The Security Council is the most powerful body of the United Nations, as it alone has the power to make resolutions binding upon member states. It is also one of the most diplomatically challenging committees, as each of the permanent five members has the right to veto draft resolutions. Therefore delegations with seats on the Council will be asked to send two members who are well-prepared to meet the high-paced demands of governing on an international scale.
Security Council Outline
This is an outline of some aspects unique to the Security Council among the HSMUN committees, written by Salma Elmallah and edited by Graham Ward.
So first of all – what is the Security Council, and why is it different from other committees? The SC is in charge of maintaining international peace, so with such a big portfolio the SC gets a bit of an extension of power. Unlike other committees, the Security Council can enforce sanctions, instigate peacekeeping operations, or authorize the use of military force. Additionally, the SC can issue binding resolutions – other committees essentially express approval or disapproval and hope that the member countries are listening and acting on their recommendations, but the SC gets to hold nations accountable. Check out the UN Security Council website for details of measures that the SC has enacted in the past.
You’ve probably also heard of this veto power business, and are wondering how and when it is used. First of all, there are 15 members total in the Security Council – 10 are elected for a two-year term, and 5 are permanent (the US, UK, China, Russia, and France). If one of the permanent members casts a negative vote in a non-procedural matter (i.e. please don’t try to veto moderated caucuses or anything), the resolution being voted on will not be adopted. Permanent members don’t just use their veto powers whenever they feel like it, but some nations use it more often than others. If you’re a permanent member, look up your country’s voting history, and figure out which issues are so important that you would be compelled to vote no if necessary! Also remember that negotiation and debate should be your primary means of acting in your country’s interests.
Live by this Spiderman quote all weekend long and you’ll do just fine.
Finally, the crisis. Security Council delegates are spontaneously called to committee all the time because of international crises. You yourself may or may not be forced to represent your country as an international crisis rapidly develops over the course of the conferrence. If you know your nation’s foreign policy and understand your country’s international relationships, we have faith that you’ll handle that crisis like a pro!