“The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell.” –Dag Hammarskjöld, UN Secretary-General, 1953-1961
The Security Council (UNSC) was established in 1946 as one of the six main organs of the newly formed United Nations. It is the primary peacekeeping force within the international organization and is charged with maintaining international security. Unlike the other committees in the U.N., the Security Council has the unique capability to issue sanctions and to authorize military action. The Security Council often creates subsidiary committees to enforce varying resolutions. The UNSC is made up of fifteen members, five of which are permanent and ten of which rotate biennially. The five permanent members include the nations that “won” the Second World War: France, United Kingdom, The United States, China, and The Soviet Union (now Russia) . There are ten additional rotating non-permanent members of the Security Council. The permanent states represented in the Security Council also maintain veto power, granting them the ability to unilaterally strike down any action proposed by the committee as a whole.
Under UNSC Resolution 1674, adopted in 2006, the Council once again affirmed its responsibility to intervene in cases of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and other crimes against humanity. Its mandate further calls for the protection of civilians in an armed conflict. Historically the Security Council has had an important role in ending armed conflicts between two nation states. One such example is UNSC Resolution 242, which effectively ended the Yom Kippur War between Israel and Palestine and is still considered the basis for current peace negotiations. More recently, the gross violations of human rights witnessed in Libya in 2011 prompted the UNSC to pass Resolution 1970, which called for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya. Most recently, in 2012 the Security Council has accounted for the issues in the Middle East and African nations.
One of the biggest weaknesses of the UNSC is entrenched in the veto power allotted to the five permanent members. As we have seen in situations ranging from issuing sanctions to sending peacekeeping forces, the Western nations (France, UK, and the US) tend to be against the Eastern powers (China and Russia). This has often led to continued violations of human rights and ultimately resulted in unilateral action by one member state. This, in effect, defeats the entire purpose of a Security Council and poses a threat to the validity of the entire organization. The UNSC remains a relevant entity in international peace building and security but cannot remain so if its members do not abide by its resolutions. This calls for a change in the structure of its entity for it to remain relevant and adequately representative of the entire United Nations’ membership, and not primarily the five most powerful nations.
- Resolving the Hong Kong Liberation Movement
- Addressing the Syrian-Turkey border situation