A CRITIQUE OF THE ROLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL IN PROMOTING PEACE AND SECURITY UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW

CHAPTER TWO

CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATIONS

2.1 Introduction

In the course of writing on this subject matter, the writer came into contact with complex concepts that need some definitions, explanations, and clarifications for readers to know what the writer mean about these particular terms. Sometimes, terms have different meanings and interpretations depending on the topic under which they are being discussed. Conceptual clarifications are concerned with explaining the meaning of concepts. Some would dismiss such undertakings as mere semantics. Without clear concepts, however, scholars are apt to talk past each other, and policy-makers find it difficult to distinguish between alternative policies. Scholars have argued that the elucidation of the language of educational works is by no means an idle exercise in semantics, but in many instances a most effective way to solve substantive problems of research. Conceptual explication attempts to specify the logical structure of given expressions: Taking its departure from the customary meanings of the terms, explication aims at reducing the limitations, ambiguities, and inconsistencies of their ordinary usage by propounding a reinterpretation intended to enhance the clarity and precision of their meanings as well as their ability to function in hypotheses and theories with explanatory and predictive force.[1] Terms like diplomacy, war and balance of power discussed widely may confuse the reader because they may well be treated under international law, political science and international relations and other subjects and they will well suit under such topics and these concepts may slightly be handled differently. Thus in other to let the readers know the specific concept under which a particular term falls, it needs to be specified. It is important and necessary for such conceptual clarifications to be made as they are done below.

2.2 Meaning and nature of International Law

 International law governs relations between nation-states. It is composed of international treaties and conventions, general customs, and generally accepted principles of law and equity. Although few organizations in international law are empowered to enforce international law, nations are expected to comply with, and they generally do. If they do not, they are likely to damage their international relationships. In addition, the violated subjects may complain to the United Nations (UN), which may issue a declaration condemning the violation or may act to remedy the situation (as occurred when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990). However, the UN has insufficient money, personnel, and will to intervene in all violations of international law. Thus, it is the responsibility of the states to follow prescribed rules and principles[2].

International law is also defined as the legal system governing the relationships between nations; more modernly, the law of international relations, embracing not only nations but also such participants as international organizations and individuals (such as those who invoke their human rights or commit war crimes)[3].  

International law also termedpublic international law orlaw of nations has its classic definition[4] as that body of rules that govern the relations between states. This is because at that time, it was considered that only states had rights and obligations under international law. It cannot also be upheld that states are the only concern in international law. This definition cannot be taken as very adequate and complete description of the intent, purpose and scope of international law today. International law also comprises rules that relate to the functioning of international institutions or organizations, their relations with each other and their relations with states and individuals. International law is also defined[5] as the legal system governing the relationships between nations; more modernly, the law of international relations, embracing not only nations but also such participants as international organizations and individuals (such as those who invoke their human rights or commit war crimes). International law governs relations between nation-states. It is composed of international treaties and conventions,[6] general customs, and generally accepted principles of law and equity. Although few organizations in international law are empowered to enforce international law, nations are expected to comply with, and they generally do. If they do not, they are likely to damage their international relationships. In addition, the violated subjects may complain to the United Nations (UN), which may issue a declaration condemning the violation or may act to remedy the situation (as occurred when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990). However, the UN has insufficient money, personnel, and will to intervene in all violations of international law. Thus, it is the responsibility of the states to follow prescribed rules and principles.

Certain rules of international law[7] can be said to extend to individuals and non state actors so long as their rights and duties are the concern of the international community of states. International law lays down the rules governing the territorial rights of states (relating to land, sea and air space),the international protection of the environment, international trade and commercial relations, the use of force by states, human rights and humanitarian law.

By the writer`s own reasoning, International law is the body of rules which are legally binding on states in their intercourse with each other. These rules are primarily those which govern the relations of states, but states are not the only subjects of international law.

International organisations and, to some extent, also individuals may be subjects of rights conferred and duties imposed by international law.

Debate has been going on whether international law is really law. International law experts, lawyers and jurists like John Austin who lived in the 19th C said international law is not law on the justification that it is only positive law which is law because law is a body of rules for human conduct enforced by a sovereign political authority on members of an independent political society from whom he receives habitual obedience. Disrespect of the order of the sovereign body is backed by sanctions. The sovereign being politically superior owes obedience to no superior.[8]

Since these characteristics are missing at the international level, Austin concludes that international law is but positive international morality analogous to rules of a club and binding on states because they agree to bind by it. His criticism has been on too close a comparism of international law with the municipal law which he knew best. It can mentioned here that in municipal law, customary law is never promulgated and is binding by virtue of a long period of observance. Although there is no international parliament issuing legislation binding on all states, on all issues, there is an increasing number of international legislation through treaties which did not exist in Austin‘s days. His views were limited by his own definition of law.[9]

International law is also looked upon by some jurists and international law lawyers as a weak system of law because it has in many ways an entirely different nature from municipal law. International law possesses neither a legislative, executive nor a judiciary organ in the sense attributed to municipal law. It does not have a court in the sense that municipal law has nor does it have its own police or army for the purposes of enforcing its will as such. The rules of international law are brought about mainly through the medium of international agreements, often called treaties. Such agreements could be bilateral or multilateral. Such agreements bind only those states that are parties there to except they incorporate rules of customary international law.States generally respect international law because of their interest it serves and because it is treated as a part of the law of the land in many jurisdictions.[10]

International law is therefore law with its own characteristics and because international institutions like the UN and the international court of justice treats it as legally binding and not just as a set of ethical rules. The ICJ decides cases submitted to it in accordance with the rules of international law.[11]

 2.3 Meaning and nature of the concept of Peacemaking 

 

Toproceed with the meaning and nature of the concept of peacemaking, this workhas to look at the meaning of the word peace. This word has been defined by various academic dictionaries in different ways but leading to the same contextual meaning.The Macmillan English Dictionary38 define peace as a situation in which there is no war in countries or groups, a situation in which people are pleasant and do not cause trouble, a calm quiet situation in which you are not annoyed by noise or other  people, a state when you are calm and have no worries.Peace has also been defined in theBlack's Law39 Dictionary as a state of public tranquility;freedom from civil disturbance or hostility or breach of the peace. It is also defined by this same dictionary as the termination or absence ofarmed conflict between nations.



[1] David, A.B., (1997) The concept of security: Review of International Studies.P.7 available athttp://www.crikey.com.au/2013/08/04/ viewed on 04/08/2013 at 2:13 pm

[2] Burgess, M., (1997) Encyclopedia of Conflict Resolution, ABC-CLIO Inc,  California, P. 152

[3] Garner, B. A., (2oo4)Black's Law Dictionary. West Publishing Co.USA, 9th Edn. p 892

[4] Laden, M. T., (2007) Materials and Cases on Public International law. ABU press, Zaria. p 1

[5] Garner, B.A., (2oo4)op. cit. P.20

[6] Burgess, M., (1997) op. cit  p.20

[7] Ladan, M.T.,(2007) op. cit P.21

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid

   See also -Rourke, T.J., (2000) International Politics on the World Stage, MC Graw-Hill, Connecticut, 8th edn. p 381 38Norton, M., (1994) The Principles of Keeping the Peace, Prega Publishers, London, 4th Edn. P. 1043 39 Ibid

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