Professor Jennifer Trahan’s new book, Existing Legal Limits to Security Council Veto Power in the Face of Atrocity Crimes (Cambridge U. Press 2020) was recently featured in a week-long online book symposium that ran on the widely read international law website Opinio Juris.
The debate for the week was prompted by Professor Trahan post “New Perspective for Tackling a Core Challenge to the UN System on the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations.” Trahan described the key arguments in her book which questions the legality of vetoes cast by permanent members of the UN Security Council that block the Council from taking measures designed to curtail or alleviate the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, and/or war crimes, where the required number of other Council members are prepared to take those measures such that they would pass.
Responding to these arguments were: Professor Charles C. Jalloh, Professor of Law at Florida International University and a member of the International Law Commission (ILC), and Professor Dire Tladi, Professor of International Law at the University of Pretoria, and also a member of ILC and its Special Rapporteur on Peremptory Norms of General International Law (Jus Cogens), who posted their views of Trahan’s core legal arguments. Professor Milena Sterio, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Co-Coordinator for Global Justice Partnerships at the Public International Law and Policy Group, focused her blog post on Trahan’s discussion of the voluntary veto restraint initiatives. Discussion then reverted to the core legal arguments with posts by Roger S. Clark, Board of Governors Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School, and Carrie McDougall, PhD, Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne and former Legal Specialist at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Legal Adviser at Australia’s Mission to the United Nations. Trahan rounded out the week with two responding blog posts, first responding to Professors Sterio, Clark and McDougall and then to Professors Jalloh and Tladi.
This unique format allowed for a focused, in-depth exchange between highly knowledgeable reviewers and the author regarding the key aspects of the book in a concentrated timeframe, enabling readers, practitioners and those with academic interest a fascinating level of involvement. The debate—linked here—enabled issues and questions to be raised and responded to, and gives a superb insight into both the publication’s academic value, as well as the practical challenges and possibilities for the implementation of its agenda.