Thursday, March 31, 2011

Legal basis of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011) on Libya

On 17 March 2011, the Security Council – acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter - adopted Resolution 1973 (2011) authorizing UN Member States to use armed force to protect civilians in Libya, and establishing a no-fly zone over Libya.

Why does the Security Council decide, and not the UN General Assembly or the Secretary-General?

The Charter of the United Nations entrusts the Security Council with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with Article 24(1) thereof, which states: “In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations, its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf”.

Why did the Security Council act under Chapter VII of the Charter?

This Chapter empowers the Security Council to make recommendations or take action, including military action, when it decides that a threat to the peace, an actual breach of the peace, or an act of aggression exists – according to Article 39 of the Charter.

Which Article – under Chapter VII of the Charter - authorizes the Security Council to decide to use armed force or impose a no-fly zone?
Article 42 stipulates: “Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations”.

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