The Security Council is one of the six main organs of the United Nations (UN), established with the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. It is composed of 15 member states, including five permanent members with veto power (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), and ten non-permanent members elected by the UN General Assembly for two-year terms.
The main functions of the Security Council are:
- Peace and Security: The Security Council identifies threats to international peace and security and takes action to prevent conflicts or resolve existing ones. It can impose sanctions, authorize the use of force, or establish peacekeeping missions to address such threats.
- Peacekeeping Operations: The Security Council has the authority to establish and deploy UN peacekeeping missions to regions affected by armed conflicts. These missions work to maintain peace and security, protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian aid, and assist in political transitions.
- International Law: The Security Council promotes adherence to international law and resolutions. It can refer cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and impose sanctions on states or individuals who violate international norms.
- Member State Compliance: The Security Council monitors member states’ compliance with its resolutions and can take measures to enforce them. This includes monitoring arms embargoes, imposing trade restrictions, or authorizing the use of force to address non-compliance.
- Resolutions and Decision-Making: The Security Council adopts resolutions and decisions that are binding on all UN member states. Each member, including the permanent members, has one vote. However, decisions on substantive matters, such as the use of force, require the affirmative votes of at least nine members, including the concurring votes of all five permanent members.
The Security Council’s effectiveness is influenced by the dynamics of the permanent members and their veto power, which can sometimes lead to gridlock or political deadlock when their interests diverge. However, it remains a critical forum for international peace and security discussions and actions, playing a vital role in responding to global crises and conflicts.