the human security agenda that was promoted by the UN in the 1990s, As the security of individuals was to be prioritized over the protection of the state. While it’s contradict the thesis of realism with its focus on self interested state, there have been debates on this new re for the UN and how successful it as actually been to use force to support human security objectives
One minute criticism is about The questions of interpretations “Who dictates when this responsibility is to be invoked? “.

There have also been instances where unlawful intervention has been done in the name of “responsibility to protect” (R2P), such as in the case of Russia’s intervention in Georgia where they claim to protect Russian citizens. However, the jointly accepted humanitarian intervention in Libya 2011 based on the R2p norm is an important example that illustrates how normative shifts driven by the UN can bring Nations together to protect peace and security in the world. Both China and Russia agreed to humanitarian intervention, despite the traditional opposition to it which stopped Quadaffi from President with possible crimes against humanity. Beyond operational successes the facts that’s the international community has agreed to legitimize action to protect human beings as such rather than state and that there is a general understanding That’s it should not stand idly by while atrocities are committed, we mean two key achievements for the UN in the realm of peace and security.


Conclusively, this explains how the UN security council has been able to legitimize certain norms and practice even when they intrude into the realm of national sovereignty. The UN is indeed the sum of its parts, composed of member states with their individual interest, but states interaction in this institutional contexts continued to shape states evolving interest enabling policy change that corresponds with it’s task of maintaining peace and security.

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