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Spring 2024 Seminar

The Security Council

Prerequisites: Public International Law

Exam Type: No Exam

The United Nations Security Council is at the heart of the post-WWII international order — but whether it should remain so is a live question in multilateral affairs. The Council is often referred to as the world’s executive, but it also increasingly exercises a kind of legislative power. Its discretion is extensive, if not unlimited. Its power is ostensibly justified, as states have conferred to it the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Has the Council lived up to this weighty challenge? 

The seminar will engage intensive current debates about possible reform of the Council, foundational questions concerning its current and potential role, its representativeness, its impact, and its relevance. We will explore these questions by examining several contemporary legal and policy issues concerning the Security Council. These include issues related to interpretation of Security Council resolutions, disobedience of the Council’s decisions, the role of Elected Members, and proposals for institutional reform, as well as various thematic and country-specific matters pertaining to, among others, war and peace, climate change, and terrorism (potentially encompassing issues developing in real-time during the semester).