When the Security Council Fails to Intervene in Mass Atrocities, Who Else Can Act?

Seema Kassab
Vol. 38 Associate Editor

There is no clearer example of the failure of the UN to halt mass atrocities and genocide than the current conflict in Syria. Nearly six years, hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and millions of refugees later, the UN has repeatedly failed to effectively take action in protecting Syrian civilians. In fact, the situation devolves year after year without a solution in sight. The dire need for humanitarian intervention in Syria is begging for a response from the international community and the invocation of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), an emerging norm in international law that places a responsibility on the international community to prevent and react to mass atrocities. R2P was intended to address genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing,[1] all crimes that the Assad regime has been committing in Syria for the past six years. The doctrine was adopted at the World Summit in 2005 in response to the failures of the international community to intervene in the humanitarian crises in Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo.[2] So why does R2P even exist if no one invokes it when it is most needed? Continue reading

North Korea’s “H-Bomb for justice” receives immediate condemnation, but is that enough?

Christina Foster, Vol. 37 Associate Editor

North Korea, the self-declared nuclear state, claims to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.[1] The testing occurred at 10:00am local time on January 5, 2016[2] and is one of several experiments carried out by leader Kim Jong-Un and the late Kim Jong-Ilin what is becoming a routine violation of international law. Last May, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused North Korea of “flagrant disregard for international law,”[3] and the country is clearly showing no signs of letting up. Continue reading

The P5: An Abuse of Power

Melanie Capuano
Vol. 37 Online Content Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor

The United Nations Security Council has five permanent members (“P5”): China, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and the United States. According to the predominant theory, and a recent ICJ advisory opinion, the General Assembly has the power to admit a new state only if the state has received a favorable recommendation from the Security Council.[i] A positive recommendation requires nine affirmative votes, including the concurring vote of each of the five permanent members, which essentially gives each member of the P5 a veto over a petition for statehood.[ii] This veto power has been exercised by China against Taiwan and the U.S. against Palestine. The use of the veto power by the U.S. and China, for reasons other than those found in the Charter, represents an abuse of power that needs to be remedied. Continue reading