Law, Legitimacy and the United Nations

Ramesh Thakur

in Legality and Legitimacy in Global Affairs

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199781577
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932887 | DOI:
Law, Legitimacy and the United Nations

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The United Nations lies at the centre of the international law enforcement system and its unique legitimacy, based on universal membership, also places it at the core of the global normative order. A gulf between law and legitimacy—a distinction popularized in the context of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999—is a serious crisis-in-the-making for the United Nations, more so than commonly realized. The reason for the under‑estimation of the extent and gravity of the gap is that different segments of the international community have problems with different elements of the gap and fail to capture the several dimensions in their combined, cumulative effect. This is illustrated with respect to international law and international humanitarian law, sanctions, nuclear weapons, atrocity crimes and international interventions, international criminal justice, the Security Council, the UN–U.S. relationship, and UN integrity systems.

Keywords: UN; US; law; legitimacy; sanctions; nuclear weapons; intervention; ICC; Security Council

Chapter.  13150 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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