Authority without accountability? the UN Security Council’s authorisation method and institutional mechanisms of accountability

Henderson, Christian (2014) Authority without accountability? the UN Security Council’s authorisation method and institutional mechanisms of accountability. Journal of Conflict and Security Law, 19 (3). pp. 489-509. ISSN 1467-7954

[img] PDF - Published Version
Restricted to SRO admin only

Download (238kB)


The United Nations Security Council has provided what might be seen as a functional and effective interpretation of its UN Charter based powers in developing a method for ‘authorising’ states and coalitions of states to use forcible measures in seeking to fulfil its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. While this method has become embedded into the practice of the Council and the UN, there is a certain deficit in the accountability of the Council in both its development and utilization of it. Given that the powers upon which the method is based are located within the Charter itself, this article addresses the existing institutional mechanisms of accountability. These are to be found in the International Court of Justice’s advisory function as well as in the United Nations General Assembly’s powers of discussion and recommendation, including under the Uniting for Peace resolution. While many of the transparency and accountability issues that the Security Council faces could be rectified through reform, such an institutional revolution looks a distant prospect at best. As such, this article argues that the existing institutional mechanisms of accountability have the potential to ensure that the Council does not exercise its authority without accountability. This is not through them being able to legally oblige the Council into taking or refraining from certain action, but through a process of clarification and the milder yet still effective pull towards compliance that concerns regarding legitimacy can exert upon the actions of the Council and its Member States.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Subjects: H Social Sciences
K Law
K Law > KZ Law of Nations > KZ5510 International law of peace and peace enforcement
Depositing User: Christian Henderson
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2018 15:45
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2018 15:45

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update