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Holding the Security Council Accountable for Human Rights Violations

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Elena Katselli


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The proliferation of international organisations has been widely welcomed as enhancing the rule of international law. Yet, the (negative) impact of such proliferation on human rights should not be ignored. This paper addresses one specific aspect of the problem arising from possible human rights violations as a result of Security Council action. More specifically, as the Security Council’s powers for the maintenance of international peace and security grow substantially, so does the debate concerning the limits of such powers under international law. The matter would perhaps not be of such interest had it not been for the willingness of the Security Council in recent years to impose economic or even military measures against States, but also to take mandatory decisions which may have direct implications upon individuals. Accordingly, the growing significance of fundamental human rights and the emergence of the concept of collective interests set for the protection of the international community as a whole make it imperative to provide a clearly distinguished line between legitimate and illegitimate Security Council action. The problem of legitimacy becomes even more acute in the light of the absence of institutionalised procedures for the judicial/legal control of the Security Council’s powers. The paper concludes that the Security Council “is not a legal Alsatia” and that it is subject to legal restraints found in its constituent treaty, namely the United Nations Charter.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Katselli E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Rights and International Legal Discourse

Year: 2007

Volume: 1

Issue: 2

Pages: 301-333

ISSN (print): 1783-7014

Publisher: Intersentia N.V.