64 Am. J. Int'l L. 1 (1970)
The Place of International Law in the Settlement of Disputes by the Security Council

handle is hein.journals/ajil64 and id is 9 raw text is: THE PLACE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW IN THE
SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES BY THE
SECURITY COUNCIL
By Rosalyn Higgins *
The place of law in the settlement of disputes by the Security Council is
a topic which has already occasioned debate. Many lawyers contend that
law plays a minimal r6le in the work of the Council. That organ is, they
point out, essentially a political body. It operates in a different way from a
judicial body such as the International Court of Justice, and frequently
ignores the law of nations. Oscar Schachter, writing in this JourN AL in
1964, has offered another view, pointing to subtle ways in which the influ-
ence of law can still make itself felt in the work of the Security Council, by
providing a common language, by applying principles to specific cases, and
by determining new points of community interest.- The purpose of this
article is to examine, in the light of recent years, some of the limitations
within which this legal endeavor takes place, and to see whether law has
any real function in the settlement of disputes.
The Security Council may be a political body, but its r6le is defined by
the United Nations Charter, which is a legal instrument, a treaty between
nations. Further, Article 1 of the Charter declares a major purpose of the
United Nations to be the resolution of disputes in conformity with the
principles of justice and international law. What does it mean for a po-
litical body to act within a legal framework, and to have to provide solu-
tions to disputes that are in conformity with the law?
I
Use of the law by the Security Council is necessarily ambivalent, because
the Security Council itself is really a dual concept; it is each of the indi-
vidual members, stating its case, and also the sum total of the members
acting in the name of the organ. Thus, when we speak of law in the Se-
curity Council, we are really speaking of two things: law as it is invoked by
the claimants to a dispute, and law as it is employed by the organ itself,
when passing its decision. The members of the Security Council are, at
one and the same time, both participants and decision-makers. And it is
hardly surprising that each uses the law rather differently.
One or more members of the Security Council may themselves be in-
volved in the dispute upon which the Council is called to adjudicate. The
Charter itself sought to differentiate these two r6les by providing in Article
* The Royal Institute of International Affairs, London. This article is based on a
Paper given before the Cambridge University International Law Club on Feb. 14, 1969.
1 Oscar Schachter, The Quasi-Judicial R61e of the Security Council and the General
Assembly, 58 A.J.I.L. 960-965 (1964).

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