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The state that acts alone: bully, good samaritan or iconoclast?

By Christine Chinkin


The article considers what is understood by the concept of unilateral state action. Through three examples - threatened unilateral sanctions for the cheaper acquisition of medical drugs, Kosovo and East Timor - it examines a range of unilateral acts and suggests that there is no dichotomy between unilateral and multilateral action. Rather the two merge into each other. Many acts are only unilateral in a narrow sense that disregards the disaggregation of the contemporary nation state and what masquerades as collective action or inaction may be manipulated by a state with a particular interest or take on the issue, be dictated by a single strong actor through the threat or use of the veto, or by a single state taking the lead. Such an analysis of unilateral and multilateral acts undermines the task of refining the legal framework. However the article closes with some suggestions with respect to enhancing the transparency and accountability of multilateral decision making

Topics: JX International law
Publisher: Oxford University Press on behalf of European Journal of International Law
Year: 2000
DOI identifier: 10.1093/ejil
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:7403
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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