There is no Entitlement in the Hands of Individual

There is no Entitlement in the Hands of Individual Members of the United Nations to Enforce Prior Security Council Resolutions by the Use of Force ( Rosalyn Higgins ) . Discuss in the Context of Operation Iraqi Freedom?

The introductory portion of this essay takes a really brief historical expression at the one-sided resort to the usage of force prior to the coming into force of the United Nations system. It is hoped that this historical preamble will assist set modern-day resort to armed force within the United Nations system ( specifically, justifications of the usage of force based on enforcement of Security Council Resolutions ) into a historical position.

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The coming of an organized and systematic international legal system ( i.e. international jurisprudence ) and the acknowledgment of the equality and sovereignty of provinces has consigned such justifications of aggression or the armed usage of force, like the merely war philosophy, to a relic of history. Prior to the eruption of World War II, ( and the coming of the United Nations system ) the usage of force or the waging of war was viewed as an built-in portion of the legitimate exercising of power by the province one time such exercising of power was conducted within the confines of the Torahs modulating the engaging war in that epoch. [ 1 ] Under the League of Nations for case, a system of difference colony was put into topographic point that aimed at accomplishing a peaceable colony to differences, and war could merely be waged after a three-month period when a peaceable colony of differences has non been achieved. In malice of the fact that the Kelloggg-Briand Pact of 1928 banned war, it could non forestall one-sided resort to armed aggression when some cardinal signers and provinces like Japan ( the invasion of Manchuria in 1931 ) , Italy ( the invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 ) and Germany ( the invasion of Poland in 1939 ) , resorted to the one-sided usage of armed force and efficaciously negated the rules of non-aggression espoused by the 1928 Pact. [ 2 ]

The constitution of the United Nations system was precipitated by the hideous consequences of World War I and World War II, and the obvious inability of the international community, organised under the defunct League of Nations to forestall the one-sided resort to aggression that triggered the two World Wars. Thus one of the foundational aims for the formation of the UN was to forestall the happening of aggression and to guarantee international corporate action in covering with state of affairss that threaten the peace and security of the international community. Article 1 ( 1 ) of the UN Charter for case provides that, one of the chief aims of the UN is:

“To maintain international peace and security, and to that terminal: to take effectual corporate steps for the bar and remotion of menaces to the peace, and for the suppression of Acts of the Apostless of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to convey about by peaceable agencies, and in conformance with the rules of justness and international jurisprudence, accommodation or colony of international differences or state of affairss which might take to a breach of the peace” .

Although one-sided resort to the usage of force is proscribed under the UN system, many armed struggles and armed usage of force have been carried out within the epoch of the UN, with those fall backing to the usage of force giving justifications like self-defense and the enforcement of Security Council Resolutions as grounds for their resort to armed usage of force. The US led war against Iraq ( or the Saddam Hussein government ) – Operation Iraqi Freedom – falls within the merely stated adduced justifications.

The Law Relating to the Use of Force in the UN System

By and large, Article 2 ( 4 ) of the UN Charter prohibits the menace or usage of force or aggression by provinces in their dealingss with other provinces. Article 2 ( 4 ) provinces that:

“All Members shall forbear in their international dealingss from the menace or usage of force against the territorial unity or political independency of any province, or in any other mode inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”

In casting more visible radiation on what constitutes ‘force’ as used in Article 2 ( 4 ) , the 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law Refering Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, providedinter aliathat the undermentioned Acts of the Apostless constitute force ( or aggression ) , in the significance of Article 2 ( 4 ) :

  1. Wars of Aggression
  2. The menace or usage of force to go against bing international frontiers ( including limit or cease-fire lines ) or to work out differences
  3. Acts of reprisals affecting the usage of force
  4. Force used to deprive peoples of their right to self-government and independency
  5. Forming, inciting, helping or take parting in Acts of the Apostless of civil discord or terrorist Acts of the Apostless in another state’s district [ 3 ]

Although the 1970 Declaration is non a binding legal papers in international jurisprudence, it serves the intent of being an interpretive tool in gestating what constitutes ‘force’ under Article 2 ( 4 ) of the UN Charter. [ 4 ] The above list, representing Acts of the Apostless of force or aggression is obviously expansive, though non-exhaustive and may therefore be susceptible to definitional jobs. Article 39 of the UN Charter therefore empowers the Security Council to find the being of a ‘threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or an act of aggression’ –

“The Security Council shall find the being of any menace to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall do recommendations, or make up one’s mind what measures shall be taken … . to keep or reconstruct international peace and security.”

In consequence, in the absence of the Security Council being able to hold or find the being of a menace, breach or an act of aggression, farther Acts of the Apostless by the Council may non be secured to cover with a supposed aggression within the corporate UN model. This poses a job as a veto by one of the Permanent Members of the Security Council, can efficaciously do a failure to find an act as one that constitutes aggression. Claus Kress has therefore argued that:

“… the politically motivated failure of the Security Council to qualify Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait as an act of aggression offers an first-class illustration of the unfortunate consequences that might follow if the Security Council’s finding of an act of aggression is recognised as a procedural requirement for the beginning of probes into an alleged … aggression.” [ 5 ]

Though the usage of armed force is by and large proscribed under Article 2 ( 4 ) of the UN Charter, it is allowable in two state of affairss: foremost, where a province ( or provinces ) Acts of the Apostless in single ( or collective ) self-defense under Article 51, and secondly, where the Security Council authorizes the usage of force by the issue of a Resolution authorising such usage of force under Article 42 of the UN Charter.

Article 51 provinces in its relevant portion that:

“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the built-in right of single or corporate self-defense if an armed onslaught occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken steps necessary to keep international peace and security.”

Obviously, though Article 51 expressly recognizes the rights of provinces to self-defense, subsequent action of the Security Council in a affair of self-defense is non proscribed. The Security Council can really step in even in instances where a province is asseverating its right of self defense mechanism, if the end of peace and security is justified, observing that such ends are foundational aims of the UN Charter.

The right of self-defense contained in Article 51 is silent on whether self-defense should be resorted to merely when existent aggression has occurred, or whether prevenient self-defense can be resorted to in the face of a menace of aggression. Notably, Article 2 ( 4 ) condemns non merely existent aggression or usage of force but besides the menace of aggression and so does the 1970 Declaration. As stated earlier, the 1970 Declaration is non a lawfully binding papers, though it can be an of import interpretive papers. Aggression may therefore be conceived of in existent and possible footings, in which instance self-defense may besides be conceived of in existent or prevenient footings.

It must nevertheless be said that governments are divided on the issue of prevenient self-defense. The Security Council in Resolution 481/1991 for case, condemned the Israeli bombardment of an Iraqi atomic reactor though Israel had justified its action on the footing of prevenient self-defense. It is nevertheless worthy of note that though the US voted for the Security Council Resolution, it stated that it ballot was non motivated by Israel’s usage of prevenient self-defense per Se, but instead that Israel had non to the full exhausted a peaceable agencies for deciding the issue that instigated its resort to the usage of force. [ 6 ]

Professor Antonio Cassese, a former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia argues that “in the instance of prevenient self-defense, it is more wise to see such action aslawfully prohibitedwhile true cognizing that there may be instances where breaches of the prohibition may be justified on moral and political evidences …” . [ 7 ]

Ingrid Detter on the other manus positions prevenient self-defense as falling under the prohibitions of the usage of force under Article 2 ( 4 ) of the UN Charter, therefore doing it illegal. [ 8 ]

Harmonizing toOppenheim’s International Law:

‘… while prevenient action in self-defense is usually improper, it is non needfully improper in all fortunes, the affair depending on the facts of the state of affairs including in peculiar the earnestness of the menace and the grade to which preemptive action is truly necessary and is the lone manner of avoiding that serious menace ; the demands of necessity and proportionality are likely even more pressure in relation to anticipatory self-defense than they are in other circumstances.’ [ 9 ]

Of peculiar importance to the treatment in this essay is Article 42, which empowers the UN Security Council to “take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to keep or reconstruct international peace and security” . Action taken by the Security Council under Article 42 “may include presentations, encirclement, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations” [ 10 ]

The difference between the two disparagements to the prohibition on the usage of force is that whereas, Article 42 requires a determination by the UN Security Council for the usage of force ( and is therefore under the protections of the UN ) , the usage of force for intents of self-defense under Article 51 does non necessitate a determination of the Security Council. Thus whereas one-sided action in the usage of force is allowed under Article 51, the same can non be said of Article 42 as it relates to collective action under the Security Council and by extension, the UN.

The usage of force under Article 42 is besides dependent on commissariats set under Article 39, which requires the Security Council to find an alleged act as representing a breach of the peace or an act of aggression before a determination under Article 42 to utilize force can be reached for the intent of reconstructing peace and security.

A instance in point of the above scenario is the many-sided force against the Taliban government in Afghanistan led by the US, after the September 11 terrorist onslaughts in the US. The Security Council, in Resolution 1368 ( 2001 ) statedinter aliathat the Council:

“Calls on all States to work together desperately to convey to justice the culprits, organisers and patrons of these terrorist onslaughts andemphasissthat those responsible for helping, back uping or harboring the culprits, organisers and patrons of these Acts of the Apostless will be held accountable ; ” and “Expresssits preparedness to take all necessary stairss to react to the terrorist onslaughts of 11 September 2001, and to battle all signifiers of terrorist act, in conformity with its duties under the Charter of the United Nations” [ 11 ]

Resolution 1368 therefore determined the terrorist Acts of the Apostless as Acts of the Apostless of aggression as required by Article 39 of the UN Charter, and sanctioned the usage of force under Article 42 ‘in conformity with its responsibilities’ [ 12 ] of keeping international peace and security. It is worthy of note that in malice of Claus Kress’ observation that making understanding on the finding of Acts of the Apostless of aggression in the Security Council is a extremely political and polarized project ( due to the usage of veto by Permanent Members ) , Resolution 1368 provided an chance for corporate action in the Security Council and the UN system in general.

Rosalyn Higgins has therefore argued that though the usage of the veto by the five Permanent Members of the Security Council has been viewed as being debatable in geting at determinations under Article 42 of the UN Charter, “the veto is an built-in portion of what was provided for in the Charter: the Permanent Members were surely intended to hold this power to command the usage of force by the Security Council” . [ 13 ]

Christine Gray farther argues that the Security Council, during and after the Cold War, has by and large avoided finding an attacker in inter-state struggles. [ 14 ] Consequently, one of the logical deductions of finding an attacker, i.e. the usage of force under Article 42, to reconstruct peace and security has non been frequent and therefore lacks an established tradition of precedency. The resort to the usage of armed force by the US-led many-sided force under mandate of the Security Council, in Operation Desert Storm was therefore a curious state of affairs as affirmed by the UN Secretary General:

“The Iraqi invasion and business of Kuwait was the first case since the initiation of the Organisation in which one Member State sought to wholly overmaster and annex another. The alone demands presented by this state of affairs have summoned forth advanced steps which have given practical look to the Charter’s constructs of how international peace and security might be maintained.” [ 15 ]

It must be argued though that every bit fresh as the resort to the usage of force in Iraq under the authorization of the UN may look, it was non the first of its sort. In 1950 for case, the UN Security Council voted for the usage of force in Korea after the Communist North Korea invaded the South. It must nevertheless be noted that Russia had boycotted the Security Council in 1950 and as such could non utilize its veto power to barricade the Security Council from go throughing a declaration to utilize force in Korea.

Besides in 1966, the Security Council passed a declaration that mandated the usage of force, if necessary, to forestall cargo of oil to Rhodesia ( now Zimbabwe ) , which was so under white minority regulation. [ 16 ] The Resolution called upon:

“the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to forestall, by the usage of force if necessary, the reaching at Beira of vass moderately believed to be transporting oil destined for Southern Rhodesia, and empowers the United Kingdom to collar and confine the oiler known asJoanna Vupon her going from Beira in the event her oil is discharged there.” [ 17 ]

Prior to the issue of the above Resolution, the Security Council had decided on Resolution 217 ( 1965 ) which imposed economic and diplomatic countenances on Southern Rhodesia. Resolution 221 ( 1966 ) ( above ) , was therefore issued to implement the economic and diplomatic countenances and in this peculiar instance, a individual Member of the UN – the United Kingdom – was empowered under Article 42, to utilize force if necessary.

After the invasion and appropriation of Kuwait by Iraq on August 2 1990, the Security Council adopted the first of legion Resolutions – Resolution 660 – which condemned the Iraqi invasion and demandedinter alia“that Iraq withdraw instantly and unconditionally all its forces to the places in which they were located on 1 August 1990” . [ 18 ] After neglecting to procure Iraq’s conformity with its Resolutions, and a peaceable colony proved impossible, the Security Council, moving under Chapter VII of the UN Charter ( specifically Article 42 ) adopted Resolution 678 which authorised:

“Member States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait, unless Iraq on or before 15 January 1991 to the full implements, as set Forth in paragraph 1 above, the foregoing declarations, to utilize all necessary agencies to continue and implement declaration 660 ( 1990 ) and all subsequent relevant declarations and to reconstruct international peace and security in the area”

The usage of armed force mandated by Resolution 678 culminated in Operation Desert Storm which freed Kuwait of the Iraqi business. The completion of the liberation of Kuwait was punctually recognised by the Security Council when it adopted Resolution 687 confirming a formal conditional armistice.

Iraq was obligated by Resolution 687 tointer aliaunconditionally destroy, take, or render harmless all chemical and biological arms, all ballistic missiles which have a scope transcending 150 kilometers, and to unconditionally subject itself to international supervising. [ 19 ] Iraq was besides unconditionally obligated non to utilize, develop concept, or get any of the above stated arms or atomic arms or nuclear-weapons-usable stuff. [ 20 ]

In order to guarantee the efficaciousness of the compulsory international review of Iraq’s capacity to develop and utilize chemical, biological, atomic and ballistic arms, ( i.e. arms of mass devastation ) Resolution 687 provided for the puting up of a “Special Commission, which shall transport out immediate on-site review of Iraq ‘s biological, chemical and missile capablenesss, based on Iraq ‘s declarations and the appellation of any extra locations by the Particular Commission itself” . [ 21 ]

Under the authorization of the above stated proviso in Resolution 687 – i.e. paragraph 9 ( B ) ( I ) – the United Nations Special Commission ( UNSCOM ) was set up to collaborate with the International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA ) in order to consequence the on site review of Iraq’s arms of mass devastation. The above stated conditionsinter aliaformed the footing of the official armistice in Operation Desert Storm. On April 6 1991, Iraq unconditionally accepted the footings contained in Security Council Resolution 687.

A sequence of events happening after Iraq’s unconditioned credence of Resolution 687 resulted in the usage of military force within the territorial boundary of Iraq, by the UK, France and the US. These engagements within the district of Iraq engendered a batch of argument bordering on the legality of the resort to armed force, whereas other positions reflected the necessity of enforcement of peace and security in the Middle East part, the duty of the international community to react to, and prevent human-centered catastrophes, and the demand to implement Security Council Resolutions associating to the disarmament of Iraq from its arms of mass devastation.

In January 1993, the Secretary General of the UN reported that Iraq had violated the Kuwaiti frontier reverse to the conditions set in Resolution 686 and 687 which brought about the armistice in Operation Desert Storm. [ 22 ] Iraq was besides reported to be interfering with UN flights that were carry oning review of Iraq’s arms programme. Though the Security Council did non publish a new declaration, it issued a statement in which it warned Iraq of “serious effects which would result from failure to follow with its obligations” . [ 23 ]

Rosalyn Higgins has posited that the statement by the Security Council could non be viewed as a authorization to us coerce against Iraq as there was no mention in the linguistic communication of the statement to the usage of ‘all necessary means’ . Such an express mention would hold been plenty to utilize force against Iraq as ‘all means’ would moderately embrace the usage of armed force every bit good, if necessary. Thus the warning of ‘serious consequences’ was short of authorising the usage of armed force against Iraq. In malice of this evident deficiency of mandate to utilize force, the US, France and United Kingdom resorted to the usage of military force in assorted parts of Iraq. [ 24 ] The US defended its military operation carried out 15 stat mis off from Baghdad on the footing of conformity with Security Council Resolutions associating to Iraq. France and the United Kingdom besides defended their puting up of a no-fly zones in Iraq on the footing of ego defense mechanism. The Saddam Hussein government had carried out onslaughts on Kurds and Shias in Iraq, doing a human-centered and refugee crisis and insecurity in the Middle East. The Gallic and United Kingdom’s military presence in Iraq were therefore for the intent of guaranting human-centered alleviation to the affected countries and prevent farther onslaughts of the Iraqi military.

Though the morality of the United Kingdom and Gallic action is apparent, the fact remains that it lacked a legal backup from the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Possibly, it is for their inability to happen a defense mechanism under Article 42 of the UN Charter that precipitated their resort to the justification of self-defense which would do their action legal under Article 51.

Apart from the above breaches related above, Iraq continued to withstand demands and conditions under Resolution 687 and persistently remained in breach them. It failed to collaborate with arms inspectors runing under UNSCOM. The replacement UN Commission to UNSCOM – the United Nations Monitory, Verification and Inspection Commission ( UNMOVIC ) – which was established by Security Council Resolution 1284, did non besides receive the cooperation of the Saddam Hussein government sing arms reviews. Cooperation with the IAEA was no better.

Against this background of continues rebelliousness and relentless breach of a myriad of Security Council Resolutions, the Security Council issued Resolution 1441 ( 2002 ) which decided:

“that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its duties under relevant declarations, including declaration 687 ( 1991 ) , in peculiar through Iraq’s failure to collaborate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to finish the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of declaration 687 ( 1991 ) ” [ 25 ]

The Resolution was besides meant to afford Iraq “a concluding chance to follow with its disarming duties under relevant resolutions” [ 26 ] of the Security Council. It is nevertheless of import to observe that Resolution 1441 was silent on the usage of force by the Security Council should Iraq go on to transgress its duties under relevant declarations issued in the yesteryear. In the absence of a proviso to utilize force in Resolution 1441, any resort to the usage of force under Article 42 of the UN Charter would be illegal. Besides as Rosalyn Higgins has opined, “there is no entitlement in the custodies of single Members of the United Nations to implement anterior Security Council Resolutions by the usage of force” [ 27 ]

The statement presented by the US and its Alliess in the Iraqi invasion ( i.e. Operation Iraqi Freedom ) , are two pronged:

First, the US argued that Iraq had breached 16 old Security Council Resolutions, and has therefore refused to follow with the demand of demilitarizing itself of arms of mass devastation. Harmonizing to the so US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his reference to the UN Security Council on February 5 2003, the intent of the UN Resolution 1441: “was to demilitarize Iraq of its arms of mass devastation. Iraq had already been found guilty of material breach of its duties, stretching back over 16 old declarations and 12 years.” [ 28 ]

Second, the US argued that Iraq was a menace to the peace and security of the US and by obvious extension it sort a trust on the commissariats of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter, to warrant its resort to build up force against Iraq. However Iraq had non launched any military onslaught against the US or its Alliess to warrant a resort to the usage of single or corporate self-defense. Besides there was no known at hand onslaught being waged by Iraq against the US or its Alliess. Thus a resort to the usage of even the controversial prevenient self-defense did non originate. However, in his ‘State of the Union’ reference delivered on January 28 2003, President Bush presented the US’s justification of the usage of prevenient self-defense –

“Before September the 11th, many in the universe believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, deadly viruses and shady terrorist webs are non easy contained. Imagine those 19 highjackers with other arms and other programs — this clip armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one phial, one case shot, one crate slipped into this state to convey a twenty-four hours of horror like none we have of all time known. We will make everything in our power to do certain that that twenty-four hours ne’er comes.

Some have said we must non move until the menace is at hand. Since when have terrorists and autocrats announced their purposes, courteously seting us on notice before they strike? If this menace is permitted to to the full and all of a sudden emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come excessively late. Trusting in the saneness and restraint of Saddam Hussein is non a scheme, and it is non an option.” [ 29 ]

From the above, it is apparent that US’s ( and UK ) justification for set abouting Operation Iraqi Freedom had sort justifications under commissariats in Article 42 and Article 51 of the UN Charter. As discussed earlier, these are the lone commissariats that provide disparagements from the general prohibition of the usage of force contained in Article 2 ( 4 ) . Therefore, the legality of Operation Iraqi Freedom stands or falls by a trial of these disparagements.

Obviously, as there was no express mandate by the Security Council mandating the project of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the place taken in this essay is in consonant rhyme with Higgins’ averment that “there is no entitlement in the custodies of single members of the United Nations to implement anterior Security Council declarations by the usage of force” . Therefore in malice of the statement that Iraq had materially breached 16 Security Council Resolution over a period of 12 old ages, there still remained no legal footing to warrant a resort to the usage of force against Iraq, except by express mandate by the Security Council as evidenced by case in points like Resolutions 221 ( 1966 ) and 678 ( 1991 ) .

Besides, as discussed above, the usage of military force by the US in 1993 in Iraq did non hold a legal footing, though the statement was that of enforcement of anterior Security Council declarations. Therefore in footings of both the missive of the UN Charter and precedency, the legality of Operation Iraqi Freedom can non be defended.

The justification of self-defense under Article 51 nevertheless has rather a long list of precedency stretching back to the Cold War epoch, though its usage has been really controversial.

The former Soviet Union for case defended its invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 on the footing of self-defense. It besides justified its invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 on the same footing. Resort to the Article 51 proviso of self-defense was used by the US in the Vietnam War, the invasion of Grenada in 1983, the barrage of Beirut in 1983, the engagement in the civil war in Nicaragua during the 1980s and the barrage of Tripoli in 1986. These supposed Acts of the Apostless of self-defense were criticised by the international community and therefore do non function as good case in points for warranting the US led Operation Iraqi Freedom.


This essay has attempted a treatment of the impression whether single Members of the UN have any entitlement to implement anterior Security Council declarations by the usage of force. The place has been taken earlier in the presentation that the UN Charter and precedency in the UN system does non entitle single members to utilize force in a command to implement anterior Security Council declarations. Operation Iraqi Freedom is therefore a contemplation of an unchecked and illegal usage of armed force by the US and its Alliess, a province of personal businesss that is unluckily going an increasing phenomenon in the present unipolar universe. The usage of controversial justifications of self-defense is non a recent phenomenon, though it still remains undue whenever it is resorted to. The justification of the usage of force to implement Security Council declarations nevertheless is a more recent phenomenon that can be traced to the wake of invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, and the subsequent Security Council declarations issued to guarantee peace and security in the Persian Gulf part and to guarantee the disarmament of Iraq’s arms of mass devastation.

The rules of non-aggression and prohibitions against the usage of menaces of force still remain central pillars in the UN system. Conformity with these rules, particularly by states like the US and UK, who are lasting members of the Security Council will travel a long manner to set up a positive precedency in the UN system and hopefully lend to a more peaceable, secured and safer universe.


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