IFS Info no. 4/2003
The UN Security Council. Ineffective but Indispensable
Ineffective but Indispensable
The question of how to deal with Iraq led to profound divisions among the permanent five members of the Security Council. This was followed by the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, without the Councils authorisation for the use of force. On the basis of the Security Council’s handling of the crisis over Iraq, this study explores the paradox of indispensability and ineffectiveness in the UN. What will be the long-term impact of the breakdown of consensus over Iraq for the Security Council and the UN? Is UN destined to become little more than a “glorified humanitarian agency”, or is this widespread conception a misunderstanding of UN’s role in international peace and security?
Mats Berdal is Professor of Security and Development in the Department of War Studies at Kings College London (University of London).