The un security council: the most powerful body in the world

The Security Council is the only UN body whose decisions are binding on all member states. But critics repeatedly emphasize that it is no longer up-to-date because it still reflects the balance of power after the Second World War. shows how the council has been composed so far.

The UN Security Council has a total of 15 members, five permanent and ten non-permanent. Each of the five permanent member states – USA, Russia, China, Great Britain and France – can block decisions of the council with a veto. A total of nine votes are required to pass resolutions. The permanent members are therefore also dependent on the non-permanent members.

Only the five veto powers remain permanently

The ten seats of the non-permanent members are divided according to a regional key. The western states, including Germany, have two seats available, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. A total of five seats go to countries from Africa and Asia, although in practice it has been divided up so that Africa has three seats and Asian countries have two seats. The tenth seat of the non-permanent members goes to an Eastern European country.

The non-permanent members are elected to the Security Council for two years. Every year half of these members are redefined by a vote of the General Assembly. Every country has one vote – regardless of whether it is the island state of Nauru with 10,000 or China with 1.3 billion inhabitants. In order to get a non-permanent seat, a two-thirds majority of the 192 states is necessary. In 1979 there was a non-permanent seat from Latin America and the Caribbean to 155 ballots in ten weeks: both Cuba and Colombia did not want to withdraw their candidacy. In the end they agreed – on Mexico.

Non-permanent members get an "information boost"

The non-permanent members are something like second class members due to the lack of veto right. However, they are important interlocutors during their term of office and have access to all files. The Austrian ambassador, whose country will leave the committee in January 2011, spoke of an "information boost". If a non-permanent member holds the monthly rotating presidency of the Security Council, he or she can also set the agenda.

The composition of the UN Security Council repeatedly arouses criticism because it no longer reflects the current power political situation. Germany first formulated its right to a permanent seat in 1993. In 2004, Japan, India and Brazil also demanded their own permanent seat in addition to Germany. A common seat for the European Union is also under discussion, but this would weaken its political weight if it did then the seats of France and Great Britain were absorbed.

Responsible for world peace

The interest in membership in the UN Security Council is so great because the Security Council occupies a central position in the international community. According to the UN Charter, it is the body with the main responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. If the peace is threatened, the Council can impose sanctions such as trade restrictions. The Security Council can also send the so-called blue helmet soldiers.

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