The Security Council

The Power of Five
Rahman Mohamed

Chapter IV Article 9 of the Charter of the United Nations states that all its members are part of the General Assembly. According to Chapter V Article 23 the exclusive Security Council is a group of 15 nations in the United Nations. France, China, “the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics [today represented by Russia]”, the UK and the USA are permanent members. The other 10 members are elected for two year terms. Presidency of the Security Council is rotating – each member occupies presidency for a month and releases a statement.

June’s presidency was held by the United Kingdom.  July’s presidency is held by the United States.


According the UN’s Charter decisions are to be made democratically; “Each member of the Security Council shall have one vote” (Article 27).  These votes must include the “concurring votes of [all five] of the permanent members”; without this a decision can’t pass; each permanent member has a veto vote.

To uphold peace the United Nations Charter doesn’t endorse or state attacks instigated on aggression rather than defence are.  Therefore these are considered illegal. So even though wars of upholding peace and defence may be legal, those instigated by another aren’t. But without a nation being attacked by an aggressor, an illegal attack, there’s no need for defence, legal violence.

According to the UN’s Charter the purpose of the Security Council is maintaining “international peace and security” (Article 24).  They can do this with force.  International law created by the UN – not attacking others without reason – is a power granted to the Security Council.

On June 4, a panel of UN Human Rights Experts, created in 2011 and chaired by Paulo Pinheiro called for an end to the Syrian War. They called for a “‘diplomatic surge’” to end the violence, saying “that it is the only path to a political settlement.”

On June 7 all 15 members of the UN Security Council “urged the Syrian government “to do their utmost to protect civilians and avoid civilian casualties”.  Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant of the United Kingdom said “‘They empathize that those responsible for violations of applicable international law will be held accountable”.

Now members of the Security Council are beginning to take the path of force despite the fact .  Syria continues to worsen day by day and peace through negotiation seems remote.  Syrian rebels continue to reach out to Washington for help.

Though the words “arms” has not been said, two weeks ago it was said the USA spoke of considering using more options including a no fly zone similar to what they used against Iraq in 2002.

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