United Nations Security Council

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<tr> <td colspan="2" style="text-align:center;">Image:UN security council 2005.jpg
UN Security Council chamber in New York</td> </tr> <tr> <th>Acronyms:</th> <td>UNSC</td> </tr> <tr> <th>Head:</th> <td>Security Council President (rotating)
November 2006: Peru</td> </tr> <tr> <th>Status:</th> <td>Active</td> </tr> <tr> <th>Established:</th> <td>1945</td> </tr> <tr> <th>Website:</th> <td>www.un.org/Docs/sc</td> </tr> <tr> <th>Wikimedia
:</th> <td>Image:Commons-logo.svgUnited Nations Security Council</td> </tr>
United Nations Security Council
Org type: Principal Organ
Portal: Image:Un-flag-square.png United Nations Portal

fr:Modèle:Infobox ONU The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is the organ of the United Nations charged with maintaining peace and security among nations. While other organs of the United Nations only make recommendations to member governments, the Security Council has the power to make decisions which member governments must carry out under the United Nations Charter. The decisions of the Council are known as United Nations Security Council Resolutions. The Security Council is made up of 15 member states, consisting of five permanent seats and ten temporary seats. The permanent five are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. These members hold veto power over substantive but not procedural resolutions. The ten temporary seats are held for two-year terms with member states voted in by the UN General Assembly on a regional basis. The Presidency of the Security Council is rotated alphabetically each month.


[edit] History

The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946 at Church House, London.

Since its first meeting, the Council, which exists in continuous session, has travelled widely, holding meetings in many cities, such as Paris and Addis Ababa. For the most part, however, it has remained located at UN Headquarters — first at Lake Success in New York and then at its current home in New York City.

Significant changes in the Council’s composition have occurred on three occasions. In 1965, amendments to articles 23 and 27 of the Charter came into effect, increasing the number of elected members from six to ten.

In 1971 the General Assembly voted to remove the representative of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and seat the delegate from the People's Republic of China as the legitimate representative of China. Because the issue was presented as one involving which delegation would properly represent China rather than that of an admission or explusion of a member, this issue required only action by the General Assembly and circumvented the inability of the Assembly to expel a member of the Council without the Council’s endorsement (subject to veto), or the lack of an amendment to article 23 specifying the identity of the permanent members

Similarly, there was no amendment to article 23 following the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991. In much less contentious circumstances the Russian Federation acceded to the former Soviet seat.

[edit] Members

Image:World Map 2006 Security Council.png
The Security Council as of 2006, showing permanent members and current elected members.

A Security Council member must always be present at UN headquarters in New York so that the Security Council can meet at any time. This requirement of the United Nations Charter was adopted to address a weakness of the League of Nations since that organization was often unable to respond quickly to crises.

The role of president of the Security Council involves setting the agenda, presiding at its meetings and overseeing any crisis. It rotates in alphabetical order of the members' names in English.

There are two categories of membership in the UN Security Council: Permanent Members and Elected Members.

[edit] Permanent members

See also: China and the United Nations, France and the United Nations, Soviet Union and the United Nations, United Kingdom and the United Nations, and United States and the United Nations

The Council seated five permanent members who were originally drawn from the victorious powers after World War II:

Two of the original members, the Republic of China and Soviet Union, were later replaced by recognized successor states, even though Article 23 of the Charter of the United Nations has not been accordingly amended:

In 1971, the People's Republic of China was awarded China's seat in the United Nations by UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, and the Republic of China (which had lost mainland China and was limited to Taiwan since 1949) soon lost membership in all UN organs. In 1991, Russia acquired the seat originally held by the Soviet Union, including the Soviet Union's former representation in the Security Council.

The five permanent members of the Security Council are the only nations recognized as possessing nuclear weapons under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, although it lacks universal validity, as some nuclear nations have not signed the treaty. This nuclear status is not the result of their Security Council membership, though it is sometimes used as a modern-day justification for their continued presence on the body. India, Pakistan, North Korea, and possibly Israel (though Israel has never itself admitted to nuclear weapons possession) possess nuclear weapons outside of the anti-proliferation framework established by the Treaty. In 2004, four of the five permanent members were also the world's top four weapons exporters when measured by arms value; China was seventh.

Each permanent member state has veto powers, which can be used to void any resolution. A single veto from a permanent member outweighs any majority. This is not technically a veto, rather just a "nay" vote; however any "nay" vote from a permanent member would block the passage of the resolution in question.

The Permanent Representatives of the U.N. Security Council permanent members are Wang Guangya, Jean-Marc de La Sablière, Vitaly I. Churkin, Emyr Jones Parry and John R. Bolton.[1]

[edit] Elected members

See also: List of elected members of the United Nations Security Council

Ten other members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms starting on 1 January, with five replaced each year. The members are chosen by regional groups and confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly. The African bloc chooses three members; the Latin America and the Caribbean, Asian, and Western European and Others blocs choose two members each; and the Eastern European bloc chooses one member. Also, one of these members is an Arab country, alternately from the Asian or African bloc.<ref>"The United Nations Security Council", The Green Papers. Retrieved 14 May 2006.</ref>

The current (2006) elected members, with the region they were elected to represent and their UN Permanent Representative, are:

  1. Argentina (Latin America and Caribbean) - César Mayoral
  2. Republic of the Congo (Africa) -Basile Ikouebe
  3. Denmark (Western Europe) - Ellen Margrethe Løj
  4. Ghana (Africa) - Nana Effah-Apenteng
  5. Greece (Western Europe) - Adamantios Vassilakis
  6. Japan (Asia) - Kenzo Oshima
  7. Peru (Latin America and Caribbean) - Oswaldo de Rivero
  8. Qatar (Asia, Arab) - Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
  9. Slovakia (Eastern Europe) - Peter Burian
  10. Tanzania (Africa) - Augustine P. Mahiga

[edit] 2006 appointments

On 16 October 2006, the General Assembly elected Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa to two-year terms commencing 1 January 2007; a fifth seat, allocated to Latin America and the Caribbean, remained undecided between Guatemala and Venezuela.<ref>"Four Security Council members elected but one seat still up for grabs", UN News Centre, 16 October 2006</ref><ref>Bill Varner, "Venezuela Ties Guatemala in Race for UN Security Council Seat ", bloomberg.com, 16 October 2006</ref> The race, which continued over 47 rounds of deadlocked voting until Panama emerged as a consensus candidate on 1 November,<ref>Panama Agreement Ends UN Seat Row, BBC News, 2 November 2006</ref> was called by BBC News the most dramatic since the 155-round vote between Cuba and Colombia in 1979.<ref>Deadlock in Latin America UN race, BBC News, 16 October 2006</ref>

[edit] Membership reform

The G4 nations (India, Germany, Japan and Brazil) support each other’s bid for permanent seats on the Security Council.

There has been discussion of an increase in the number of permanent members. The countries who have made the strongest demands for permanent seats are Brazil, Germany, India and Japan. Indeed, Japan and Germany are the UN's second and third largest funders, respectively, while Brazil, the largest South American nation, and India, the world's second most populous country, are two of the largest contributors of troops to UN-mandated peace-keeping missions. This project has found opposition in a group of countries called Uniting for Consensus.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked a team of advisors to come up with recommendations for revamping the United Nations by the end of 2004. A proposed solution is to increase the number of permanent members by five, which, in most proposals, would include Brazil, Germany, India, Japan (known as the G4 nations), one seat from Africa (most likely between Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa) and/or one seat from the Arab League [2]. On 21 September 2004, the G4 nations issued a joint statement mutually backing each other's claim to permanent status, together with an African country. France and the United Kingdom declared that they support this claim. Currently the proposal has to be accepted by two-thirds of the General Assembly which translates to 128 votes.

[edit] Veto power

Under article 27 of the UN Charter decisions in the 15-member Security Council on all substantive matters—for example, a decision calling for direct measures related to the settlement of a dispute—require the affirmative votes of nine members. A negative vote—a veto—by a permanent member prevents adoption of a proposal, even if it has received the required number of affirmative votes. Abstention is not regarded as a veto despite the wording of the Charter. Since the Security Council's inception, China (ROC/PRC) has used 5 vetoes; France, 18; Russia/USSR, 122; the United Kingdom, 32; and the United States, 81. The majority of Russian/Soviet vetoes were in the first ten years of the Council's existence. Since 1984, the numbers have been: China, 2; France, 3; Russia/USSR, 4; the United Kingdom, 10; and the United States, 43.

Procedural matters are not subject to a Security Council veto. This provision is important because it prevents the veto from being used to avoid discussion of an issue.

[edit] Status of non-members

A state that is a member of the UN, but not of the Security Council, may participate in Security Council discussions in which the Council agrees that the country's interests are particularly affected. In recent years, the Council has interpreted this loosely, enabling many countries to take part in its discussions or not depending on how they interpret the validity of the country's interest. Non-members are routinely invited to take part when they are parties to disputes being considered by the Council.

[edit] Role of the Security Council

UN Security Council Resolutions
UN Security Council
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Under Chapter Six of the Charter, "Pacific Settlement of Disputes", the Security Council "may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute". The Council may "recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment" if it determines that the situation might endanger international peace and security. These recommendations are not binding on UN members.

Under Chapter Seven, the Council has broader power to decide what measures are to be taken in situations involving "threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, or acts of aggression". In such situations, the Council is not limited to recommendations but may take action, including the use of armed force "to maintain or restore international peace and security". This was the basis for UN armed action in Korea in 1950 during the Korean War and the use of coalition forces in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. Decisions taken under Chapter Seven, such as economic sanctions, are binding on UN members.

Colin Powell holding a model vial of anthrax while giving a presentation to the United Nations Security Council

The UN's role in international collective security is defined by the UN Charter, which gives the Security Council the power to:

  • Investigate any situation threatening international peace;
  • Recommend procedures for peaceful resolution of a dispute;
  • Call upon other member nations to completely or partially interrupt economic relations as well as sea, air, postal, and radio communications, or to sever diplomatic relations; and
  • Enforce its decisions militarily, if necessary.

The United Nations has helped prevent many outbreaks of international violence from growing into wider conflicts. It has opened the way to negotiated settlements through its service as a center of debate and negotiation, as well as through UN-sponsored fact-finding missions, mediators, and truce observers. UN Peacekeeping forces, comprised of troops and equipment supplied by member nations, have usually been able to limit or prevent conflict, although sometimes not. Some conflicts, however, have proven to be beyond the capacity of the UN to influence. Key to the success of UN peacekeeping efforts is the willingness of the parties to a conflict to come to terms peacefully through a viable political process.

The Council can indict nationals of countries that have not signed the International Criminal Court statute for trial before the court. Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe is an example of a possible case, whose indictment has been called for by Australia and New Zealand.

[edit] Resolutions

The legally binding nature of Security Council Resolutions has been the subject of some controversy. It is generally agreed that resolutions are legally binding if they are made under Chapter VII (Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression) of the Charter. The Council is also empowered to make resolutions under Chapter VI (Pacific Settlement of Disputes); most authorities do not consider these to be legally binding. The International Court of Justice suggested in the Namibia case that resolutions other than those made under Chapter VI can also be binding<ref>"The Legal Effects of Resolutions of the UN Security Council and General Assembly in the Jurisprudence of the ICJ", Marko Divac Öberg, European Journal of International Law 2005 16(5):879-906</ref>, a view that some Member States have questioned. Others have asserted that Chapter VI resolutions are non-binding, but may contain binding sections <ref>"Behind the Headlines: UN Security Council Resolution 1701" Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 Aug 2006, accessed 17 Oct 2006</ref> It is beyond doubt however that those resolutions made outside these two Chapters dealing with the internal governance of the organization (such as the admission of new Member States) are legally binding, where the Charter gives the Security Council power to make them.

If the council cannot reach consensus or a passing vote on a resolution, they may choose to produce a non-binding Presidential Statement instead of a Resolution. They are adopted by consensus but often require similar behind closed doors wrangling. They are meant to apply political pressure, a warning that the council is paying attention and further action may follow. Press statements typically accompany both resolutions and Presidential Statements, carrying the text of the document adopted by the body and also some explanatory text. They may also be released independently, after a significant meeting.

[edit] Criticisms of the Security Council

There have been criticisms that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (who are all nuclear powers) have created an exclusive nuclear club whose powers are unchecked. The lack of true international representation in the United Nations Security Council, as exists in the General Assembly, has led to accusations that the UNSC only addresses the interests and political motives of the permanent members. Non-nuclear countries can be elected to serve a temporary term on the Security Council, but critics have suggested this is inadequate. Critics have suggested that expanding the number of permanent members to include non-nuclear powers would democratize the organization.[3].

Another criticism of the Security Council involves the veto power of the 5 permanent nations. As it stands, one veto from any of the "Big Five" (Russia, China, the United States, the United Kingdom and France) can halt any possible action the Council may take. One nation's objection, rather than a democratic majority, may cripple any possible UN armed or diplomatic response to a crisis.

Other critics and even proponents of the Security Council question its effectiveness and relevance because in most high profile cases, there are essentially no consequences for violating a Security Council resolution. An especially dramatic case of this occurred in the Srebrenica massacre where Serbian troops committed genocide against Bosnian Muslims in the largest case of mass murder in Europe since World War II. Srebrenica had been declared a U.N. "safe area" and was even protected by 400 armed Dutch peacekeepers, but the U.N. forces did nothing to prevent the massacre.

[edit] In popular culture

The Interpreter is a 2005 film featuring a fictional African head of state, apparently based on Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, seeking to avoid being indicted by the UN Security Council for trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity. Australia, New Zealand, and international human rights organizations have backed the call for Mugabe's indictment. As Zimbabwe is a non-signatory of the ICC statute, an ICC trial requires either a UN Security Council indictment, or for Zimbabwe to accept the ICC’s jurisdiction.

[edit] See also

[edit] References


[edit] External links

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