Лекция: The Security Council


5. The Security Council is the central organ of the entire UN system. It has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. To that effect, the SC was granted wide powers that would make it an active participant in international affairs. It could investigate any dispute or situation that might lead to international friction and it was authorized to decide on economic sanctions or military action. The SC was therefore mandated to use its powers both as a means of preventing a conflict and as a way of enforcing a state's compliance with a specific decision or resolution (see box 2 for UN peace operations).

6. The Security Council was initially made up of eleven members (or states), a number that was increased to fifteen in 1965. Of these, five—the United States, Great Britain, France, China, and Russia (until 1991 the Soviet Union)—are permanent members (known as the P-5). The other ten are nonpermanent members, elected by the UN General Assembly for two-year terms. Each year five of them leave the SC and are replaced.


Box 1. Veto power (“The Great Power unanimity”)


Each UN Security Council member has one vote. Decisions on procedural matters (for example, whether an issue is to be discussed by the UNSC at all) require the support of at least nine of the fifteen members.


Decisions on substantive matters (for example, a decision calling for direct measures to settle an international dispute, or to employ sanctions) also require nine votes, but these must include the votes of all five permanent members. This is the rule of “Great Power unanimity”, often referred to as the “veto power”.


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