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Part V Global and Regional Security Mechanisms, Ch.59 The Role of the United Nations in Shaping Global Security Law

Adam Day, David M Malone

From: The Oxford Handbook of the International Law of Global Security

Edited By: Robin Geiß, Nils Melzer

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 23 June 2021

Subject(s):
Collective security

This chapter argues that the United Nations (UN) has contributed to the international law of global security in three related ways: (1) as a lawmaker, or something very much like it, with the UN Security Council (UNSC) empowered through the Charter to adopt decisions binding on all Member States; (2) as an interpreter of international law, with significant impact on the law of global security; and (3) as an agenda-setter, establishing norms and shaping international responses to new security challenges. In all of these, the role of the UNSC has predominated, particularly in the post-Cold War period when the pace of its engagement and its willingness to intervene in a wide range of settings increased dramatically. This does not mean that the UN is always the best, or even the appropriate, actor when it comes to making, shaping, and enforcing international law. The chapter then considers the political limitations of the UN as an actor shaping global law, and the attendant risks this contested role poses to effective management of international peace and security. Just as it adapted in the post-Cold War period to new conflict dynamics and power constellations, the UN is likely to remain a key player in the global legal order in some respects and will need to calibrate its decisions accordingly, which it has not always done in the past.

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