Legal Restraints on Security Council Military Enforcement Action

This article considers an issue that, given its importance for the protection of combatants and civilians in armed conflict, has not attracted the attention it warrants: namely, the extent to which legal restraints derived from the ius in bello and the ius ad bellum apply to the Security Council when it is taking military enforcement action under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Although a position not free from controversy, the recent practice of the Security Council in “authorizing” States to use force to restore international peace and security is treated as military enforcement action under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter for the purposes of this paper. Even if these actions are more appropriately regarded as some sort of “hybrid” from a legal perspective, the issue warrants attention as it would be directly raised if a permanent military force were set up under the Charter An analysis of the legal regime of military enforcement action lays the groundwork for any assessment of the application of the general principles of State responsibility to the Security Council and, moreover, the responsibility of States themselves.