Is there any legal consequence in infringing a U.N. resolution? Let's say a U.N. resolution passes, but a country decides to infringe that resolution. What would be the likely consequences of such an action? What if a country that has veto power infringes it like the U.S., China or Russia? Since they have veto power, do they get off scot-free or is it more complicated than that?

  • 1
    I don't think U.N. has the means to take any action without strong backups, so it depends heavily on who are the sponsors of the resolution, and who they are against.
    – r13
    Jul 20, 2021 at 22:19
  • This paper in the European Journal of International Law addresses this questions. It's quite long and even summarizing the conclusion requires knowledge of some international law jargon that I don't master. Perhaps someone with a legal background can use that paper in their answer?
    – JJJ
    Jul 20, 2021 at 22:25
  • So this is actually a good question? I was surprised no one asked it before.
    – Sayaman
    Jul 20, 2021 at 22:26
  • Yea, maybe it's better to narrow it down to legal consequences only. I think there's enough to be said about that already and non-legal consequences probably end up being things like 'other countries may retaliate' (e.g. by imposing sanctions).
    – JJJ
    Jul 20, 2021 at 22:37
  • Ok, done. Tell me if I should make any other change.
    – Sayaman
    Jul 20, 2021 at 22:38

1 Answer 1


Let's distinguish between UN General Assembly resolutions and UN Security Council resolutions. General Assembly resolutions are more accurately called recommendations, so for those, the answer is NO.

Security Council resolutions, on the other hand, are enforceable under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Chapter VII exclusively deals with Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression.

Under Article 41, the Security Council may include "complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations."

Should these actions prove ineffective or insufficient, under Article 42 the Security Council may take "such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations."

  • This is all true, but aren't those article aimed at a country being sanctioned, rather than at a country which decides to infringe those sanctions? Or are they saying that an infringer can itself be sanctioned? Jul 21, 2021 at 8:26

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