Monograph ‘Inside the UN Security Council: Legitimation Practices and Darfur‘ is in production with Oxford University Press with publication scheduled for November 2023

Book abstract: UN Security Council decisions impact billions of people and yet its formal rules are minimal and tell us little about how decisions are made. Instead, informal, and often unwritten practices, form the basis of negotiations. This book introduces and develops the concept of legitimation practices to analyse the UN Security Council’s decision-making. Legitimation practices shape the process and outcome of negotiations. Internal legitimation practices, which relate to the legitimation of Security Council decisions such as prioritising unanimity, constrain and enable the text of resolutions. External legitimation practices such as ‘doing something’ relate to the legitimation of actors in the negotiations and shape whether decisions can be reached at all. This book demonstrates the impact of legitimation practices within Security Council decision-making, both in general and focused on the case of Darfur in the west of Sudan. Security Council negotiations on Darfur are analysed in depth to show how legitimation practices shape decision-making across issue areas of agenda-setting, sanctions, referral to the International Criminal Court, and peacekeeping. Foregrounding legitimation practices sheds light on seemingly contradictory moments within Security Council decision-making, such as the United States enabling the referral of the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, despite longstanding objections to the court and the capacity to veto the decision. The book draws on a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including original interviews with key decision-makers, to show that legitimation practices are an integral aspect of Security Council negotiations.

Keywords: Legitimation practices, practice theory, Darfur, sanctions, International Criminal Court, peacekeeping.