Functions and Powers of the UN Security Council
Under the United Nations Charter, the main function of the Security Council is to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations.
This includes actions such as:
- to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;
- to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;
- to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;
- to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;
- to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
- to take military action against an aggressor;
All Peacekeeping Missions and other missions of political importance to the United Nations (Burundi, Afghanistan etc.) must be mandated and monitored by the Security Council. Currently, there are 16 Peacekeeping Operations ongoing with as many as 80,000 blue helmets on the ground.
Furthermore, the Security Council recommends to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, elects the Judges of the International Court of Justice. It also recommends the admission of new members and exercises the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in areas of strategic importance.
With the Security Council being an inter-governmental body, all its activities are grounded in initiatives taken by the members. For example, the organization on thematic debates enables the Security Council to discuss issues of global relevance, such as child soldiers or violence against civilians, also when there is no “specific crisis” at hand.
The workload of the Security Council has increased significantly throughout recent years. It includes routine tasks such as extending the mandates for ongoing Peacekeeping Operations, monthly debates, as well as actions on issues such as terrorism or the proliferation of weapons of mass-destruction.