Theses Doctoral

Understanding the United Nations Security Council’s Decisions to Initiate Atrocities Investigations

Kaoutzanis, Christodoulos

Since the end of the Cold War, the United Nations Security Council (‘UNSC’) has taken a leading role in investigating atrocities. Yet, the UNSC has only investigated atrocities committed in eleven out of the ninety-two states that have experienced atrocities during this period. This dissertation examines the reasons behind this disparity. To do so, this dissertation examines how past studies on atrocities investigations do not account for the work of the UNSC in this field, and how past studies on the UNSC cannot explain its actions on atrocities investigations. Instead, by relying on historical records and interviews with decision-makers, this dissertation argues that the UNSC’s decisions on which atrocities to investigate are committee projects, which can only be understood through the prism of the UNSC’s decision-making process. Because of the constraints imposed by the UNSC process, an atrocities investigation will take place only after (i) a diplomat brings specific atrocities to the attention of the UNSC, (ii) an independent commission of inquiry supports the creation of an atrocities investigation, and (iii) the UNSC members become comfortable with the text of the authorizing resolution. This dissertation examines the political decisions behind each of these three steps and highlights how the decision-making process guides and influences the UNSC’s actions. By doing so, it provides an explanation on the aforementioned double standard in the UNSC’s work vis-à-vis atrocities.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Doyle, Michael W.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 22, 2016