Discussion Thread: 5.1 What role should UN Resolutions play in “Legalizing” the use of force in war? Q &A (Due: Febe 8, 2020).

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What role should UN Resolutions play in “Legalizing” the use of force in war? 

Discussion Thread: 5.1 What role should UN Resolutions play in “Legalizing” the use of force in war? 

Q1:What role do you think UN Resolutions should play in “Legalizing” the use of force by a member state in war?  Should a UN Security Council Resolution that specifically authorizes “the use of any and all means necessary to restore peace” be required before a member state can go to war to respond to a threat? 

Q2:Some liberalist scholars argue that nation states should always come to the UN Security Council to present their case for the use of force, before they go to war.  After all, it is the UN’s purpose to resolve conflicts by peaceful means short of war. 

Q3:Realist scholars, on the other hand, argue just as strongly that states have a right to use force in self-defense, to protect its citizens, to protect its sovereignty, and in a half dozen other circumstances fully recognized in “Just War Doctrine” and international legal precedents.  The UN Charter recognizes this right as well.

Q4:The most recent case in which the passage of a UN Resolution became a controversial diplomatic stumbling block was UNSC Resolution 1441 in December 2002 against Iraq.  The US requested a “use any means necessary” resolution against Iraq who was refusing UN WMD inspectors access.  When the French vetoed the original resolution, the language was changed to read “serious consequences” before it was passed.

Q5:Critics of the US invasion of Iraq have since staunchly argued that that conflict was “illegal,” since the UN never specifically approved language sanctioning the use of force, even though Iraq had violated 12 previous UN resolutions along the way.  Those who supported the war argued that the threat of the use of WMD by Iraq was real, the US Congressional Resolution authorized the President to use force with or without UN approval, so the use of force was justified as self-defense.  Other critics argue that UN resolutions are really just the big powers’ tool to legitimize their use of force against the little states and the means (with a veto) to prevent the little states from getting to use force.

Q6:So, who is right in your opinion?  Is UN approval in the form of a resolution required to use force?  Should a UN SC resolution be a required stop along the Road to War?  In what cases do you think would it NOT be required.  Justify your answers using examples.


Pease, K.S. (2019). International Organizations: Perspectives on Global Governance.New York, NY London Routledge.

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