Article 51: Limits on Self-Defense?


This article's two-pronged analysis has three distinct parts. Part I lays out the controversy of Article 51 interpretation as applied to the recent Gulf Crisis. Part II examines the legal guidance for interpreting the U.N. Charter, the Charter's travaux preparatoires, and specifically the work of the committees and subcommittees responsible for drafting and amending articles that fully incorporate the right of self-defense into the Charter. This Part develops conclusions on Article 51 that may be applied to the context of the recent Gulf Crisis. This Part also contrasts the Article 51 right of collective self-defense with the right of regional organizations to take action. Finally, Part III looks at the application of Article 51 in the first decade after its passage. The analysis concludes that an appropriate interpretation of Article 51 that comports with major policy concerns can be derived from history, and can be relied on by the world community.

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