The Security Council: Progress is Possible but Unlikely

Bardo Fassbender

in Realizing Utopia

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199691661
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738593 | DOI:
The Security Council: Progress is Possible but Unlikely

Show Summary Details


There is broad agreement that it is better to have the Security Council with all its flaws than to have no such institution at all. It is difficult to envisage developments of the Security Council in the direction of an institution effectively promoting and sustaining a global community based on the values proclaimed by the UN Charter. Nevertheless, a set of fairly realistic measures can be suggested. Firstly, the Western members of the Council, especially the permanent members, should realize that their dominance is very fragile. Secondly, the Security Council should attach more importance to collective goods and interests of all peoples inhabiting the earth than to the individual goods and interests of the states represented on the Council. Thirdly, the Council should have at its disposal more information from independent sources, gathered and evaluated in the Secretariat, instead of being dependent on information provided by member states, especially the permanent members, on the basis of the work of their secret services. The role of the Office of Legal Affairs in advising the Security Council in matters of international law should also be strengthened. Fourthly, action taken by the Council (in particular in the form of economic and military sanctions) needs to be more reliable and consistent, and less arbitrary. The Security Council should try to build a precedential case law which makes it possible to predict in general terms its course of action. Finally, sanctions imposed on individuals not belonging to a small circle of members of a government, military command, or the leadership of a non-state party to a conflict should remain an exception.

Keywords: UN Security Council; UN Charter; collective good; precedential case law; sanctions

Chapter.  4995 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.