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United Nations Security Council

Structure

Article 29

"The Security Council may establish such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its functions."

Charter of the United Nations

Rule 28

"The Security Council may appoint a commission or committee or a rapporteur for a specified question."

Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council

Part of the UN System

The Security Council is one of the six main organs established under the UN Charter. It is organized in such a way that it can function continuously, and a representative of each of its members must be present at all times at UN Headquarters.

To perform its functions, the Security Council has created a series of subsidiary organs to focus on specific issues.

For more information:

Subsidiary Organs

Article 29 of the United Nations Charter sets out that the Security Council may establish subsidiary bodies as needed for the performance of its functions. This is also reflected in Rule 28 of the Council’s Provisional Rules of Procedure.

All existing committees and working groups are comprised of the fifteen members of the Council. While standing committees are chaired by the President of the Council, rotating on a monthly basis, other committees and working groups are chaired or co-chaired by designated members of the Council who are announced on an annual basis by a Note of the President of the Security Council.

The mandate of subsidiary organs, whether they are committees or working groups, can range from procedural matters (e.g. documentation and procedures, meetings away from headquarters) to substantive issues (e.g. sanctions regimes, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping operations).

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) are subsidiary organs of the Security Council within the terms of article 29 of the Charter. As such they are dependent on the UN in administrative and financial matters, although as judicial institutions, they are independent of any one State or group of States, including their parent body, the Security Council.

Committees

Counter-Terrorism and Non-Proliferation Committees
Military Staff Committee

The Military Staff Committee helps plan UN military measures and regulate armaments.

Sanctions Committees (ad hoc)

The use of mandatory sanctions is intended to apply pressure on a State or entity to comply with the objectives set by the Security Council without resorting to the use of force. Sanctions thus offer the Security Council an important instrument to enforce its decisions. The universal character of the United Nations makes it an especially appropriate body to establish and monitor such measures.

The Council has resorted to mandatory sanctions as an enforcement tool when peace has been threatened and diplomatic efforts have failed. The range of sanctions has included comprehensive economic and trade sanctions and/or more targeted measures such as arms embargoes, travel bans, financial or diplomatic restrictions.

Standing Committees and Ad Hoc Bodies

Standing Committees are open-ended and generally were established to address certain procedural questions, such as the admission of new members. Ad hoc committees are established for a limited time and to address a specific issue.

Peacekeeping Operations and Political Missions

International Courts and Tribunals

Advisory Subsidiary Organ

The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) is an intergovernmental advisory body that supports peace efforts in countries emerging from conflict, and is a key addition to the capacity of the International Community in the broad peace agenda.

The Peacebuilding Commission plays a unique role in:

The Peacebuilding Commission is an Advisory Subsidiary Body of both the Security Council and the General Assembly.