The United Nations Security Council

The United Nations Security Council is perhaps the most important of the distinct entities within the UN.

Just like the United Nations umbrella body, this organisation grew out of the ashes of World War II and was tasked to ensure that such bloody conflict never erupted in the world again. So far, it has fulfilled its mission, but it has had many harrowing moments, such as during the Cuban Missile Crisis which threatened to plunge the planet into nuclear conflict.

The Security Council’s inaugural sitting was held on 17 January 1947 and it is the only arm of the United Nations that can give direct orders to a member state.

Its primary functions are to order peacekeeping forces into areas of conflict or zones where conflict can break out. It can also authorise military action as it did during the Libyan uprising as well as the ongoing conflict in Syria.

The Security Council consists of 15 members and five of those are permanent, meaning that they do not rotate and give their place to other states as the other ten seats do every two years. The permanent members are the legacy of the Allied powers that won World War II and include the US, the UK, France, Russia and China.

The permanent members can veto and resolution, including admission of new members to the United Nations, as well as excluding candidates for the post of Secretary General of the United Nations. During the Cold War, vetoes often came into play because the US and the USSR were at loggerheads and progress was rarely registered.

The UN Security Council has ordered direct interventions in Korea, Bosnia, Cambodia, Kuwait, Somalia and Rwanda, among others. In the past, it also ordered intervention during the Suez Canal Crisis, the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey and Korea during the Korean war.