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Briefing for MPs on UN processes 3: Reforming the Security Council: When?


The Security Council embodies the principle of collective security – a threat to any member of the international community is a threat to everyone. Designed to take “prompt and effective action” to preserve or restore the peace, it is by far the most powerful organ of the United Nations. Its resolutions carry the force of international law and can be enforced through punishing economic sanctions and, ultimately, military action.

The original Security Council consisted of five veto-wielding permanent members – China, France, USSR (now Russia), UK, and United States-and six non-permanent members elected every two years. In 1965, the Security Council grew to fifteen members and has remained the same despite tremendous changes in the geopolitical balance of power, a growing global population, and a dramatic expansion of UN Members States.

Over the last 25 years, a number of concrete proposals have emerged to make the Security Council more representative and more legitimate. Enlarging the Security Council is no easy task. It requires two-thirds approval within the General Assembly and ratification by two-thirds of Member States, including the five permanent members. Despite years of discussions, no proposal has come before the General Assembly for formal negotiation. As time passes with no reform, the world will face more political instability and conflict.

Is there a way to resolve the current impasse in Security Council reform? Can the Security Council be made to work more effectively in the best interest of “we the peoples”?

Please note that the briefing is open to MPs and their staff only. Registration details have been sent to all parliaments through the IPU group secretaries. If you are an interested MP and you did not get the invitation, please contact the IPU Observer Office at the United Nations at