UNSC: United Nations Security Council – Its History, Role, and Members

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Wondering what is the UN security council? The United Nations Security Council in one of the six principal organs of the UN (United Nations). It is charged with the duty to ensure international peace and security and is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions on member states.

un security council

The UNSC recommends the admission of new UN members to the General Assembly and approves changes to the UN Charter. Some of its key roles also include establishing peacekeeping operations, enacting international sanctions, and authorizing military action.

History of the formation of the UN Security Council

  • The United Nations security council was created along with the UN after World War II.
  • This council was created to address the failings of the League of Nations in maintaining world peace.
  • Its first session was held on 17 January 1946.

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  • Although in the decades later the council was largely paralyzed by the Cold War, nevertheless, it authorized military interventions in the Korean War and the Congo crisis. It also authorized peacekeeping missions in the Suez Crisis, Cyprus, and West New Guinea.
  • The UN peacekeeping efforts increased dramatically with the collapse of the Soviet Union. This lead the UN security council to authorize major military and peacekeeping missions in Kuwait, Namibia, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Role of the UN Security Council

In case a complaint concerning a threat to peace is brought before the UNSC, the council may:

  • Set principles for an agreement.
  • Undertake investigation and mediation.
  • Dispatch a mission.
  • Appoint special envoys.
  • Request Secretary-General to use his good office to achieve a settlement of the dispute.

If a dispute leads to hostilities, the council may:

  • Issue ceasefire directives that can help prevent an escalation of the conflict.
  • Dispatch military observers or a peacekeeping force to help in reducing tensions, separate opposing forces, and establish a calm in which peaceful settlements may be sought.

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In case it goes beyond these circumstances, the council may opt for enforcement measures like:

  • Economic sanctions, arms embargoes, financial penalties and restrictions, and travel bans.
  • Severance of diplomatic relations.
  • Blockade
  • Collective military action.

The council’s major concern is to focus action on those responsible for the policies or practices condemned by the international community, while simultaneously minimizing the impact of measures taken on other parts of the population and economy.

Members of the United Nations Security Council – permanent & non-permanent members of the UN security council

Permanent member of UNSC

The UNSC consists of a total of 15 members. This includes 5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members. The 5 permanent members of the UNSC include:

  • China
  • France
  • Russia
  • The United Kingdom
  • The United States of America

You’re probably wondering how these countries become permanent members. Well, they were the victors of World War II and so the power was vested in them since the beginning. These countries can now veto any substantive resolution. This includes admission of new member states or nominees for the office of Secretary-General.

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Non-permanent members of UN Security Council

Below are the current 10 non-permanent members of the un security council for the year 2020:

  • Niger
  • Tunisia
  • South Africa
  • Vietnam
  • Indonesia
  • Estonia
  • Vincent Grenadines
  • Dominican Republic
  • Belgium
  • Germany

These remaining 10 members are elected by the United Nations General Assembly on regional bases to serve a term of two years, starting 1 January. The number of non-permanent members in the UNSC were 6 earlier, but it expanded to 10 in 1965. These members may now be involved in global security briefings.

5 of these ten members are replaced every year and to be approved, a candidate must receive at least 2/3rds of all votes cast for the seat. A retiring member is also not eligible for immediate re-election.

This year, during the UNSC elections 2020, the countries that have been elected include India from the Asia-Pacific region, Mexico from the Latin America & Caribbean region, and Ireland & Norway from Western Europe & other regions.

Yes, the region also plays a role in elections. 3 countries from Africa, 2 from Asia-Pacific, 1 from Eastern Europe, 2 from Latin America & Caribbean, and 2 from Western Europe, and others can be a part of the non-permanent members of UNSC.

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