7 - The Secretary-General as norm entrepreneur  pp. 123-138

The Secretary-General as norm entrepreneur

By Ian Johnstone

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Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld helped invent the concept of armed peacekeeping in 1956 and set out the guiding principles that to this day remain the touchstone of debate about the nature of the enterprise. In 1963 U Thant sent a team of observers to Yemen when civil war broke out – implicitly suggesting that the situation was not purely internal and therefore that UN action would conform to Article 2(7) of the Charter. In 1991 Javier Pérez de Cuéllar stated that Security Council resolution 688 (1991) on the Iraqi repression of Kurd and Shiite populations was “not put in the framework of Chapter VII” and so no UN military or police presence could be deployed there without the consent of the government. In his 1996 Agenda for Democratization, Boutros Boutros-Ghali wrote that the work of the United Nations in promoting democracy was consistent with the Charter because the document roots the “sovereign authority of the Member States, and thus the legitimacy of the Organization … in the will of their peoples.”

These are all cases of norm entrepreneurship, a function no Secretary-General has been more conscious of than Kofi Annan. In early 1999 he stated “the end of the Cold War transformed the moral promise of the role of the Secretary-General. It allowed him to place the UN at the service of the universal values of the Charter, without constraints of ideology or particular interests.”