Security Council

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Posted by sonny 04/27/2009 @ 04:12

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UN Security Council to tour post-war Liberia - Jerusalem Post
By AP The UN Security Council is expected to travel to a part of Liberia being guarded by peacekeepers to assess the nation's recovery six years after a devastating civil war. The Security Council arrived Tuesday in Liberia where 14 years of civil war...
UN Security Council delegation meets DRC president on security - Xinhua
UNITED NATIONS, May 19 (Xinhua) -- A UN Security Council delegation was received Tuesday by President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a UN spokesperson said. "The discussions focused on the security situation in the DRC,...
Security Council Members Hold Informal Discussions on Burma - The Irrawaddy News Magazine
By LALIT K JHA WASHINGTON — Members of the UN Security Council have informally begun discussions on the possibility of issuing a statement on the current situation in Burma, especially the ongoing trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, following an initiative by...
Rwanda tells UN Security Council what it wants - The Associated Press
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UN Security Council Reflects On A Tragic Failure: Rwanda - Voice of America
By Peter Heinlein The UN Security Council has visited a memorial to victims of the Rwanda genocide and pledged support to efforts to end the fighting that has haunted Africa's Great Lakes region for more than a decade. The 15 Security Council...
Security group to consider wireless, virtualization standards for ... - NetworkWorld.com
By Ellen Messmer , Network World , 05/19/2009 Regulatory changes are coming for the payment-card industry, say leaders of the PCI Security Standards Council, which is responsible for developing and implementing security standards for cardholder data...
Russia's National Security Strategy - Jamestown Foundation
The Secretary of the Security Council Nikolay Patrushev explained in an interview with Izvestiya that the National Security Strategy replaces the National Security Concept drawn up in 1997 and modified in 2000, reflecting changes within the...
UN Security Council trip focuses on Somalia, Sudan - The Associated Press
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — The UN Security Council met with African Union officials on Saturday, trying to find a way to halt the fighting that gripped the Somali capital this week and resolve the political tensions in Sudan. The Security Council...
Somalia Government Plays Down Reports of Ethiopian Incursions - Voice of America
The head of the AU Peace and Security Council, Jean Ping, appealed to countries to block access to ports controlled by the insurgents. He also repeated the AU's request for UN peacekeepers to replace the undermanned AU mission. The UN Security Council...
N/R Security Council explains rehabilitation of mausoleum - Ghana News
Tamale, May 20, GNA - The Northern Regional Security Council (REGSEC) has explained that it was the collective decision of the Council and not the Regional Minister alone to permit the rehabilitation of the royal mausoleum of the Gbewaa Palace in Yendi...

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (S/RES/242) was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967, in the aftermath of the Six Day War. It was adopted under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter. The resolution was drafted by British ambassador Lord Caradon and was one of five drafts under consideration.

It is one of the most commonly referenced UN resolutions in Middle Eastern politics. Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon entered into consultations with the UN Special representative over the implementation of 242. After denouncing it in 1967, Syria "conditionally" accepted the resolution in March 1972. Syria formally accepted UN Security Council Resolution 338, the cease-fire at the end of the Yom Kippur War, which embraced resolution 242.

The resolution is the formula proposed by the Security Council for the successful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in particular, ending the state of belligerency then existing between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria. It insists upon the termination of all states of war in the area; guarantees the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of all Middle Eastern nations; and calls for a "just settlement" of the question of the refugees.

For obvious reasons, the U.N. could not force the relevant parties to make a peace agreement, nor would the rather ambiguous resolution have precedence over bilateral negotiations.

Broadly speaking, Israel interprets Resolution 242 as calling for withdrawal from territories as part of a negotiated peace and full diplomatic recognition. The extent of withdrawal would come as a result of comprehensive negotiations that lead to durable peace. Israel interprets that Resolution 242 does not state that Israel's military must withdraw before peace negotiations begin, nor that Israel's withdrawal must occur before Arabs start to meet their own obligations of Resolution 242.

Israel accepted the resolution; Arab states and the Palestinians rejected it.

Initially, most of the Arab world rejected Resolution 242. Today, the general Arab position is that the Resolution calls for Israel to withdraw from all the territory it occupied during the Six-Day War as a precondition to the start of peace negotiations.

But in contrast to the Arab interpretation, so far Israel and all Arab leaders have negotiated before Israel withdrew, and there has been Palestinian-Israeli agreement that small changes will be made to the 1967 border in return for monetary compensation: Israel and Jordan made peace without Israel withdrawing from the West Bank, which Jordan occupied until 1967. Egypt began negotiations before Israel withdrew from the Sinai. Negotiations ended without Egypt ever resuming control of the Gaza Strip, which Egypt held until 1967; Egypt had requested this before the negotiations began. More recently, Palestinian leaders have negotiated with Israel before Israel withdrew, and agreed to changes from the 1967 borders. The United Nations had never recognized the West Bank as de jure Jordanian territory, nor the Gaza Strip as Egyptian territory, and could not enforce their claims to sovereignty. Similarly, the Palestinians had never declared statehood on any territory when the UN asked them to in 1947. UN Resolution 242 also does not make any mention as Palestinian statehood as a necessity, but it has been agreed to by many Israeli leaders in more recent times.

Both parties point to the wording of the resolution to back their claims.

Supporters of the "Israeli viewpoint" focus on the phrase calling for "secure and recognized boundaries" and note that the resolution calls for a withdrawal "from territories" rather than "from the territories" or "from all territories," as the Arabs and their allies proposed the latter two terms and these were rejected from the final draft of Resolution 242. France's ambassador to the UN at the time, in disagreement with the Palestinian viewpoint, stated that the correct interpretation is that the word "the" is not added to the text he wrote, and noted before as well as after the vote, that the French position is that Israel does not need to withdraw from all occupied territories.

Supporters of the Israeli viewpoint note that this phrase would also apply to Israeli territory in the Jordan Valley captured by Syria in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, which Israel recaptured during the Six Day War. Syria believes that 242 requires that Israel return that territory to Syria. Furthermore, the second part of that same sentence in the preamble recognizes the need of existing states to live in security.

The resolution's most important feature is the "land for peace" formula, calling for Israeli withdrawal from "territories" it had occupied in 1967 in exchange for peace with its neighbors. This was an important advance at the time, considering that there were no peace treaties between any Arab state and Israel until the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979. "Land for peace" served as the basis of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, in which Israel withdrew from the Sinai peninsula (Egypt withdrew its claims to the Gaza Strip). Jordan withdrew its claims for the West Bank shortly after the beginning of the First Intifada, and has signed the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace in 1994, that demarcated the Jordan River as the border line.

Throughout the 1990s, there were Israeli-Syrian negotiations regarding a normalization of relations and an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. But a peace treaty was not made, mainly due to Syria's desire to recover and retain 25 square kilometers of territory in the Jordan River Valley which it seized from Israel in 1948 and occupied until 1967. As the United Nations recognizes only the 1948 borders, there is little support for the Syrian position outside the Arab bloc nor in resolving the Golan Heights issue.

The resolution advocates a "just settlement of the refugee problem" which applies to both the Arab and Jewish refugees of the Middle East. French President de Gaulle stressed this principle in his press conference of November 27, 1967 and assured refugees "a dignified and fair future" in his letter of January 9, 1968 to David Ben-Gurion. The UN resolution does not specifically mention the Palestinians, who were not represented in the debate. However, it did serve as a basis for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords, where the Palestinians were represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization. The main premise of the Oslo Accords was the eventual creation of Palestinian autonomy in some of the territories captured during the Six-Day War, in return for Palestinian recognition of Israel. This premise is reminiscent of the "land for peace" principle.

The difference between the two versions lies in the absence of a definite article ("the") in the English version, while the word "des" present in the French version seems to be - not the French indefinite article in plural ("des") - but rather a contraction of the words "de" and "les" (the latter being the French definite article in plural), equal to the English "of the". While some observers argue that the absence of the definite article in English does not preclude an interpretation meaning "all territories," others counter by claiming that the presence of the word "des" in French grammar does not preclude an interpretation meaning "territories" rather than "the territories." Although some have dismissed the controversy by suggesting that the use of the word "des" in the French version is a translation error and should therefore be ignored in interpreting the document, the debate has retained its force.

In spite of the lack of definite articles, according to McHugo, it is clear that such an instruction cannot legitimately be taken to imply that some dogs need not be kept on the lead or that the rule applies only near some ponds. Further, McHugo points out a potential consequence of the logic employed by advocates of a "some" reading. Paragraph 2 (a) of the Resolution, which guarantees "freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area," may allow Arab states to interfere with navigation through some international waterways of their choosing.

Only English and French were the Security Council's working languages (Arabic, Russian, Spanish and Chinese were official but not the working languages).

Opponents of the "all territories" reading remind that the UN Security Council declined to adopt a draft resolution, including the definite article, far prior to the adoption of Resolution 242. They argue that, in interpreting a resolution of an international organization, one must look to the process of the negotiation and adoption of the text. This would make the text in English, the language of the discussion, take precedence.

He also points out that attempts to explicitly widen the motion to include "the" or "all" territories were explicitly rejected.

Mr. Joseph J. Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State, 12 July 1970 (NBC "Meet the Press"): "That Resolution did not say 'withdrawal to the pre-June 5 lines'. The Resolution said that the parties must negotiate to achieve agreement on the so-called final secure and recognized borders. In other words, the question of the final borders is a matter of negotiations between the parties." Mr. Sisco was actively involved in drafting the Resolution in his capacity as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs in 1967.

Israel was the only country represented at the Security Council to express a contrary view. The USA, United Kingdom, Denmark, China and Japan were silent on the matter, but the US and UK did point out that other countries' comments on the meaning of 242 were simply their own views. The Syrian representative was strongly critical of the text's "vague call on Israel to withdraw".

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, who represented the US in discussions, later stated: "The notable omissions in regard to withdrawal are the word 'the' or 'all' and 'the June 5, 1967 lines' the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories, without defining the extent of withdrawal".

On November 23, 1967, the Secretary General appointed Gunnar Jarring as Special Envoy to negotiate the implementation of the resolution with the parties, the so-called Jarring Mission. The governments of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon recognized Jarring's appointment and agreed to participate in his shuttle diplomacy, although they differed on key points of interpretation of the resolution. The government of Syria rejected Jarring's mission on grounds that total Israeli withdrawal was a prerequisite for further negotiations. The talks under Jarring's auspices lasted until 1973, but bore no results. After 1973, the Jarring mission was replaced by bilateral and multilateral peace conferences.

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United Nations Security Council veto power

The United Nations Security Council 'power of veto' refers to the veto power wielded solely by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, enabling them to prevent the adoption of any 'substantive' draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft. The veto does not apply to procedural votes, which is significant in that the Security Council's permanent membership can vote against a 'procedural' draft resolution, without necessarily blocking its adoption by the Council.

The veto is exercised when any permanent member — the so-called 'P5' — casts a "negative" vote on a 'substantive' draft resolution. Abstention, or absence from the vote by a permanent member does not prevent a draft resolution from being adopted.

The UNSC veto system was formalized at the Yalta Conference, 4-11 February 1945, and was established in order to prohibit the UN from taking any future action directly against its principal founding members; in large part a legacy of the expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations in 1939, at the outbreak of World War II. It had already been decided at the UN's founding conference in 1944, that Britain, China, the Soviet Union, the United States and, "in due course" France, should be the permanent members of any newly formed Council.

France had been defeated and occupied by Nazi Germany, but its role as a permanent member of the League of Nations, its status as a colonial power and the activities of the Free French forces on the allied side allowed it a place at the table with the other four.

The Soviet Union had adopted an "empty chair" policy at the Security Council from January 1950, owing to its discontent over the UN's refusal to recognize the People's Republic of China's representatives as the legitimate representatives of China, and with the hope of preventing any future decisions by the Council on substantive matters. Despite the wording of the Charter (which makes no provisions for passing resolutions with the abstention or absence of a veto-bearing member), this was treated as a non-blocking abstention. This had in fact already become Council practice by that time, the Council having already adopted numerous draft resolutions despite the lack of an affirmative vote by each of its permanent members.

1) Each member of the Security Council shall have one vote.

2) Decisions of the Security Council on procedural matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members.

3) Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.

Although the 'power of veto' is not explicitly mentioned in the UN Charter, the fact that 'substantive' decisions by the UNSC require "the concurring votes of the permanent members", means that any of those permanent members can prevent the adoption, by the Council, of any draft resolutions on 'substantive' matters. For this reason, the 'power of veto' is also referred to as the principle of 'great Power unanimity'.

Almost half the vetoes in the history of the Security Council were cast by the Soviet Union. Since shortly before the fall of the USSR, the United States has been the most frequent user of the veto.

In the early days of the United Nations, the Soviet Union commissar and later minister for foreign affairs, Vyacheslav Molotov, said no so many times that he was known as "Mr. Veto". In fact, the Soviet Union was responsible for nearly half of all vetoes ever cast—79 vetoes were used in the first 10 years. Molotov regularly rejected bids for new membership because of the U.S.'s refusal to admit the Soviet republics. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has used its veto power sparingly.

Ambassador Charles W. Yost cast the first U.S. veto in 1970, regarding a crisis in Rhodesia, and the U.S. cast a lone veto in 1972, to prevent a resolution relating to Israel. Since that time, it has become by far the most frequent user of the veto, mainly against resolutions criticizing Israel (see Negroponte doctrine). This has been a constant cause of friction between the General Assembly and the Security Council, as seen with the 2003 Iraqi war which was not endorsed by the UN.

Between 1946 and 1971, the Chinese seat on the Security Council was the government of the Republic of China (from 1949 on Taiwan) during which its representative used the veto only once (to block the Mongolian People's Republic's application for membership in 1955 because the ROC considered Mongolia to be a part of China). This postponed the admission of Mongolia until 1960, when the Soviet Union announced that unless Mongolia was admitted, it would block the admission of all of the newly independent African states. Faced with this pressure, the ROC relented under protest.

After the Republic of China's expulsion from the United Nations in 1971, the first veto cast by the present occupant, the People's Republic of China, was issued in 25 August 1972 over Bangladesh's admission to the United Nations. As of December 2008, the People's Republic of China has used its veto six times; observers have noted a preference for China to abstain rather than veto on resolutions not directly related to Chinese interests.

France uses its veto power sparingly. It used it in 1976 on the question of the Comoros independence, when the island of Mayotte was kept in French territory due to the vote of the local population. The threat of a French veto of resolution on the Iraq war caused friction between France and the United States.

The United Kingdom used its Security Council veto power, along with France, to veto a draft resolution aimed at resolving the Suez Canal crisis in 1956. They eventually withdrew after the U.S. instigated an 'emergency special session' of the General Assembly, under the terms of the "Uniting for Peace" resolution, which led to the establishment of the United Nations Emergency Force I (UNEF I), by the adoption of Assembly resolution 1001. The UK also used the veto unilaterally seven times because of Rhodesia.

Various discussions have taken place in recent years over the suitability of the Security Council veto power in today’s world. Key arguments include that the five permanent members no longer represent the most stable and responsible member states in the United Nations, and that their veto power slows down and even prevents important decisions being made on matters of international peace and security. Due to the global changes that have taken place politically and economically since the formation of the UN in 1945, widespread debate has been apparent over whether the five permanent members of the UN Security Council remain the best member states to hold veto power. While the permanent members are still typically regarded as great powers, there is debate over their suitability to retain exclusive veto power.

A second argument against retaining the UNSC veto power is that it is detrimental to balanced political decisions, as any draft text needs to be approved of by each permanent member before any draft resolution can possibly be adopted. Indeed, several proposed draft resolutions are never formally presented to the Council for a vote owing to the knowledge that a permanent member would vote against their adoption (the so-called 'pocket veto'). Debate also exists over the potential use of the veto power to provide 'diplomatic cover' to a permanent member's allies. The United States of America has used its veto power more than any other permanent member since 1972; particularly on draft resolutions condemning the actions or policies of the State of Israel, but that may have been necessary, others point out, because the very resolutions are systematically heavily biased against Israel.

Advocates of the veto power believe that it is just as necessary in the current geo-political landscape, and that without the veto power, the Security Council would be open to making "majority rules" decisions on matters that have implications at a global level — decisions that may well go directly against the interests of a permanent member.

Discussions on improving the UN's effectiveness and responsiveness to international security threats often include reform of the UNSC veto. Proposals include: limiting the use of the veto to vital national security issues; requiring agreement from multiple states before exercising the veto; and abolishing the veto entirely. However, any reform of the veto will be very difficult. Articles 108 and 109 of the United Nations Charter grant the P5 veto over any amendments to the Charter, requiring them to approve of any modifications to the UNSC veto power that they themselves hold.

Nonetheless, it has been argued that the current UNSC 'power of veto' is, fundamentally, irrelevant. With the Assembly's adoption of the 'Uniting for Peace' resolution on 3 November 1950, it was made clear by the UN Member states that, according to the UN Charter, the P5 cannot prevent the UN General Assembly from taking any and all action necessary to restore international peace and security, in cases where the UNSC has failed to exercise its 'primary responsibility' for maintaining peace. Such an interpretation sees the UNGA as being awarded 'final responsibility' — rather than 'secondary responsibility' — for matters of international peace and security, by the UN Charter. Although not couched in the same language, various high-level reports make explicit reference to the 'Uniting for Peace' resolution as providing the necessary mechanism for the UNGA to overrule any vetoes in the UNSC; thus rendering them little more than delays in UN action.

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United Nations Security Council

Then United States Secretary of State Colin Powell holds a model vial of anthrax while giving a presentation to the United Nations Security Council in February 2003. Foreign ministers and heads of government often appear in the UNSC in person to discuss issues.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action. Its powers are exercised through United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946 at Church House, London.

Since its first meeting, the Council, which exists in continuous session, has traveled widely, holding meetings in many cities, such as Paris and Addis Ababa, then at its current home in New York City.

There are 15 members of the Security Council, consisting of permanent members and elected members. This basic structure is set out in Chapter V of the UN Charter.

Security Council members must always be present at UN headquarters in New York so that the Security Council can meet at any time. This requirement of the United Nations Charter was adopted to address a weakness of the League of Nations since that organization was often unable to respond quickly to a crisis.

The five permanent members of the Security Council are the only nations recognized as possessing nuclear weapons under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, although some countries with nuclear weapons have not signed the treaty. This nuclear status is not the result of their Security Council membership, though it is sometimes used as a modern-day justification for their continued presence on the body. India, Pakistan and North Korea possess nuclear weapons outside of the anti-proliferation framework established by the Treaty. Despite an apparent admission by then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,Israel has neither confirmed nor denied officially having nuclear weapons, but is widely believed to possess them.

The Permanent Representatives of the U.N. Security Council permanent members are Wang Guangya, Jean-Maurice Ripert, Vitaly Churkin, John Sawers and Susan Rice.

Ten other members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms starting on 1 January, with five replaced each year. The members are chosen by regional groups and confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly. The African bloc chooses three members; the Latin America and the Caribbean, Asian, and Western European and Others blocs choose two members each; and the Eastern European bloc chooses one member. Also, one of these members is an Arab country, alternately from the Asian or African bloc.

The role of president of the Security Council involves setting the agenda, presiding at its meetings and overseeing any crisis. The President is authorized to issue both presidential statements (subject to consensus among Council members) and notes, which are used to make declarations of intent that the full Security Council can then pursue. The Presidency rotates monthly in alphabetical order of the Security Council member nations' names in English and is held by Mexico for the month of April 2009.

Under Article 27 of the UN Charter, Security Council decisions on all substantive matters require the affirmative votes of nine members. A negative vote, or veto, by a permanent member prevents adoption of a proposal, even if it has received the required number of affirmative votes (9). Abstention is not regarded as a veto despite the wording of the Charter. Since the Security Council's inception, China (ROC/PRC) has used its veto 6 times; France 18 times; Russia/USSR 123 times; the United Kingdom 32 times; and the United States 82 times. The majority of Russian/Soviet vetoes were in the first ten years of the Council's existence. Since 1984, China (ROC/PRC) has vetoed three resolutions; France three; Russia/USSR four; the United Kingdom ten; and the United States 43.

Procedural matters are not subject to a veto, so the veto cannot be used to avoid discussion of an issue.

A state that is a member of the UN, but not of the Security Council, may participate in Security Council discussions in matters by which the Council agrees that the country's interests are particularly affected. In recent years, the Council has interpreted this loosely, allowing many countries to take part in its discussions. Non-members are routinely invited to take part when they are parties to disputes being considered by the Council.

Under Chapter Six of the Charter, "Pacific Settlement of Disputes", the Security Council "may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute". The Council may "recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment" if it determines that the situation might endanger international peace and security. These recommendations are not binding on UN members.

Under Chapter Seven, the Council has broader power to decide what measures are to be taken in situations involving "threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, or acts of aggression". In such situations, the Council is not limited to recommendations but may take action, including the use of armed force "to maintain or restore international peace and security". This was the basis for UN armed action in Korea in 1950 during the Korean War and the use of coalition forces in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. Decisions taken under Chapter Seven, such as economic sanctions, are binding on UN members.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court recognizes that the Security Council has authority to refer cases to the Court, where the Court could not otherwise exercise jurisdiction. The Council exercised this power for the first time in March 2005, when it referred to the Court “the situation prevailing in Darfur since 1 July 2002”; since Sudan is not a party to the Rome Statute, the Court could not otherwise have exercised jurisdiction.

Security Council Resolution 1674, adopted on 28 April 2006, "reaffirms the provisions of paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document regarding the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity". The resolution commits the Council to action to protect civilians in armed conflict.

Allowing the Security Council to adopt binding measures under Chapter VI would undermine the structural division of competencies foreseen by Chapters VI and VII, respectively. The whole aim of separating these chapters is to distinguish between voluntary and binding measures. Whereas the pacific settlement of disputes provided by the former is underpinned by the consent of the parties, binding measures in terms of Chapter VII are characterised by the absence of such consent. A further indication of the non-binding nature of measures taken in terms of Chapter VI is the obligation on members of the Security Council who are parties to a dispute, to refrain from voting when resolutions under Chapter VI are adopted. No similar obligation exists with respect to binding resolutions adopted under Chapter VII... If one applies this reasoning to the Namibia opinion, the decisive point is that none of the Articles under Chapter VI facilitate the adoption of the type of binding measures that were adopted by the Security Council in Resolution 276(1970)... Resolution 260(1970) was indeed adopted in terms of Chapter VII, even though the ICJ went to some length to give the opposite impression.

In practice, the Security Council does not consider its decisions outside Chapter VII to be binding.

Those resolutions made outside these two Chapters dealing with the internal governance of the organization (such as the admission of new Member States) are legally binding where the Charter gives the Security Council power to make them.

If the council cannot reach consensus or a passing vote on a resolution, they may choose to produce a non-binding presidential statement instead of a Resolution. These are adopted by consensus. They are meant to apply political pressure — a warning that the council is paying attention and further action may follow.

Press statements typically accompany both resolutions and presidential statements, carrying the text of the document adopted by the body and also some explanatory text. They may also be released independently, after a significant meeting.

There has been criticism that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, who are all nuclear powers, have created an exclusive nuclear club whose powers are unchecked. Unlike the General Assembly, the United Nations Security Council does not have true international representation. This has led to accusations that the UNSC only addresses the strategic interests and political motives of the permanent members, especially in humanitarian interventions: for example, protecting the oil-rich Kuwaitis in 1991 but poorly protecting resource-poor Rwandans in 1994. Any nation may be elected to serve a temporary term on the Security Council, but critics have suggested that this is inadequate. Rather, they argue, the number of permanent members should be expanded to include non-nuclear powers, which would democratize the organization. Still other nations have advocated abolishing the concept of permanency altogether; under the government of Paul Martin, Canada advocated this approach.

Another criticism of the Security Council involves the veto power of the five permanent nations. As it stands, a veto from any of the permanent members can halt any possible action the Council may take. One nation's objection, rather than the opinions of a majority of nations, may cripple any possible UN armed or diplomatic response to a crisis. For instance, John J. Mearsheimer claimed that "since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members." However, the Security Council has been criticized for extreme anti Israeli bias. Since candidates for the Security Council are proposed by regional blocs, the Arab League and its allies are usually included but Israel, which joined the UN in 1949, has never been elected to the Security Council whereas at least 15 Arab League members have. In fact, Israel used to be the only one of the 185 member countries ineligible to serve on the Security Council. In addition, the Council has repeatedly condemned the Jewish State but not once has it adopted a resolution critical of the PLO or of Arab attacks on Israel. What takes place in the Security Council "more closely resembles a mugging than either a political debate or an effort at problem-solving," declared former UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Other critics and even proponents of the Security Council question its effectiveness and relevance because in most high-profile cases, there are essentially no consequences for violating a Security Council resolution. The most prominent and dramatic example of this is the Darfur crisis, in which Arab Janjaweed militias, supported by the Sudanese government, committed repeated acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the indigenous population. Thus far, an estimated 300,000 civilians have been killed in what is the largest case of mass murder in the history of the region, yet the UN has continuously failed to act against this severe and ongoing human rights issue. Another such case occurred in the Srebrenica massacre where Serbian troops committed genocide against Bosnian Muslims in the largest case of mass murder on the European continent since World War II. Srebrenica had been declared a UN "safe area" and was even protected by 400 armed Dutch peacekeepers, but the UN forces did nothing to prevent the massacre.

Other critics object to the idea that the UN is a democratic organization, saying that it represents the interests of the governments of the nations who form it and not necessarily the individuals within those nations. World federalist Dieter Heinrich points out that the powerful Security Council system does not have distinctions between the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches: the UN Charter gives all three powers to the Security Council.

Another concern is that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are five of the top ten largest arms dealing countries in the world.

There has been discussion of increasing the number of permanent members. The countries who have made the strongest demands for permanent seats are Brazil, Germany, India and Japan. Indeed, Japan and Germany are the UN's second and third largest funders respectively, while Brazil, the largest Latin American nation, and India, the world's largest democracy and second most populous country, are two of the largest contributors of troops to UN-mandated peace-keeping missions. This project has found opposition in a group of countries called Uniting for Consensus.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked a team of advisors to come up with recommendations for reforming the United Nations by the end of 2004. One proposed measure is to increase the number of permanent members by five, which, in most proposals, would include Brazil, Germany, India, Japan (known as the G4 nations), one seat from Africa (most likely between Egypt, Nigeria or South Africa) and/or one seat from the Arab League. On 21 September 2004, the G4 nations issued a joint statement mutually backing each other's claim to permanent status, together with two African countries. Currently the proposal has to be accepted by two-thirds of the General Assembly (128 votes).

The designated Security Council Chamber in the United Nations Conference Building, designed by the Norwegian architect Arnstein Arneberg, was the specific gift of Norway. The mural painted by the Norwegian artist Per Krogh depicts a phoenix rising from its ashes, symbolic of the world reborn after World War II. In the blue and gold silk tapestry on the walls and in the draperies of the windows overlooking the East River appear the anchor of faith, the wheat stems of hope, and the heart of charity.

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Source : Wikipedia