Preliminary note: the glossary has been compiled for information purposes only and the descriptions contained therein are not official definitions.


The programme of work adopted by the Security Council at the start of each meeting. Unlike most UN organs, the Council does not adopt an "agenda" listing multiple items which it intends to consider.

Annual Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly

Submitted to the General Assembly each year pursuant to Art. 15(1) and Art. 24(3) of the UN Charter. With a reporting period of 1 Aug. to 31 July of the following year, the report is drafted in accordance with Section XII of S/2010/507.


Individuals, often representing the Secretary-General or other parts of the UN system, who give an oral presentation to Council members on a matter under their consideration


Pursuant to rule 55 of the Council's provisional rules of procedure, a communiqué is issued at the close of each private meeting.

Consultations (of the whole) / “informal consultations”

"Consultations of the whole" are consultations held in private with all 15 Council members present. Such consultations are held in the Consultations Room, are announced in the UN Journal, have an agreed agenda and interpretation, and may involve one or more briefers. The consultations are closed to non-Council Member States. "Informal consultations" mostly refer to "consultations of the whole", but in different contexts may also refer to consultations among the 15 Council members or only some of them held without a Journal announcement and interpretation.


In addition to the general credentials submitted by each UN Member State, in order to be accredited to participate in the Security Council, the Head of State or Government or the Minister for Foreign Affairs of each Security Council member must submit credentials specific to the Council for every representative of its delegation.

Distribution of documents

All official documents of the Security Council, which include the decisions of the Council, reports of the Secretary-General to the Council, letters sent by the Council President, and communications sent to the Council, are distributed to all UN Member States on a daily basis.

Elected members ("non-permanent members")

Pursuant to Article 23 of the UN Charter, ten of the 15 Council members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms on the Security Council.

Expert groups

Groups of experts, appointed in their individual capacities by the Secretary-General upon the request of the Security Council, to provide fact-finding information in connection with the work of the sanctions committees and counter-terrorism committees of the Security Council.

Group of friends

A number of Member States, which can include both Council members and non-Council Member States, which is self-organized to take the lead in connection with a specific item on the agenda of the Security Council.

Informal dialogues

An informal private meeting of the Security Council members convened in order to hold an off-the-record discussion with one or more non-Council Member States. The informal dialogues are presided over by the Council President and take place in a meeting room other than the Council Chamber or Consultations Room.

Informal Working Group of the Security Council on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (“IWG”)

Established in 1993 by the Security Council, the Informal Working Group meets, as necessary, to consider the working methods and procedures of the Security Council and to make recommendations for adoption by the Council as appropriate. The document S/2010/507 was drafted and agreed through the work of the Informal Working Group.

Journal of the United Nations

A calendar of UN meetings, agendas and events in New York which is issued daily.


In the context of the document S/2010/507, the term "mandate" refers to the length of time and the governing principles under which such entities as UN peacekeeping forces, assistance missions or offices, representatives of the Secretary-General, or groups of experts have been authorized to perform tasks assigned by the Security Council.

Member States of the United Nations

States which are members of the United Nations Organization, and thereby have accepted all the obligations contained in the UN Charter.

Military Staff Committee

Under Articles 45, 46 and 47 of the UN Charter, the Military Staff 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.

Missions of the Security Council

Travel by some or all 15 members of the Security Council to regions related to matters under consideration by the Council.

Monthly assessment

A report written by each month's outgoing Council President, in his/her national capacity, summarizing the work of the Council during that Presidency.


Member States of the United Nations which are neither permanent nor elected members of the Security Council.

Non-State actors

Individuals or groups which are non-governmental and which are relevant to matters under the consideration of the Security Council.

Note by the President

A document published in the name of the Council President on behalf of all 15 members of the Council which most often sets out decisions by the Council concerning its working methods and procedures.

Note by the President of the Security Council dated 26 July 2010 (S/2010/507)

A document (contained in this book) which was adopted by the members of the Security Council on 26 July 2010 in order to set out a list of recent practices and newly agreed working methods and procedures of the Council.

Official languages

The official languages of the Security Council are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Open meeting

A meeting of the Security Council which can be attended by non-Council Member States and other individuals and for which there is a verbatim record and media coverage.

Peacebuilding Commission country-specific configuration

A subsidiary body of the Peacebuilding Commission (a body jointly created by the General Assembly and the Security Council) established in order to assist a specific country in post-conflict peace consolidation.

Peacekeeping missions

UN peacekeeping missions are mandated by the Security Council to provide security and political and peacebuilding support to countries in conflict or post-conflict situations. They are guided by the principles of consent of the host country, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defence, defence of the mandate, or protection of civilians if so authorized by the Council.

Permanent observers to the United Nations

Permanent Observers are representatives of entities other than Member States who have been accorded certain specified rights and who can be invited by the Council to participate in certain Council meetings.

Police-contributing countries

Countries contributing police personnel to UN peacekeeping or assistance missions or offices.

President of the Security Council

Under rule 18 of the Security Council's provisional rules of procedure, the presidency of the Council is held in turn by the members of the Council in English alphabetical order for a one-calendar-month period. Under rule 19, the President presides over the meetings of the Security Council and, under the authority of the Council, represents it in its capacity as a UN organ.

Principal organs of the United Nations

The Charter established six principal organs of the United Nations: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat. The United Nations family, however, is much larger, encompassing 15 agencies and several programmes and bodies.

Programme of work ("calendar")

The Council agrees on both a monthly and a daily Programme of work. The monthly programme, or "calendar", initially agreed by the 15 members at the beginning of each presidency, sets out all agreed Council meetings and consultations for the month and can be amended by the members as the presidency progresses. The daily Programme of work is published in the (daily) UN Journal and indicates any meetings and consultations to be convened on that particular day together with their subjects.

Provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council

The provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council, last amended in 1982, set out the procedures, inter alia, for conducting meetings, representation and credentials, the presidency, conduct of business, voting, publicity and records of meetings, the admission of new UN Member States, and relations with other UN organs.

Reports of the Secretary-General

Reports submitted by the Secretary-General to the members of the Security Council on matters under consideration by the Council. The reports are usually, but not always, requested by the Council through a formal decision and issued as an official document of the Security Council. It is customary for the Secretary-General or a representative of the Secretary-General to present each report to the members of the Council either in a formal meeting or in closed consultations of the whole.

Representatives of the Secretary-General

The Secretary-General can appoint representatives and, if their work relates to the work of the Security Council, the appointment is usually confirmed in an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Council President writing on behalf of the members. The representatives have various titles, including Special Representative, Special Envoy and Special Advisor, and they may serve as the head of a peacekeeping mission or of an assistance or political office, or represent the Secretary-General in negotiations.

Resolution 1353 (2001)

A resolution adopted by the Security Council in 2001 which sets out various provisions for improving communication and collaboration with countries contributing troops and/or police to missions established by the Security Council.

Resolution 1631 (2005)

A resolution adopted by the Security Council in 2005 on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security.

Sanctions committee

A subsidiary organ on which all 15 Security Council members are represented and which is established by the Council in order to carry out its directives in connection with sanctions regimes, which can include arms embargos, travel bans, freezing of accounts, and restrictions on the exploitation of natural resources.

Secretariat / Secretary-General

Composed of international staff and headed by the Secretary-General, the Secretariat is the principal organ established by the UN Charter which carries out the diverse day-to-day work of the Organization, including servicing the other principal organs and administering the programmes and policies decided by them.

Security Council

One of the principal organs of the UN, the Security Council has primary responsibility under the UN Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Security Council Affairs Division of the Department of Political Affairs

The office in the UN Secretariat of which the principal function is to directly assist the Security Council with its work.

Speakers list

A list maintained by the Council President setting out, in order, all those Council members, non-Council Member States and individuals who will be making a statement during a Council meeting.

Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The United Nations official responsible for the relations between the Secretariat and the press and who liaises with the Security Council Affairs Division in order to bring information concerning the Council and its work to the attention of journalists.

Statements by the President of the Security Council (“PRST”)

A statement made by the President of the Security Council on behalf of the Council, adopted at a formal meeting of the Council and issued as an official document of the Council.

Statements to the press

A statement to the media made by the President of the Security Council on behalf of all 15 members and which is issued as a UN press release in English and French.

Subsidiary body

A committee or working group or other small entity created by the Security Council to carry out specific responsibilities under its direction.

Summary statement of matters of which the Security Council is seized

A document, updated each week, issued by the Secretary-General pursuant to rule 11 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure and which lists all matters relating to the Council’s mandate for the maintenance of international peace and security which the Council has taken up in one or more formal meetings and of which the Council has not yet determined that it has completed its consideration.

Troop-contributing countries

Countries contributing troops to UN peacekeeping or assistance missions or offices.

UN Resident Coordinators

Under the aegis of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a Resident Coordinator leads a United Nations country team (UNCT) and is the designated representative of the Secretary-General for development operations.

Verbatim record

A full transcript, published as an official Security Council document in all six official languages, of all statements made during a public meeting of the Council. For private meetings of the Council, the verbatim record is not issued as a published document, but is rather available for consultation only upon request.

Working Group of the Security Council on Peacekeeping Operations

A subsidiary body of the Security Council which meets, as necessary, to consider matters relating to peacekeeping operations mandated by the Council.