UN Security Council Resolutions

UN Security Council Resolutions have the status of laws, but this system behaves more like a framework for political negotiation.

International law is gradually developing on a global basis, under the aegis of the UN, but progress is patchy.    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 (

Permanent members of the Security Council – America Britain China France and Russia – all wield veto powers.  This means that any of them has immunity under international law when it chooses to exercise it.  This problem became all too evident in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  In September 2023, Ukraine’s president made a speech on the subject: Zelensky Tells U.N. Security Council It’s Useless While Russia Has a Veto.

Despite these valid criticisms of this system, 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, UN Security Council Resolutions are unambiguously required for war to be regarded as having “legitimate authority” in the terminology of ‘just war’ theory (



This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/5361.htm.