(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents. An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/5361.htm)
International law is gradually developing on a global basis, under the aegis of the UN, but progress is patchy. The UN Security Council issues Resolutions which have the status of laws, but it makes up rules as it goes along rather than enforcing pre-agreed legislation. Political agreement is needed for each situation, so these aspects of international law don’t have the “enduring character” which is one of the key characteristics of law as defined earlier (5.1.2). It can be more accurately categorised as a global political authority – and it is not fully effective in that role either because its members pursue national agendas (126.96.36.199).
Despite these valid criticisms of the UN Security Council, it is better than previous international conventions whereby each State was the sole arbiter of whether it was entitled to go to war. Under the UN Charter, Security Council approval is unambiguously required for war to be regarded as having “legitimate authority” in the terminology of ‘just war’ theory (188.8.131.52).
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