Security Council of The United Nations
Security Council of The United Nations
one of the principal permanent organs of the United Nations.
In order to ensure prompt and effective action, the UN Charter gives the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. In discharging the duties consequent to this responsibility, the Security Council acts on behalf of all members of the United Nations.
The number of Security Council members is fixed by the UN Charter (art. 23). Of the 15 members on the Security Council, five are permanent members—the USSR, the USA, Great Britain, France, and China. The rest are elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly; five nonpermanent members are elected every year. In elections, according to the charter, due regard is paid, first, to the contribution of members to the maintenance of international peace and security and, second, to equitable geographical distribution. On Dec. 17,1963, a resolution of the General Assembly distributed the ten nonpermanent seats on the Security Council as follows: five to the states of Africa and Asia, one to Eastern Europe, two to Latin America and the Caribbean, and two to Western Europe and other states (Canada, Australia, and New Zealand).
The functions of the Security Council stem from its role in ensuring world peace and security. The Security Council can investigate any dispute or situation that may lead to international friction or conflict. Thus, it determines the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and makes recommendations or decides what measures should be taken to maintain or restore international peace. In accordance with Article 25 of the charter, all UN members agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.
The Security Council determines what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions—for example, complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraph, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations. It has the right to require UN members to apply such measures. If it considers such measures inadequate for the implementation of its decisions, it is empowered by Article 42 of the charter to take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, or other operations by the air, sea, or land forces of UN members. For these purposes, the Security Council has the right to organize and employ UN armed forces to maintain international peace and security.
The Security Council is organized so as to be able to function continuously. For this purpose, each member of the Security Council must be represented at all times at the seat of the UN. The members preside over the Security Council in succession, each for a period of one month. In accordance with the charter, a UN member not a member of the Security Council or any state not a member of the United Nations, if it is a party to a dispute under consideration by the Security Council, may be invited to sessions of the Security Council.
Each member of the Security Council has one vote. Decisions on procedural matters are made by an affirmative vote of nine members. Decisions on all other matters are made according to a special procedure established by the charter (art. 27, para. 3). Such decisions are made by an affirmative vote of nine members, including the concurring votes of the permanent members (seeUNANIMITY PRINCIPLE IN THE UNITED NATIONS). This exclusive right of the permanent members of the Security Council is sometimes called the right of veto.
The Security Council has its own subsidiary bodies: the Military Staff Committee, the Committee of Experts, and the Committee on the Admission of New Members to the UN.