United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

The UN Charter gives the Security Council primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. The Council may convene at any time, whenever peace is threatened. In contrast to the decisions made by the General Assembly, all Member States are obligated under the UN Charter to carry out the Security Council’s decisions.

There are 15 Council members. Five of these — China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States — are permanent members. The other 10 are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. Member States continue to discuss changes in Council membership and working methods to reflect today’s political and economic realities. Decisions of the Council require nine yes votes. Except in votes on procedural questions, a decision cannot be made if there is a no vote, or veto, by a permanent member.

When the Council considers a threat to international peace, it first explores ways to settle the dispute peacefully. It may suggest principles to the parties for a peaceful settlement, appoint special representatives, ask the Secretary-General to use his good offices, or undertake investigation and mediation. It has developed and refined the use of non-military measures including arms embargoes, travel banks, and restrictions to guard against the exploitation of natural resources to fuel conflicts, as well as taking a lead role in the coordination of international counter-terrorism efforts. In the event that a dispute has erupted into armed conflict, the Council tries to secure a ceasefire. It may send a peacekeeping mission to help the parties maintain the truce and to keep opposing forces apart.

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