enforcement action

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Any action, authorized by the United Nations Security Council, to enforce collective security under Chapter VII (i.e. Articles 39–51) of the UN Charter. As such it stands as one of the very few legal justifications for use of force in international law. Strictly, any enforcement action can only be justified under Article 42 of the Charter, which requires agreement by member states to place their armed forces at the disposal of the UN (see Military Staff Committee). However, although the theory of enforcement action would seem to be that of concerted action by members under Article 42, such a limitation is not expressly stated in the Charter. Article 39 was worded so widely as to allow the Security Council, using the implied powers allowed for by that Article, to bypass this problem and authorize that member states voluntarily furnish armed forces to be under the unified command of one member state. Upon the basis of such implied power, an enforcement action was justified under Security Council recommendations under Article 39 in order to defend Korea (1950) and to liberate Kuwait in the first Gulf conflict (1991).

Subjects: Law.

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