BEST OP-ED MISSED WHILE I WAS ON TRAVEL: This one by Michael Glennon. It explains how the U.N. Charter’s provisions on military force have ceased to bind nations, because they’ve been so widely and thoroughly flouted. Excerpt:
This record of violation is legally significant. The international legal system is voluntary and states are bound only by rules to which they consent. A treaty can lose its binding effect if a sufficient number of parties engage in conduct that is at odds with the constraints of the treaty. The consent of United Nations member states to the general prohibition against the use of force, as expressed in the Charter, has in this way been supplanted by a changed intent as expressed in deeds.
The United States is therefore correct: it would not be unlawful to attack Iraq, even without Security Council approval. It seems the Charter has, tragically, gone the way of the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact which purported to outlaw war and was signed by every major belligerent in World War II.
Somewhere at my office (where I’m not at the moment) I have an article saying that a majority of the U.N.’s members have violated its use-of-force provisions since its establishment. That would seem to bolster Glennon’s argument. I’ll try and find it and post the link tomorrow.