The Security Council - Subsidiary organs

Besides supervising peacekeeping operations (listed in the chapter on International Peace and Security), the Security Council also has established various standing committees and ad hoc bodies.

United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM)

After the UN-sanctioned multinational force repulsed Iraq from Kuwait in April 1991, the Security Council passed Resolution 687 setting forth the terms for an official cease-fire. This resolution led the UN into previously uncharted waters. It required Iraq to "unconditionally accept the destruction, removal or rendering harmless of … all chemical and biological weapons and stocks of agents and all ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilo-meters…." Iraq also was forced to agree to place all its nuclearweapons materials under the custody of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The resolution gave Iraq 15 days to submit a complete inventory of all its weapons of mass destruction.

To verify and implement this condition, the Security Council created the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM). Its mandate is to carry out immediate on-site inspections of Iraq's biological, chemical, and missile capabilities; to take possession for destruction, removal, or rendering harmless of all chemical and biological weapons and all materials for research, development, support, and manufacture of such weapons; to supervise the destruction by Iraq of all its ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150km, including major parts, repair, and production facilities; and to monitor and verify Iraq's compliance with its undertaking not to use, develop, construct, or acquire any of the items specified above. UNSCOM also works with inspectors of the IAEA, who are charged with similar tasks in the area of nuclear armaments.

In October 1991, UNSCOM reported to the Security Council that Iraq at first adopted an attitude of noncooperation, concealment, and outright falsification. The Security Council responded with Resolution 707 (1991) condemning Iraq's violation of Resolution 687 and making nine specific demands. In March 1992, Iraq declared that it was no longer in possession of any of the weapons described in Resolution 687, but the Security Council did not accept this. In June 1992, Iraq again supplied what it said were "full, final and complete reports," on the weapons programs covered by Resolution 687. These reports also were considered to be suspect. Using aggressive surprise inspection techniques, UNSCOM and IAEA were able to compile significant information on Iraq's weapons capabilities.

UNSCOM's investigations revealed that Iraq had acquired a massive stockpile of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. The international community was horrified to learn that Iraq had established a military research program to develop biological weapons that had long been banned by international disarmament agreements (to which Iraq was ostensibly a party). UNSCOM discovered that the microorganisms involved in this research program included anthrax, botulin toxin, and gas gangrene. Although no facilities for the production of these biological weapons were found, UNSCOM did discover huge stockpiles of deadly chemical weapons, including warheads, aerial bombs, and artillery shells meant to deliver a variety of nerve gas agents, tear gas, and mustard gas.

IAEA/UNSCOM inspections also revealed three clandestine uranium enrichment programs and found conclusive evidence of a nuclear weapons development program aimed at an implosion-type weapon. The secret development of these materials, bypassing regular inspections by the IAEA, put Iraq in violation of its undertakings as a member of IAEA. The IAEA also found that Iraq had violated its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. By mid-1992 the IAEA had removed and destroyed most of the materials and facilities and forced Iraq to destroy its nuclear complex at al-Athir, where most of the nuclear weapons research had taken place. The IAEA transported Iraq's nuclear fuel to Russia, where it was diluted from weapons grade to civilian reactor quality.

In 1998, Iraq ceased all cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA. No monitoring, inspection, or verification of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles took place as of December of 1998.

In December 1999, the phase-out of UNSCOM was announced: The Security Council adopted Resolution 1284, establishing the new United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to assume the responsibilities of monitoring the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. UNMOVIC took over UNSCOM's assets, liabilities, and archives and was mandated to "establish and operate a reinforced, ongoing monitoring and verification system, address unresolved disarmament issues, and identify additional sites to be covered by the new monitoring system."

On 8 November 2002, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1441, deploring the absence of weapons inspectors since 1998 in Iraq and its refusal to cooperate with the IAEA and UNMOVIC, decided that Iraq was in material breach of its obligations under previous relevant Security Council resolutions. The Security Council accorded Iraq a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations, and set up an enhanced inspections regime to operate in the country. Iraq was given 30 days to submit a detailed report of all of its programs of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and ballistic missile and other delivery system development, reports of weapons and agents stocks, and locations and work of research, development, and production facilities. Any false statements or omissions from this report would constitute a further material breach of its obligations. Iraq was to allow unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access to UNMOVIC and the IAEA of its weapons facilities. Any interference by Iraq to comply with the weapons inspections, or false reports of its stockpiles and programs that it might make, would cause the Security Council to convene immediately to "consider" the situation and the need for full compliance with the previous resolutions, "in order to secure international peace and security."

War Crimes

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Reports of widespread violations of international humanitarian law in the bloody conflict among the states of the former Yugoslavia led the Security Council to establish a Commission of Experts in October 1992. The commission was established to investigate the reports and submit its findings to the Security Council. In January 1993 the commission sent a first report describing the discovery of a mass grave in Croatia, and thousands of allegations of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law. In February 1993, the Security Council adopted Resolution 808, establishing an international tribunal for the prosecution of persons responsible for the crimes discovered by the Commission, the first such tribunal since the war crimes trials conducted after World War II. By May 1993, the Secretary-General had submitted a detailed report to the Security Council setting forth the tribunal's legal basis, method of proceeding, and its statute. It was established as a subsidiary organ of the Security Council under Chapter VII of the charter. Its headquarters would be at The Hague, Netherlands.

On 25 May 1993, the Security Council passed Resolution 827, approving the report and establishing the tribunal "for the sole purpose of prosecuting persons responsible for the serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1 January 1991 and a date to be determined by the Security Council upon restoration of peace…." The General Assembly elected 11 judges to the tribunalin September 1993. However, it was not until 7 July 1994 that South African judge Richard Goldstone was chosen to lead the prosecution team and he served until 30 September 1996, after which Louise Arbour of Canada became chief prosecutor. As of November 2002, the ICTY president was Claude Jorda (France) and the vice-president was Mohamed Shahabuddeen (Guyana); presiding judges were Richard George May (United Kingdom), Wolfgang Schomburg (Germany), and Liu Daqun (China); and judges were Florence Ndepele Mwachande Mumba (Zambia), David Anthony Hunt (Australia), Patrick Lipton Robinson (Jamaica), Mehmet Güney (Turkey), Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana (Sri Lanka), Fausto Pocar (Italy), Theodor Meron (United States of America), Amin El Mahdi (Egypt), Carmel A. Agius (Malta), Alphonsus Martinus Maria Orie (Netherlands), and Ogon Kwon (Korea).

As of October 2002, 44 of the accused were in custody; 11 were released; state arrest warrents had been issued against all accused and were outstanding on 24 people; 2 of the accused had been acquitted; 3 found not guilty; 7 of the accused were transferred to serve sentence; 4 sentences had been served; 20 indictments had been withdrawn; and 10 of the accused had died, including 3 after the commencement of proceedings. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was standing trial for violating the laws or customs of war, crimes against humanity, breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and 2 counts of genocide and complicity in genocide, for acts committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo. Prison terms for those found guilty ranged from several years to 46 years. The heaviest sentence to date had been handed on 2 August 2001 to Radislav Krstic, who was found guilty "by virtue of his individual criminal responsibility" on one count of genocide, one count of crimes against humanity, and one count of violations of the laws or customs of war. Updates on the proceedings were being posted regularly on the UN's web site at .

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) . On 1 July 1994, the Security Council requested the Secretary-General establish a three-member Commission of Experts to investigate allegations of mass killings of civilians and genocide in Rwanda, during the re-eruption of civil war in that country in April 1994. It had been reported that as many as 250,000 civilians may have died in ethnic violence. On 8 August 1994, the new government of Rwanda, led by members of the Tutsi ethnic group, notified the Secretary-General that it would cooperate with an international war crimes tribunal. The new government hoped that the promise of an international tribunal under the auspices of the UN would allay the fears of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Hutu citizens who were refusing to return to Rwanda from refugee camps in neighboring countries due to fear of reprisals and prosecution by the new government.

On 8 November 1994 the Security Council passed Resolution 955, establishing the tribunal and empowering it to prosecute persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law in Rwanda and Rwandan citizens responsible for such violations committed in neighboring states during 1994.

Following the election of the first judges, the tribunal began its work in November 1995. Progress was initially slow and the tribunal was criticized for incompetence. In 1998 Judge Lennart Aspegren (of Sweden) announced his resignation, protesting bad management and inadequate working conditions. Meanwhile, Rwanda had begun to hold trials of its own. In a press conference held 5 March 1999, Louise Arbour, then chief prosecutor of the UN tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, told correspondents that the contrast was becoming increasingly dramatic between the remarkable willingness to endorse and support the work of the tribunals on the African continent and the tolerated non-compliance in the case of the states of the former Yugoslavia: Of the more than 70 suspects who were indicted by the Rwanda Tribunal, more than 60 were arrested and transferred to a detention unit at Arusha, Tanzania. This was in dramatic contrast to the lack of cooperation that the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was experiencing, in which numerous arrest warrants remained outstanding.

As the Rwandan death toll mounted (approaching one million dead), the tribunal pressed on with its work. In 1999 the Security Council appointed Carla Del Ponte (Switzerland) as the tribunal's chief prosecutor; she began work 11 August of that year. In the late fall of 2002, the judges were Navanethem Pillay (Republic of South Africa; president of the ICTR), Erik Møse (Norway; vice-president of the ICTR), Andrésia Vaz (Senegal), William Hussein Sekule (United Republic of Tanzania), Winston C. M. Maqutu (Lesotho), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar), Lloyd G. Williams (St. Kitts and Nevis), Yakov Arkadievich Ostrovsky (Russian Federation), Pavel Dolenc (Slovenia), Claude Jorda (France), Mohamed Shahabuddeen (Guyana), David Hunt (Australia), Mehmet Güney (Turkey), Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana (Sri-Lanka), Fausto Pocar (Italy), and Theodor Meron (United States of America).

As of November 2002, a total of 61 individuals were detained under the authority of the tribunal. The tribunal had handed down several judgements, including that of Jean Kambanda, the former prime minister of Rwanda, who pleaded guilty to and was sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes of genocide, and Jean Paul Akayesu, Georges Anderson Ndrubumwe Rutaganda, Clement Kayishema, and Alfred Musema, who were sentenced to life imprisonment. The Akayesu judgement and the Kambanda sentencing were the first ever by an international court for the crime of genocide. Tribunal updates were being posted on the ICTR's web site at .


Following the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001, the Security Council established a Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC) pursuant to its Resolution 1373 adopted 28 September 2001 concerning counter-terrorism. Resolution 1373 called upon states to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts; to refrain from providing any support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts; to deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts; to bring those individuals or entities to justice; and to exchange information on the actions or movements of terrorists or terrorist networks. The CTC is composed of all 15 members of the Security Council. Subsequent Security Council resolutions were adopted regarding threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, including Resolution 1377 adopted 12 November 2001, Resolution 1438 adopted 14 October 2002, and Resolution 1440 adopted 24 October 2002. Press releases and updates on the work of the CTC were posted at .

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