The Law and Practice of the United Nations

Fourth Revised Edition


The Law and Practice of the United Nations examines the law of the United Nations through an analysis of the Organization’s practice from its inception until the present, in particular to the transformations the UN has undergone since the end of the Cold War. Special consideration is given to Chapter VII of the UN Charter and its interpretation, the United Nations’ membership and organs’ competences, along with the peaceful settlement of disputes, and coercive action for the maintenance of international peace and security. In addition, this important new edition explores such areas as economic sanctions, peacekeeping, authorizations of the Security Council, territorial administrations, self-determination, human rights, financing of the Organization, acts adoptable by the UN organs, and a review of their legality.

Offering a fully revised and updated analysis of the main legal issues surrounding the United Nations’ practice, The Law and Practice of the United Nations will be of interest to all those involved with legal issues surrounding the United Nations, the analysis of said issues, and their impacts on international practice

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EUR €162.00USD $202.00

Biographical Note

Benedetto Conforti is Professor Emeritus of International Law, former Judge at the European Court of Human Rights, and Member of the Institut de Droit International.

Carlo Focarelli is Professor of International Law at the University of Perugia and Chair of Private International Law at the LUISS University of Rome.

Table of contents


Origins of the United Nations Charter
The purposes of the United Nations
The organs
The Charter as a treaty
Interpretation of the Charter
The power to interpret the Charter
The “rigidity” of the Charter and amendment and review procedures
Present trends to revise the Charter


Admission requirements
Admission of mini-States
Admission of neutralized States
The so-called conditional admission and the non-existence of “positive” obligations of the UN organs
Effects of State succession on membership status
Governments created as a result of revolutions or foreign military interventions
Governments in exile
State succession and rules on credentials


Composition of the Council. Election of non-permanent Members
Voting procedure in the Council: A) The nature of the four powers’ Statement at the San Francisco Conference
Participation in Security Council meetings of States which are not members of the organ
Composition of the Assembly: Subsidiary organs
Voting procedure in the Assembly
Appointment of the Secretary-General
Secretariat staff and the legal nature of the employment relationship
Privileges and immunities of UN officials
The protection of UN officials
Composition and functioning of the Economic and Social Council
The Trusteeship Council
Organization of the Court
Election of judges


Limits ratione personae and ratione materiae
The United Nations and non-member States
The domestic jurisdiction clause (Article 2, para. 7)
The notion of domestic jurisdiction
The meaning of “intervene”
The significance of the exception in the last part of Article 2, para. 7
Competence to interpret Article 2, para. 7
Chapters VI and VII of the Charter
The power to seize the Council
The peaceful settlement function under Chapter VI. A) Objective pre-conditions
Indication to the States of “procedures or methods” for settling differences that may endanger the peace 173
Indication of “terms of settlement”
Action with respect to maintenance of the peace under Chapter VII. General remarks
The determination of a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace, or an act of aggression
The measures provided for by the Charter. A) Recommendations under Article 39
Provisional measures (Article 40)
Measures not involving the use of force (Article 41)
Measures involving the use of force (Articles 42 ff.). Peacekeeping operations
The authorization of use of force by the States
Administration of territories
Discussions and recommendations on general questions
The peaceful settlement function
The problem of Assembly power regarding “action”. A) The solutions given by the Charter
The alleged formation of customary rules
Delegated functions and executive functions
Autonomous initiatives for peaceful settlement
Regional actions “authorized” by the Security Council
Existing regional Organizations
Political decolonization and economic decolonization. Co-operation for “sustainable” development
The organs charged with economic co-operation
Normative functions
Operational functions
Relations with specialized agencies
General aspect of United Nations action
Action regarding individual countries
Resolutions of a general nature
The Human Rights Covenants and the Human Rights Committee
UN competence to decide on the independence of peoples under colonial domination
The self-determination of peoples
The case of Namibia
Effects of registration
Effects of non-registration
The judicial settlement of disputes between States
The advisory function of the International Court of Justice
Obligatory contribution of the member States
Voluntary contributions
Issuance of loans and other “alternative” funding methods


Recommendations to the States
Organizational resolutions
Operational resolutions
Proposals, authorizations, delegations of powers or functions, approvals, directives, recommendations between the organs
Declarations of principles
The UN resolutions and the rule of law: The duty of the organs to comply with the Charter and with international law 377
The observance of rules of procedure
Illegality of the acts and the role of consensualism in the United Nations system



Researchers and individuals interested in legal issues surrounding the United Nations, the analysis of these issues and their impacts on international practice.

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