Announcing the Winner of the Inaugural Book Award
The American Branch is pleased to announce the winner of the inaugural Book Award, Jennifer Trahan’s Existing Legal Limits to Security Council Veto Power in the Face of Atrocity Crimes (Cambridge University Press, 2020). The book considers, in light of existing obligations of international law, the use of the veto power by permanent members of the UN Security Council to block Council Action in situations where there is ongoing genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity. Professor Trahan traces a number of such instances, with detailed focus on the crimes in Syria and Darfur — and how vetoes and veto threats, respectively, prevented the Security Council from taking measures it otherwise would have undertaken to try to alleviate the commission of atrocity crimes. She then examines such actions in light of the obligations of international law, specifically, whether such practices accord with (1) the protections due to jus cogens norms; (2) the obligations contained within the UN Charter, particularly its “Purposes and Principles,” and (3) the obligations contained within the Genocide and Geneva Conventions. She makes a compelling case that the practice one sees is both far out of line with these existing legal obligations and widely disapproved by UN Member States. She suggests this situation is ripe for action in the General Assembly, including the option of requesting the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the legality of such veto use.