international law

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International and domestic conflicts

In a world that is not liking international and domestic conflicts, the United Nations provides real-time consultations among governments and it also creates a forum for addressing long-term problems provide solutions appropriate to them. This is because the United Nations is a catalyst for action on major global issues that threaten world peace and security, both on an internal and an international scale. It is often said that if the world did not have the UN, it would have to be invented.

The United Nations was created “by 51 countries on 24 October 1945” just after the Second World War. It was established by those countries committed to the conservation of peace through international cooperation and collective security. Almost all countries in the world belong to the United Nations today, as the number of members of the “United Nations totals192 countries”.

The United Nations family of organizations consists of six main bodies - the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Trusteeship Council, the Economic and Social Council, International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. The location of all these in New York, but the last one which is the Court in The Hague, Netherlands

According to the Charter of the UN, there are four objectives: “the maintenance of international peace and security, the development of friendly relations among nations, cooperation in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights; and this find objective makes it easy to harmonize the actions of nations. Any country becoming a member of the United Nations must agree to the Charter of the United Nations.

In fact, the UN does not create the law and it is not considered a global government, but it provide a good means to resolve international conflicts by providing the best solution to these problems because the main objective of the United Nations makes the world work together to address the problems that threaten peace, or threaten the security of the world. Essentially, every member is entitled to vote, inspired by the fact that each member has one vote.

In the UN, there are “two central bodies to directly safeguard the peace which are the Security Council and the General Assembles”. In fact, the Security Council resolutions are legally binding under the Charter; all Member States are obliged to implement them. The council may be invited to convene at any time, whenever the peace is in danger or wherever international security is threatened because they will try to find a an effective solution for it. The SC was to enjoy great freedom in its decision on the existence of a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace, or act of aggression”.

The Security Council is designated by “Chapter V” of the UN charter, which is the Board of the SC and is composed of 15 members: 10 non-permanent members, elected by all Member States (General Assembly) periodically for a biennium; but the other are 5 members of the permanent members.

The voting system gives added weight to the States permanent members - China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Any of these countries can prevent any suggestion that is objected, even if supported by the rest of the permanent members of the other four, and all non-permanent members. This is called a veto power. In fact, the veto power enjoyed by the permanent members limited the scope of misusing the Security Council Resolutions for selfish motives, “during the first forty-five years of its existence, the Council was largely paralysed by the Cold War, but since 1990 and the thawing of the global political climate, it has been very active”. The “Cold War” is used to describe the political conflicts between the USA and Russian during the period after the Second World War until early nineties.

The Security Council issued several Articles towards the maintenance of peace in the world. The most important article of these was Art 39, which is concerned about the peace in the world and the act of aggression; also if the peace is threatened the Council will be entitled to take measures necessary to maintain the peace by acting accordance to Art 41, 42.

this paper will explain what is the Security Council of the UN; it will mention the real function of the SC in the world, and also it will give an indication of the extent that the SC controls the peace and security in the world by finding a good solution to any problem threatening any region or area in the world. then, this paper will determine if Article 39 of the UN really helps to perverse to the peace in the world with reference the articles 41 and 42 because they allow the Council to use the force if necessary to maintain the peace with support, followed some examples. The last part of this paper will be the conclusion for this essay.

The Security Council “is a political organ which acts for political reasons”. Basically, the SC relates to any social and any cultural matter, also “it plays a pivotal role and exercises a very wide discretion”. However, the main idea for establishment of the SC is to maintain the peace in the world; it is also “considered the most powerful part of the United Nations for maintaining peace and international security” around the world because it is responsible to provide the convenience to citizens everywhere through collective action with almost all the countries in the world by making a great plan to “deal with war and peace” or any problem threatening the peace or the security, also “it has linked a human rights situation to a threat to or breach of the peace”. As mentioned earlier, the SC is composed of 15 members, five permanent members and the remaining ten are elected by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Security Council within the United Nations enjoys a unique position and power because it is an independent body which can take its own decisions regarding international peace and security and can implement then in little time. At the same time, other organs of the United Nations have limited power and can put forth its recommendations to the member states. However, other members of the United Nations are responsible for implementing the decisions taken by the members of the Security Council.

The most important function of the Security Council is to take effective measures to maintain international peace and security, when there is any complaint concerning about a threat to the peace, the first action for the SC is to try to reach an agreement by peaceful steps between the parties. In fact, it is authorised to conduct investigation on disputes that may badly affect international peace and security and to recommend effective measures to settle the problem. In addition, the Security Council is authorised to regulate armaments in international level.

Another function of the Security Council is to identify threats which may harm world peace. In fact, it is permitted to make use of an economic embargo against the states with violate international laws which that the SC act under Art 41 of the UN charter. However, this does not prove that the power of the Security Council is limited to the sphere of economic embargo. Instead, it enjoys immense power to take military action towards the member or non-member states which violate international laws because the Art 42 allows the SC to use military force against an aggressor country.

In summary, the function of the Security Council makes clear that it plays the most important role in maintenance of world peace. Even so, the decisions taken by the Security Council regarding international peace and security are with far reaching consequences in some situations.

Now, it is important to highlights the power of the SC which comes from the UN charter, which allows judging in some situations and using it is power to remove any threat against for the international peace. Perhaps it can be said that the power of the SC is like a world judge because as mentioned above almost all the countries in the world are members of the UN and besides that every resolution of the SC should be obliged to implement for them. In fact, “the security council has been expanding its powers for the next 15 years, in the process arguably taking on judicial functions and interceding in the jurisdiction of international courts” a part of the power of the SC, it allows the use of military action to remove injustice in any country or state. A good example of this when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, however the SC decided in 1991to use military force against Iraq to remove it from Kuwait.

According to the UN charter, Article 39

” the Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security”

As the key terms mentioned in this Article of the UN Charter are not properly defined it should be clear enough to maintain the peace in the world and define any threat to security. It is probably the permanent members of the SC who interpret the peace according to their motive because they enjoy the immense power veto. The SC has to make any decision to restore the peace around the world. Besides that, the Council allows acting through Article 41, which allows the SC to cut any relations with the country whether economic or diplomatic. If this has no effect, the SC can act under the Art 42 which allows the use of force. It will be explained more clearly later.

In fact, peace has wide (positive) and narrow (negative) meanings. The negative sense, on one hand is “the absence of organised use of armed force, therefore in order to constitute a threat to peace”. Or in other words, the peace is the “absence of direct and organised violence between human groups or nations”. On the other hands, the positive meaning of the peace really varies widely, which includes the friendship between the countries, whether the economic relations or cultural relations. In theory, peace and justice are synonymous because the justice must of course be an essential element of any peace agreement whether international or internal. Traditionally, the concept of the peace depend on four factors, peace enforcement, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace building.

Many people used the word “conflict” when there is a war, but in fact the meaning of “conflict is any struggle or confrontation between groups or individuals over resources or power”, which threat the peace, also of course, act of aggressions are the primary cause of threatening the peace, whether internal or international. Essentially, one reason that might threaten the peace around the world is terrorism; although the Council resolution (1566) included the fight against terrorism, and also the SC issued many resolutions containing that terrorism is the one of the main reasons for breaching the international peace and security. For this reason, all the countries around the world must work together in a comprehensive approach to overcome the terrorism. Furthermore, violation of human rights is considered to be a breach of the peace process.

Here are some incidents that can be pointed out as the best examples for the initial interpretation of a ‘threat to international peace and security' by the Security Council:

Essentially, the Arab region has received the lion's share of the UN Security Council resolutions over more than half a century because of the occupation of the Middle East, ranked first in terms of attention, as an ongoing conflict between Arabs and Israelis who have settled in the Palestinian territories, occupied territory, which led to the outbreak of hostilities between the parties.

Palestine & Israel:

The UN intervention in the conflict between Palestine and Israel was helpful to minimise the tension between the two countries but the risk of war is not out of the picture. In 1947, the UN helped the Jews to form a nation of their own; also the UN gave approval to the plan of partition. However, the partition plan which divided Palestine into Israel and Arab States attracted much criticism from world Nations. Added to this, Palestine was not satisfied with this partition because this action aimed to minimise the political and religious tension between Israel and Palestine, but this action was not as helpful in limited the risk of conflict between Israel and Palestine. “Directly after Israel declared its independence in 1948 war broke out between them” although, Jerusalem was under UN administration because of, firstly differences standing between Palestine and Israel and, secondly the bloody wars between each other.

The first resolution for the Palestinian and Israelis was the number (42) in March of 1948 and (43) which were in April. The last resolution included to establish stop the war in Palestine between all the parties with imposing penalties on anyone who violated these resolutions. In fact, in 1948, the Security Council passed 29 resolutions. 16 of them related to the case with Israel and Palestine. Until this day, this issue is still the main focus in the meetings of the Council, and also the Council was unable to reach any satisfactory agreement between the parties to resolve their conflict and fighting. Furthermore, at the start of the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2009 Council issued resolution (1960) in 8 of January to establish stopping the war between the parties. In fact neither of them stopped fighting, but the fighting continued many days after issuing the resolution, which that means that the Council's resolution is not effective to make the peace.

It is important to point out that United Nations showed keen interest in minimising the risk of bloodshed in the Middle East. One can see that religion and aggressive nationalism are the key factors behind the conflict between Israel and Palestine, but the direct involvement of the United Nations helped the Jewish community to form a nation.

Lebanon & Israel:

Lebanon is the second example in the Middle East because it received several resolution after the independence, which were that after the end of the Civil War in Lebanon in 1946, but Israeli subject to continuous violations until now prompted the intervention of the UN Security Council in an attempt to find a settlement in the region.

Palestinians carried out attacks on an Israeli airplane in Athens airport in 1968, in response to the Israeli raid on Beirut airport, which destroyed a number of combat aircraft, however, on 31 December in 1968, the SC issued the resolution (262), which unanimously condemned the Israeli military operation, after launching a raid on Lebanon in response to the Palestinians. After that, Israel continued to invade Lebanon several times by claiming the country war a risk to them and to their interests. In 1973, the Council issued the resolution (337) demanding that Israel refrain from violation of Lebanese territory and warning that in the event of recurrence. In 1978, Israel invaded Lebanon and occupied it because the Palestinian factions to attacked Israeli territory, the Security Council adopted resolution (425) on 19 March calling on Israel to immediately withdraw from southern Lebanon and willing for an international force to supervise the Israeli withdrawal, restore peace and help the Lebanese government to control its territory.

However, Israel refused to implement resolution 425 and continued guerrilla operations against Lebanon and the Security Council meetings in an attempt to contain the situation and announced to the Council its reaffirmation of the unity, integrity and independence of Lebanon and strengthened the international emergency force in the south. In 1982, the Security Council adopted resolution (508) following a complaint by Lebanon to the Council and the resolution calls for a halt to all military operations in southern Lebanon immediately and simultaneously on both sides of the Lebanese-Israeli border, but Israel's response to this decision the following day was the invasion of Lebanese territory. The SC also issued resolution (509) which called for Israel to withdraw its military forces unconditionally and forthwith to the internationally recognized border with Lebanon. Until recent times, Israel continued attacks on Lebanon with the knowledge that the Council had issued several decisions asking them to cease hostilities, but they did not care about the council resolution and the problems with bloody wars in progress with each other.

So, one can see that the initial interpretation of a ‘threat to international peace and security' by the Security Council was limited to the sphere of conflict between states, but change in the sphere of international politics and transformation from a bi-polar world deeply influenced the Security Council's initial interpretation of a threat to international peace and security.

Iraqi & Kuwait:

one Arab country that have has a share of the Security Council resolutions was the Iraq, after Iraqi forces attacked Kuwait in 1990, which was adopted Security Council resolution (660) on the same day condemning the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait by demanding that Iraq withdraw immediately and unconditionally all forces. After this, the Iraqis called for direct negotiations between the two countries after the withdrawal. The Security Council issued resolution (661), which imposed economic sanctions on Iraq with the exception of medical equipment and food products in specific cases. It is important to know that the SC had to act under Article 41 of the UN Charter against Iraq's breach of international Law.

“The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations”.

However, the reaction from Iraq was announcement that the Kuwait would be on Iraqi province, besides this; the council adopted its resolution (662) of the illegality of the annexation of Kuwait.

Since G.W. Bush announced the so-called war on terrorism following the events of 11 September 2001. He decided to use military on Iraq. In 2002, the U.S. Congress approved at the request of the Chairman by giving authority to use military force against Baghdad. The reason was that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and the weapon should have been removed because they constituted a threat to neighbouring countries. The council considered that the Art 41 did not affect for disarmament, but in 2003, the Council acted under Article 42 of the UN Charter. However, the operation in Iraq was conducted without the sanction of Security Council Resolution:

Art 42 “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”

In fact, the war against Iraq will probably result in being a big mistake as the Council cannot be bypassed. How many people have been killed because of this war whether from the Iraqi side, or from USA side. If the war on Iraq was because of the disarmament of weapon of mass destruction and, it threatens world peace as they claim, what is the situation after Iraq? “Thus the Iraq war of 2003 is not a civil war because, although the fighting was mainly within one country, it was an invasion of forces of a US-led coalition intended to change the Iraqi Government”

In fact, the reasons that justified the war on Iraq were not enough (Iraq's breach of international Law) and there was not any proof for that, because this is contrary fully with United Nations objectives, according to factor 4 of Article 2 of the UN charter “All Members shall 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”. “This paragraph is preceded by one setting out the duty incumbent upon states to settle their disputes peacefully”. As mentioned earlier, if the first destination of the establishment of the Security Council is to maintain the peace around the world. Then, why is peace considered a military intervention on the country without any convincing reason?

The SC was also concerned with a number of issues that concern the Arab States and issued a number of resolutions that concern them, it has cared for the Palestinian cause, Lebanon and Iraq, the situation in Iran, as well as the situation between Israel and Tunisia, also Libya and Yemen.

Argentina & The UK:

Another example of the UN intervention in conflict between Argentina and the UK. As pointed out earlier, the role of the UN in settling international conflicts between states is noteworthy. The UN played the most important role in neutralising the conflict between Argentina and the UK on Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) dispute. This was because the Argentine attempt to occupy the Islands forced the UN Security Council to criticize the same country and it led to Resolution (502) for immediate withdrawal of Argentine troops from the Island, also the SC regards the Argentine invasion of the Falkland/ Malvinas as a breach of the peace”. This dispute on the island is an old dispute that has existed since the independence of Argentina from Spain. The controversy led to Argentina's military invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982.It is important to know that the war between the two countries was based on political grounds. For instance, the Argentine government showed eagerness to make use of the dispute to rise anti British opinion in Argentina. However, the timely involvement of the UN reduced the risk of a bloody war between them.

As mentioned above, the initial interpretation of a ‘threat to international peace and security' by the United Nations, especially the Security Council was strictly based on initiative to resolve conflict between states. However, the rapid change in world politics, industrialisation, globalisation and privatisation has limited its scope. Besides, it is extremely difficult to interpret the term ‘threat to international peace and security'. For example, a change in circumstances forced the United Nations to interpret the term beyond its initial aim to intervene in conflicts between states. Furthermore, the new world order put forward by globalisation was capable of increasing cooperation between states and it gradually reduced the scope of national boundaries, but still states face problems from domestic insurgencies. The function of the Security Council was not only for International matters, but also extends to interfere in the internal matters in some countries and to resolve the conflict between the citizens. Here are some examples that point out the intervention of the United Nations in internal matters of world nations to control the peace.


The intervention of the United Nations in Haiti was based on a humanitarian objective. According to the resolution (841) due to humanitarian crises, including the mass displacement of the population that will threaten international peace. In addition, the intervention of the United Nations to find early and comprehensive settlement to resolve the crisis. For instance, the SC considered the internal military coup in Haiti as a serious threat to neighbouring nations which are based on democracy. Moreover, the Government of Haiti asked the United Nations to intervene to control the security situation by sending many security force to Haiti, also helping the government to make a new military army, which was in resolution (867). In fact, the case of Haiti must be considered as special because the aim of the Security Council was to implement democracy in Haiti. Here, criticism on the decision of the United Nations to intervene in the domestic matters of Haiti is out of focus because this intervention can be termed under a Humanitarian response to create democracy.

The meaning of democracy is that the Government by people, because the people involved in the election of the Government have the right to vote, which provides justice for all the people. In fact, “the democracy provides a protection against civil war, because individual and group rights are respected relationship between the state and its citizens.”

In the end, the Security Council has succeeded in his mission in Haiti, according to the resolution (1123) in 1997 “Commending the role of the United Nation support mission in Haiti in assisting the government of Haiti in the professionalization of the police and in the maintenance of secure...etc”.


In the year 1992, the Somali Government collapsed and many people were died because hunger and starvation, that was in resolution (733). This incident forced the United Nations to intervene in the internal matters of Somalia, also because of the outbreak of fighting between the citizens in Somalia, in resolution (775) mentioned that “Alarmed by the continued sporadic outbreak of hostilities in several parts of Somalia...etc”. However, the United Nations determined that the situation in Somalia was a threat to neighbouring nations and an armed intervention was inevitable, which in section 10 of the resolution (794) was “acting under chapter VII of the charter of the UN.....etc”.

Generally, all the military operation in Somalia based on human rights and peacekeeping came to an end in1993 and the operation was considered as successful.


In 1999, for example, the SC Resolution (1244) helped the United Nations to intervene in the domestic affair of Kosovo. After the Serbians attacked the Kosovo, NATO intervened in Kosovo to resist the Kosovo Army. In fact, the NATO considered Serbian attack as genocide in seeking to destroy Kosovo. However, the NATO air campaign came to an end in 1999, and the negotiation with the United Nations in 2006 helped Kosovo to gain limited independence in the resolution (1722).


From 1961 to1964, the Congo faced the problem of internal insurgency. According to the resolution (161) of the UN the Congolese leader Lumumba was assassinated in 1961 and this incident added fuel to the internal insurgency. In fact, the civil war in Congo was termed as an immediate threat to world peace. However, the real problem behind the insurgency in Congo was the failure of socio-economic structure originated from the following years of decolonisation process. The military operation undertaken by the United Nations proved to be utter failure and was unable to fulfil its aim.


The conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda forced the United Nations to implement a military operation in Rwanda. In 1994, the United Nations despatched UNAMIR, a military unit to resist the genocide by Hutus against Tutsis. According to the resolution (912), the military operation conducted by the United Nations in Rwanda was proved to be futile because the president of Rwanda assassinated, as well as the prime minister, also, many of the government officials. After that, thousands of Rwandans and several of the UN employees were killed and others injured.

To what extent has the Security Council's recent interpretation of the threat to international peace and security deviated from its initial understanding?

As mentioned earlier, the initial understanding of the ‘threat to international peace and security' was based on conflict resolution between states. However, the change in international politics originated from the post Cold War years and forced the Security Council members to be cooperative. This helped the United Nations to gain a new role of a peace keeper cum negotiator.

The end of the Second World War compelled the world to set up an innovative forum or media to resolve international disputes. This created the favourable condition for the development of the United Nations. At that time, the initial interpretation of a ‘threat to international peace and security' was strictly limited to the sphere of conflict between UN member and non-member states. However, the Cold War era proved to be destructive to the proper functioning of the United Nations and the Security Council.

It is interesting to point out that the end of Cold War era helped the United Nations to regain its importance on an international sense. However, the new security threats like domestic insurgencies, civil wars, global spread of terrorism and religious fundamentalism forced the UN and the SC to reconsider the initial interpretation of a threat to international peace and security. Now, the UN give importance to peace settlement through negotiations, a good example of this is when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990; the UN was ready to render its help, it certainly helped to drive the Iraqis from Kuwait 1991.

So, one can easily identify that the end of the Cold War changed the role of the UN and the influence of globalisation and new world order minimised the difference between the East and the West. For example, in 1987, the UN played the major role in ending the conflict between Iran and Iraq. The new role of the UN as an organism to settle international conflicts by providing sanctions, economic embargoes (if needed), peacekeeping missions and negotiations.

The deviation of the UNs initial understanding of the threat to international peace and security was gradual, not rapid. For example, on one hand, the UN intervention in the internal matters of the countries, like the conflict between Argentina & the UK, Palestine & Israel, and Iraq & Kuwait.

On the other hand, the understanding of the threat the peace deviated to internal matters, after the civil wars, religious conflicts and violations of human rights in some countries around the world, it become clear that will lack the security and threaten the peace too, which that constitute a direct threat to world peace. Thus, the SC was forced to intervene in the internal matters in many countries to restore the peace and resolve the problems. Good example of this, as it mentioned above, were the internationals of the SC in Haiti, Somalia, Kosovo, Congo and Rwanda.

In conclusion, as it is clear that the world had suggested many losses in World War Two and the increase in international conflicts, it was decided that an organisation to maintain world peace would be necessary. The UN was formed in the 1945 by 51 countries committed to the conservation of peace through international cooperation and collective security. The main part of the UN concerned the security and peace is the SC, which composed of 15 members, 5 of them are permanent but the other are non permanent. Art 39 of the UN Charter concerned the security and organism that threaten the peace in the world, with an Instructed minute to economic boycott or use force if necessary to manage and control the peace in the area, which is described in Art 41 & Art 42 respectively. In fact, the SC intervention in international conflicts led to the agreement between the parties and restoration of peace. In all of the following interventions, the conflict between the UK and Argentina, Kosovo and Lebanese. Israel however conflict internal interventions the majority of them were successful, such as, the Somali and Haiti.

The Initial interpretation of the meaning of peace in the United Nations has changed due to globalization, civil wars and the religious differences. The meaning of the a threat to peace in the past was only international conflict, but now the meaning has been changed and include any internal conflict between the citizens.

As the examples above show the sudden response by the UN in international issues and its role in negotiation to solve internal conflicts prove its worth as a peace keeping force, also the scope of the SC's new role as an international peace keeping force through negotiation proveS that it is ready to change according to the new world order.

The scope of the Security Council and the UN must not be limited to the sphere of conflict resolution, but it must be extended to other spheres like reconstruction of nations which face internal coups, civil wars and poverty, because all these might affect and threaten the peace in the world.