The UN Security Council, Normative Legitimacy and the Challenge of Specificity

Authors
Antoinette Scherz
University of Oslo
Abstract
This paper discusses how the general and abstract concept of legitimacy applies to international institution, on the example of the United Nations Security Council. On our account the evaluation of the Security Council’s legitimacy requires considering three significant and interrelated aspects: its purpose, competences and procedural standards. We consider two possible interpretations of the Security Council’s purpose: on the one hand, maintaining peace and security and, on the other hand, the broader respect for human rights. Both of these purposes are minimally morally acceptable for legitimacy. Second, we distinguish between three different competences of the UNSC: 1) the decision-making competence, 2) the quasi-legislative competence and 3) the referral competence. On this basis, we argue that different procedural standards are required to legitimise these competences, which leads to a more differentiated understanding of the Security Council’s legitimacy. While maintaining that the membership structure of the Council is a severe problem for its legitimacy, we suggest other procedural standards that can help to improve its overall-legitimacy. In this regard, we discuss in particular broad transparency, deliberation and the revisability of the terms of accountability themselves.
Keywords Legitimacy standards  Meta-coordination view  Autonomy  Competences  Institutional purpose  Feasibility
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