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

Chinkin, Christine (2000) The state that acts alone: bully, good samaritan or iconoclast? European Journal of International Law, 11 (1). pp. 31-41. ISSN 0938-5428

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Identification Number: 10.1093/ejil/11.1.31


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.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2000 EJIL
Divisions: LSE Human Rights
Subjects: J Political Science > JX International law
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2008 13:57
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2021 23:10

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