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Auslegung von Resolutionen des Sicherheitsrats: Einheitliche völkerrechtliche Regelungen oder ,,pick and choose“ aus möglichen Auslegungsregeln?

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Security Council Resolutions have to be interpreted by national legislative authorities, national courts, United Nations Organizations and agencies, other International Organizations, including the European Union and also by International Courts. The different actors reach different conclusions on the interpretation of the texts and on the extent and scope of the obligations to be fulfilled.

The necessity to interpret the texts of the resolutions is increased in comparison to other texts as the Security Council has to act within a very short timeframe. Among other causes time constraints often lead to unclear or unprecise wording and to inconsistencies.

As there are no codified rules for the interpretation of resolutions of International Organizations, it is necessary and rewarding to analyse if the interpretative community explicitly refers to the interpretative rules or techniques, which are applied, and whether a consistent practice exists.

The analysis shows that diverging methods are used in practice which result in differing conclusions. Rules on the interpretation of treaties play a central role when Security Council Resolutions are interpreted. Practice and legal literature suggest an interpretation in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms in their context and in the light of its object and purpose (Art. 31 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties). They do not only take the object and purpose of the Resolutions into account but also the object and purpose of the United Nations Charter, especially its Chapter VII. Thus the interpretative differences concerning Chapter VII of the Charter are extended to the interpretation of Security Council Resolutions.

The International Court of Justice has established a set of interpretative rules for Security Council Resolutions in its advisory opinions on Namibia and on Kosovo. They are formulated in a way which suggests their general applicability. The Court enumerated these rules quite carefully but did not really base its opinions on the results of the interpretation.

The travaux préparatoires documenting the genesis of the Resolutions are used as primary means of interpretation and do not only play a subsidiary role.

The Court of Justice of the European Union and national courts tend to base their interpretation on the effet utile of the provisions. In cases where International Courts have to interpret Security Council Resolutions, they tend to bring the binding obligations resulting from these resolutions in line with existing human rights obligations of States. The European Court of Human Rights and the Courts of the European Union had to solve questions of conflicting norms. The Courts avoided to create hierarchies of norms, they interpreted the Resolutions in a way which allowed States to fulfil both obligations. In cases where obligations contained in Security Council Resolution led to a violation of human rights of individuals, the Courts, especially the Court of the European Union, decided that human right obligations have to be respected also in cases where States fulfil obligations stipulated by Security Council Resolutions.
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Language: German

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • Archiv des Völkerrechts (Archive of Public International Law - AVR) has been founded as a quarterly journal in 1948. With its scientific papers, reports and book reviews, the journal covers the full spectrum of developments in public international law.

    Das Archiv des Völkerrechts ist eine im Jahre 1948 gegründete Vierteljahresschrift. In Abhandlungen, Berichten und Buchbesprechungen behandelt sie die Entwicklung des internationalen Rechts in seiner ganzen Breite. Das AVR ist ein Forum der deutschsprachigen Völkerrechtswissenschaft und sucht den internationalen Dialog des Faches.

    Die Beiträge reflektieren dogmatische und theoretische Grundfragen des Völkerrechts ebenso wie die Entwicklung der internationalen Rechtsprechung. Die behandelten Rechtsgebiete reichen vom überlieferten Kernbestand des zwischenstaatlichen Völkerrechts und des Rechts der bewaffneten Konflikte über das Recht internationaler Organisationen, die Menschenrechte, das Umweltvölkerrecht und Welthandelsrecht bis hin zu Fragen des internationalen Verwaltungsrechts.

    Im Mittelpunkt standen in der jüngsten Zeit neben Beiträgen zu aktuellen völkerrechtlichen Konflikten insbesondere die Diskussion um die wechselseitige Durchdringung partikularer und universeller Rechtsordnungen und die Entstehung einer materialen völkerrechtlichen Prinzipienordnung.Das AVR erscheint vierteljährlich und veröffentlicht Beiträge in deutscher, englischer und französischer Sprache.

    Subscriber access to Archiv des Völkerrechts is no longer available on Ingenta Connect. Please go to to access your online subscriptions to these titles.

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