EVENT – 6pm Tuesday 8 Oct 2013: The resolution adopted unanimously by the Security Council to eradicate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile has been hailed as a breakthrough. Repeatedly, action on the Security Council has been thwarted by disagreements among the major powers, but on this issue they have been able to set their differences aside. And this new-found amity promises to extend to agreement on relieving the humanitarian crises in Syria over refugees and aid. But we’ve witnessed these “false dawns” on the Security Council before. The marginalization of the Security Council over Kosovo in 1999 and Iraq in 2003 – and indeed the failure to act earlier with regards to Syria – is testimony to the fact that the SC remains hostage to great power interests. There is nothing new in this, but arguably, the prospects for agreement are worse now than they were before; principally because of a widening of the Security Council’s responsibilities to include the promotion and prosecution of norms like humanitarian intervention and opposition to the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Despite the seeming breakthrough over Syria and chemical weapons, the prospects for effective action in the Security Council remain bleak.
We welcome Dr Robert Howard, one of our councillors, to explain more. Dr Howard researches aspects of the history of international relations in the twentieth century, with special reference to developments in international security. He is currently focusing on international security issues in the post-Cold War era and the role, at this time, of the United Nations. Dr Howard is also interested in developments in the international economy since 1945 and the impact of these on domestic economies and polities. Other interests include international relations theory and developments in contemporary Australian politics and society. He is a former editor of the Current Affairs Bulletin. Dr. Howard’s research interests are Australian politics, contemporary Australian politics and society, developments in the international economy and security, history of IR in the twentieth century, international relations, international security, and the United Nations.
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