Reflections on the International Legality of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Reflections on the International Legality of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Journal of International Criminal Justice
Volume 5, Number 5
Pp. 1091-1105


This article addresses legal problems posed by Security Council Resolution 1757 of 30 May 2007, establishing the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (‘STL’). After describing the historical background of the resolution (section 1) and the plan to establish the STL as a treaty-based institution (section 2), the paper turns to an analysis of Resolution 1757 (section 3). The author questions whether the Council intended to bring the Lebanon-UN agreement into force as an international treaty, and holds that the UN Charter does not give the Council a power to unilaterally impose on a member state an obligation in the form of a treaty. The author argues that in Resolution 1757 the Council did not substitute a Chapter VII decision for the missing ratification of the agreement by Lebanon, but instead established the STL by making the provisions of the agreement negotiated with Lebanon an integral part of a Chapter VII resolution. Section 4 then questions whether the Council was entitled to procure Lebanon's consent to be bound by a treaty by threatening unilaterally to put those provisions into effect through a Chapter VII resolution. After discussing certain rules of the law of treaties concerning the coercion of a state, the author concludes that it is not that law but the UN Charter itself that prohibits the Council from exerting pressure on a member state in order to make that state ratify a treaty.