Security Council Resolution 1530, adopted within hours of the Madrid bombings on 11 March 2003, should give international lawyers pause for thought. It sought to denounce atrocity but, in so doing, it also unequivocally attributed responsibility for the bombings to ETA. It quickly emerged that this was a case of mistaken identity. The revelation of this mistake produced a wealth of questions regarding the capacity of states to manipulate the Security Council, the Council’s procedures themselves, the need or otherwise for evidence of attribution of responsibility, and the consequences, legal or political, that might arise in the light of a glaringly incorrect resolution. In focusing on Resolution 1530, this article considers law’s domain in the Security Council’s political context, particularly the hasty drafting and tabling of a resolution explicable only by reference to a rhetorical war on terror. It also considers the techniques of interpretation regarding so-called ‘terrorism resolutions’, the Security Council’s role as inquisitor and arbiter of evidence and the assumption of good faith on the part of members. It concludes by considering the Council’s future counter-terrorist role and the issue of the Council’s legitimacy.
- security council resolution
- international law