The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the main organizations within the United Nations (UN). The primary responsibility of the UNSC is to maintain international peace and security among nations. The UNSC consists of 15 member nations out of which five are permanent members and ten are non-permanent members. Permanent members are: China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States. The ten non-permanent members in 2009 are: Arustria, Brukina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Japan, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mexico, Turkey, Uganda and Vietnam. The non-permanent members are elected for a period of two years. The UNSC presidency is held in turns by member nations in English alphabetical order. The term of the president is one month.
While other organs of UN have only the power to make recommendations to governments, the UNSC alone has the power to make decisions that are binding on other the member nations. All member nations have one vote each. Nine out of 15 affirmative votes are required when making decisions on procedural matters, and nine votes, including concurring votes of all permanent members are required to make decisions on substantive matters.
Functions and powers of the UNSC under the UN Charter are:
- to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;
- to recommend methods of adjusting disputes or the terms of settlement;
- to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;
- to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;
- to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;
- to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
- to take military action against an aggressor;
- to recommend the admission of new Members;
- to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in “strategic areas”;
- to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.
The UNSC functions continuously through the year. A representative of each member nation is required to be present always at UN headquarters.
On receiving a complaint relating to a threat or violation of peace, initially the UNSC will recommend the parties to reach agreement through peaceful means. If necessary, the UNSC will conduct an investigation and mediation through special representatives or request the Secretary-General to do so. If ]a fight arises, the UNSC will try to end the fight by issuing cease-fire directives, or by sending UN peace-keeping forces to the troubled area. The UNSC has the power to take enforcement measures, economic sanctions or collective military action.
A member nation that has been constantly violating peace will have to face preventive or enforcement actions from the UNSC. A violating member nation can get expelled from UN on the UNSC’s recommendation.
Sometimes, a nation which is a member of UN but not a member of UNSC will be made to participate in the UNSC discussions if the UNSC finds that the non-member nation’s interests are affected. However, the non-member nation is not permitted to vote in the discussion.
UNSC has the power to establish subsidiary organs to perform various functions. Various organs consist of committees, tribunals, working group for peace keeping, and operations for peace keeping.