UN Security Council Part I

UN Security Council 1

The Security Council consists of 15 of the total of 193 member states of the UN and is the most important forum for safeguarding international peace and security. UN countries are obliged to comply with the Security Council’s decisions. This means that the Security Council is dependent on being perceived as relevant to everyone. Relevance in this context can not only be ensured through the rotation scheme which gives most member states of the UN the opportunity to participate as elected members of the Security Council. As we shall see, the Security Council’s relevance also means that the decision-making process must be perceived as both legitimate and effective at the same time. We can say that the Security Council’s handling of international peace and security depends on balancing these two considerations. According to Bittranslators, UN stands for United Nations.

  • How is the division of power and labor in the Security Council?
  • What new development features can be observed in the work of the Security Council?
  • What consequences for the Security Council’s significance can it have if cases more than before are decided in the chamber among a few?
  • Why do many of the member countries want to join the Security Council?

Each year, five of the ten elected member states of the UN Security Council are replaced by elections among all member states. This is done to ensure the consideration of a representative and thereby legitimate Security Council. In 2014, this election was held on October 16, when Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela were elected. Norway has been elected to the Security Council for four periods: 1949–50, 1963–64, 1979–80 and 2001–2002, the next opportunity coming in 2021–2022.

2: About the Security Council

The trend in the last ten years in the Security Council shows that decisions are increasingly made through informal processes. This development reinforces an already skewed distribution of power in the Council, between permanent and elected member countries and can place the elected on the sidelines when the Security Council is facing important decisions.

The Security Council consists of 15 member countries :

  • five permanent(UK, France, China, Russia and USA) and
  • ten selected countries (according to a geographical distribution key) that sit for two years at a time.

The fact that five member states were given a permanent seat was a consequence of the geopolitical balance of power after World War II; it was the victors from the war who were given a permanent seat. In addition to permanent membership, they were also granted a veto . This means that no proposal for a decision will pass in the Security Council if a permanent member says no.

The countries that stand for election put a lot of honor and prestige at stake and therefore invest a significant amount of financial and political resources in the election campaign and the acquisition of supporters – preferably over several years. For selected member countries, a place in good company means a unique opportunity to influence international politics based on their own interests, values ​​and positions. The discussions and decisions around the well-known horseshoe table (in the hall where the Security Council holds its meetings) attract a lot of media attention. For international politics, it is similar to the role the catwalk plays for the fashion industry. A brief historical review can make it easier to understand the Security Council’s status and why the composition is as it is.

3: Folkeforbundet: a forerunner

In January 1918, US President Woodrow Wilson launched a 14-point plan to secure world peace after the devastating First World War. One of the points was to establish an organization of many states to ensure collective, international security. The proposal resulted in the League of Nations being established on 25 January 1919. The idea was to ensure peace by all member states committing to mediation in the League of Nations Council in difficult conflicts – before a conflict could have time to be armed. This council could impose sanctions and economic boycotts on countries designated as responsible for a conflict. Collective security was central in order to give the union the power to act, ie all member states should respondcollective action against any country that threatens the security of another state.

The League of Nations corresponds in many ways to the current Security Council. However, the union got off to a bad start, and the United States withdrew from the cooperation even before the union was established. As the international situation began to escalate in the 1930s, a number of conflicts – such as Italy’s attack on Ethiopia in 1935 – were nevertheless ignored in silence. The doctrine of collective security required that all countries, 60 at most, must reach an agreement before the union could act. This proved to be difficult to follow up and in practice contributed to weakening the association.

Several great powers, in addition to the United States, eventually chose to stay out of the League of Nations. The doctrine of collective security helped to make the union irrelevant and it thus lost the legitimacy it depended on to play an active role in international peace. The League of Nations’ rules of procedure, especially the doctrine of collective security, had given it a narrow birth and was an important reason for its abolition.

UN Security Council 1