In a recent Article, Stanford Law School Professor Allen Weiner argues that the existing United Nations (U.N.) framework for authorizing the use of force adequately empowers the United States to deal with challenges presented by international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). According to Professor Weiner, "the interests of the Permanent Members [of the Security Council (P5)] do not clash with respect to the goals of countering terrorism and WMD proliferation . . . ." Consequently, when the United States needs to use force to respond to either of these threats, it can rely on the U.N. Security Council to provide collective authorization. Professor Weiner thus concludes that there is no need to reform how the use of force is authorized under the U.N. Charter (Charter).

Professor Weiner's argument, if correct, would have important consequences. A world in which the P5 see eye to eye on terrorism and WMD nonproliferation would provide powerful opportunities for the United States to effectively deal with threats emanating from countries like Iran and North Korea, and would also allow for a more integrated approach to non-state actors like Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Furthermore, the idea that the U.N. is capable of dealing with modern threats without reforming its process for authorizing the use of force has inherent appeal because there is still widespread disagreement on exactly what shape such reform would take and whether executing an agreed upon plan would be politically viable. Any meaningful reform is therefore still a long way from implementation...

 

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