The International Community and Abuses of Sovereign Powers

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International law was traditionally a horizontal and state-centric system of rules. Although state-centrism is in decline, it is still reflected in some of the core concepts and procedures governing contemporary international law. This article identifies the community-oriented values in the international community that stretch beyond the interest of sovereign states. It further explores how these values can be protected by the international community when states abuse their sovereign powers. Attention is paid to the concepts of chapter vii powers and limitations on the authority of the security council, as well as the concepts of obligations erga omnes and norms jus cogens. While the latter two concepts reflect fundamental values of the international community, they cannot be used as an enforcement mechanism to address the abuses of sovereign powers. The enforcement can come from security council resolutions adopted under chapter vii of the un charter. Notably, the concept of the international peace and security nowadays covers even seemingly purely domestic gross and systematic violations of human rights. Despite this stretch of the security council’s powers, the community-oriented rules also demand that its measures need to be interpreted with the framework of international human rights law in mind. The article concludes that the post-second world war era has seen a turn away from state-centrism and toward a community-oriented international legal system. The international community has acknowledged the existence of a rights-based minimum threshold of a shared value system. However, the enforcement of this value system remains subject to state-centric procedures. There is no automatic and readily available remedy against abuses of sovereign powers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-210
JournalLiverpool Law Review
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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