The Security Council's five permanent members, below, have the power to "veto any substantive resolution; this allows a permanent member to block adoption of a resolution, but not to prevent or end debate.
|Country||Regional Group||Current State Representation||Former State Representation|
|"China||"Asia-Pacific||"People's Republic of China (since 1971)||" "Republic of China (1946–49) (on the "Mainland)
" "Republic of China (1949–71) (on "Taiwan)
|" "French Fifth Republic (since 1958)|| "Provisional Government of the French Republic (1945–46)
"French Fourth Republic (1946–58)
|"Russia||"Eastern Europe||"Russian Federation (since 1992)||"Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1946–91)|
|"United Kingdom||Western Europe
|"United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (since 1946)||—|
|"United States||Western Europe
|"United States of America (since 1946)||—|
At the UN's founding in 1945, the five permanent members of the Security Council were the "Republic of China, the "French Republic, the "Soviet Union, the "United Kingdom, and the "United States. There have been two major seat changes since then. "China's seat was originally held by "Chiang Kai-shek's "Nationalist Government, the Republic of China. However, the Nationalists were forced to retreat to the "island of Taiwan in 1949, during the "Chinese Civil War. The Communist government assumed control of "mainland China, henceforth known as the People's Republic of China. In 1971, "General Assembly Resolution 2758 recognized the People's Republic as the rightful representative of China in the UN and gave it the seat on the Security Council that had been held by the Republic of China, which was expelled from the UN altogether with no opportunity of membership as a separate nation. After the "dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Federation was recognized as the "legal successor state of the Soviet Union and maintained the latter's position on the Security Council. Additionally, France reformed its government into the "French Fifth Republic in 1958, under the leadership of "Charles de Gaulle. France maintained its seat as there was no change in its international status or recognition, although many of its "overseas possessions eventually became independent.
The five permanent members of the Security Council were the victorious powers in World War II and have maintained the world's most powerful military forces ever since. They annually topped the "list of countries with the highest military expenditures. In 2013, they spent over US$1 trillion combined on defence, accounting for over 55% of global military expenditures (the US alone accounting for over 35%). They are also among the world's "largest arms exporters and are the only nations officially recognized as ""nuclear-weapon states" under the "Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), though there are other states known or believed to be in possession of nuclear weapons.
Under "Article 27 of the UN Charter, Security Council decisions on all substantive matters require the affirmative votes of nine members. A negative vote or "veto" by a permanent member prevents adoption of a proposal, even if it has received the required votes. Abstention is not regarded as a veto in most cases, though all five permanent members must actively concur to amend the UN Charter or to recommend the admission of a new UN member state. Procedural matters are not subject to a veto, so the veto cannot be used to avoid discussion of an issue. The same holds for certain decisions that directly regard permanent members. A majority of vetoes are used not in critical international security situations, but for purposes such as blocking a candidate for Secretary-General or the admission of a member state.
In the negotiations building up to the creation of the UN, the veto power was resented by many small countries, and in fact was forced on them by the veto nations – US, UK, China, France and the Soviet Union – through a threat that without the veto there will be no UN. Here is a description by Francis O. Wilcox, an adviser to US delegation to the 1945 conference: "At San Francisco, the issue was made crystal clear by the leaders of the Big Five: it was either the Charter with the veto or no Charter at all. Senator Connally [from the US delegation] dramatically tore up a copy of the Charter during one of his speeches and reminded the small states that they would be guilty of that same act if they opposed the unanimity principle. "You may, if you wish," he said, "go home from this Conference and say that you have defeated the veto. But what will be your answer when you are asked: 'Where is the Charter'?"
As of 2012, 269 vetoes had been cast since the Security Council's inception.[a] In this period, China (ROC/PRC) used the veto 9 times, France 18, USSR/Russia 128, the UK 32, and the US 89. Roughly two-thirds of Soviet/Russian vetoes were in the first ten years of the Security Council's existence. Between 1996 and 2012, China vetoed 5 resolutions, Russia 7, and the US 13, while France and the UK did not use the veto.
An early veto by Soviet Commissar "Andrei Vishinsky blocked a resolution on the withdrawal of French forces from the then-colonies of Syria and Lebanon in February 1946; this veto established the precedent that permanent members could use the veto on matters outside of immediate concerns of war and peace. The USSR went on to veto matters including the admission of Austria, Cambodia, Ceylon, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Laos, Libya, Portugal, South Vietnam, and Transjordan as UN member states, delaying their joining by several years. Britain and France used the veto to avoid Security Council condemnation of their actions in the 1956 Suez Crisis. The first veto by the US came in 1970, blocking General Assembly action in "Southern Rhodesia. From 1985–90, the US vetoed 27 resolutions, primarily to block resolutions it perceived as anti-Israel but also to protect its interests in Panama and Korea. The USSR, US, and China have all vetoed candidates for Secretary-General, with the US using the veto to block the re-election of "Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1996.
Along with the five permanent members, the Security Council has temporary members that hold their seats on a rotating basis by geographic region. Non-permanent members maybe involved in global security briefings. In its first two decades, the Security Council had six non-permanent members, the first of which were Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Poland. In 1965, the number of non-permanent members was expanded to ten.
These ten non-permanent members are elected by the "General Assembly for two-year terms starting on 1 January, with five replaced each year. To be approved, a candidate must receive at least two-thirds of all votes cast for that seat, which can result in deadlock if there are two roughly evenly matched candidates. In 1979, a standoff between Cuba and Colombia only ended after three months and a record 154 rounds of voting; both eventually withdrew in favour of Mexico as a compromise candidate. A retiring member is not eligible for immediate re-election.
The African Group is represented by three members; the "Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, and "Western European and Others groups by two apiece; and the "Eastern European Group by one. Traditionally, one of the seats assigned to either the Asia-Pacific Group or the African Group is filled by a nation from the "Arab world. Currently, elections for terms beginning in even-numbered years select two African members, and one each within Eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Terms beginning in odd-numbered years consist of two Western European and Other members, and one each from Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The current elected members, with the regions they were elected to represent, are as follows:
The 2017–18 term will be the first time in over five decades that two members have agreed to split a term; intractable deadlocks have instead usually been resolved by the candidate countries withdrawing in favour of a third member state.
The role of "president of the Security Council involves setting the agenda, presiding at its meetings and overseeing any crisis. The president is authorized to issue both "presidential statements (subject to consensus among Council members) and notes, which are used to make declarations of intent that the full Security Council can then pursue. The presidency of the Council is held by each of the members in turn for one month, following the English alphabetical order of the Member States names.
The list of nations that will hold the Presidency in 2017 is as follows:
Unlike the General Assembly, the Security Council meets year-round. Each Security Council member must have a representative available at UN Headquarters at all times in case an emergency meeting becomes necessary.
The Security Council generally meets in a designated chamber in the "United Nations Conference Building in New York City, U.S. The chamber was designed by the Norwegian architect "Arnstein Arneberg and was a gift from Norway. The mural painted by the Norwegian artist "Per Krohg depicts a "phoenix rising from its ashes, symbolic of the world's rebirth after World War II.
The Security Council has also held meetings in cities including "Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; "Panama City, Panama; and "Geneva, Switzerland. In March 2010, the Security Council moved into a temporary facility in the General Assembly Building as its chamber underwent renovations as part of the UN Capital Master Plan. The renovations were funded by Norway, the chamber's original donor, for a total cost of US$5 million. The chamber reopened on 16 April 2013.
Because meetings in the Security Council Chamber are covered by the international press, proceedings are highly theatrical in nature. Delegates deliver speeches to claim their points and justify their positions and attack their opponents, playing to the cameras and the audience at home. Delegations also stage walkouts to express their disagreement with actions of the Security Council. All of the real work of the Security Council is done behind closed doors in "informal consultations." No formal record is kept of the informal consultations.
In 1978, the West German government funded the construction of a conference room next to the Security Council Chamber. Only members of the Security Council are permitted in the conference room for consultations. The press is not admitted, and other members of the United Nations cannot be invited into the consultations. As a result, the delegations can negotiate with each other in secret, striking deals and compromises without having their every word transcribed into the permanent record. The privacy of the conference room also makes it possible for the delegates to deal with each other in a friendly manner. In one early consultation, a new delegate from a Communist nation began a propaganda attack on the United States, only to be told by the Soviet delegate, "We don't talk that way in here."
By the time a resolution reaches the Security Council Chamber, it has already been discussed, debated, and amended in the consultations. The open meeting of the Security Council has become a public ratification of a decision that has already been reached in private. A permanent member can cast a "pocket veto" during the informal consultation by declaring its opposition to a measure. Since a veto would prevent the resolution from being passed, the sponsor will usually refrain from putting the resolution to a vote. Resolutions are only vetoed if the sponsor feels so strongly about a measure that it wishes to force the permanent member to cast a formal veto.
The Security Council holds far more consultations than public meetings. In 2012, the Security Council held 160 consultations, 16 private meetings, and 9 public meetings. In times of crisis, the Security Council still meets primarily in consultations, but it also holds more public meetings. After the outbreak of the "Ukraine crisis in 2013, the Security Council returned to the patterns of the Cold War, as Russia and the Western countries engaged in verbal duels in front of the television cameras. In 2016, the Security Council held 150 consultations, 19 private meetings, and 68 public meetings.
Article 29 of the Charter provides that the Security Council can establish subsidiary bodies in order to perform its functions. This authority is also reflected in Rule 28 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure. The subsidiary bodies established by the Security Council are extremely heterogenous. On the one hand, they include bodies such as the Security Council Committee on Admission of New Members. On the other hand, both the "International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the "International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda were also created as subsidiary bodies of the Security Council. The by now numerous Sanctions Committees (see "Category:United Nations Security Council sanctions regimes) established in order to oversee implementation of the various sanctions regimes are also subsidiary bodies of the Council.
United Nations peacekeepers
After approval by the Security Council, the UN may send "peacekeepers to regions where armed conflict has recently ceased or paused to enforce the terms of peace agreements and to discourage combatants from resuming hostilities. Since the UN does not maintain its own military, peacekeeping forces are voluntarily provided by member states. These soldiers are sometimes nicknamed "Blue Helmets" for their distinctive gear. The peacekeeping force as a whole received the "Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.
In September 2013, the UN had 116,837 peacekeeping soldiers and other personnel deployed on 15 missions. The largest was the "United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), which included 20,688 uniformed personnel. The smallest, "United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), included 42 uniformed personnel responsible for monitoring the ceasefire in "Jammu and Kashmir. Peacekeepers with the "United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) have been stationed in the Middle East since 1948, the longest-running active peacekeeping mission.
UN peacekeepers have also drawn criticism in several postings. Peacekeepers have been accused of child rape, soliciting prostitutes, or sexual abuse during various peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Sudan and what is now South Sudan, Burundi and Ivory Coast. Scientists cited UN peacekeepers from Nepal as the likely source of the "2010–13 Haiti cholera outbreak, which killed more than 8,000 Haitians following the "2010 Haiti earthquake.
The budget for peacekeeping is assessed separately from the main UN organisational budget; in the 2013–2014 fiscal year, peacekeeping expenditures totalled $7.54 billion. UN peace operations are funded by assessments, using a formula derived from the regular funding scale, but including a weighted surcharge for the five permanent Security Council members. This surcharge serves to offset discounted peacekeeping assessment rates for less developed countries. In 2013, the top 10 providers of assessed financial contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations were the US (28.38%), Japan (10.83%), France (7.22%), Germany (7.14%), the United Kingdom (6.68%), China (6.64%), Italy (4.45%), Russian Federation (3.15%), Canada (2.98%), and Spain (2.97%).
Criticism and evaluations
In examining the first sixty years of the Security Council's existence, British historian "Paul Kennedy concludes that "glaring failures had not only accompanied the UN's many achievements, they overshadowed them", identifying the lack of will to prevent ethnic massacres in Bosnia and Rwanda as particular failures. Kennedy attributes the failures to the UN's lack of reliable military resources, writing that "above all, one can conclude that the practice of announcing (through a Security Council resolution) a new peacekeeping mission without ensuring that sufficient armed forces will be available has usually proven to be a recipe for humiliation and disaster."
A 2005 RAND Corporation study found the UN to be successful in two out of three peacekeeping efforts. It compared UN nation-building efforts to those of the United States, and found that seven out of eight UN cases are at peace. Also in 2005, the "Human Security Report documented a decline in the number of wars, genocides and human rights abuses since the end of the Cold War, and presented evidence, albeit circumstantial, that international activism—mostly spearheaded by the UN—has been the main cause of the decline in armed conflict since the end of the Cold War.
Scholar Sudhir Chella Rajan argued in 2006 that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, who are all nuclear powers, have created an exclusive "nuclear club that predominately addresses the strategic interests and political motives of the permanent members—for example, protecting the oil-rich Kuwaitis in 1991 but poorly protecting resource-poor Rwandans in 1994. Since three of the five permanent members are also European, and three or four are predominantly white Western nations, the Security Council has been described as a pillar of "global apartheid by Titus Alexander, former Chair of Westminster United Nations Association.
The Security Council's effectiveness and relevance is questioned by some because, in most high-profile cases, there are essentially no consequences for violating a Security Council resolution. During the "Darfur crisis, "Janjaweed militias, allowed by elements of the Sudanese government, committed violence against an indigenous population, killing thousands of civilians. In the "Srebrenica massacre, Serbian troops committed genocide against "Bosniaks, although "Srebrenica had been declared a UN "safe area, protected by 400 armed Dutch peacekeepers.
The "UN Charter gives all three powers of the "legislative, executive, and "judiciary branches to the Security Council.
In his inaugural speech at the "16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in August 2012, "Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized the United Nations Security Council as having an "illogical, unjust and completely undemocratic structure and mechanism" and called for a complete reform of the body.
The Security Council has been criticized for failure in resolving many conflicts, including Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Syria, Kosovo and the "Israeli–Palestinian conflict, reflecting the wider short-comings of the UN. For example; At the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, New Zealand Prime Minister "John Key heavily criticized the UN's inaction on "Syria, more than two years after the "Syrian civil war began.
Proposals to reform the Security Council began with the conference that wrote the UN Charter and have continued to the present day. As British historian Paul Kennedy writes, "Everyone agrees that the present structure is flawed. But consensus on how to fix it remains out of reach."
There has been discussion of increasing the number of permanent members. The countries who have made the strongest demands for permanent seats are Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan. Japan and Germany, the main defeated powers in WWII, are now the UN's second- and third-largest funders respectively, while Brazil and India are two of the largest contributors of troops to UN-mandated peace-keeping missions.
Italy, the third main defeated power in WWII and now the UN's sixth-largest funder, leads a movement known as the "Uniting for Consensus in opposition to the possible expansion of permanent seats. Core members of the group include Canada, South Korea, Spain, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey, Argentina and Colombia. Their proposal is to create a new category of seats, still non-permanent, but elected for an extended duration (semi-permanent seats). As far as traditional categories of seats are concerned, the UfC proposal does not imply any change, but only the introduction of small and medium size states among groups eligible for regular seats. This proposal includes even the question of veto, giving a range of options that goes from abolition to limitation of the application of the veto only to Chapter VII matters.
Former UN Secretary-General "Kofi Annan asked a team of advisers to come up with recommendations for reforming the United Nations by the end of 2004. One proposed measure 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 or South Africa) and/or one seat from the "Arab League. On 21 September 2004, the G4 nations issued a joint statement mutually backing each other's claim to permanent status, together with two African countries. Currently the proposal has to be accepted by two-thirds of the General Assembly (128 votes).
The permanent members, each holding the right of veto, announced their positions on Security Council reform reluctantly. The United States has unequivocally supported the permanent membership of Japan and lent its support to India and a small number of additional non-permanent members. The United Kingdom and France essentially supported the G4 position, with the expansion of permanent and non-permanent members and the accession of Germany, Brazil, India and Japan to permanent member status, as well as an increase in the presence by African countries on the Council. China has supported the stronger representation of developing countries and firmly opposed Japan's membership.
In 2017, it was reported that the G4 nations were willing to temporarily forgo "veto power if granted "permanent UNSC seat.
India's bid for permanent membership of UNSC is backed by 4 of the 5 permanent members; namely France, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States, although the United States initially opposed India's candidacy on grounds of nuclear proliferation, as India has acquired nuclear weapons and not signed the "Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. On 15 April 2011, "China officially expressed its support for an increased Indian role at the United Nations, without explicitly endorsing India's Security Council ambitions. Further, China expressed its support for Indian candidacy as a permanent member of the Security Council if India revoked its support for Japanese candidacy, thus making India the only candidate that has received some form of support from all permanent members and most other nations as well.
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- This figure and the figures that follow exclude vetoes cast to block candidates for Secretary-General, as these occur in closed session; 43 such vetoes have occurred.
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|""||Wikimedia Commons has media related to United Nations Security Council.|
- Official website
- UN Security Council Research Guide
- Global Policy Forum – UN Security Council
- Security Council Report — information and analysis on the Council's activities
- Center for UN Reform Education – information on current reform issues at the United Nations
- UN Democracy: hyperlinked transcripts of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council