"The Security Council's Methods of Work: The Borderlines of Legality", Annual Meeting of the Academic Council on the United Nations System, The Hague

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

Miriam Cullen - Speaker

  • PhD programme
When the United Nations Security Council first met in January 1946, it was unable to reach agreement on rules of procedure to govern its operation. Instead, “provisional” rules were adopted in anticipation of further negotiation at a later date. The same provisional rules govern the Council’s work today, but provide only the skeletal framework of its contemporary practice. From the early 1990s, the Council increasingly implemented informal working methods to expedite its decision-making. Informal procedures and working methods now govern the bulk of the Council’s work. This paper critically examines the tension between the Council’s legal obligations and the very modus operandi of the Security Council as it has evolved over time as a matter of custom and practice.

Scholarship to date has largely ignored the working methods of the Security Council notwithstanding they provide the very structure within which its decisions, and the politics that underpin them, take place. This paper evaluates the working methods of the Security Council in terms of the legal boundaries within which those procedures sit. It posits the idea that the reliance upon largely opaque working methods as its primary model of governance places the Security Council in contravention of an ancillary legal obligation under international law. While the Council is unapologetically political, it is also obligated under the UN Charter to act in conformity with the principles of justice and international law.
12 Jun 2015

Event (Conference)

TitleAcademic Council on the United Nations System
Date11/06/201513/06/2015
CityThe Hague
CountryNetherlands

ID: 148096195