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Copyright (c) 2004 The Regents of the University of California

ARTICLE: The United Nations and Intrastate Conflict: A Legislative History of Article 39 of the United Nations Charter

Spring, 2002

8 U.C. Davis J. Int'l L. & Pol'y 275

Author

Daniel W. Abbott *

Excerpt

If Iraq invaded Saudi Arabia, could the Security Council authorize the use of military force to defuse the situation? Article 39 of the United Nations Charter expressly authorizes the Council to deploy military force in response to acts of aggression. Most would agree this constitutes an act of aggression. But what if the Iraqi government arrested and tortured every non-Muslim Iraqi throughout Iraq as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign? Would this constitute a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression sufficient to trigger Security Council military action? Was the Charter intended to allow humanitarian intervention into intrastate disputes? Stated differently, what, if any, cross-border consequences are required under Article 39 to authorize military deployment by the Security Council?

Article 39 reads as follows:
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.


Based upon an examination of the legislative history of Article 39, this paper will seek to demonstrate that the Security Council may act under the Article only if two specific criteria are met. First, there must be an interstate dispute; that is, the situation must involve more than one nation. Second, the cross-border consequences must fall into one of four categories: (a) actual deployment of military force by one nation across an ...
 
 
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