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With No Judge or Jury, Who Will Decide the Fate of 4.1 million Aid-Dependent Syrians? A Comment on the Legality of UN-Coordinated Cross-Border Aid Operations in Syria

As the UN Security Council (“UNSC”) once again prepares to consider renewing the mandate for UN-coordinated cross-border humanitarian aid operations in Syria, 4.1 million aid recipients wait to see whether Russia will finally veto their last remaining lifeline. With stakes at their highest since 2014, relevant actors within the international community can revert to established legal positions surrounding cross-border aid in Syria to avoid abandoning those left most in need by the conflict. The context of Cross-Border Humanitarian Aid in Syria In 2014, parties to the Syrian conflict (primarily the Syrian Authorities) continued to disregard calls for unimpeded humanitarian access, whilst broader humanitarian access efforts were also obstructed by a nebulous conflict that was growing in intensity and increasingly characterised by evolving frontlines controlled by rapidly changing parties. Attempting to combat these obstacles with international political consensus, on 14 July 2014, the UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 2165 (2014) (impliedly under Chapter VII of the UN Charter), thereby bolstering the legal basis for the establishment of four…

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Security Council Resolution 2669 (2022) on the Situation in Myanmar: Too Little, Too Late?

On December 21, 2022, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2669 (2022) on the situation in Myanmar with a vote of 12 in favour to none against, and 3 abstentions (China, India, and the Russian Federation). The Council “demands an immediate end to all forms of violence throughout the country.” It “urges the Myanmar military to immediately…

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The Echo of Quiet Voices. Liechtenstein’s Veto Initiative and the American Six Principles

On 8 September 2022, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, announced her government's intention to support efforts to reform the UN Security Council. The issue of exercising the right of veto on one's own behalf thus gained unprecedented momentum. Of “laugh tests” and “get-out-of-jail-free cards” The trigger was the…

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Disobeying the Security Council or a disobedient Security Council? The effects of jus cogens on Security Council resolutions in recent debates of the ILC and in the views of states

At the most recent plenary session of the International Law Commission, which concluded on 5 August 2022, one issue proved particularly controversial. Indeed, it proved so controversial that Prof. Tladi, Special Rapporteur on peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens), claimed that he was willing to fall on his sword over the issue, whereas Chinese ILC-member Prof. Huang insinuated…

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Three Options for the Veto Power After the War in Ukraine

If any good can come out of the war in Ukraine, it should be a resumption of the decade-long process in the United Nations aiming at reining in or even removing the veto power of the permanent members of the Security Council. President Zelensky’s recent call for reforming the veto system may help to create the necessary…

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