The Sword of Damocles: Revisiting the Question of Whether the United Nations Security Council is Bound by International Law

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Vol: 12, Issue: 2

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Gordon, Joy
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This Article considers whether the United Nations Security Council is bound by international humanitarian law in the context of Chapter VII, which authorizes the Council to use force in response to aggression, threats to peace, and breaches of the peace. In the early 1990s, the Council took unprecedented measures that were seen by many as overreaching, raising the possibility that the leading institution of global governance might abuse its power. At the present moment, it seems that the matter is resolved politically and judicially. But it is not resolved constitutionally, and the abuse of power by the Security Council remains a possibility. If in the future, a permanent member of the Council comes to hold considerable political and economic influence over the other permanent members, as was the case in the early 1990s, the possibility of an extraordinary abuse of power within the Security Council again becomes viable.