The UN General Assembly as a security actor: appraising the investigative mechanism for Syria

Pues, A. (2022) The UN General Assembly as a security actor: appraising the investigative mechanism for Syria. Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law, 25, (doi: 10.1163/18757413_02501002) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

This article analyses the role of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as a security actor. With the creation of the ‘International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011’ (IIIM), through UNGA Resolution 71/248 in 2016, the General Assembly creatively used its powers to strengthen international criminal justice. Although investigative or fact-finding missions itself are nothing new to the UN system, Resolution 71/248 is qualitatively different to any other mission before it. The IIIM was established without Syrian consent, which is a historic first for the General Assembly. It is also the first time that such a body is tasked with investigations that fulfil prosecution standards, that serves as an evidence repository as well as a connecting hub between different justice actors. The UN General Assembly filled a void where the UN Security Council found itself in a stalemate over Syria. The IIIM has since served as a blueprint for a new generation of investigative mechanisms that emerged in the UN system. Looking beyond the appraisal of the IIIM, the article argues that the UN General Assembly practice in maintaining peace and security has significantly evolved over time. The early UN General Assembly practice through Uniting for Peace allowed it to assert its proactive role in parallel to the Security Council, yet it failed in its claim of authority to recommend forceful, collective measures. The practice subsequently evolved towards the diverse use of non-forceful measures, of which the IIIM provides a recent example. Creative boundary pushing in the UNGA through non-forcible measures will hopefully contribute to peace and security beyond war.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pues, Dr Anni
Authors: Pues, A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law
Publisher:Brill Academic Publishers
ISSN:1389-4633
ISSN (Online):1875-7413
Published Online:22 September 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 Anni Pues
First Published:First published in Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law 2022
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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