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Role of the Security Council

The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the United Nations Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security.

It is for the Security Council to determine when and where a UN Peacekeeping operation should be deployed.

Members of the UN Security Council sitting around a round table.

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The Security Council in New York plays a crucial role in peacekeeping.

The Security Council responds to crises around the world on a case-by-case basis and it has a range of options at its disposal. It takes many different factors into account when considering the establishment of new peacekeeping operation, including:

  • Whether there is a ceasefire in place and the parties have committed themselves to a peace process intended to reach a political settlement;
  • Whether a clear political goal exists and whether it can be reflected in the mandate;
  • Whether a precise mandate for a UN operation can be formulated;
  • Whether the safety and security of UN personnel can be reasonably ensured, including in particular whether reasonable guarantees can be obtained from the main parties or factions regarding the safety and security of UN personnel.

The Security Council establishes a peacekeeping operation by adopting a Security Council resolution. The resolution sets out that mission’s mandate and size.

The Security Council monitors the work of UN Peacekeeping operations on an ongoing basis, including through periodic reports from the Secretary-General and by holding dedicated Security Council sessions to discuss the work of specific operations.

The Security Council can vote to extend, amend or end mission mandates as it deems appropriate.

Under Article 25 of the Charter, all UN members agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. While other organs of the UN make recommendations to Member States, the Council alone has the power to take decisions which Member States are obligated to implement.

Find out more about Security Council functions and powers, resolutions, statements, reports, rules of procedure and other issues

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