Security Council

The Charter of the United Nations defines the function and powers of the Security Council as ‘to ensure prompt and effective action’ and to bear the ‘responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security’. The Security Council is the brain of the United Nations, tasked with the challenge to deliver the visions and mission of the United Nations – peace and security through international cooperation and compromise for the good of humanity. To help fulfill the Security Council’s duty, the body is given significant powers such as to establish peacekeeping operations, impose international sanctions, and authorise military actions – which partly explains the division amongst the Security Council members and its fierce debates.

The Security Council consists of ten elected members, which are Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Germany, Indonesia, Kuwait, Peru, Poland, and South Africa, in addition to five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

With the prospect of international cooperation becoming jeopardised and polarisation accelerating, the role of the Security Council and the responsibility of its member states to act collectively to maintain peace and security has never been more important: it is expected that delegates of the highest calibre will engage in discussions and adopt strategies with the aim to generate a resolution.

Topic 1 – The Question of the Impact of Russia’s expansionism: with militarisation increasing across the EU in response to Russia’s expansionism, how should the UN react?  

Russia has been advancing its militarisation on its western borders, creating an ever hostile atmosphere in the Black Sea region following the annexation of Crimea from February to March of 2014. Since then, Russia has been continually developing its military presence in Europe, challenging major Western European nations and the integrity and commitment of the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

The Security Council, which has France, the Russian Federation, the United States, and the United Kingdom as its permanent members, will engage in discussions on the future of Europe’s military cohesion and maintaining a framework for peace.

Questions to think about might include:

  • Considering the actions taken on all sides, how much progress has been made in steering Europe away from further militarisation?
  • What has been the outcome and consequences of international responses following Russia’s military annexation of Crimea?
  • What can the members of the Security Council do to widen the communication channel between European countries to avert from a potential military crisis?

Topic 2 – The Question of Security Council Reform: Should the Security Council Be Reformed, and How?

The United Nations is a diplomatic body which strives for peace and justice for all so that every member State has an equal voice, but in practice, is this really the case? As the most powerful UN body, is the Security Council finally in need of an update after 75 years, or is it necessary for its structure to continue to exist?

The 5 permanent (P5) members of the Security Council, the UK, USA, France, China and Russia, are all legally ratified nuclear powers and have veto powers over what can be passed in committee, leading to controversy about the injustice of power imbalances within the UN itself. Movements have already been made towards giving permanent seats to States outside of this ‘club’ known as the G4: India, Germany, Japan and Brazil.

Another point of controversy is whether Security Council resolutions carry enough weight in taking action. For example, it has been criticised for its lack of action in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda, while both North Korea and Iran are considered to have broken multiple resolutions with little consequence.

Questions to ask when writing a resolution:

  • Does having veto power work in favour of your country?
  • What message is implied by the Security Council’s structure and does this fall in line with that which the UN hopes to project?
  • Are there any specific cases where the structure of the SC has helped or hindered action on a topic?
  • How likely is your country to become a part of the G4 or an equivalent group?
  • Should the P5 be abolished, increased, or remain the same?
  • What approach can you take to changing the power structure of the SC so that a resolution proposing this will be passed and not vetoed?

You can find more detailed information on researching this topic in the briefing pack here.

Topic 3 – The Question of Argentina’s Debt Default: What Should the UN do?

Standing at at debt totalling just over $100 billion, Argentina’s economy is struggling to avoid its ninth sovereign default. The South American country’s poor primary-election outcome and its lack of fiscal discipline are believed to be the primary causes of the rising rates of inflation. It is perhaps Argentina’s history of chronic volatility which makes this issue such a controversial one. The country has, in the past, secured record-breaking funding arrangements from the international monetary fund (IMF) in the pursuit of saving itself from financial collapse — something which has left other nation states simmering.

The question now remains: how can the UN deal with the Argentina’s debt default? One possible solution to calm down the current market turbulence would be to address these concerns to the IMF. In fact, Argentina has already requested a restructuring of debt payments, with the Macri government seeking a voluntary extension of repayment times. The other, more extreme option, would be to rescind any current debt so that the country’s economy can move forward. Whatever proposal it agrees on, the Argentinian government must be careful that it does not further damage its own credibility towards other nations.

You can find more detailed information on this topic here.