The Security Council has always been the central point of the UN, as the Council alone – according to Article 25 of the UN Charter – has the right to make decisions all other member states have to follow. It also decides over and supervises UNs peacekeeping mandates and acts as a mediator between conflicting parties. In rare cases, it holds the power to resort to imposing sanctions or authorize the use of force in order to restore international peace and security. When it comes to the General Assembly, however, it recommends the appointment of the Secretary-General or the admission of a new member and takes part in the election of the judges for the International Court of Justice. It also has a variety of other rights and obligations regarding its main function of peacekeeping.
Its size of 15 members (5 of them permanent, 10 of them elected) is said to be both helpful in rapid decision making in case of a crisis but also not inclusive enough of the 178 member states not being represented. 5 of the 10 non-permanent member states are elected each year for a two-year term. The 10 seats are distributed regionally as follows: five for African and Asian states; one for Eastern European states; two for the Latin American and Caribbean states; and two for Western European and other states. A representative of each member state has to be present at the UN headquarters in New York at all times, in case of a crisis occurring.
Overall, out of the UN´s six main organs, the Security Council holds the most power and was designed to do so in the UN Charter, as its primary purpose is to maintain international peace and security at all times, besides its constitutional rights. It is also the only organ of the UN meant to function continuously.
To do so, the council has a unique structure with subsidiary organs, workgroups, and committees, all being comprised of representatives of the 15 council members. The presidency rotates every month, which is specified in the council’s rules of procedure. Article 30 of the UN Charter states that the Security Council shall adopt its own rules of procedure.
The five permanent members were put in place by the creators of the United Nations Charter for a variety of reasons, mainly political ones. The “Big Five” – China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States – also received a special voting power, known as the “right to veto”, meaning that if any one of the five permanent members were to vote against a resolution or decision, it would not pass. It is common courtesy that if one permanent member does not fully agree with a resolution, it may abstain, so the resolution still can be adopted if it obtains the required number of nine favorable votes.
The “issue” of the Security Council has been discussed since 1992. The main question is whether or not the membership of the Security Council should be increased to ensure equitable representation of all member states. Since 1993, the General Assembly has established an “Open-end Working Group” regarding all matters related to the Security Council. The discussions about a possible Security Council reform are held in the framework of inter-governmental negotiations since 2009.
The main target of this reform whatsoever is Article 106 of the UN Charter, which states that the charter can only be amended by a General Assembly decision approved by two-thirds of General Assembly membership and ratified by two-thirds of member states, including the permanent members of the Security Council. As changing the composition of the Security Council can be done only by amending the charter, Article 108 applies to the issue of Security Council reform.
A variety of different solutions regarding the permanent members, their right to veto and their role in changing the charter are imaginable. Other countries’ rights to also be granted the status of a permanent member should be examined. The non-permanent members’ election process and regional distribution should also be considered.
The UN Charter, Chapter 5, contains all articles to be amended in the debate (Article 23, Article 30-32), which will, therefore, be an ad-hoc debate. The delegates are not required to prepare resolutions, but amendments to the mentioned articles. The powers and functioning of the Security Council should be thoroughly known by any delegate. If a delegate wishes to amend any other article within the mentioned chapter, he or she is required to consult the chairs.
The results of the debate will be brought before the Security Council and will take effect immediately.