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United Nations 75th Anniversary Collection

This United Nations Day (24 October 2020) marks the 75th anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Charter. In recognition of this milestone we have created a collection of articles and chapters that provide commentary on the role of the UN in international law over the past 75 years, and its significance to the development of global human rights and international peace and security.

All content featured below from Oxford Scholarly Authorities on International Law, the Max Planck Encyclopedias of International Law, and Oxford Scholarship Online, is free to access until 30 November 2020.

Introduction to the United Nations


United Nations
By Jochen A Frowein. From the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law.

United Nations, General Assembly
By Christian Tomuschat. From the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law.

United Nations, Internal Justice System
By Santiago Villalpando. From the Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law.


The UN, Human Rights, and International Peace and Security


Appraising the United Nations Human Rights Regime
From The United Nations and Human Rights: A Critical Appraisal (Second Edition), by Philip Alston and Frédéric Mégret.

Philip Alston and Frédéric Mégret provide an overview of the UN human rights regime and it’s evolution over the last several decades, and consider the challenge of evaluating the UN’s human rights regime, both as a whole and of individual human rights organs.


Article 3: General Principles
By Sarah Arduin. From The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Commentary, edited by Ilias Bantekas, Michael Ashley Stein, and Dimitris Anastasiou.

This chapter examines Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which sets out the general principles of the CRPD. It provides an overview of the drafting process and discusses each of the eight principles set out in Article 3.


A Battlefield Transformed: The United Nations and the Struggle over Postcolonial Statehood
By Guy Fiti Sinclair. From The Battle for International Law: South-North Perspectives on the Decolonization Era, edited by Jochen von Bernstorff and Philipp Dann.

As much as the UN provided an institutional context for decolonization, decolonization itself effected a profound transformation in the legal structures and powers of the UN. This chapter argues that that transformation was understood as necessary for the construction of modern states in the decolonized world—but that the meaning and expression of modern statehood was intensely contested throughout the period of decolonization.


Creation, Institutionalization, and Development of Public and Confidential Special Procedures
From In Defense of Politicization of Human Rights: The UN Special Procedures, by Elvira Domínguez-Redondo.

This chapter outlines the key events leading to the birth of the first public and confidential UN Special Procedures as a positive outcome of what was a highly politicized process.


Defining Torture and the Obligation of Systematic Review in the CAT Treaty
By Manfred Nowak and Giuliana Monina. From Interrogation and Torture: Integrating Efficacy with Law and Morality, edited by Steven J. Barela, Mark Fallon, Gloria Gaggioli, and Jens David Ohlin. 

Manfred Nowak and Giuliana Monina examine the legal definition of torture under international human rights law and provide an overview of the CAT Committee’s practice. 


International Cultural Heritage Law: The Institutional Aspects
By Tullio Scovazzi. From The Oxford Handbook of International Cultural Heritage Law, edited by Francesco Francioni, Ana Filipa Vrdoljak.

Tullio Scovazzi examines UNESCO as the world cultural institution within the UN system, its significance in providing a global platform for international cooperation, and the functions of the UNESCO heritage conventions. 


Introduction to The United Nations Convention Against Torture and its Optional Protocol: A Commentary
From The United Nations Convention Against Torture and its Optional Protocol: A Commentary (Second Edition), edited by Manfred Nowak, Moritz Birk, and Giuliana Monina.

This introduction examines the phenomenon of torture, and provides a history of the UN Convention Against Torture and its Optional Protocol as well as an overview of its contents and significance.

This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence. The full book is offered online and as a PDF download from OUP, and in selected open access locations.


Neutrality and the UN Charter
From Neutrality in Contemporary International Law, by James Upcher.

This chapter considers the ways in which the UN Charter, and the evolving practice of the Security Council, has affected the ability of States to exercise the rights and duties of neutrality.


The Promise and Pitfalls of the Sustainable Development Goals: Has the Time Come for a Rights-Based Approach to Poverty Reduction?
By Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona and Kate Donald. From Human Rights and 21st Century Challenges: Poverty, Conflict, and the Environment, edited by Dapo Akande, Jaakko Kuosmanen, Helen McDermott, and Dominic Roser.

This chapter critically addresses the contribution of a human rights-based approach in addressing persistent poverty. Using the commitments of the Sustainable Development Goals as a lens, it examines how a human rights approach should influence the conceptualization and measurement of poverty, and the policies and financing instruments used to tackle it.


The Great Enterprise Enters the Modern Era (1987–2005)
From The United Nations Commission on Human Rights: 'A Very Great Enterprise', by John P Pace. 

This chapter describes how a new era emerged in the evolution of the United Nations starting in the 1990s as a consequence of the expansion in the number of conventions and special procedures. It goes on to examine how these implied a closer need for monitoring in substance and with it, the outreach that was a necessary corollary.


UN Security Council Resolutions as a Legal Framework for Multinational Military Operations
By Pia Hesse. From The 'Legal Pluriverse' Surrounding Multinational Military Operations, edited by Robin Geiß and Heike Krieger.

Pia Hesse examines UN Security Council resolutions as a legal framework for multinational military operations, and argues that obligations that derive from Security Council mandates may put constraints on how force is used.


The UNDRIP’s Relationship to Existing International Law: Relationship to Human Rights, and Related International Instruments
By Martin Scheinin and Mattias Åhrén. From The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: A Commentary, edited by Jessie Hohmann and Marc Weller.

This chapter analyses how the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples fits within the broader picture of international legal instruments, with specific reference to related human rights norms.

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