Why and how have "Third World" international lawyers engaged with the law of international organizations? This article considers Georges Abi-Saab’s 1978 work, The United Nations Operation in the Congo 1960–1964, an important but largely forgotten intervention in debates about the power and authority of the United Nations at the height of the post-Second World War wave of decolonization. Fusing careful analysis of the legal rules and instruments that underwrote UN operations during the Congo crisis with a narrative reconstruction of the accompanying political and diplomatic negotiations, Abi-Saab’s book examines the organization’s involvement in the conflict following Congo’s formal independence from Belgium in June 1960, both during and after Dag Hammarskjöld’s tenure as UN Secretary-General. This article takes up Abi-Saab’s account of Hammarskjöld’s role in and management of the crisis. It demonstrates that Abi-Saab understood the Secretary-General’s office to be hedged in by significant "constitutional" constraints on publicly justifiable action but also uniquely equipped to coordinate competing interests and facilitate collective action. It also demonstrates that this dual understanding of the Secretary-General--both "legalistic" and overtly "political"--informed Abi-Saab’s commitment to developing international law in and through international organizations.
Monday, April 27, 2020
Özsu: Organizing Internationally: Georges Abi-Saab, the Congo Crisis, and the Decolonization of the United Nations
Umut Özsu (Carleton Univ. - Law and Legal Studies) has posted Organizing Internationally: Georges Abi-Saab, the Congo Crisis, and the Decolonization of the United Nations (European Journal of International Law, forthcoming). Here's the abstract: