Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Org type: Principal Organ

Head : Uganda(for October 2010)

Status :Active

Established :1946

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action. Its powers are exercised through United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946 at Church House, London. Since its first meeting, the Council, which exists in continuous session, has traveled widely, holding meetings in many cities, such as Paris and Addis Ababa, as well as at its current permanent home in the United Nations building in New York City.

There are 15 members of the Security Council, consisting of 5 veto-wielding permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States) and 10 elected non-permanent members with two-year terms. This basic structure is set out in Chapter V of the UN Charter. Security Council members must always be present at UN headquarters in New York so that the Security Council can meet at any time. This requirement of the United Nations Charter was adopted to address a weakness of the League of Nations since that organization was often unable to respond quickly to a crisis.


Thanking the member states of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that elected India as a non-permanent member of the organization on Tuesday, Union External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said diplomats working around the clock had ensured that India won well over the two-thirds required to record a win or endorsements from at least 128 members out of the total strength of 192.

Speaking at a late night news conference soon after the results were known, Mr. Krishna said it was the first time that India's close allies such as Brazil and South Africa, besides the five permanent members, will be represented on the UNSC.

India had no competitor from Asia group after the withdrawal of Kazakhstan earlier this year.

The last time India was part of the UNSC was in 1991-92. It suffered a shock defeat in 1996 when it lost to Japan despite banking on solidarity among developed countries. India will take over as a UNSC non-permanent member from Japan on January 1, 2011, for the seventh time.

However, on the issue of a permanent seat in an expanded UNSC, Mr. Krishna said the five permanent members were not as enthusiastic as developing nations and felt they were delaying the process. On the other hand, the Group of Four (G-4) — India, Brazil and Germany and Japan (with South Africa kept in the loop) — have been trying to hasten the process of reforms.

Despite “overwhelming” consensus among member countries, he pointed out that the expansion of the UNSC would be an uphill task unless the five permanent members were “willing to play ball with us.”

“The UN charter was written in 1945. We are now at the end of the first decade of the 21st century and we do not see UN reforms coming yet. But we are also aware of the severe limitations that are imposed by the other circumstances, where entrenched powers are not as enthusiastic as many developing countries,” he added.

Reform process

In New York, Mr. Krishna had urged the U.S. to take the lead in the reform process and work with Russia and China to address their “insecurities” regarding UNSC reform. In a meeting with the other G-4 members, he wanted them to continue working towards achieving early reform.


1. Exclusive Nuclear Club :There has been criticism that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, who are all nuclear powers, have created an exclusive nuclear club that only 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. Critics have suggested that the number of permanent members should be expanded to include non-nuclear powers, or abolishing the concept of permanency altogether.

2. The Veto Power Of The Five Permanent Nations: Another criticism of the Security Council involves the veto power of the five permanent nations; a veto from any of the permanent members may cripple any possible UN armed or diplomatic response to a crisis. John J. Mearsheimer claimed that "since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members." The practice of the permanent members meeting privately and then presenting their resolutions to the full council as a fait accompli has also drawn fire. On the other hand, a 2005 report by the American Institute for Peace on UN reform states that contrary to the equality of rights for all nations enshrined in the UN Charter, Israel continues to be denied rights enjoyed by all other member-states, and a level of systematic hostility against it is routinely expressed, organized, and funded within the United Nations system.+ Since 1961, Israel has been barred from the Asia regional group and therefore could not even theoretically be a member of the Security Council. In 2000, it was offered limited membership in the Western European and Others Group (WEOG).

3. Question Its Effectiveness And Relevance: Other critics and even proponents of the Security Council question its effectiveness and relevance 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" and was even protected by 400 armed Dutch peacekeepers.

4. Undemocratic: other critics call the UN undemocratic, representing the interests of the governments of the nations who form it and not necessarily the individuals within those nations. The UN Charter gives all three powers of the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches to the Security Council.

5. Five Permanent Members As Largest Arms Dealing Countries In The World : Another concern is that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are five of the top ten largest arms dealing countries in the world.

6. The Amount Of Time Devoted To The Israeli-Arab Conflict in the UNSC has been described as excessive by some pro-Israel political organizations and academics, like United Nations Watch, the Anti-Defamation League, Alan Dershowitz, Martin Kramer, and Mitchell Bard.


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