The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the principal organs of
the United Nations. According to article 24 of the UN Charter, the foundational
treaty of the United Nations, the UN Member States have conferred the primary
responsibility of maintenance of international peace and security to the
Security Council and have agreed that this body, in order to carry on this duty,
acts on their behalf. The Member States have agreed to accept and carry out the
decisions of the Security Council through article 25 of the Charter.
other organs of the United Nations can only make recommendations to governments,
the UNSC is the only organ capable of issuing resolutions that are legally
binding on all Member States. The Charter was prepared as well as the facts of
international life gave assurance that the peace and security provisions of the
Charter would reflect the special interests of the major powers and would be
based upon a full recognition of the importance of the power factor in
The study is employed with the doctrinal method of approach United Nations
Security Council Powers, Practice, and Effectiveness of Security Council.
The process of international common spirit and unity remained in growth though
the times have seen lawlessness and discord. In 1305 A.C a plan was proposed for
an alliance of the Christian Powers by Pierre Qubies, A French Lawyer. He
pleaded for the establishment of a permanent court of arbitration for the
settlement of disputes among the members of the alliance, though the same failed
to be defective for want of adequate machinery for interstate cooperation.
Another league known as the Hanseatic league was formed in 1315 which was a kind
of political organization formed for the promotion of trade. In the process,
many important steps in the development and establishment of international
organizations have taken place in the past such as the Grand Design 1603 a
scheme of the Duke of Sully. The Peace Treaty of Westphalia in the year which
legalized. The new order of European International relations, another treaty
known as the peace of Utrecht, 1713 which furthered the creation of several
sovereignties, the congress of Vienna held in Sept 1814 and June 1815 to answer
the claim of nearly every state of Europe and efforts were made to abolish
slavery, the opening of international boundaries to commerce for signatory
states who pledged to regulate by common consent regarding navigation.
Considerable development of international organization achieved through this
congress as the alleys consented to enforce the peace despite hostilities for
periodic conferences and maintenance of peace on big powers collaborations.
Resultantly, it contributed to a major organ of modem international organization
i.e. executive council of the great powers. The international peace conferences
held at Hague in 1899 and 1907 were notable as major diplomatic gatherings
convoked in time of peace with the involvement of a variety of subjects like the
business of international relations. The leading feature of the Hague system its
approach toward universality. The Hague approach was a call of intention to the
reality of global and to the problem of peace and thus rendered valuable service
in calling attentions to the fact there are difficult problem of international
organization itself. Thereafter public International Unions served a lot for the
global unity and co-operation.
Once world is in some respects on ideal and an
aspiration boom of modem, interpretations of ancient moral insights and of
rational estimates of the requirements of human survival, it is in other respect
a pressing reality, an actual condition of mankind produced by a century of
change that has tied all the peoples of the earth together in an unprecedented
intimacy of contact, Interdependence of welfare and mutability of
Vulnerability. Whether or not we obey the region's injection to behave like
brothers or attain the ethical objective of a peaceful world community, we human
beings cannot escape the hard fact that all of us are, as John Donne put it
"involved in Mankind." Given the existence of one world defined as a set of
objective conditions, disaster may be the price of failure to achieve one world
defined in terms of a moral and political ideal.
The development of the idea of international organization can be traced back to
the earliest of recorded history. In countries like China, India, Mesopotamia,
and Egypt contracts between rulers, and Kingdoms were not uncommon. There were a
fair agreement on diplomatic practices commercial relations treaties of
alliances codes of warfare and terms of peace. Man gone has observed that "the
treaties of the past are the first steps towards international organization".
Even amongst the Greeks treaties, alliances diplomatic practices and services
arbitration and other methods of peaceful settlement of disputes, rules of war
and peace leagues and confederations and other means for regulating interstate
relations were well known and widely used
The development of the idea of international organization as follows:
The Amphictyonic League of the Greeks 6th B.C.
This league was formed with the objective of creating international unity and
avoiding war. This league, though could not out war laid down the rule that the
frightfulness in the war was to be avoided.
Delos: 477 B.C.
In 477 B.C. confederation Delos composed the maritime state of Asia Minor Aegean
Island. The Cyclades, Euboea and many other city states on the shores of Thrace
and propones was formed. The member state provided for a common navy by making
contributions of ships and men.
The Achaean League of the Hellenes
This league was formed by the Greeks. In this league, they had about 70 member
states which enjoyed full autonomy. It must be observed that these
confederations of ancient Greece were confined to the race the Greeks and the
outside nations were not admitted as members.
The Romans made a different contribution to the growth of international
organizations. Though the idea of international organization was foreign to the
Romans they nonetheless contributed legal military and administrative techniques
and provided to the basis of the "Jus Gentium" which in later centuries became
an important source of international law. However, in one respect of the Roman
experience marked an advance over the Greek experience is as much "as it
consisted of many races and nationalities.
The Alliance of the Christian Powers: 1305
After the decline of the Roman Empire, the continent of Europe once again
relapsed into lawlessness and discord. Efforts were made by Charle Magire to
bring some order in an otherwise mad world, but these were short-lived. In 1305
Pierre Qubies a French Lawyer proposed a plan for an alliance of the Christian
powers. He pleaded for the establishment of a permanent court of arbitration for
the settlement of differences between the members of the alliance. The plan was
defective in so far as it failed to provide adequate machinery for inter-state
cooperation. In short, throughout the middle age alliances and associations of
political commercial and religious areas and groups were often formed.
The Hanseatic League; 1315
The association formed for the promotion of trade, which was also a kind of
political organization was the Hanseatic League. Another example of the famous
confederation which became the nucleus of the modem state of Switzerland was a
treaty among the Swiss cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Ulter Walden.
The Grand Design: 1603
The next multi-stone on the road of the development of international
organization was the scheme of Duke of Sully proposed in 1603. This is also
known as "The Grand Design" of Henry IV it envisaged the Christian Republic of
15 states to eliminate war and effect settlement of the dispute by peaceful
means. The Scheme failed because it was a little too radical. It was also very
narrow because it concentrated on the European states and their affairs and
could not be by any means a plan for universal peace.
The Peace Treaty of Westphalia -1648
This treaty was the next important step in the establishment of an international
organization. Although no international organization was established by the
Peace of Westphalia and no consideration was given to the economic and social
distress left in the territories wasted by the havoc of warfare Manage feels
that the Joining of practically every European state in a diplomatic conference
signaled the opening of a new era m international assembly "The Congress of
Westphalia little resemblance to the intricate organization of
twentieth-century" peace conferences. No officer presided; no committees
have formed no votes were taken. But the cities of negotiated the route between
Munster and Osnabruckwero neutralized from the war while both Papal Nunciochigi
and Ambassador Contarini of Venice acted as mediators for the plenipotentiaries
in Munster of the greatest importance to an international organization,
however/in a diplomatic conference which represented practically every political
interest in Europe and the achievement by negotiation rather than by the
dictation of two great multilateral treaties which legalized the new order of
European international relations.
The Peace of Utrecht: 1713
This treaty was another important step in the direction of establishing an
international organization. The treaty shattered imperial aspirations and
furthered the creation of several independent sovereignties. Three new dynasties
received international sanction viz protestant succession to the British throne
was recognized by France, and the Elector of Brandenburg took the title of
Prussia. Nice was also proclaimed the king of Sicily.
The Congress of Vienna: Sep. 1814 and June 1815
The Congress of Vienna marks the next important step in the direction of the
development of the international organization. This congress is significant
because unlike Westphalia and Utrecht. The deputies at Vienna met in a time of
peace to answer the claims of nearly every state of Europe. Prof. Mangone has
observed that by comparison with the pre-Napoleonic International gatherings the
Congress of Vienna made some remarkable advances towards the international
organization in the extent of (a) its political settlement (b) the diversity of
economic-social problems treated, (c) the procedure of the congress itself.
Apart from conforming France to its original boundaries, the settlement restored
territories to different countries which had been over-run by NapoleThe
neutralitylity of Switzerland was affirmed.
Development in 19th Century
The first of the three major streams of development whose rise may be traced to
the nineteenth century is the system of multilateral, high-level, political
conferences. Diplomacy: The traditional technique for conduct international
affairs was essentially a bilateral phenomenon, involving occasional
consultation and negotiation between two sovereigns or their representative's
larger-scale gatherings managers of foreign relating were not unknown before the
nineteenth century and the idea of such conferences had a respectable age. Thus,
Hugo Grotius, the so-called father of international law, opined in 1625 that:
"It would be advantageous, indeed in a degree necessary, to hold certain
conference of Christian powers, where those who have no interest at state may
settle the disputes of others and where, in fact, steps may be taken to compel
parties to accept peace on fair terms
Post The congress of Vienna in 1815 initiated a series of development that made
it visible to speak of a nineteenth-century conference system without precedent
in the modem world. This development involved a great deal more than the mere
multiplication of multilateral convocations. A major feature or the unsystematic
system was the frank assumption by the most powerful states, the term -"great
power" took on definite meaning and became something like a formally established
category after 1815. The concert of Europe was an exclusive club for great
powers, whose members were self-appointed guardians of the European Community
and executive directors of its affairs. They sometimes admitted European small
fry to their splendid presence and occasionally failed to dominate the scene as
completely as they wished, but they left no room for doubt that the concert of
the great powers.
Before the nineteenth century Europe was no preoccupied with the sovereign
dignity that they were virtually unable to do anything more at international
conferences than argil about questions of precedence and prestige. In planning
for a peaceful European order William Pen felt compelled to stipulate that
sovereigns should meet in a round room with many doors so that substantive
discussions should not be delayed by long arguments about who should have the
privilege of entering first into the room Rousseau described the international
conference as places "where we deliberate in common council whether the table
will be round or square, whether the hall will have more doors or less, whether
such and such a plenipotentiary will have his fact or back turned toward the
The Hague System
A new sort of international conclave was instituted at The Hague in 1899 and
1907. The conscious construction of a distinctive "Hague System" of
international relations was interrupted all too soon by the outbreak of world
war but the beginning that had been made was significant enough to figure as one
of the major contributions of the nineteenth century to the present day world
organization. The two "International Peace Conferences" held at the Hague,
under initial impetus provided by Czar Nicholas II of Russia, was notable as
major diplomatic, gatherings convoked in time of peace to deal with a variety of
subjects involved in the business of international relations. Although the
original motivations behind the Hague conferences were questionable. (It has
been alleged that the Czar was actuated less by sincere desire to promote peace
than by worry about Russia's financial disadvantage in the armaments
competition) and their immediate results were not universally regarded as
promising (the London times held that the conference of 1907 "was a sham and has
brought forth a progeny of shams, because it was founded on a sham,9 it is clear
that The Hague meetings were envisaged as steps toward a more adequate
organization of the state system and it is. From that point of view that they
will, be discussed other. This aspect of The Hague conferences was emphasized by
the attention which was given to the task of institution-building for our
purposes the primary historical importance of the meeting of 1899 and 1907 lies
in the fact that a major concern of the participant was to "create"' devices and
agencies which would be permanently at the disposal of states.
World War I - Birth of the League Of Nations
The immediate origins of the League of Nations are to be found in the
development of both private and public schemes during the world war 1st of
1914-1918, particularly in the United States which took place at parts as a part
of the diplomatic enterprise of bringing the war to a formal conclusion.
Unofficial consideration of the possibility of making a great new experiment in
international organization flourished during the years of hostilities, under the
leadership of such groups of prominent and influential citizens as those who
united in the league to Enforce Peace in the United in the League of Nations
Society in Britain.tes and Great Britain and in the negotiations.
In the American Senate covenant and the treaties of which it was a part ran into
irreconcilable opposition. Several groups of amendments "were offered but to no
avail and in the 'end the senate rejected both the league and the proposed peace
settlement. Despite this rejection the covenant was adopted by enough nations so
that on January 10, 1920, it went into force. The membership of League of
Nations was shifting matter, as new members were admitted from the time to time
and old ones withdraw. During most of the league's history the total membership
was somewhere in the middle fifties, as 'of December 31, 1938, there were
fifty-eight states in the organization. Among the great powers, Germany was
admitted in 1926 and in 1933 she gave notice of other intentions to withdraw.
Russia was admitted in 1934 and in 1940 the council voted to expel her. A
large number of withdrawals in 1938 and 1939 and the extinction of other members
by conquest (Australia and Ethiopia) reduced the membership to forty-nine by the
time world war broke out.
The organization of the league included an Assembly, a council, a secretariat,
and a number of auxiliary organizations of a technical nature (such as the
Health Organization, the permanent Mandates commission, and 'the Intellectual
Go-operation Organization); The International labor organization and the
Permanent" Court of International Justice were not parts of the league of
nations, but there were several points of contact; between three organizations,
as for instance in financial matters where all were taken care of by -the same
The Assembly of the league was the representative organ to which all members
sent delegations with each entitled to one vote. It met for its regular session
at Geneva in September of evils year, and it met occasionally in extraordinary
sessions. The president of the Assembly was elected by that body at the
beginning of each regular session. There were six principal committees through
which much of the work of the organ was done -
(a) Legal and Constitutional Questions
(b) Technical Organizations
(c) Reduction of armaments
(d) Budgetary Questions
(e) Social and General Questions G. Political Questions
The Assembly was authorized "To deal at its meeting with any matters within the
sphere of action of the league or affecting the peace of the world. It exercised
electoral function in several instances, approving the. appointment of secretary
General, electing judges to the Permanent Court of International Justice (with
the council), and electing non-permanent members of 'the' council, one 'of the
most reaching duties of the Assembly was' that formulating and- approving the
budget, an activity which provided an opportunity to give some direction to the
work of the league 'and its affiliated bodies. Still another function of the
Assembly was to admit new members. One of the most useful contributions of the
Assembly to the day and age in which it dimply its provision: of-a forum for the
discussion of international problems on the basis of free speech, many indeed
were the international problems debated from its rostrum.
The council was to be composed of nine states, of which five. The United States,
The United Kingdom, France, Italy and Japan were to: be permanent members with
the other four nonpermanent members selected by the Assembly. The rejection
of the covenant by the United States left the organ) with only four permanent
seats. Under the authority of Article-4 of the covenant, this provided that,
"with the approval of the majority of the Assembly, the council may appoint
additional members of the league whose representatives shall always be members
of the council", Germany and Russia were given permanent seats during the
periods when; they were? in the-league. Using a similar procedure, as authorized
by the covenant the number of nonpermanent members; of the council was increased
to six in 1922, to nine in 1926, to ten in 1933, and eleven in; 19361 By1939
there were a total of fifteen states in the council. At times there was lively
competition for nonpermanent seats in the council and during the league's
history several states; Brazil, Spain 'and' Poland were miffed that they were
not given permanent seats.
The secretariat headed by Secretary-General was the chief administrative organ
of the league. The international civil service which its staff constituted was
made up of some 650 staff members. The complaint was common for a long-time tilt
there were too many British, French 'and Italian nationals within the
secretariat and consequently, in 1932 the Assembly inaugurated reform measures
that prevented too many nationals of any one state from holding posts at the
same time. There were in the secretariat fifteen sections (Political legal,
information, minorities, mandates, economic relations, etc.) eight
administrative services (personnel office, publications service, internal
services, registry, direction of personnel and internal administration,
documents service, stenographic service and secretariat" of the staff pension
fund) and a library all located at Geneva several auxiliary offices were
maintained in other cities. The duties of the secretariat were many and varied.
Among them were the following, registering and publishing treaties, and
assisting in the drafting of the agenda of the council. Assembly and other
organs, providing secretarial services in those bodies; exercising custody over
the records of the various meeting within the league, and publishing documents
and other materials. There were not spectacular activities but they were most
vital to the proper functioning of the organization.
The Failure of the League Of Nations
The International Consultative Group of Geneva published a careful analysis of
"the conditions that had led to the league's downfall. The group expressed the
opinion that "The failure of the United States to ratify and thereby become a
member) was certainly that hardest blow to the new institution. It mentioned
also the split which developed between them. France and Great Britain, the
tendency of "the latter "to pull away from Europe", the lack of Farsighted
leadership in the nations, the problem of Germany, social disco,ntent and
"spiritual anarchy"'. TNs stress by the group upon adverse attitudes and
conditions within the states rather "than upon organizational inadequacies
appeared quite convincing in view of the fact that the league had, and could
have, little life other than imparted to if by the nations which were its
The Machinery of the league of Nations could be criticized for many points its
voting methods, its lack of effective sanctions, the right of members to
withdraw, and so on whether these weaknesses could have been eliminated by
members devoted to power politics and often seething with economic and political
unrest in doubtful, and even; had. the defects have been eliminated on paper, it
is not certain that the nations could have fitted themselves into the more
powerful-world organization that would- have resulted. In his last days
President Wilson expressed the view that the league had failed in the senate
because "The American people were not ready for it". As the United States
contributed to the downfall of the league from the outside, so did many of its
members from the inside. The world as a whole did not appear ready for it
World War II
The United Nations arose on the ashes of the League of Nations. The failure" of
the "League" to prevent war and to promote peace strengthened the conviction of
the people all over the world that an effective system of collective security
was absolutely essential by this time' even the 'United States of America was
willing to enter a system of collective security. However, no effort was made to
revive the league of Nations' and it was decided to start all over again. Some
of the important meetings and conferences, ultimately led to the establishment
of the United Nations.
St. James Palace Declaration (June 12, 1941)
The first step toward this world's most prestigious democratic organization was
taken by the time Exiled government in London (Greece, Belgium, Czechoslovakia,
Luxembourg Netherland, Norway, Poland, and Yugoslavia).'Gen'. De. Gaulle of
France was also there and the U.K.,' Australia. New Zealand and South Africa
also expressed their desire to establish peace in the world and signed a
declaration on 1 June 1941 at St. James Palace expressed in writing.
The Atlantic charter-(August 14, 1941)
The Machinery of the league of Nations could be criticized at many points its
voting methods, its lack of effective sanctions, the right of members withdraw,
and so on whether these weaknesses could have been eliminated by members devoted
to power politics and often seething with economic and political unrest in
doubtful, and even; had. the defects been eliminated on paper, it is not certain
that the nations could have fitted themselves into the more powerful'-world
organization that-would- have resulted. In his last days, President Wilson
expressed the view that the league had failed in the senate because "The
American people were not ready for it". As the United States contributed to the
downfall of the league from the outside, so did many of its members from the
inside. The world as a whole did not appear ready for it.
The Declaration of the United Nations- (January 1, 1942)
This declaration was issued after a few weeks after the Pearl Harbor incident.
In this declaration, which was signed 'on new year's Day by Roosevelt, Churchill Litvinov, and song for' 'their respective governments and by the representatives
of twenty-two Other states on the following day, the signatories pledged all
their recourses in the common struggle against their enemies until complete
victory was won. This declaration was later on signed by other states also who
entered the side of the United Nations.
The Casablanca Conference (Jan. 1943)
In January 1943, Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt met the French
representative in the city of casa balance in North Africa to plan the invasion
of Italy and Sicily. They agreed on a formula of Unconditional surrender talked
over terms of peace and discussed the role of theft" respective countries in the
The Moscow Declaration (Oct 30-1943)
The Moscow declaration of October '30, 1943 Signed by Molot over for the Soviet
Union, Eden for Great Britain Hull for the United States, and Pooping sheung for
china, was probably one of the most important steps in the direction of forming
the U.N. By this declaration the four -Great, powers declared that they
recognize the 'necessity of establishing at the earliest practical date a
general international organization, based on the principle of sovereign equality
of all peace-loving states and open' to membership by all'-such states, large;
and small, for the maintenance of international peace and security.
The Tehran Conferences (Nov. 1943)
President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and Premier Stalin met in Tehran
and issued a joint statement on Dec. 1, 1943. by which they accepted the supreme
responsibility to make* a peace that will command the goodwill of the
overwhelming mass of the people of the world and banish the scourge and terror
of war for many generations. They further sought the cooperation and active
participation of all nations, large and small whose peoples in heart and mind
were dedicated to the elimination of tyranny and slavery, oppression, and
The Bretton Woods Conference (July 1944)
The representatives of Forty-four nations, acting on the assumption that no
peace could last if economic and financial chaos prevailed met at San Francisco
and drew up an agreement by which
(a) The International Bank for reconstruction and development.
(b) The International Monetary Funds were established. Both these agencies are
now, actively functioning as specialized agencies of the United Nations
The Dumbarton Oaks Conference (Aug-Oct 1944)
The Oaks conference held in Washington from Aug-21, 1944-to Oct. 7, 1944, was
the next major step in the development of the United Nations charter. The
proceedings of the conference can broadly be divided into two phases. In the
first phase, representatives of the United States/the United Kingdom and the
Soviet Union conferred premix weeks on the main outlines, of the proposer
international organization. In the second phase, the representatives of the
Soviet Union were dropped and replaced by those of China. The proposals for the
establishment of a General International Organization were published on Oct. 9,
1944 and were sent to all the other United Nations governments for review. These
proposals can very well be considered the first draft of the United Nation
charter. However, they were briefer than the final charter, particularly in
respect to economic and 'functional organization. However, the two documents
basically resembled each other.
The Yalta Conference (Feb. 1945.)
The question of voting procedure in the Security Council which remained unsolved
at Dumbarton Oaks was taken up at the Yalta conference held in February 1945 and
was discussed there by President Roosevelt,' 'Prime Minister Churchill, and
Marshal Stalin. These powers also drafted plans for the Occupation and control
of defeated Germany and for-keeping order in liberated Europe. The veto formula
later embodied in the U.N. charter was also finalized at the Yalta Conference.
Finally, it was decided to hold a full- Scale United Nations conference to
Convene in san Francisco on April 25, 1945.
Mexico city Conference (Feb-March-1945)
The Representatives of twenty American republics met in Mexico and discussed
questions of inter-American defense and cooperation. They reached a:
far-reaching understanding of the defense of America and prepared for the
forthcoming San Francisco conference.
The San Francisco Conference (April-June-26 1945)
In accordance with the Yalta Schedule, 46 governments sent delegates to San
Francisco and four additional governments were invited subsequently. The 282
delegates included foreign ministers Eden and Molotov and secretary of state
sestinas as well as the foreign ministers of the lesser countries. These
delegates brought with them some 1,444 assistants, The International
Secretariat, consisting primarily of American Government Officials and
professors topped 1,000. The world's press and radio services sent 2,636 of
their leading writers and commentators to tell the story of the conference as it
Birth of the United Nations - (Oct. 24, 1945)
Two months of negotiations at San Francisco resulted in agreement by the
participating nations to a document consisting of 19 chapters and 111 articles.
The governments specified the purposes for which they were joining together
accepted obligations, and created machinery for international collaboration and
the process by which it would function. They also placed limitations upon the
organization, two steps to guard their sovereignty, reserved to themselves the
right to withdraw and anticipated the need for the review and probable
modification at another constitutional conference. Appended was the "statute of
the international court of Justice" of 5 chapters and 70 articles, all of which
was considered an integral part of the charter.
The United Nations charter was signed on June 26, 1945. The charter came into
force on Oct. 24, 1945 by which time China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom,
the United States and a majority of the other signatories had ratified the
document. It was launched on the perilous international seas on January 10, 1946
when the first session of the General Assembly commenced in London.
First plans were drawn up for an organization to maintain the postwar peace, it
was clear that those countries primarily responsible for the conduct of the war
against the Axis would occupy a "special" position within the new organization.
It came to be realized, however, that any plan concentrating the power to
maintain peace exclusively in their hands was unlikely to prove attractive to
other nations. As a result, it was decided that the Security Council, the body
primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security should
include a number of elected nonpermanent members representing the interest of
all states in the preservation of peace. At the same time, the "Big Three" -
The Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States - were expanded to
the "Big Five." Although skeptical of Roosevelt's views of China's ability to
play a major role in the postwar world, Churchill and Stalin accepted the
inclusion of China as one of the states that was to have a special position in
the new Organizations. Churchill's insistence upon including France among this
small elite group was accepted with somewhat similar skepticism by Roosevelt and
Stalin as to the postwar position of France.
Delegates assembled at San Francisco to adopt the Charter of the United Nations,
they were faced with an agreement among the major powers that the Security
Council of the new Organization should be composed of five permanent members and
six members to be elected by the General Assembly. Although various proposals
were made to modify the provisions regarding the composition of the Council,
only one - concerning criteria for the election of non permanent members - was
The Charter lists the permanent members of the Security Council as the "Republic
of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America." At the
San Francisco Conference, it was suggested that a phrase be added identifying
the permanent members as those "having the greatest responsibility for the
maintenance of peace" to justify the special position accorded them, but this
suggestion was rejected.
The Charter also effectively blocks the development of a class of semi- or quasi
permanent Council members by declaring that no retiring member is eligible for
reelection to the Security Council. The guarantee of continuous membership in
the Security Council is only one of the prerogatives accorded to the "permanent
members" under the Charter. The concurrence of all five of them is, with few
exceptions, needed before the Security Council can make any substantive
decision. No amendment to the Charter can become effective unless ratified
by all the permanent members. Indeed, the Charter itself could not come into
force until all five had deposited their instruments of ratification. The
special position of the permanent members with regard to the maintenance of
international peace and security is further emphasized in other articles. They
alone are members of the Military Staff Committee. As a "transitional"
arrangement, these five powers were to "consult" with a "view to joint
action on behalf of the Organization" for maintaining peace until the time when
the entry into force of arrangements under Article 43 enabled the security
Council to exercise its responsibilities under Article 42.
Election of Non-Permanent Members
At the San Francisco Conference there was widespread interest in criteria for
selecting the nonpermanent members of the Security Council. The Latin America
States, almost without exception, sought to assure the adequate representation
of their region either through a "permanent" seat or a definite allocation of
the non permanent seats. Others, such a Egypt and the Philippines, also favored
some form of regional representation. Still others, some of the Western European
states and some of the Commonwealth Members, sought to protect the position of
the so-called "middle powers" by linking the distribution of Council Seats to
the distributions of states to the maintenance of peace. Possible criteria
considered during the discussions at San Francisco included the following;
Geographical distribution, rotation, contribution of the members of the
Organizations towards the maintenance of international peace and security and
towards the other purposes of the Organizations, guaranties concerning the
active defense of international order and means to participate substantially in
it, Combinations of elements including population, industrial and economic
capacity, future contributions in armed forces and assistance pledged by each
member state, contributions rendered in the second World War, and so on; also
special assignment of non-permanent seats to certain groups of nations.
Distribution of Non-Permanent Seats
The pattern established at the first session of the General Assembly for the
distribution of non permanent seats in the Security Council was as follows: two
for Latin America and one each for the Common-wealth, Western Europe, the Middle
East, and Eastern Europe. This distribution was in part the result of a
"gentleman's agreement," the exact nature of which has been the subject of
controversy. It was decided to increase the number of non permanent members from
six to ten. In its resolution approving this amendment to the Charter, the
General Assembly decided that the seats should be allocated as follows" five for
Africa and Asia; one for Eastern Europe; two for Latin America; and two for
Western European and "Other States." On December 10, 1965, the General Assembly
held its first elections under the amended Article 23. It chose Argentina,
Bulgaria, Japan, Mali and Nigeria for two year terms, and New Zealand and Uganda
for one-year term.
Each Member of the Security Council shall have one representatives. This is
similar to the provisions for representation in the other two Councils and
contrasts with the five representatives each member is allowed in the General
Assembly. The Council's Provisional Rules of Procedure require that the
credentials of a representative be communicated to the Secretary - General "not
less than twenty-four hours" before the representative takes his seat on the
Council. An exception is made for the heads of government and ministers of
foreign affairs, who may sit on the council without having submitted
credentials. In 1950 the Rules were revised to add a requirement that "credentials shall be issued either by the Head of the State or of the
Government concerned or by its Minister of Foreign Affairs" 
Functions and Powers
Article 24 establishes the basic principle of the "primary responsibility" of
the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security. By
the term of this article, members not only "confer" this responsibility on the
Council but agree that in carrying out its duties the Council "acts on their
behalf'. Any decisions of the Security Council taken in discharge of its
responsibilities must, therefore, be considered as action taken by the
Organization as a whole. All members share in any responsibilities the Council
assumes and all are subject to any obligation it imposes. Decisions of the
Council apply equally to any obligation in favor and those voting against, as
well as to those members which, not being represented on the Council; have no
opportunity to vote at all. This point has been of Special concern to some of
nonpermanent council members.
The "Primary responsibility" for the maintenance of international peace and
security upon the Security Council, the founders of the Organization recognized
that organ as best fitted, by virtue of size and composition, to insure "prompt
and effective action". This effort to associate responsibility with power was
viewed by many as one of the major advances of the Charter of the United Nations
over the League system, in which the powers of the Council and the Assembly were
largely identical. At the San Francisco Conference, numerous attempts were made
to diminish the primacy of the Security Council, principally through enlarging
the powers and responsibilities of the General Assembly and regional
organizations. In both respects, provisions were added to the Charter spelling
out these responsibilities in greater detail, but the primary position of the
Council, particularly with regard to enforcement measures, remained intact, the
Text of Article 243 corresponds to the Dumbarton Oaks draft with the single
addition of a paragraph requiring the Council to submit reports for the
consideration of the Assembly.
"Specific powers granted to the Security Council" are laid down in chapters VI,
VII, VIII and XII of the Charter. This statement raises the question whether the
Council has these powers only or whether it may exercise such other powers,
consistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter, as are necessary for
it to discharge its responsibilities. The latter, more liberal interpretation
has been generally accepted.
The general powers of the Security Council came up the first time the Council
was called upon to consider a matter relating to the maintenance of
international peace and security. The specific question was whether the council
could retain on its agenda the complaint by Iran against the Soviet Union
despite a request by Iran that it be removed. The restricted interpretation of
the Council's powers, as most fully developed in a memorandum by the
Secretary-General, was that the Council could not retain its jurisdiction over
the question in the absence of a specific exercise by the Council of its powers
under Chapter VI. The majority of the Council members took a much broader view.
The representative of Mexico, for example, held that Article 24 "invests the
Council with implied power wider in scope than the specific powers" enumerated
in paragraph 2 of that article.
Limitation on Powers
The Security Council "shall act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles
of the Charter". The reference here is to the specific provisions of Article 1
and 2 of the Charter. The San Francisco Conference, various attempts were made
to restrict the powers of the Council even further. Norway sought to alter the
terms of Article 24 (2) so as to require the Council to act not only in
accordance with "the purposes and principles of Charter" but also in accordance
with the "provisions of the Charter, and the consideration that no solution
should be imposed upon a State of a nature to impair its confidence in its
future security or welfare." This proposal was defeated, as were more indirect
efforts to limit the powers of the Council, such as the introduction of a
definition of aggression, and the proposed alteration of Article 1 (1), which
would have made the phrase "in conformity with the principles of justice and
international law" apply not only to the functions of pacific settlement but
also to any action taken with regard to threats to the peace, breaches of the
peace, and acts of aggression.
Reports to the General Assembly
The Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of
international peace and security; it is obligated to render an account to the
General Assembly of the measures it takes in this regard. The Dumbarton Oaks
Proposals recognized the right of the Assembly to receive such reports. At the
San Francisco Conference, the statement of this function of the Assembly was
expanded and the obligation of the Security Council reiterated by the addition
of paragraph 3 to Article 24. The annual reports of the Security Council merely
summarize the activities of the Council and in practice are not even discussed
by the Assembly. It is not clear whether "special reports" are to be submitted
when considered "necessary" by the Security Council or by the General Assembly.
The only special reports the Council has submitted have been in connection with
the admission of new members. Even when the Council has considered a matter at
the instigation of the General Assembly, it has not considered it necessary to
render a special accounting to the Assembly, although on occasion it has
requested the Secretary General to transmit to the Assembly the records of its
Binding Force of Decisions
The United Nations under Article 25 are the direct consequence of the authority
conferred on the Security Council under Article 24. If members agree that the
Security Council, in discharging its "primary responsibility" for the
maintenance of international peace and security, acts on their behalf, it is
logical that they should also agree to accept and carry out decisions taken by
the Council in discharge of that responsibility.
At San Francisco, Belgium sought to limit the obligations of members to those
decisions taken by the Security Council in exercise of its powers under Chapter
VI, VII and VIII of the Charter. Considered unduly restrictive by some
delegates, this proposal failed to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority
vote. During the debate in the Security Council on the Statute for the Free
Territory of Trieste, the Security General cited the rejection of the Belgian
amendment to support the conclusion that members were obligated to accept and
carry out decisions of the Council, whether taken in accordance with its general
or specific powers
VOTING - Article 27
Each member of the Security Council shall have one vote is a usual one and has
not been the occasion of any controversy. The special interest of Article 27 and
its highly controversial nature arise from the provision of paragraphs 2 and 3
which determine voting procedure and provide that in votes on nonprocedural
matters, different consequences attach to the votes of permanent and
nonpermanent members. Any one of the permanent members can prevent a decision
from being taken on a nonprocedural matter, subject only to the qualification
that a party to a dispute must abstain from voting.
The justification for it at the time the Charter was adopted was the special
responsibility assumed by and placed upon the major military powers for the
maintenance of international peace and security. Efforts to reduce the special
voting privileges of the permanent members at San Francisco failed because the
major military powers made these the firm conditions of their participation in
the United Nations.
At San Francisco, serious criticism was directed against the Sponsoring
Governments proposals, particularly the third paragraph requiring great power
unanimity for substantive decisions. Numerous amendments were proposed by other
governments participating in the Conference which had as their purpose to
restrict the so-called "veto power" of a permanent member.
A list of questions was prepared by representatives of members of the
subcommittee other than the Sponsoring State, and was submitted to the latter
for their answers. Their discussion extended over a two-week period. A direct
appeal to Marshal Stalin in Moscow was necessary before agreement was reached
that the veto would not apply to a decision to consider and discuss a dispute or
situation. The Soviet Union insisted firmly that the requirement of concurrence
of the permanent members should apply to the preliminary question whether a
decision was on a procedural or nonprocedural matter. The four-power agreement
took the form of a statement by the Sponsoring Governments with which France
associated itself. It did not address itself directly to the specific questions
that had been raised by the other delegates. The agreed statement was presented
to the subcommittee by the United States delegate on June 8, 1945.
Decisions of the Security Council shall be taken by "an affirmative vote of
seven members". This differed from the requirement for General Assembly
decisions of a majority or two-third majority of the members present and voting,
and for decisions of the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council
of a simple majority of those present and voting. The Security Council
requirement was introduced originally to insure that the support of at least two
nonpermanent members would be necessary to a decision. With the increase in the
size of the Council, the support of at least four nonpermanent members becomes
necessary. The Council participates with the General Assembly in fixing the date
and place of meeting of a General Conference to review the Charter, it takes its
decision by a vote of any seven members. According to Council precedents, this
would not be considered a procedural question and the vote prescribed must be
regarded as an exception to the requirements of Article 27. A second exception
occurs in connection with the election of judges of the International Court of
Justice. When the Council is performing that function, along with the General
Assembly, an absolute majority of votes is required for election. Furthermore,
it is specifically stated that no distinction is to be made between permanent
and non permanent members. The number of votes required to constitute an "absolute majority" has not thus far been in doubt as voting has always taken
place with all members of the Council present. It would appear to be consistent
with the interpretation given to the phrase at San Francisco to require an
absolute majority of the total membership.
Non Member Participation - Article. 31
a) System of Participation
Rule 37 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure is worded almost identically with
Art.31 of the Charter. According to these provisions, a non-member of the SC may
participate in the deliberations of the Council if its interests are 'specially
affected'. The literature so far seems to have assumed that no right to
participation can be deduced from these rules, but this opinion stands on a weak
Rule 39, the SC is empowered to extend the right of participation in its
deliberation to members of the Secretariat or to other persons, provided it
considers that it may obtain information or other assistance for the discussion
of measures within its jurisdiction by doing so. The provisions laid down in the
Headquarters Agreement of 1947 indicate that the host state does not, as a rule,
enjoy the right to deny entry to persons authorized by the SC on the basis of
domestic immigration rules.
b) Pre-conditions to Participation
Art. 31 of the UN Charter only permit member states of the UN to participate in
the discussion of the SC; non-members are invited to participate only when they
are parties to a dispute (Art.32). The only pre-condition to participation under
Art.31 consists in the requirement that the interest of the State concerned are,
in the view of SC 'specially affected'. It is obvious that this wording will be
open to interpretation in each individual case; the potential effects of a war
in the nuclear age, for instance, highlight the relative character of the
formula chosen in Art.31. In the light of the wording of Art.31, it might be
argued that a State is not 'specially affected' if the consequences of a SC
resolution touch upon fundamental interests of the international community as a
whole. However, the practice of the SC has so far been to assume that the right
of the State to participate is not diminished by the fact that other states of a
region or continent are affected in the same manner. In addition to questions
about the specific effect upon a state and about the distinctions between the
respective situations of the individual state and the other states, there exists
a question about the degree of intensity to which the interests of a state must
be affected. To a certain extent, the wording of Art.31 avoids problems of
interpretation in this context by allocating the power to decide 'such manners'
exclusively to the SC.
c) Procedure of Participation
The initiative for the participation of a non-member can be taken either by the
SC or by the State affected. No duty to participate on the part of the State
invited by the SC can be deduced from the Charter. In practice, it will usually
be the State affected which will make the request; in this case, the President
of the Council will give notice of the application and will ask whether any
objections are to be put forward. If no consensus exists in the Council, a vote
on the request will follow. According to established, legally unobjectionable
practice, this vote must be regarded as a procedural matter in which the right
to veto in inoperative; in recent years the Soviet Union has not repeated its
former view to the contrary.
Invited Member Participation - Art. 32
a) Party to a Dispute
The rule lays down on the part of the SC to invite a non-member of the SC if it
must be considered a party to a dispute; with regard to non-members of the UN,
the special Rule in sentence 2 applies. The application of the term 'party to a
dispute' has led to practical problems. The characterization of a situation as a
dispute within the meaning of Art.32 will compel the legal conclusion that the
parties to the dispute are required to abstain from voting (Art.27 (3)); this is
relevant whenever members of the SC are involved. Once it has been accepted that
a dispute exists, the duty to negotiable and the jurisdictional rules enunciated
Chapter VI of the UN Charter will apply.
Construction would appear to be legally permissible and could facilitate a
decision with regard to participation under Art.32 in the exceptional case. In
practice, the J. X.A problems indicated here have been avoided by the Council in
cases of doubt through reference to Art.31 instead of Art.32. This possibility
for avoiding the constructive problems of Art.32, however, exists only where the
participating states are members of the UN. In the case of non-members, whose
participation is explicitly provided for in Art.32, participation on the basis
of Rule 39 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the SC may at first sight
offer an alternative. In the final analysis, this alternative is no solution,
since the legal position of the State invited under Art.32 of the Charter is not
identical to that of a person participating under Rule 39. Therefore, under
these circumstances, the procedure indicated above, involving an explicit
qualification on the right to participate and its attendant legal consequences
might be preferable.
b) Participation by non member of UN
The participation of a non-member of the UN is at issue, there may be a
controversy as to whether a state is involved or a non-state actor is involved.
Art.32 of the Charter recognizes a right to participation in the deliberations,
this legal situation may entail that, where a controversy exists over the
statehood of the party concerned, the decision on participation under Art.32 may
in some cases depend upon a judgment on the existence of a State. Thus, in 1948
the Council decided that, for lack of statehood, North Korea was to be invited
not under Art.32 but under Rule 39. When Rhodesia filed an application to
participate in 1966, the Council denied this request because of the illegality
of the regime. When foreign troops invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Soviet
Union filed an application for allowing the German Democratic Republic to
participate; the majority of the members of the SC rejected this application
with reference, even then, to the lack of statehood of the territory occupied by
the Soviet Union in Eastern Germany. In practice, the problem of legal and
political consequences of admission under Art.32 could be solved in part through
the qualification of a vote in favour of participation with a statement to the
effect that no recognition of the entry concerned as a state was implied.
Article 27 of the UN Charter allows the permanent members of the Security
Council to quash any non-procedural draft resolution with their negative votes,
irrespective of its level of international support and popularity. This power is
referred to as the "veto power" of the Permanent Five although the word "veto"
is never mentioned in the Charter. The initial reason for the inclusion of this
power in the Charter was to prevent the UN to take direct actions against any of
its principal founding members. This section illustrates how the use of veto
power has become distant from that initial reason and how this power has turned
into a tool for protecting national interests of permanent members or their
strategic allies. This power has been responsible for the silence of the
Security Council on some major international conflicts including the 2003 Iraq
War, the 2008 conflict in Georgia, the 2009 massacre of Sri Lankan Tamils and
the recent Syrian conflict. Although the issue of Israel-Palestine conflict is
on the agenda of the Security Council, this body has not been successful in
condemning the violence and settlement activities through issuing resolutions.
Trend of Use of Veto Power after the End of the Cold War
The first veto was cast in February 1946 by the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics (USSR) and since then the permanent members have used their veto power
a total of 263 times. However, there has been a considerable decrease in the use
of veto in the last twenty years so that since the end of the Cold War and
dissolution of the Soviet Union, only 22 vetoes were cast. The period between 31
May 1990 and 11 May 1993 was the longest period without the use of veto. In
general, during the 1990s not only in comparison with the previous decades but
also in comparison with the following decade few vetoes were cast. From January
1990 to December 1999 only nine draft resolutions were vetoed while that number
reached fourteen in the 2000s. As the result of the relatively sparing use of
veto power, the number of resolutions passed by the UNSC in the course of the
last twenty years has increased substantially. Before 1990, the UNSC would adopt
an average of 15 resolutions each year. It has reached a substantial annual
number of 62 resolutions in recent years. However, the following analysis of
the use of veto power by each of the Permanent Five and the subjects of vetoed
resolutions show although they vetoed fewer resolutions, the permanent members
still use this power for the same reason, namely protecting their own interests
or those of their allies as well as providing political cover for their
The Soviet Union (before it became the Russian Federation) used its veto power
more than any other country. From 1946 to the time of its fall and the
subsequent succession of Russia, this country vetoed a total of 119 resolutions.
After Russia took the USSR‟s seat in the Council, it has used the veto power
sparingly. So far Russia has blocked six resolutions, twice jointly with
China. As is provided in the table in Appendix I, Russia vetoed two
resolutions on Cyprus while all other fourteen members of the Council voted in
favour. Along with its extended interest in the Balkan region, this country
vetoed a resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina and after 2008 Russia-Georgia
crisis, blocked the passage of a resolution that intended to extend the UN
Observer Mission‟s mandate in Georgia and Abkhazia. Moreover, together with
China, it did not let the Security Council condemn human right abuses in Burma
and Zimbabwe; both these being important economic allies.
Since 1971 and after replacing the Republic of China, the People‟s Republic of
China has used its veto power six times; four of them were exercised after the
end of the Cold War. As mentioned above, China joined Russia in vetoing two
resolutions which intended to condemn human rights abuses in Burma and Zimbabwe.
Like Russia, China also had economic interests in these two countries. Burma is
also politically important for China and its government is highly reliant on
China for its current level of power. In addition to these two cases, in 1997
China vetoed a popular resolution which intended to authorize the deployment of
observers to verify the ceasefire in Guatemala and in 1999 blocked a resolution
regarding the extension of the operation of United Nations Preventive Deployment
Force (UNPREDEP) in Macedonia. The reason for both of these negative votes was
the political ties of Macedonia and Guatemala with Taiwan. Therefore, China
used its veto power as a political weapon to punish countries for recognizing
Taiwan as an independent sovereign state. This intention is more evident for the
case of Macedonia which just one month before that resolution established
diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
The last time France and the United Kingdom used their veto power was in 1989 in
a joint veto with the USA on the situation of Panama. Therefore, these two
countries have not vetoed any resolutions in the last 20 years. However, as I
will discuss later, France used the threat of veto on several occasions to
prevent a matter coming to the Council for voting.
Overall, the United States of America is the second most frequent user of veto
power. More importantly, in the period after the end of the Cold War, it has
become the most frequent user. This country has vetoed 83 draft resolutions
since the establishment of the UNSC; 14 of them were cast after 1991. What is
noteworthy is that out of these 14 resolutions 13 were related to Israel and
through blocking them, the USA has provided political cover and protection for
Israel, its strategic ally in the volatile region of the Middle East. The USA
has been active in preventing the UNSC from adopting resolutions condemning
Israeli settlement activities in East Jerusalem, asking for the withdrawal of
Israeli forces from Gaza, calling the construction of security wall in the West
Bank illegal and many other cases that involved condemnation of actions carried
out by Israel. While explaining the current attitude of permanent members in
avoiding frequent use of veto, Robert Hill admitted that there is an exception
to that stance and that is "a category of Israeli resolutions that the
US...because of domestic political reasons...will always veto"
For all of these thirteen resolutions, the USA was the only country which cast a
negative vote (in some cases some of the members abstained as well but none of
them joined the USA to vote against the draft resolution). Moreover, in three
cases all other fourteen members of the Security Council supported the drafts.
These facts illustrate the degree of political isolation of the USA regarding
its stances towards Israel-Palestine conflict. It also demonstrates how the veto
power enables a country like the USA to block popular resolutions, despite the
unpopularity of its stance on that protracted conflict.
In July 2002 and during a closed-door meeting, John Negroponte, the United
States representative in the United Nations, provided a statement which resulted
in the "Negroponte Doctrine". He clearly stated that any draft resolution
regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict must contain four elements, otherwise
the USA would veto it. Drafts have to: (a) explicitly condemn the acts of
terrorism, (b) condemn by name the three groups of al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, the
Islamic Jihad and Hamas that were responsible for suicide attacks, (c) appeal to
all parties for a political settlement of the crisis and (d) demand the
improvement of the security situation as a condition for any call for withdrawal
of Israeli forces to their position in September 2000. No draft resolution
has condemned Hamas, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, and the Islamic Jihad by name but
there were some drafts that condemned the actions of both Israel and Palestine.
They were, however, also vetoed by the USA.
After the end of the Cold War, there was only one resolution vetoed by the
United States which did not concern the Israel-Palestine conflict. On 30 June
2002, the USA vetoed a resolution intended to renew the United Nations
peacekeeping mandate in Bosnia. The American representative gave an assurance
that the decision "was not directed at the people of Bosnia". The US previously
threatened to veto the resolutions related to the UN peacekeeping missions if
its request for the exemption of American peacekeepers from jurisdiction of the
International Criminal Court (ICC) were not met. The veto of the
aforementioned resolution happened in order to materialize those threats.
That action put pressure on the UNSC members to later adopt a resolution which
asked the ICC not to exercise its power over the actions of UN peacekeepers for
However, it is important to note that the permanent members are increasingly
aware of the unpopularity of casting a veto and it is one of the reasons they
tend to minimise its use. It is reported that despite the pressure from the
pro-Israeli lobby, Washington came "very, very close" to not vetoing
anti-settlement resolution in February 2011. It was mainly because of the
popularity of the resolution and the fact that Washington is aware of the
adverse political consequences of vetoing a popular resolution. As John Langmore
mentioned, the fact that China is sensitive to international opinions played an
important role in this country not casting a veto on UNSC resolution 1973. That
resolution authorised the international community to establish a no-fly zone
over Libya. China along with Russia, Germany, Brazil, and India just abstained
from voting. Robert Hill also explained that China still and on every issue
loudly proclaims "the sanctity of sovereignty, the right [of a country] to
manage internal affairs without external interference" but has become
increasingly reluctant to use that mantra to vote down any resolution.
Therefore, nowadays and more than before the permanent members tend to lobby to
prevent a controversial matter coming to the Council. In these cases, they would
not need to use their veto and be seen as an impediment to the maintenance of
international peace and security. However, it is not a big step forward.
Nowadays, countries are increasingly using threats of veto to keep an issue off
the agenda of the Security Council and in order to protect their international
As mentioned before, instead of casting a veto and attracting criticism,
countries increasingly prefer to use the "pocket veto" (namely the threat of the
use of veto). They use that threat either implicitly or explicitly, either in
the private meetings of the Permanent Five or in the larger Council. On many
occasions, they managed to reach their intended outcome and could keep an issue
off the Council‟s agenda or soften the language of a resolution. The examples of
"pocket veto" are abound. In this section I will focus on some examples which
concern important or very recent international conflicts.
Although France has not cast any vetoes after the end of the Cold War, it has
threatened to use that power on several occasions. The most prominent example
was the case of 2003 Iraq war when France‟s threats to veto any resolution that
would automatically lead to a war successfully prevented the United States, the
United Kingdom and Spain to present a draft resolution to the Council seeking to
authorise military action (although France could not eventually prevent them
from attacking Iraq). France also used the threat of veto recently. A
non-violent protest in West Sahara was crushed by Moroccan forces in November
2010. France intervened to support its ally, Morocco. By threatening to use its
veto, France could prevent the UNSC members from presenting a resolution to the
Council to look into the crimes of the Moroccan military.
A careful analysis of the Security Council‟s records shows that Russia and China
are the two countries that have been relying on "pocket veto" more than other
permanent members. Sri Lanka is an important ally of China and Russia and it is
believed in the last phase of Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 many Sri Lankan
Tamils were killed by the Sri Lankan army and the forces of Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE). China and Russia managed well to keep that issue and an
inquiry or a possible resolution on the crimes of the Sri Lankan army off the
agenda of the Security Council. A search through press statements and meeting
records of the Council shows that issue was not adequately discussed in the
Council and apart from issuing a press statement about the situation of Sri
Lanka in May 2009, the UNSC did not take any other actions. In a press statement
issued on 13 May 2009, the members of the Security Council expressed "grave
concern over the worsening humanitarian crisis" in Sri Lanka and called for "urgent action by all parties to ensure the safety of civilians". While
condemning the actions of the LTTE, they raised concerns over the Sri Lankan
army‟s use of heavy caliber weapons in the areas with high population of
civilians and asked the government to "fulfill its commitment in that
regard". Although the content of this press statement might sound powerful,
it was the only action that the Council took. This inactivity of the Council is
more unacceptable if the scale of that massacre is taken into consideration.
During the course of the conflict and its aftermath, Russia and China opposed
the discussion of alleged violations in Sri Lanka (and considering they both are
veto holders they have unusual power in blocking the discussion of some issues
that are against their interests). The United Nations and its then
Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, were much more active regarding that conflict.
The UN press releases shows that the Secretary-General on several occasions
condemned the violence in Sri Lanka, raised concern about the humanitarian
situation of that country and called on the Sri Lankan government to bring the
conflict to an end. Moreover, a UN Panel of Experts was established and on 25
April 2011 released a report on accountability with respect to the final stages
of Sri Lankan conflict. Concluding that both the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE
forces committed grave human rights abuses, that panel recommended establishing
an international independent investigation into abuses during the armed
conflict. However according to Human Rights Watch, Russia and China intervened
again and on 18 April 2011 signaled their reluctance to have Ban Ki-Moon take
further action on that matter. On the other hand, the Secretary-General
personally is not very willing to order an investigation and wants the Security
Council to take action; something that principally due to the strong opposition
from two of the veto-holder members has reached an impasse.
The most recent example of the use of "pocket veto" by Russia and China is the
situation in Syria and the opposition of these two countries to the issuance of
any resolutions by the Council despite the bloody crackdown of Syrian military
forces on pro-democracy protesters. The violence in Syria increased
significantly to a level that even Russia reluctantly condemned it. Therefore,
the European countries became hopeful that the revised version of the June draft
could get enough support and would not get blocked by either (or both) of the
veto holder countries of Russia and China. The new draft that was circulated in
the Council in early August again intended to condemn the bloody crackdown of
the Syrian protestors. However, the Russians once again opposed the draft. They
said a resolution was too excessive and a Presidential statement would be "satisfactory". Russia was suspicious that any such resolution could turn
out to be an initial step in a sequence, with calls for military action - should
Syria not respond- next on the agenda. Russia blocked a Western-led effort at
the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to condemn its deadly gas attack in Syria
and push Moscow's ally President Bashar al-Assad to cooperate with international
inquiries into the incident. It was the eighth time during Syria's six-year-old
civil war that Moscow has used its veto power on the Security Council to shield
Assad's government. In the latest veto, Russia blocked a draft resolution backed
by the United States, France and Britain to denounce the attack in the town of
Khan Sheikhoun and tell Assad's government to provide access for investigators
and information such as flight plans.
Moscow was already concerned that NATO had, in Russia‟s view, exceeded the
mandate given by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, on Libya.
There, military action was provided for, to protect civilians, but Russian Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin told reporters that "taking the side of one of the
warring parties; [NATO] had committed a crude violation of the UN
resolution". So far, Russia and China have managed to block any resolutions.
As they wanted, the Council merely published a Presidential statement  which
condemned widespread violations of human rights against Syrian civilians, called
for immediate end to the violence, and urged all sides "to act in utmost
restraint". Reaffirming their commitment to the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of Syria, the Council members called on the authorities to respect
human rights and hold accountable those responsible for violence.
There are also some instances where the permanent members, Russia and China in
particular, did not keep an issue off the agenda of the Council but managed to
soften the language of the resolution issued by the Council. Iran‟s nuclear
program is an example. Russia and China considerably affected the second
resolution on that program which was issued in December 2006. It was the first
punitive resolution which imposed sanctions on Iran. Because Iran has been one
of the important trade partners of Russia and China, the language of the
resolution eventually issued by the Council was much softer than the original
draft and the imposed sanctions were lighter.
An analysis of all seven UNSC resolutions regarding the nuclear program of Iran
shows that Russia and China did not even abstain from voting and always voted in
favour of all of the resolutions. Considering their stance towards Iran, one can
conclude that they supported the resolutions because the final drafts which came
to the Council for voting were in accordance with their interests and were
drafted with attention to what they wanted. However, the support of these
countries for Iran has decreased over the recent years mainly because of the
economic incentives of Western and Arab countries as well as Iran‟s
continuous defiance and its opposition to compromise. However, there is
still a strong chance that these two countries will veto any resolutions
authorizing military action against Iran in the future or they will use the
threat of a veto to prevent any such resolutions from materializing.
Indian Efforts to Ban Pakistani Terrorists In Un Goes in Vain - Abuse of Veto By
On June 24th 2015 China blocked an Indian bid to question Pakistan at the United
Nations sanctions committee (per resolution 1267) over the release of
Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a commander in Lashkar-e-Taiba, an anti-India terror
group, and a central planner in the November 2008 terror attack on Mumbai which
claimed over 160 lives. Lakhvi was released on bail by a Pakistani court in
April, a move that India alleged was in violation of resolution 1267. China's
justification for blocking the Indian request—which sought clarification from
Pakistan over Lakhvi's release—was that India "failed to provide enough
information." The move is the latest in a series of recent moves by China to
block or stall Indian proposals on countering or sanctioning Pakistan-based
China's move to block UN action is particularly remarkable given how reserved it
has been in the past in being seen as the sole standout on an issue within the
permanent five (P5) members of the Security Council. China's move was procedural
within the UN sanctions committee, but it still stood in sharp opposition to the
United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia—all of whom were ready to
entertain the Indian proposal. China's effective "veto" on the matter should
emphasize the extent to which Beijing is willing to publicly underwrite the
Pakistani government's approach to terrorism
China has in the past blocked India's bids to get Jamaat-ud-Dawa (the political
arm of Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan) added to the United Nations Security
Council's terror list three times (JuD was finally added to the sanctions list
in December 2008). As leaked U.S. State Department cables revealed in 2010,
China placed "technical holds" at Pakistan's request to block UNSC sanctions
against Lashkar-e-Taiba and the al-Akhtar Trust (a charity front for Jaish-e-Mohammad,
designated as a terrorist support organization by the United States). A similar
"technical hold" was put in place in the case of India's request to list Syed
Salahuddin, a terrorist wanted in connection with numerous Hizbul Mujahideen
attacks. Thus, China has a history of shielding Pakistan-based terror groups
from sanctions under resolution 1267.
On March 31 this year, China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN
Security Council, had blocked India's move to get JeM chief Masood Azhar
designated a terrorist by the UN. Ties between India and China are set to take a
hit after Beijing on Saturday said it has extended the decision to block New
Delhi's appeal to the United Nations to label Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed
chief Masood Azhar a terrorist.
Beijing's move to extend the "technical hold" imposed in April comes a day
before it was to lapse, giving Azhar - an accused in the Pathankot Indian Air
Force base attack in January - another six-month breather.
Earlier this year, China, in collaboration with Pakistan, had blocked India's
bid to ban Azhar. Reports then said 14 out of 15 countries were willing to
designate Azhar but China, with its veto powers, took the decision to block the
Beijing's decision - in the backdrop of the attack in Uri less than two weeks
ago - brings into focus its stand on terrorism, on which, it has repeatedly said
the West has "double standards". Though Beijing argued on Saturday - as before
in April - that its decision was based on facts and procedures, the latest
decision brings into focus the close ties between China and Pakistan, who
consider each other "all-weather allies".
The above and previous examples show how the use of veto power has become
distant from the initial reason it was included in the Charter. The actual use
of veto or even the threat of its use can pressure other members of the UNSC to
comply with the demands of the member who has that power. Therefore, the veto
gives substantial power to France, the UK and to some extent Russia, who
otherwise would not have much power. Robert Hill confirmed that the stance of
each of the permanent members is important when a draft resolution is debated.
Referring to the importance of North Korea for China or (at least until
recently) Iran for Russia and China and the consequent delicate treatment of
those issues by the Council, Robert Hill commented that "the general direction
[of the Council] at the moment is to go easy on the issues that are not of
interest of some of the P5s"
Uniting for Peace Resolution
It may seem that there is no preventive measure against the use of veto and
limitless power of the permanent members. This is not the case. During the early
phases of Korean War, the USA, concerned by the Soviet Union‟s repeated use of
veto power and fearing those actions might prevent the Council from protecting
South Korea (considering that the USSR supported North Korea) took the matter to
the General Assembly. With support from many countries the UN adopted a General
Assembly resolution called "Uniting for Peace" in November 1950.
resolution reaffirms it is important that the Security Council carries out its
responsibility in maintaining international peace and security and that the
permanent members limit their use of the veto power. This resolution further recognises that the failure of the Security Council in fulfilling those tasks
will not relieve the United Nations of "its responsibilities under the Charter
to maintain international peace and security".
Therefore, when the permanent
members of the Security Council find themselves at odds and fail to reach
unanimity on a matter that appears to be a threat to international peace and
security, this resolution authorises the General Assembly to immediately
consider that matter and issue its own "appropriate recommendations" to the
Member States "for collective measures".
Those collective measures can include
"the use of armed force when necessary". Therefore, one can conclude that
this resolution gives the GA final responsibility rather than secondary
responsibility. It can be held as a way to bypass the Security Council and a
means for the General Assembly to overrule the vetoes of the UNSC P5 members.
Although not frequent, this resolution has been applied during the GA‟s history.
One successful example of its application was in 1981 when South Africa was
preventing the independence of Namibia. The General Assembly by using this
resolution recommended sanctions against South Africa and assistance (including
military assistance) to those who were fighting for Namibian independence. The
resolutions passed by the GA using the provisions of "Uniting for Peace" are not
binding (as none of the General Assembly resolutions are). However, because of
their nature, these resolutions can carry more weight and can "press supportive
countries to take actions".
It was what happened regarding South Africa. As
Richard Schifter, the former US Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights
explains, the resolution on South Africa passed under "Uniting for Peace"
principles, "was a significant step in the process of imposing sanctions on
apartheid South Africa and de-legitimizing the country."
Therefore, bypassing the Security Council is not impossible. It can happen
through the use of "Uniting for Peace" resolution or possibly, as was discussed
before, through the concept of humanitarian intervention (although this issue is
more controversial and has less support). However, many European and developing
countries are reluctant to go through that path especially when a military
intervention is involved. They are reluctant to consider such actions legitimate
as they believe setting the Council aside, "threatens the main rules that
underpin international society".
The UNGA Resolution 377 or "Uniting for Peace" has been rightly used by
Palestine. According to the UN, the recognition of a state is something that
only other states can grant or withhold. Since the UN is not a state or a
government it cannot recognize a state; it can only admit or not admit a state
to its membership. In order to apply for the United Nations membership, a state
has to submit an application to the Secretary General.
Then the Security Council
considers the application and if nine members out of the fifteen (including all
Permanent Five) vote in favor, the Council through a resolution recommends the
membership of that state to the General Assembly. In the Assembly a two-thirds
majority vote is required for the admission.
After the impasse in peace negotiations and continuation of Israeli settlement
activities, Palestinian officials decided to seek UN membership. Anticipating
that the United States will veto any UNSC resolutions recommending the admission
of the state of Palestine to the GA, they intended to use "Uniting for
Peace" resolution and therefore bypass the Council and go straight to the GA.
The experience of South Africa shows that Israel‟s initial assumption that an
overwhelming vote for the establishment of Palestinian state in the GA is merely
declaratory is not true as under this Resolution the GA "has teeth". As Horovitz
discusses, the Israeli key players made the mistake of not effectively
considering the different weight and "practical backing" that the "Uniting for
Peace" can provide for the GA‟s recognition of Palestine (although it cannot
eventually confer the UN membership on the state of Palestine).
On 29 November 2012, the General Assembly adopted resolution 67/19 entitled
"Status of Palestine in the United Nations" with 138 votes in favor, 9
against and 41 abstentions. The resolution accorded to Palestine non-Member
observer State status in the United Nations, marking the first time that the
General Assembly considered Palestine to be a State. The rights and privileges
of Palestine in the work of the United Nations remained the same as they were
enhanced by resolution 52/250, which gave Palestine maximum rights without
becoming a Member of the United Nations.
Above discussions highlight the inherent tensions in the global power systems.
Edward C. Luck observes that, "Debates over the composition of the Council, as
well as over the veto power of the permanent five, reflect the inherent tension
between the founding goal of assuring the leadership and collaboration of the
nation's most capable of enforcing Council's will and the norms of universality
and representatives espoused by a growing and increasingly diverse
Along with these tensions, the Council is devoid of unity among
its members over many issues. Deliberations about a possible Security Council
reform and expansion have also taken place among scholars, NGO's, think tanks
and some even at UN level. Kofi Annan said, "Unless the Security Council can
unite around the aim of confronting massive human rights violations and crimes
against humanity…then we will betray the very ideals that inspired the founding
of the United Nations."
History shows that the SC has failed to keep its
promise. Ingvar Carlsson's report found that the UN ignored evidence that
genocide was planned and had refused to act once it began. However, an action
without proper SC authorization threatens the international security system. The
Council remained standstill when burning issues were lying on its table. Blame
not only the Council but also the geo-politics.
The world summit clearly laid
out that the SC should be the first port of call whenever it comes to
intervention. The need of the hour is not to drag the discussion about SC's
failures to act but to find ways that will enable the decision-making process at
the UNSC. Building institutional capacity is one of the keys to the successful
maintenance of peace and security. The institutions should be developed for all
three core goals: responsibility to prevent, react and rebuild.
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 "The Negroponte Doctrine" concerning UN Security Council Resolutions on the
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 As an example refer to S/2006/878
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 According to the Report of the Secretary-General Panel of Experts on
Accountability in Sri Lanka published on 31March 2011, "a number of credible
sources have estimated that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian
 The United Nations Security Council, Security Council Press Statement on
Sri Lanka, created 13 May 2009, United Nations Website, http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/sc9659.doc.html
viewed on 23 February 2022
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 Jake Lynch, War Crimes in Sri Lanka and Political Options for Australia,
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 Margaret Besheer, UN Security Council Again Considers Syria Resolution,
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libya-resolution-6261163.html, viewed 10 March 2022
 Unlike resolutions, a presidential statement needs unanimity. When India,
the Council president for the month of August, read the text of the presidential
statement, Lebanon that has a pro-Syrian government dissociated itself from that
statement. The Lebanese delegate said the text of the statement did not help
address the current situation of Syria. Therefore, although that statement was
issued, it did not have the requisite unanimity.
 The United Nations Security Council, Security Council, in Statement,
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Force against Civilians',created 3 August 2011, United Nations Website, http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2011/sc10352.doc.htm,
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 China is still a powerful country but the fact that one of the reasons for
the shift in Russia's stance towards Iran has been economic incentives of some
rich countries indicates that at least some of the permanent members of the
Council are not the most powerful and stable countries of the world anymore.
Therefore, some rich countries can dictate their own positions to them.
 Julian Borger, Medvedev: Sanctions against Iran's Nuclear Program 'May be
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viewed 10 March 2022
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 See Carlsson's Report on Rwanda available at http://www.preventgenocide.org/prevent/UNdocs/#carlsson
 See Claire Applegarth and Andrew Block, Acting against Atrocities: A
Strategy for Supporters of the Responsibility to Protect, Discussion paper
#09-03, Belfer Center, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University,
54 See Claire Applegarth and Andrew Block, Acting against Atrocities: A Strategy
for Supporters of the Responsibility to Protect, Discussion paper #09-03, Belfer
Center, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, March 2009.
Written By: Mohammad Rasikh Wasiq, Student of LLM (International Law) - ILS
Law College, Pune
Email: [email protected]