most resolutions are issued by the Security Council or the General Assembly.
Under Article 25 of the Charter, UN member states are bound to carry out "decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter". Resolutions made under Chapter VII are considered binding, but resolutions under Chapter VI have no enforcement mechanisms and are generally considered to have no binding force under international law. In 1971, however, a majority of the then International Court of Justice (ICJ) members asserted in the non-binding Namibia advisory opinion that all UN Security Council resolutions are legally binding. This assertion by the ICJ has been countered by Erika De Wet and others. De Wet argues that Chapter VI resolutions cannot be binding. Her reasoning, in part states:
It has been proposed that a binding triad of conditions — a supermajority of the number of nations voting, whose populations and contributions in dues to the UN budget form a majority of the total — make a General Assembly resolution binding on all nations; the proposal has gone nowhere.
For more information on specific resolutions, see:
The last operative clause, at least in the Security Council, is almost always "Decides [or Resolves] to remain seized of the matter," (sometimes changed to "actively seized"). The reasoning behind this custom is somewhat murky, but it appears to be an assurance that the body in question will consider the topic addressed in the resolution in the future if it is necessary. In the case of Security Council resolutions, it may well be employed with the hope of prohibiting the UNGA from calling an 'emergency special session' on any unresolved matters, under the terms of the 'Uniting for Peace resolution', owing to the Charter stipulation in Article 12 that: "While the Security Council is exercising in respect of any dispute or situation the functions assigned to it in the present Charter, the General Assembly shall not make any recommendation with regard to that dispute or situation."
United Nations General Assembly Resolutions
- "Some analysts have pointed out that Security Council resolutions condemning or criticizing Israel have been passed under Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter, which are different from the Chapter VII resolutions against Iraq." Ayoob, Mohammad. "The war against Iraq: normative and strategic implications", in Robinson, Mary & Weiss, Thomas G. & Crahan, Margaret E. & Goering, John (eds). Wars on Terrorism and Iraq: human rights, unilateralism, and U.S. foreign policy, Routledge (UK), May 1, 2004, p. 164.
- "Additionally it may be noted that the Security Council cannot adopt binding decisions under Chapter VI of the Charter." De Hoogh, Andre. Obligations Erga Omnes and International Crimes, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Jan 1, 1996, p. 371.
- "Council recommendations under Chapter VI are generally accepted as not being legally binding." Magliveras, Konstantinos D. Exclusion from Participation in International Organisations, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Jan 1, 1999, p. 113.
- "Within the framework of Chapter VI the SC has at its disposal an 'escalation ladder' composed of several 'rungs' of wielding influence on the conflicting parties in order to move them toward a pacific solution... however, the pressure exerted by the Council in the context of this Chapter is restricted to non-binding recommendations." Neuhold, Hanspeter. "The United Nations System for the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes", in Cede, Franz & Sucharipa-Behrmann, Lilly. The United Nations, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Jan 1, 2001, p. 66.
- "The responsibility of the Council with regard to international peace and security is specified in Chapters VI and VII. Chapter VI, entitled 'Pacific Settlements of Disputes', provides for action by the Council in case of international disputes or situations which do not (yet) post a threat to international peace and security. Herein its powers generally confined to making recommendations, the Council can generally not issue binding decisions under Chapter VI." Schweigman, David. The Authority of the Security Council Under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Jan 1, 2001, p. 33.
- "Under Chapter VI, the Security Council may only make recommendations but not binding decisions on United Nations members". Wallace-Bruce, Nii Lante. The Settlement of International Disputes, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Jan 1, 1998, pp. 47-48.
- "First, it may issue non-binding resolutions under Chapter VI of the Charter expressing its opinion on the abuses and their resolution." Mertus, Julie. The United Nations And Human Rights: A Guide For A New Era, Routledge, 2005, ISBN 0415343380, p. 120.
- "Under Chapter VI the Security Council can only make non-binding recommendations. However, if the Security Council determines that the continuance of the dispute constitutes a threat to the peace, or that the situation involves a breach of the peace or act of aggression it can take action under Chapter VII of the Charter. Chapter VII gives the Security Council the power to make decisions which are binding on member states, once it has determined the existence of a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression." Hillier, Timothy, Taylor & Francis Group. Sourcebook on Public International Law, Cavendish Publishing, ISBN 1843143801, 1998, p. 568.
- "Nor is the disenchanting performance due to the fact that under Chapter VI the SC may only address non-binding resolutions to the conflicting parties." Cede, Franz, and Sucharipa-Behrmann, Lilly. The United Nations: Law and Practice, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2001, ISBN 9041115633, p. 70.
- "This clause does not apply to decisions under Chapter VII (including the use of armed force), which are binding on all member states (unlike those adopted under Chapter VI which are of a non-binding nature)." Köchler, Hans. The Concept of Humanitarian Intervention in the Context of Modern Power, International Progress Organization, 2001, ISBN 3900704201, p. 21.
- "The impact of these flaws inherent to Resolution 731 (1992) was softened by the fact that it was a non-binding resolution in terms of Chapter VI of the Charter. Consequently Libya was not bound to give effect to it. However, the situation was different with respect to Resolution 748 of 31 March 1992, as it was adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter." De Wet, Erika, "The Security Council as a Law Maker: The Adopion of (Quasi)-Judicial Decisions", in Wolfrum, Rüdiger and Röben, Volker. Developments of International Law in Treaty Making, Springer, 2005, ISBN 3540252991, p. 203.
- "There are two limitations on the Security Council when it is acting under Chapter VI. Firstly, recommendations of the Council under Chapter VI are not binding on states." Werksman, Jacob. Greening International Institutions, Earthscan, 1996, ISBN 1853832448, p. 14.
- "Chapter VI exhorts members to settle such claims peacefully and submit them for mediation and arbitration to the United Nations. Chapter VI, however, is not binding - in other owrds, there is no power to compel states to submit their disputes for arbitration or mediation by the United Nations." Matthews, Ken. The Gulf Conflict and International Relations, Routledge, 1993, ISBN 041507519X, p. 130.
- "One final point must be noted in connection with Chapter VI, and that is that the powers of the Security Council are to make "recommendations." These are not binding on the states to whom they are addressed, for Article 25 relates only to "decisions." Philippe Sands, Pierre Klein, D. W. Bowett. Bowett's Law of International Institutions, Sweet & Maxwell, 2001, ISBN 042153690X, p. 46.
- "Article 2, para. 6, must be linked, first of all, to the use of these kinds of pressure that have no mandatory effect. Both the General Assembly and the Council have the power to make recommendations to the States, that is, resolutions that do not bind the States (see section 89)). Worthy of mention from this point of view are the provisions of Article 11, para. 2 ("The General Assembly may discuss any questions relating to the maintenance of international peace and security... and... may make recommendations with regard to any such question to the State or States concerned") and the various provisions of Chapter VI, particularly Article 33, para. 2, Article 36, and Article 37, para. 2, which give the Security Council the power to recommend settlement of disputes likely to endanger the peace." Conforti, Benedetto. The Law and Practice of the United Nations, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2005, ISBN 9004143084, p. 127.
- "...the primary authority of the Security Council is defined in terms of international peace and security. The Council's jurisdiction under Chapter VI—which give it recommendatory but not binding authority—is stated in very broad terms." Matheson, Michael J. Council UNbound: The Growth of UN Decision Making on Conflict and Postconflict Issues after the Cold War, US Institute of Peace Press, 2006, ISBN 1929223781, p. 42.
- "After much lobbying, the Council agreed on a resolution intended to "assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution" that would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. But the preamble went on to specify that the Council was "acting under Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations." In short, this remained an exercise of good offices, not binding arbitration subject to enforcement." Jensen, Erik. Western Sahara: Anatomy of a Stalemate, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2005, ISBN 1588263053, p. 112.
- "Thus decisions under Chapter VI, for example, to recommend terms of settlement are not binding, and even decisions under Article 40 of Chapter VII may not be." Political science quarterly, v. 90 (1975-76), Academy of Political Science, Columbia University, p. 147.
- "The UN distinguishes between two sorts of Security Council resolution. Those passed under Chapter Six deal with the peaceful resolution of disputes and entitle the council to make non-binding recommendations. Those under Chapter Seven give the council broad powers to take action, including warlike action, to deal with “threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, or acts of aggression”. Such resolutions, binding on all UN members, were rare during the cold war. But they were used against Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait. None of the resolutions relating to the Israeli-Arab conflict comes under Chapter Seven." Iraq, Israel and the United Nations: Double standards?, The Economist, October 10, 2002.
- "There are two sorts of security council resolution: those under 'chapter 6' are non-binding recommendations dealing with the peaceful resolution of disputes; those under 'chapter 7' give the council broad powers, including war, to deal with 'threats to the peace ... or acts of aggression'." Emmott, Bill. If Saddam steps out of line we must go straight to war, The Guardian, November 25, 2002.
- "...there is a difference between the Security Council resolutions that Israel breaches (nonbinding recommendations under Chapter 6) and those Iraq broke (enforcement actions under Chapter 7)." Kristof, Nicholas D. Calling the Kettle Black, The New York Times, February 25, 2004.
- "There is a hierarchy of resolutions... Chapter 6, under which all resolutions relating to the middle east have been issued, relates to the pacific resolution of disputes. Above that, there are the mandatory chapter 7 resolutions, which impose the clearest possible obligations, usually on a single state rather than on two or three states, which is what chapter 6 is there for. Chapter 7 imposes mandatory obligations on states that are completely out of line with international law and policy, and the United Nations has decided in its charter that the failure to meet those obligations may be met by the use of force." Straw, Jack. House of Commons debates, Hansard, Column 32, September 24, 2002.
- "There is another characteristic of these resolutions which deserves a mention, and that is that they are under chapter 7 of the United Nations charter. Chapter 7 has as its heading 'Action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression'. This is the very serious chapter of United Nations rules, regulations, laws and principles, which the United Nations activates when they intend to do something about it. If the United Nations announces under chapter 7 that it intends to do something about a matter and it is not done, that will undermine the authority of the United Nations; that will render it ineffective. There are many other resolutions under other chapters. Resolution 242 gets a bit of a guernsey here every now and then. Resolution 242 is under chapter 6, not chapter 7. It does not carry the same mandate and authority that chapter 7 carries. Chapter 6 is the United Nations trying to put up resolutions which might help the process of peace and it states matters of principle that are important for the world to take into consideration. Resolution 242 says that Israel should withdraw from territories that it has occupied. It also says that Israel should withdraw to secure and recognised boundaries and that the one is dependent upon the other. Resolution 242 says that, but it is not a chapter 7 resolution." Beazley, Kim, Waiting for blow-back (speech delivered in Parliament on February 4, 2003, The Sydney Morning Herald, February 5, 2003.
- "There are several types of resolutions: Chapter 6 resolutions are decisions pursing the Pacific Settlement of Disputes, and put forward Council proposals on negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies, and other peaceful means. Chapter 7 resolutions are decisions for Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, involving use of force and sanctions, complete or partial interruption of economic relations, rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic radio and other means of communication and the severance of diplomatic relations. Resolutions passed under Chapter 7 of the Charter are binding on all UN members, who are required to give every assistance to any action taken by the Council, and refrain from giving any assistance to the country against which it is taking enforcement action." Iran dossier crosses the Atlantic: Where to from here? (Microsoft Word document), Greenpeace position paper on Iran.