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Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council

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Relations with Other United Nations Organs

This section deals with the relations of the Security Council with the other principal organs of the United Nations: the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the Secretariat. In addition, it has included material relating to the Military Staff Committee, which has been placed, by Articles 45, 46 and 47 of the Charter of the United Nations, in a special relationship with the Security Council. In the 2004-2007 volume, the section dealing with relations with the General Assembly covers aspects of the Peacebuilding Commission, the only subsidiary organ jointly created by the General Assembly and the Security Council. Under each of the subsections below, the Repertoire provides case studies and other information that may best serve to highlight how the provisions of the related Articles were interpreted by the Council in its deliberations and applied in its decisions.

A. Relations with the General Assembly

The Repertoire lays out the relations between the Security Council and the General Assembly, by featuring the relationship between the two principal organs in dealing with peace and security issues, as well as the Council practice relating to the appointment of the Secretary-General, the elections of judges of International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and recommendations from the General Assembly to the Council, among others. In addition, the relations between the Security Council and certain subsidiary organs established by the General Assembly, as well as the Security Council annual and special reports are included in this section.

1. Authority of the General Assembly in cases being addressed by the Security Council

2. Convocation of a special session of the General Assembly 

In accordance with Article 20 of the Charter, the General Assembly may convene a special session at the request of the Security Council or of a majority of the members of the United Nations. This subsection covers the practice and discussions in the Security Council that relate to instances where the Council requested that the General Assembly convene a special session as stipulated under Article 20.

3. Referral to the General Assembly under resolution 377A (V) of an item being considered by the Security Council

This subsection dealt with the referral, under General Assembly resolution 377 A (V) of 3 November 1950, to the General Assembly of an item being considered by the Security Council. General Assembly resolution 377 A (V) on "Uniting for peace" states that, if the Security Council fails to act in order to maintain international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, the matter shall be addressed immediately by the General Assembly.

4. Recommendations to the Security Council adopted by the General Assembly in the form of resolutions

This subsection provides a list of resolutions where the General Assembly has made a recommendation to the Security Council, either in regard to the Council’s general responsibilities or in regard to a specific situation. From 1989 onwards, the subsection focuses on recommendations that were made under Articles 10 and 11 of the Charter, and called the Council’s attention under Article 11 (3) to situations which were likely to endanger international peace and security.

5. Reports of the Security Council to the General Assembly

In accordance with Article 24 (3) of the Charter, the Security Council submits annual and, when necessary, special reports to the General Assembly. The Repertoire provides details on any changes to the format, structure and substance of its annual report, as well as to the procedure for its adoption. 

 

6. Election by the General Assembly of non-permanent members of the Security Council

In accordance with Article 23 (1) of the Charter, the General Assembly, at each regular session, shall elect ten other members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council. The Repertoire provides information on the election by the General Assembly of non-permanent members of the Security Council.

7. Recommendations by the Security Council to the General Assembly
           
There are several procedural situations where the Security Council provides a recommendation to the General Assembly for its action or acts concurrently with the General Assembly. These are (a) appointment of the Secretary-General, (b) membership in the Organization, (c) election of the judges of the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda , (d) conditions on accession to the ICJ Statute, and (e) conditions under which a State party to the ICJ Statute but not a Member State of the United Nations participates in the election of ICJ judges,  as in the below subsections.

a. Appointment of the Secretary-General

This subsection covers the procedures used in appointing the Secretary-General who is first recommended by the Security Council and then approved by the General Assembly under Article 97.

b. Membership in the United Nations

This section deals with the role of the General Assembly relating to the membership in the United Nations, particularly in admission of new members.  For more details, see also Membership in the United Nations

c. Election of the judges of the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda

This subsection features Council proceedings relating to the election of judges of the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. As set out in their Statutes of the International Tribunals, the election of their judges takes place at the General Assembly on the basis of the list of candidates which the Security Council establishes in its resolution, following the nominations of candidates forwarded by the Secretary-General to the Council.   

d. Conditions of accession to the Statute of the International Court of Justice

In accordance with Article 93 (2), conditions of accession to the Statute of ICJ by non-member of the United Nations shall be determined by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. This subsection presents such cases7

e. Conditions under which a non-Member State, party to the Statute, may participate in electing members of the International Court of Justice

In the 1946-1951 volume, theRepertoireincluded a subsection featuring a case study of Council discussions on conditions under which a non-Member State but party to the Statute of ICJ might participate in the election of ICJ judges.

8. Relations with subsidiary organs established by the General Assembly
           
Certain subsidiary organs established by the General Assembly have participated in the work of the Security Council, either because they were mandated by resolutions of the General Assembly, or because the Council decided to avail itself of their services. This section gives an account of the relationship between the Security Council and the subsidiary organs established by the General Assembly. From the 1975-1980 volume onwards, it provides a list of communications sent by the subsidiary organs of the General Assembly to the Council.

9. The Peacebuilding Commission

The Peacebuilding Commission was jointly established by the General Assembly and the Security Council in 2006. For coverage, please see the section on subsidiary organs.

B. Relations with the Economic and Social Council

According to Article 65 of the United Nations Charter, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) may furnish information to the Security Council and assist the Security Council, upon its request.

The Repertoire provides information on explicit references and implicit references to Article 65 in Council documents, as well as case studies that examine instances where Article 65 was discussed in consideration of specific situations on the Security Council’s agenda.  It covers Security Council decisions, deliberations and communications that touch on the relationship between the two Councils, particularly on cooperation and coordination, or lack thereof, between them. 

C. Relations with the Trusteeship Council

Under Chapter XII of the Charter, the United Nations established the international trusteeship system for the supervision of trust territories placed under it by individual agreements with the States administering them. Chapter XIII established the Trusteeship Council to oversee the system.  As to the role of the Security Council in the international trusteeship system, Article 83 of the Charter provides, inter alia, that all functions of the United Nations relating to strategic areas, including the approval of the terms of the trusteeship agreements and of their alteration or amendment shall be exercised by the Security Council. Article 84 states that the administering authority shall ensure that the trust territory shall play its part in the maintenance of international peace and security and to that end the administering authority may make use of volunteer forces, facilities, and assistance from the trust territory in carrying out the obligations towards the Security Council. Following the independence of Palau, the last trust territory, on 1 October 1994, the Trusteeship Council suspended operation on 1 November 1994, while remaining in existence (see also the United Nations and Decolonization). In addition to the studies below, the 1946-1951 volume also featured a brief section on Strategic Areas under Trusteeship in a separate study.

D. Relations with the International Court of Justice

1. Consideration of the relationship between the Security Council and the International Court of Justice

Article 94 (2) of the United Nations Charter provides recourse to the Security Council by a party to a case, if the other party fails to perform the obligations incumbent upon it under the judgment rendered by ICJ. Article 94 (2) also gives the Security Council the authority to make recommendations or decide upon measures to be taken to give effect to that judgment.  Article 96 provides the basis for a request, from the Council to ICJ, for an advisory opinion on any legal question. This subsection concerns the relationship between the Security Council and ICJ.

 

2. Election of members of the International Court of Justice

The election of judges of ICJ, as stipulated under Articles 4, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14 of the ICJ Statute, requires action by the Security Council in conjunction with the General Assembly, but with both organs proceeding independently. Such proceedings in connection with elections for members of the International Court of Justice as stipulated under Articles 4, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice are featured below.

E. Relations with the Secretariat

This section, introduced from the 1989-1992 volume, covers many of the non-administrative functions given to the Secretary-General in accordance with Articles 98 and 99 of the United Nations Charter (Administrative functions of the Secretariat can be found here).  Materials covered here include: measures to ascertain the facts; good offices; joint efforts to promote a political settlement; peacekeeping and implementation of peace agreements; support to international and special tribunals; and implementation of sanctions regimes.  For more information on good offices, mediation and other tasks entrusted to the Secretary-General such as bringing matters which may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security to the attention of the Security Council, see also Pacific Settlement of Disputes and the section on Subsidiary Organs.

F. Relations with the Military Staff Committee

The Military Staff Committee, established pursuant to Article 47 of the Charter, is composed of the Chiefs of Staff of the permanent members or their representatives. The function of the Committee is “to advise and assist the Security Council on all questions relating to the Security Council’s military requirements for the maintenance of international peace and security, the employment and command of forces at its disposal, the regulation of armaments, and possible disarmament”.  This section in the Repertoire deals with relations between the Security Council and the Military Staff Committee. On the Military Staff Committee, see also Actions with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression , from the 1989-1992 volume onwards.

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