Robert KolbThe Charter of the United Nations: Article 2.2

Robert Kolb, ‘Article 2(2)’ in Bruno Simma (ed.), The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary (3rd ed., Vol.1, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Background

The Charter of the United Nations was the product of the San Francisco conference of 1945 and is the founding treaty of the United Nations. The commentary offers an article-by-article account of the Charter penned by leading scholars and practitioners. Robert Kolb is a Professor of Public International Law at the University of Geneva. He has held a number of positions including Secretary of the Institut de Droit International and Director of Studies for The Hague Academy of International Law along with numerous professorships within Switzerland.

Summary

The extract at hand is a commentary by Robert Kolb on Article 2(2) of the United Nations Charter that obliges ‘all members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.’ Kolb charts the genesis of the so-called ‘good faith’ clause from its adoption at the San Francisco Conference where it was unanimously approved under the understanding that it required an obligation to be fulfilled according to the spirit of the undertaking and not merely the letter.

Kolb examines the scope and the interpretation of the good faith requirement noting that it is applicable to all general international law that is in accordance with the Charter not simply the Charter obligations. Good faith is also not restricted to the member States but applies to all organs of the Organization in their dealings with member states, other organs of the Organization and their employees. Kolb identifies five obligations that have been derived from the general principle: ‘the prohibition of abuse of power or of procedure; the duty to protect legitimate expectations; the duty to respect promises; the applicability of estoppel; or of the doctrine of qualified silence.’

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