High School Security Council (Module 02)

Functions of the Security Council

The Issue

The Security Council (SC) is one of the most important UN bodies. The Council has the power to consider any situation that could endanger international peace. It currently has five permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK, US), known as the P5, and 10 non-permanent members. The non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly every two years. The current regional allocation scheme consists of: five to Africa and Asia combined; two to Latin America and the Caribbean; two to Western Europe & one to Eastern Europe. The P5 are the only members that can veto resolutions.

Veto Power and Its Implications

  • The SC’s moral legitimacy is called into question because the P5’s veto power immunizes them from acts detrimental to others in the global community or for egregious offences within their own borders.
  • Global powers have shifted since WWII; Germany and Japan have surpassed France, the United Kingdom and Russia in economic power. Countries such as India have increased in population.
  • Veto power gives P-5 immunization free from the fear that they will be adversely affected by any resolution of which they seriously disapprove.

Regional Representation

  • The 15 members of the Council are not representative of the total UN Membership (193 nations).
  • 178 remaining nations are effectively denied the franchise. The vaunted sovereign equality principle simply does not apply.
  • The votes of very small nations with non-permanent seats like Malta count equally with those of demographic giants like India, with no relation to their weight in the world beyond the UN.

Guiding Questions

  • Is expanding the Council membership, be it non-permanent or permanent, something that should be implemented?
  • Should the P5 nations keep their veto power? If “no,” how might it be phased out? If “yes,” should restrictions be placed on it or qualifications (such as troop contributions) be needed for use?
  • If the council should be expanded, should permanent members be added?
  • Are changes in the current regional allocation scheme needed? If so, what do you recommend?
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Security Council Modules

Prepared by:
Andrea Klein Bergman and
Nancy J. Dunlavy
for The Workable World Trust