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Oversight and Enforcement of International

Treaties and conventions together constitutes one of the two principal sources of
public law, the other being customary international law. Public international law has been
defined as that body of law which is composed for its greater part of the principles and
rules of conduct which states feel themselves bound to observe, and therefore, do
commonly observe in their relations with each other. It is worth observing that, while
international law has traditionally concerned itself with the relations of independent
sovereign states, increasingly, international law is concerned also with the rules governing
international organizations and relations between states and individuals. Nevertheless, it is
clear that the states remain the primary subjects of international law and, in that respect,
much of the following discussion will focus on the role of states in the creation, observance
and the enforcement of international law.
The Enforcement by International Law
The lessons of the two world wars, which blighted the earlier part of this century,
were undoubtedly hard lessons to learn. As the Second World War reached its climax,
statesmen in the leading allied nations sought to devise an international system which
would maintain international peace and security. This was to be done principally through
the development of a collective security system for the prevention and removal of threats
to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.
To that end, one of the fundamental principles declared in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter was
that all member states should refrain in their international relations from the threat or use
of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any
other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
Article 39 provides that the Security Council shall determine the existence of any
threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression. Having made this
determination the Security Council can provide for measures not involving the use of force
to be undertaken against a breaching state. Such measures may include the disruption of
economic relations, most usually by the imposition of economic sanctions, and the
severance of diplomatic relations (UN Charter, Article 41).Finally the Security Council may
authorize such use of force as may be necessary in order to restore international peace and
security (UN Charter, Article 42).
The principal problems of the United Nations collective security system emerged very
on in the post-World War Two era. Briefly stated, these include;
the problem of the veto
the problem of defining a threat to the peace
breach of the peace; or
act of aggression and the lack of willingness among states to provide military
personnel to be placed under the direct control of the United Nations.

-However, it is undoubtedly the exercise of the veto that has caused greatest damage to
the whole conception of the collective security system as envisaged in the United Nations
-Permanent members are required to concur on all votes of the Security Council except
purely procedural matters. Hence, by not concurring in any non-procedural votes, any or all
of the permanent members can veto a resolution of the Security Council.
-Throughout the Cold War, the exercise of the veto became almost a routine.
-Thus, it would be fair to say, in relation to the determination of a threat to the peace,
breach of the peace or act of aggression, at least, that if the United States did not veto a
particular resolution, the Soviet Union (Russia) would. This led to an apparent stagnation of
the collective security system for over forty years.
Given that the centralized enforcement machinery of the United Nations was defeated by
the use of the veto, at least during the Cold War period, the question must remain as to why
states, during this period, continued to accept the binding authority of international law.
Possible Answer:
First, there may well be a number of "natural deterrents" inherent in the system of
international law which operate to minimize the extent to which states seek to breach that
law. Two of these "deterrents" will be considered, specifically, the so-called:

Law-habit: Idea that states follows international law out of habit or, more precisely, out of
the laws current acceptability and the interest of the international community in vindicating
Reciprocity: Principle or practice of give-and-take in interchange between states.
Secondly, as a result of the de-centralized nature of international law, it is left to
individual states to enforce their own rights under international law.
Enforcement by International Bodies
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 377 A
The "Uniting for Peace" resolution, states that in any cases where the Security
Council, because of a lack of unanimity amongst its five permanent members, fails to act as
required to maintain international peace and security, the General Assembly shall consider
the matter immediately and may issue any recommendations it deems necessary in order
to restore international peace and security. If not in session at the time the General
Assembly may meet using the mechanism of the emergency special session.
The Uniting for Peace resolution/ "Acheson Plan" was adopted 3 November 1950,
after fourteen days of Assembly discussions, by a vote of 52 to 5 (Czechoslovakia, Poland,
the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the
Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic), with 2 abstentions (India and Argentina).
In it, the General Assembly:
"Reaffirming the importance of the exercise by the Security Council of its primary
responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and the duty of the
permanent members to seek unanimity and to exercise restraint in the use of the veto," ...
"Recognizing in particular that such failure does not deprive the General Assembly of its
rights or relieve it of its responsibilities under the Charter in regard to the maintenance of
international peace and security," ...
"Resolves that if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent
members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international
peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of
the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter
immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective
measures, including in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of
armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security."
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United
Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its
powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping
operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military
action. Its powers are exercised through United Nations Security Council resolutions.

There are 15 members of the Security Council. This includes five veto-wielding
permanent membersChina, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States
based on the great powers that were the victors of World War II.

There are also 10 non-permanent members, with five elected each year to serve two
year terms. This basic structure is set out in Chapter V of the UN Charter.
Chapter V of the United Nations Charter contains provisions establishing the United
Nations Security Council.
Article 23 establishes the composition of the Security Council, with five permanent
members(the Republic of China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the
United States) and 10 non-permanent members elected by the General Assembly. The nonpermanent members serve two year terms and cannot be immediately re-elected. In the
selection process for these non-permanent members, the treaty calls for "due regard being
specially paid, in the first instance to the contribution of Members of the United Nations to
the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the
Organization, and also to equitable geographical distribution."
Article 24 gives the Security Council "primary responsibility for the maintenance of
international peace and security" and requires the Security Council to act in accordance
with the UN's purposes and principles.
Article 25 requires members to "accept and carry out the decisions of the Security
Council," a mandate that does not apply with respect to the decisions of any other UN body,
with the exception of the World Court's decisions once a country has accepted its
Article 26 reflects a pro-disarmament sentiment:

In order to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security
with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources, the
Security Council shall be responsible for formulating, with the assistance of the Military Staf
Committee referred to in Article 47, plans to be submitted to the Members of the United
Nations for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments.
Nonetheless, the language employed here is considerably softer than that of Article 8
of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which stated:
The Members of the League agree that the manufacture by private enterprise of
munitions and implements of war is open to grave objections. The Council shall advise how
the evil efects attendant upon such manufacture can be prevented, due regard being had
to the necessities of those Members of the League which are not able to manufacture the
munitions and implements of war necessary for their safety.
The Security Council made its first real efort on disarmament in June 1968 when it adopted
Resolution 255, which contained assurances for non-nuclear weapon states. Some
observers believe that today, the UNSC is not fulfilling its mandate under Article 26.
1965 amendment
Originally, there were 11 members of the UN Security Council, with the assent of 7
(including the Permanent Five) being required for a decision. In 1965, in recognition of the
growing membership of the organization, the Charter was amended to expand the UNSC to
15 members, with the assent of 9 (again including the Permanent Five) being needed to
make a decision.

The current non-permanent members are Colombia, India, Germany, Portugal, South
Africa, Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan, and Togo.
International criminal law
is a body of international law designed to prohibit certain categories of conduct
commonly viewed as serious atrocities and to make perpetrators of such conduct criminally
accountable for their perpetration. Principally, it deals with genocide, war crimes, crimes
against humanity as well as the War of aggression.
International Criminal Court
(commonly referred to as the ICC or ICCt) is a permanent tribunal to prosecute
individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression
(although it cannot, until at least 2017,[3] exercise jurisdiction over the crime of
It came into being on 1 July 2002the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of
the International Criminal Court, came into forceand it can prosecute only crimes
committed on or after that date. The Court's official seat is in The Hague, Netherlands, but
its proceedings may take place anywhere.
International Court of Justice
Commonly referred to as the World Court or ICJ, is the primary judicial organ of the
United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands.
Its main functions are to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to provide
advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international organs,
agencies, and the UN.
Enforcement by states
Apart from a state's natural inclination to uphold certain norms, the force of
international law comes from the pressure that states put upon one another to behave
consistently and to honor their obligations.
If addressed, it may be through diplomacy and the consequences upon an ofending state's
reputation, submission to international judicial determination, arbitration, sanctions, or
force including war.
States may also unilaterally adopt sanctions against one another such as the
severance of economic or diplomatic ties, or through reciprocal action.
It is implicit in the Westphalian system of nation-states, and explicitly recognized
under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, that all states have the inherent right
to individual and collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against them.
Article 51 of the UN Charter guarantees the right of states to defend themselves until
(and unless) the Security Council takes measures to keep the peace.

Prepared by:
Jan Rhobin Padios