The Security Council of the United Nations [fr]
The Security Council is one of the 6 main organs of the United Nations. It is a restrained council of Member States in charge of the world peace and security. As the embodiment of cooperation between countries, the issue of its reform is frequently raised.
Composition and functions of the Security Council
The Security Council primary responsibility is to maintenance “international peace and security” according to (Article 24 of the UN Charter). It has to be able to function continuously.
The Security Council is composed of 15 members:
Five permanent (the winners of the Second World War: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States).
Ten elected members, elected for two years by the General Assembly, taking into account a geographical distribution. Each regional group has thus an allocated number of seats: 5 for Africa and Asia- Pacific, 2 for Latin America and the Caribbean, 1 for Eastern Europe and 2 for Western Europe and other States.
The Security Council Member States hold the presidency in turn, following the English alphabetical order, and agree on a Program of Work for the month to come.
Each member of the Council has one vote. Resolutions are adopted when supported by a majority of vote of nine out of fifteen votes. Permanent member States also have the right to veto. Any decision of the Council is rejected if one of the permanent member State uses it. France has not used its veto since 1989.
The decisions adopted by the Security Council are legally binding texts that apply to all UN Member States. When peace is seriously threatened, the Security Council can adopt resolutions imposing obligations or sanctions on one or more States.
The Council can:
Recommend procedures for peaceful settlement of disputes
Authorize the use of force to maintain or restore peace and security
Set up a peacekeeping operation (PKO)
Create sanction regimes
Establish international criminal tribunals
The Security Council can also decide to adopt other form of expressions, such as press statements or statement by the President of the Security Council, which are adopted by consensus.
The Security Council can also be seized by another UN Member State, regarding a question of peace and security, the General Assembly, or the Secretary-General.
A State whose interests are particularly affected by an issue discussed at the Security Council, can be invited to attend the meeting, however, without decision-making authority.
About the Security Council’s reform
The reform of the Security Council is regularly raised, in order to have better representativity and work effectiveness. Discussions on the reform are held at the General Assembly and focus on five main points :
the categories of members
the geographical representation
the relation between Council and General Assembly
the size of the broadened Council and its work methods
the question of the right to veto
France pushes for the expansion of the Security Council, supporting the accession to a permanent seat of Germany, Brazil, India, Japan, as well as a greater presence of African countries.
To avoid the paralysis of the Security Council, France also supports the framing of the use of veto by the five permanent members in case of mass atrocities. Initiated in 2013 by the President of French Republic François Hollande, France and Mexico launched a joint initiative to frame the use of veto in case of recognized mass atrocities (crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide or large-scale war crimes). This initiative has already received support by more than 100 countries.
The Security Council in video :