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What is the United Nations Security Council?

The United Nations Security Council is one of the key bodies of the United Nations. Its primary goal is to ensure international peace and security.

The UNSC was created after World War II to address the failure of the League of Nations in regard to maintaining world peace. Peacekeeping UNSC missions have been authorized in Kuwait, Namibia, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The Security Council consists of fifteen members of the United Nations. Of the 15, five are permanent members. The permanent members include China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. These members were chosen shortly after World War II.

At the time, these states were the great powers and so-called “victors” of the second world war. This status comes with certain privileges, the primary one being the ability to veto any Security Council resolution. This veto right can prevent a resolution from being passed even if it has the majority support.

There are also 10 non-permanent members. The non-permanent members are chosen each year by the general assembly for two-year terms. Each nonpermanent member has one vote on resolutions. So, they have influence on UN policy — just no veto power.

This power disparity, and the composition of the UNSC, have drawn international ire. Many critics have argued that the Security Council does not equally represent all regions on the continent.

Furthermore, many have argued that the structure is outdated: a discriminatory artifact of post-WWII planning. Although critics have called for structural changes, we have yet to see any implemented.

Whether change should or shouldn’t be implemented, its feasibility remains questionable. If you’re leading a permanent member of the UNSC, would you want to see your veto power revoked? Would you perceive this as a threat to your country’s national interests, and its influence over international relations? 

Many see the incentives inherent in the UNSC as being simply stacked against change. Time will tell whether this view holds. 

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