This introductory chapter aims at providing a framework for this book which deals with different aspects of the issue of human rights and the UN Security Council. On the one hand, the Security Council tries to promote and protect fundamental human rights in situations of war and internal conflict, as well as to prevent and punish (by means of ad hoc criminal tribunals) grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. On the other hand, action taken by the Security Council has given rise to human rights concerns. In particular, the comprehensive sanctions against Iraq and the ‘targeted sanctions’ imposed on individuals in the fight against terrorism have been sharply criticized as detrimental to the human rights of the affected persons. The chapter argues that the efforts of the Council, though still inconsistent and in most cases inadequate, can be described as significant steps towards an international order of the kind Sir Hersch Lauterpacht referred to as an ‘organised civitas maxima, with the individual human being in the very centre of the constitution of the world’.
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