chapter  4
27 Pages

China’s decisions in the Security Council over the use of force

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 shocked the world. With the agreement of almost every government that this invasion was a most flagrant aggression, the UN Security Council would swiftly take the most forceful and far-reaching enforcement action in the UN’s history. This action included a range of economic and diplomatic sanctions intended to damage Iraq’s warmaking capacity and to isolate the Iraqi government from possible allies. The disregard with which the Iraqi government met the first 11 enforcement resolutions led the Security Council to adopt SCR 678 on 29 November 1990, authorizing the use of military force to end the Iraqi aggression against Kuwait. After a period of grace during which diplomatic efforts were made to avoid armed conflict, 34 countries joined together to expel the Iraqi forces from Kuwait in operations, which began on 17 January 1991. The allied air force, in particular American planes and missiles, systematically destroyed the Iraqi command and control system. The ground attack by the allied force forced a full Iraqi retreat in just five days. As a result of the Gulf War, the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation

Mission (UNIKOM) was created on 9 April 1991. UNIKOM was used to monitor a demilitarized zone (DMZ) extending five kilometres into both Iraqi and Kuwaiti territory. From May 1991 to January 1993, UNIKOM observed mainly three types of violations of the DMZ: minor incursions by military personnel on the ground, overflights by military aircraft, and the carrying by policemen of weapons other than side arms. Following a series of incidents along the newly demarcated boundary between Iraq and Kuwait involving Iraqi incursions into the Kuwaiti side of the DMZ, the Security Council, adopting SCR 806 on 5 February 1993, approved the Secretary-General’s request to execute a phased strengthening of UNIKOM and to send in a peacekeeping force (Boutros-Ghali 1996: 684). The UN played a central role in expelling Iraq from Kuwait and in the

subsequent peacekeeping operations.1 The leadership of the P-5, beginning with the decline of the Cold War, now gained unprecedented prominence. The decisions of the Security Council appeared to conform to the model of collective security under the UN Charter, but the actions of the Council were clearly driven by the P-5 members. The USA took the lead, with the UK and

France normally following suit, and the Soviet Union (replaced by Russia since 1991) and China being more circumspect about the extent to which intrusion into Iraqi affairs was needed.2