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The Security Council, democratic legitimacy and regime change in Iraq

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date06/2006
JournalEuropean Journal of International Law
Journal number3
Volume17
Number of pages21
Pages531-551
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article examines the political transition in Iraq from the perspective of international law, which regards forcible democratic regime change as unlawful. The concern is to establish the extent to which the relevant Security Council Resolutions, 1483 (2003), 1511 (2003) and 1546 (2004), necessary to give legal effect to the fact of regime change, may be regarded as a legitimate exercise of the political authority provided to the Security Council under the Charter of the United Nations, and consequently a lawful exercise of that authority. The article will argue that Security Council resolutions enjoy ‘democratic’ political legitimacy to the extent that they are consistent with the constitutional framework provided by the UN Charter and wider international law, and that they accord with the practice of the Security Council in ‘like’ cases, or the Council is able to demonstrate sufficient justification for the exercise of political authority in the particular case. The article first reviews the process of political transition in Iraq, examining the role of Security Council resolutions. It concludes that the process involved a violation of the right of the Iraqi people to political self-determination, creating a conflict between the Security Council resolutions adopted under chapter VII and an international norm of jus cogens standing. Rejecting arguments that the resolutions should be regarded as void, or that they should command absolute deference, the work outlines a model of constitutional adjudication in cases of conflict between these ‘higher’ forms of obligations in accordance with a deliberative understanding of the nature of the system of international law.