The Reform of the Military Instruments and Authority of the United Nations Security Council in the Implementation of Military Enforcement Measures

The Reform of the Military Instruments and Authority of the United Nations Security Council in the Implementation of Military Enforcement Measures

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Sofia Santos

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PhD in Law (Public International Law) from the University of Saarland, Germany on a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Masters in European Law and Public International Law from the University of Saarland. Undergraduate Degree in European Studies, English and German from the Faculty of Arts, University of Porto. Invited Professor for the Masters Degree in Law and Security, Faculty of Law, New University of Lisbon (Portugal), where she collaborates with the Centre for Research and Development for Law and Society (CEDIS) in the field of International Security Law. Integrated Researcher at the Observatory of Foreign Relations (OBSERVARE) of the Universidade Autónoma of Lisboa in the field of international criminal justice. Auditor of the National Defense Course of the Portuguese National Defense Institute and of other courses organized by the Institute. Author and speaker on International Law, European Law, International Organizations, Defense and International Security .


The lack of a de facto military component represents a considerable normative and operational shortcoming of the UN system. The existing differences among permanent members of the Security Council, which date back to the early days of the Organisation, prevented the implementation of the provisions of the United Nations Charter and the creation of credible and effective alternatives. When it comes to implementing military enforcement measures decided by the Security Council under Chapter VII, this issue becomes crucial, given that these are measures of ultima ratio to maintain or restore international peace and security. Without a working Military Staff Committee, without permanent armed forces and the power to exercise its full authority in the enforcement process, the Council is limited to the mere approval of decisions and is left hostage to the choices of the Member States, its permanent members in particular. Ignoring the urgent need for reform in this area implies perpetuating a dual paradox, while it is strongly demanded that the Security Council assumes its primary responsibility, with an increasing scope, enshrined in art. 24 and, within this context, art. 42, this body continues devoid of appropriate military instruments, on the other hand, correlating the desired improvement in effectiveness, legitimacy and implementation of the Council’s decisions solely with the reform of its composition and working methods means neglecting the fact that this transformation requires a reform of the military instruments and authority within a multidimensional reforming process of this body. This article commences with an analysis of the enforcement mechanism under the Charter, to thereafter address the problem underlying the delegation of the implementation of military enforcement measures. Finally, the article reflects on the existing reform proposals, stating the main features and indicating possible solutions.


Reform; Security Council; Military Instruments; Chapter VII; Enforcement, Coercive Military Measures

How to cite this article

Santos, Sofia (2013). "Reforming military resources and the authority of the United Nations Security Council in implementing coercive military measures". JANUS.NET e-journal of International Relations, Vol. 4, N.º 1, May-October 2013. Consulted [online] on date of last view,

Article received on 15th January 2013; accepted for publication on 19th March 2013