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CHAPTER 7: Section 12 Changes

Self-defence under Charter Article 51 invoked in cases related to individuals

17 May 2020

On 8 January 2020, the United States wrote to the Security Council to report pursuant to Article 51 that it had “undertaken certain actions in the exercise of its inherent right of self-defence”, including “an operation on 2 January 2020 against leadership elements of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force" in Iraq . . .  

A historical overview of reporting under Article 51 on actions taken in self-defence (with Table)

Updated on 13 January 2020

The right to self-defence, as preserved by Article 51 of the UN Charter, has frequently been invoked by many Member States to justify actions they have taken, especially when these actions have been challenged.  However, a specific reporting requirement exists under Article 51 . . .

In 2018-19, cleavages widen over self-defence reported to the Council under Article 51 (with Table)

Updated on 15 November 2019

From 1 January 2018 to the present, eight letters reporting actions taken in self-defence, and possibly a ninth and tenth, have been sent to the Security Council, while other Member States have become more vocal in criticizing practices relating to reporting pursuant to Article 51 of the Charter . . .

Turkey characterizes attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria as self-defence under Article 51

10 March 2018

On 20 January 2018, the same day that Turkey launched air and artillery strikes against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, the Turkish representative to the UN sent a letter to the Secretary-General and the Security Council President . . .   

Reporting to the Council in 2016-17 pursuant to Article 51 on actions taken in self-defence

31 December 2017

From 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2017, seven letters reporting actions under Article 51 of the UN Charter were sent to the Security Council, five of which related to actions undertaken against ISIL/Da’esh . . .

Problematic or controversial communications sent to Council President

17 December 2015

In 2015, the Security Council has had to deal with several sensitive communications sent to the Council President . . .

Syria and Russian Federation report military assistance to Syria

12 December 2015

On 14 October 2015, the representative of Syria wrote to the Secretary-General and Council President informing them that the Russian Federation had “taken a number of measures in response to a request” from the Syrian Government “to provide military support for the counter-terrorism efforts of the Syrian Government and the Syrian Arab Army” . . .

Letters citing Article 51 sent to the Council in 2014 and 2015

17 December 2015

By a letter dated 10 December 2015, the German representative informed the Council President that in accordance with Article 51, Germany, “in the exercise of the right of collective self-defence, has initiated military measures” against ISIL . . .

Syria challenges Article 51 claims of Australia, Canada, France, UK, US

2 November 2015

By a letter dated 17 September 2015, the representative of Syria challenged the separate declarations by Australia, France, and the United Kingdom that the military measures they were carrying out in Syrian territory were justified under Article 51 of the Charter . . .

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