4: The Security Council – a supranational body
In April 1946, the union was united for the last time to decide to wind up. By then, the victors of World War II had already joined forces to form the UN, which was established on October 24, 1945. The establishment and design of the UN Security Council, with the right of veto, permanent and elected member states, is largely based on the experience of the League of Nations. According to Deluxesurveillance, LN stands for League of Nations. To prevent the UN from suffering the same fate, the responsibility for following up the doctrine of collective security was delegated to the Security Council’s 15 member countries, where the great powers had permanent membership and veto power. This was done to make the decision-making process simpler and more efficient than in its predecessor Folkeforbundet. This was especially true in matters concerning war and peace and collective security, as well as to ensure that the great powers participated in adopted operations.
When conflicts are brought before the Security Council, representatives of the fifteen members try to discuss a solution and a proposal for a resolution. If the proposal goes through, it will be a resolution . Sometimes decisions can be powerful and robust, other times contradictions between the fifteen can result in weak decisions – or the proposal may not go through at all. Each of the 15 members has one vote, and a motion for a resolution needs 9 or more votes to pass. In addition, it presupposes that none of the permanent members has vetoed . Sometimes members of the Security Council mark skepticism or opposition to a proposal by abstaining .
The Security Council is a supranational body , which means that all member states of the UN are obliged to follow up the Council’s decisions. In practice, it often happens that member states fail to follow up decisions, or that they do so passively. The Council has a mandate to ask member states to apply economic sanctions and other non-violent methods to stop the aggressive party in a conflict – the peacemaker. If this is not useful, the Security Council may decide to implement military coercive measures.
5: Informal processes and distribution of power
But it is not just the formal – the visible, open – conditions that count in the Security Council. Many of the decisions are made in informal processes outside the horseshoe table. This means that a case can in reality be decided before it comes to a final vote in the Security Council Chamber. The diplomats’ ” streetsmartness ” and how they navigate the more difficult, unmanageable waters outside the hall, has become more important to master in order to influence the Council’s decisions. This was the case for Norway during the previous membership in 2001–2002, and it will be even more important if Norway were to join the Security Council in 2020. The diplomats’ ability to navigate in these waters will still not be enough in the event of future membership. What happens in informal processes in the Security Council is namelyin the process of becoming a firmer element in the everyday life of the UN (becoming institutionalized) and leading to an even stronger distribution of power than what the UN Charter defines. In the last ten years in the Security Council, surveys show, decisions are increasingly made through informal processes before the cases reach the horseshoe table.
There may be several reasons for the outlined development. One explanation may be that an ever-increasing workload in the Security Council is difficult to handle as procedures (procedures) in the UN Charter dictate. Another possible explanation is that the development of informal processes contributes to a faster case processing in the council. A third possible explanation may be a need to avoid the floodlights of the media by resolving power-political entanglements backstage . In this way, an unnecessary static role play between the states is avoided, and the risk of positions locking up during case processing is reduced. Conflicts are then resolved in the back room through closed diplomatic channels.
This development reinforces the already skewed distribution of power in the Council and places the elected member countries increasingly on the sidelines in important issues. Examples of such informal practices in the Security Council are consultations and meetings between a few and selected countries with similar interests that are held independently of the official program of the Security Council. Other examples are groups of friends and influence over recruitment processes in the UN Secretariat. Internal power structures and divisions of labor – based on practices that over time have been established as a custom – are often dominated by the permanent member states.
Permanent membership means that these countries’ diplomats stay in New York for a longer period of time. This often results in a wider contact surface and better and denser networks. An example of practices that are dominated by the permanent member states is the allocation of the chairmanship of the Security Council. When the permanent countries assign the presidency to completely new, elected member countries, ie at the start of a membership period, the presidency becomes more receptive to the influence of the permanent members. Another example is when the permanent members take control at senior levels and delegate responsibility for sanctions committees and more thematic, subordinate matters to the elected member countries. A newer and very interesting informal practice is the pen holder scheme .