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Presentation on Collective Security

II. Iraq and the Security Council

Saddam’s reasons for invading Kuwait:
• Kuwait was regarded by Saddam as a part of Iraq. As such he decided that he had a right
to its oil fields. This would help him have a better control over oil prices.
• Iraq was emerging from a war with Iran. It had been receiving substantial financial aid in
the form of loans and both Soviet and Western military technology. Saddam felt that this
was giving him a temporary regional advantage.
• Due to the war, however, Iraq owed about 40 billion dollars to the Arab states and to the
West. It was suffering from hyperinflation and from the drop in oil prices.
The reaction of other Arab States:
• The other Arab states tried to mediate a solution to the disputes between Iraq and Kuwait
on several occasions. They believed that it was against their interest to involve the
Security Council in this matter
The role of the United States:
• Prior to the invasion of Kuwait the US was mostly neutral to what was going on in the
region. It even assured Saddam that it would not interfere
The reaction of the Security Council:
• Resolution 660 proclaiming the invasion of Kuwait to be a breach of international peace
and security and demanding the withdrawal of all Iraqi forces. This was followed by
Resolutions 661 and 664 which introduced various sanctions. Resolution 665 authorized
a naval blockade. Finally, Resolution 678 authorized the use of force contingent of Iraq’s
refusal to withdraw
• Overall, the Security Council decided to gradually escalate its actions and to attempt to
resolve the dispute peacefully before deciding to use force

V. Constructivism
1. According to rule-oriented constructivism the agents influence the social structure through
speech acts, which include any verbal or non-verbal communication. The agents are in turn
influenced by social arrangements – sets of rules (beliefs, norms and identities) that govern
2. Therefore determining the social arrangements of global security will help us understand how
states behave. These rules include beliefs about the nature of security, norms about the
appropriateness of use of force, identities about self and other (friend, rival, etc.). There are four
possible types of social arrangements:
Rules 1 through 3 are distinct for every arrangement. Rules 4-6, however, overlap. This creates
confusion among the actors as to which set of rules to follow. In other words, the reason why
collective security fails is the lack of adequate collective understanding of what this social
arrangement means.
3. The speech acts that states use in the Security Council constitute a legal discourse, in which
agents try to interpret international law. Due to the public and binding nature of the discourse
states worry about their reputation and about setting precedents.
• In both Kosovo and Iraq (2003) these tensions arose from a disagreement on whether UN
rules should be enforced regardless of the presence of a Security Council resolution. This
made Russia and China interpreted NATO’s behavior as one under the rivalry social
arrangement instead of an act of collective security
• In Iraq (1991) this was not an issue for two main reasons:
1. Saddam was seen as similar to Hitler, which helped solidify Iraq’s identity as an
aggressor who would not listen to reason.
2. Saddam was engaging in a conventional inter-state war and was therefore
violating numerous international laws
3. Saddam’s violations were not stretching the boundaries of these laws and
creating precedents
4. In short, a constructivist explanation shows that the problem of collective security is the
problem of when and under what conditions states should enforce the rules of the international
5. Can this problem be solved? It is difficult to find a solution because the shared values and
expectations of the participants in the Security Council are very diverse. The UN was formed as
a society created by a contractual act of volition. It cannot compete with region security
communities which have emerged largely due to their shared values. Since these communities
will try to enforce their own rules, the Security Council members are likely to go back to rivalry
relations between them in the future.
1. Adler, Emanuel. 1997. Imagined (Security) Communities. Millennium: Journal of
International Studies, 26(2): 249-277.
2. Johnstone, Ian. 2003. Security Council Deliberations: The Power of the Better Argument.
European Journal of International Law, 14(3): 437-480.
3. Frederking, Brian. 2003. Constructing Post-Cold War Collective Security. The American
Political Science Review, 97(3):363-378.
4. Halliday, Fred. 1991. The Gulf War and Its Aftermath: First Reflections. International Affairs
(Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), 67(2): 223-234
5. Knopf, Jeffrey W. 2003. The Importance of International Learning. Review of International
Studies, 29(2): 185-207.
6. Salinger, Pierre. 1995. The United States, the United Nations, and the Gulf War. Middle East
Journal, 49(4): 595-613.