The Revival of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter : Regional Organisations and Collective Security
Abstract: A new regionalism has shaped the modern world since the Cold War. This has revived international law as applicable to regional organisations. This study analyses the legal framework in relation to the roles and functions of regional organisations in collective security. The starting point is Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. This chapter contains provisions applying only to regional organisations. Two identifiable trends in interpreting Chapter VIII have emerged. Regional organisations, in certain circumstances, have been granted greater opportunities for the potential to act. Chapter VIII contains no explicit legal support for regional organisations to apply sanctions, carry out peacekeeping operations, or act in situations where non-member states are involved. It is contended, however, that regional organisations possess such authority as part of their general competence under the provisions of Chapter VIII.This study also explains how certain rights of regional organisations have, simultaneously, been circumscribed. The rule in Chapter VIII, stipulating that regional organisations take priority over the Security Council in the peaceful settlement of disputes, has, it is argued, been emptied of its normative content.The common approach behind those two trends is that the rights of regional organisations are interpreted by analogy to international law applicable to states. Clearly, global collective security law has not left the state-centred paradigm.This study concludes by advancing the view that uncertainty exists as to whether this interpretation is up to meeting the challenges of the present international system. The UN Security Council is sometimes seen to be an uncertain guarantor of peace. Shortcomings in the UN collective security system could be remedied, it is asserted, by fresh interpretations of the UN Charter and general international law to give regional organisations greater authority to act than currently, while unilateral action by states remains the subject of stricter control.
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