The Iran-Iraq War: The Politics of Aggression

By Farhang Rajaee | Go to book overview

12
The UN Secretary-General: Attitudes and Latitudes

PAUL TAVERNIER

The lines "Since 1946 a new actor has appeared on the international scene: The United Nations Secretary-General. Nevertheless, no one is able to say exactly what is expected of the UN Secretary-General and what is his role in resolution of conflicts and his role in maintenance and establishment of peace," written in 1971, continued to be valid in 1988. 1 The secretary-general was active during the Iran-Iraq war, and from the first day offered his good offices for mediation. Later in the war, he attempted to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the conflict and to resolve certain of its aspects, such as the use of chemical weapons by Iraq or the war of the cities.

Nevertheless, the secretary-general's actions were limited because they were taken within the legal constraints of the UN Charter. Taking these conditions into account, the secretary-general used his imagination and gave a broad interpretation of his powers. Given limited space, I will just refer to the provisions of the charter that determine the powers of the secretary-general in dealing with threats to peace and international sfecurity. This will allow us to find out the extent of the secretary-general's competence in the Iran-Iraq war and to determine whether he could have done more.


The Legal Constraints of the United Nations

Chapter 15 of the United Nations Charter specifically deals with the Secretariat (Articles 97-101). Here, I refer only to Articles 97, 98, and

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