Stabilization and the Expanding Scope of the Security Council's Work, Current Developments

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Lost amid the criticisms of the UN Security Council for its paralysis in responding to the crises in Syria and Ukraine has been the contemporaneous expansion in the scope of the Council's work. Increasingly engaged in the protection of states from nonstate actors, such as the Mouvement du 23 mars and Islamic State, and other contemporary threats, such as pandemics and illicit trade, the Council, and with it the United Nations as a whole, has exercised episodically, but recurrently, more and more powers. The extension of the Council's purview and its assumption of greater authorities has typically been envisioned, designed, and justified as a means of stabilizing, securing, and strengthening fragile states, on the assumption that strong states are the necessary prerequisites for maintaining international peace and security, economic development, and the protection of individuals. Tasked with implementing the Council's innovative initiatives, the secretary-general has increasingly subjected the organization's work to human rights constraints, such as the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy. This article addresses these two sets of developments in turn, and posits that the Council is operating more and more within a stabilization paradigm-an approach that deems state fragility and failure as critical threats to world order, with the consequence that it is appropriate for, and indeed incumbent upon, the Council to act beyond its traditional limits in order to restore and bolster at-risk states. Though the further elaboration and lastingness of this paradigm remains uncertain, its novelty and potential implications are significant.


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