- By David BoscoDavid Bosco, a Foreign Policy contributing editor and assistant professor at American University's School of International Service. He is at work on a book about the International Criminal Court's first decade.
During a debate this week about the UN Security Council’s working methods, China’s ambassador made a plea for more focus on preventive diplomacy—and less on coercion. He also made the intriguing suggestion that an outside body ensure that the Council doesn’t abuse its authority:
Li Baodong, Chinese permanent representative to the UN, made the statement at an open meeting of the Security Council on working methods.
"The Security Council should pay more attention to preventive diplomacy, make more use of peaceful means such as mediation and good offices to defuse disputes, and avoid frequent use of threats, sanctions and other forcible measures," Li said.
"An effective monitoring mechanism should also be established to avoid abusing or overstepping the Council’s mandate," he added.
In the wake of NATO’s Libya operation—which several Council members saw (or at least professed to see) as an abuse of the body’s authorization—others have expressed similar sentiments. In fact, there already is an international mechanism that could play that supervisory role: the International Court of Justice. As the UN’s principal legal arm, it has a strong claim to exercise judicial review over Council action. And on a few occasions, the ICJ has tiptoed toward that role but it has never fully embraced it (for a recent examination of the court’s role, see this paper by Matthew Happold).
Colum Lynch is Foreign Policy's award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. Lynch previously wrote Foreign Policy's Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He is also a recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Silver Prize for his coverage of the United Nations.
Before moving to Foreign Policy, Lynch reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. As the Washington Post's United Nations reporter, Lynch had been involved in the paper's diplomatic coverage of crises in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and Somalia, as well as the nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea. He also played a key part in the Post's diplomatic reporting on the Iraq war, the International Criminal Court, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and U.S. counterterrorism strategy. Lynch's enterprise reporting has explored the underside of international diplomacy. His investigations have uncovered a U.S. spying operation in Iraq, Dick Cheney's former company's financial links to Saddam Hussein, and documented numerous sexual misconduct and corruption scandals.
Lynch has appeared frequently on the Lehrer News Hour, MSNBC, NPR radio, and the BBC. He has also moderated public discussions on foreign policy, including interviews with Susan E. Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor, Gerard Araud, France's U.N. ambassador, and other senior diplomatic leaders.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Lynch received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. He previously worked for the Boston Globe.| Turtle Bay |