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COVID-19 as a Threat to International Peace and Security: What place for the UN Security Council?

  The rapid spread of COVID-19 and actions to contain the virus have understandably drawn parallels with previous outbreaks, in particular that of Ebola in West Africa in 2014 and of the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 which also arose in China but affected Hong Kong more severely. While the SARS outbreak went largely unnoticed (at least not formally) by the Security Council, in 2014, it designated the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as a threat to international peace and security. Resolution 2177 (2014) was the first time the Security Council had considered and subsequently determined a public health issue a threat to international peace and security in line with Article 39 of the UN Charter. This post examines briefly the Security Council’s response to the Ebola outbreak and considers whether a comparable response may result towards the current COVID-19 outbreak. First, it assesses factors for the Security Council’s designation of the Ebola outbreak as a threat to international peace and security. Second, it considers whether factors…

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Is Security Council Authorisation Really Necessary to Allow Cross-Border Humanitarian Assistance in Syria?

  In December last year, Russia and China vetoed a draft Security Council resolution that would have renewed the authorisation for humanitarian assistance to be provided in Syria via four designated border-crossings. The authorisation had been in place since Resolution 2165 (2014), and had enabled the provision of humanitarian assistance to more than…

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Humanitarian Assistance and Security Council Sanctions: Different Approaches to International Humanitarian Law

Under the sanctions regimes established by its resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) can currently impose sanctions on those who obstruct the delivery of humanitarian assistance in eight non-international armed conflict situations. This imposition of sanctions stems from the UNSC’s responsibility to maintain peace, security, and stability. Yet,…

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The Decentralisation of International Crimes: A shift from the central criminal apparatus at the ICC?

In her statement to the UN Security Council on November 2018, Fatou Bensouda vowed to search ‘outside of Libya’ for accountability of global actors in the migration context. This is one of the many moves by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) in their prosecutorial trajectory towards a more holistic approach. Such an approach widens the accountability…

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Looking for Middle Ground on the Immunity of Al-Bashir? Take the Third ‘Security Council Route’

On 10-14 September, the Appeals Chamber (AC) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) held hearings in the appeal of Jordan against the decision of Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) II entitled ‘Decision under article 87(7) of the Rome Statute on the non-compliance by Jordan with the request by the Court for the arrest and surrender o[f] Omar Al-Bashir’ of…

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