The realization of effective international relations is central toward fostering global peace and security. Historically, poor intercontinental affairs led to the development of devastating conflicts as depicted by cases of World War I and World War II. As such, the establishment of the United Nations (UN) in 1945, just after the end of World War II, was timely because it sought to prevent the emergence of other conflicts that could result in global unrest. In particular, the United Nations Charter requires the Security Council to promote international peace, as well as security. In this regard, this paper analyzes the obligations and roles of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), including its enforcement powers.
Obligations and Roles of the UNSC
The Charter of the UN requires the Security Council to perform specific obligations to facilitate the execution of the role of maintaining global peace. Specifically, the UNSC plays the primary role of maintaining international peace and security. The execution of this principal function of the Security Council is given to 15 members who are selected through voting. Therefore, all party to the UN are required to comply with the decisions of the Security Council. In this respect, all parties to the UN are expected to be in consensus with the Security Council’s decisions in its pursuit of attaining and maintaining global peace and security.
In playing its role, the Security Council undertakes several obligations that facilitate the deployment of peacekeeping operations. For instance, the UNSC responds to crises around the globe using a case-by-case approach. It has a wide array of options, all of which are aimed at ensuring effective response to conflicts that disrupt international peace and security. As such, the Security Council identifies a particular peacekeeping option, for instance, by recommending the implementation of a ceasefire policy between conflicting parties or member states. It also ensures that all UN personnel involved in facilitating the implementation of these international peace affairs are well secured.
The Security Council is also obligated by the Charter of the UN to launch a mediation operation by embracing resolutions provided by the UN. The decision adopted by the Security Council determines the scope of its mission and size. In this respect, the mission of the peacekeeping operation should be in line with the interest of parties in conflicts. The goal is to facilitate the efficient management of issues that threaten global peace and security. The determination of the size of the operation facilitates the allocation of peacekeeping resources such as the UN personnel and materials required to successfully execute operations.
The Security Council is also obligated to monitor and appraise the work of the UN peacekeeping actions on a continuous basis. This responsibility also requires the Security Council to publish periodic reports through the office of the Secretary General after evaluating the progress of peacekeeping operations. The Security Council also monitors all processes by holding sessions to discuss any developments arising from particular operations.
Moreover, the Security Council is required by the UN Charter to conduct the extension, amendment, or termination of a mission. Only 15 members are selected to carry out this obligation by casting their votes to decide the appropriate course of action after deploying a peacekeeping operation. Indeed, the monitoring obligation influences the decision to amend, extend, or terminate international relations operations. In this respect, the Security Council controls when and where a peacekeeping intervention under the UN should be deployed.
The UNSC’s Powers of Enforcement
The Charter of the UN grants the Security Council an array of powers to enforce its peacekeeping operations. For instance, the UN deploys legal hierarchy provisions that stipulate power politics between Great Powers and rank-and-file states of the global community. In this respect, member states give up their legal primacy concerning matters of international peace and security. The Security Council is a powerful body because it directs member countries to comply with its decisions regarding the maintenance of global tranquility and defense.
The UNSC’s enforcement powers range from the investigation of disputes between parties to the appointment of the Secretary General. This agency has the power to inspect disputes that may contribute to the development of international clashes. The UNSC is authorized to recommend strategies for adjusting or settling any investigated disputes. Additionally, the UNSC can enforce its operations by creating a system to control armaments. Furthermore, the Security Council has the power to recommend the appropriate course of action after determining the presence of a threat to peace. In addition, the UNSC may guide member states in using economic sanctions against a particular party as a way of managing an existing conflict. The Security Council may also enforce its operations through military actions against an aggressive party. It recommends the Secretary General to the General Assembly to appoint and/or join members of the assembly in electing judges to serve in the International Court of Justice. As such, the Charter of the UN expects the Security Council to use its enforcement powers competently in facilitating the effective maintenance of international peace and security.
Examples Illustrating the UNSC’s Enforcement Competency
The Darfur War, which started in 2003, is an example that can be used to assess the competency of the UN in enforcing its powers. In line with Article 39 of the Charter of the UN, the Security Council is required to deploy a peacekeeping operation in an area that experiences a conflict that threatens world peace and security. For this reason, the UN could not intervene in the domestic war in Sudan since it viewed it as a civil war. Consequently, at least 400,000 people were killed due to the UN’s inaction since the Charter’s provisions on domestic sovereignty undermined the legality of the Security Council’s intervention.
Similarly, the domestic sovereignty issue also undermined peacekeeping operations of the UNSC in Rwanda, thereby allowing the genocide to claim the lives of close to a million people. By the time the UN intervened, mass killings had been stopped. This situation denotes the inefficiency of the UN in protecting the lives of civilians against genocidal governments. The above cases indicate significant levels of the UN’s incompetence in using its powers toward promoting peace and security in the international community. Nonetheless, the competency of the UNSC’s peacekeeping operations has been witnessed in Somalia after AMISOM deployed its military resources to take action against the Al-Shabaab, which threatened the serenity and security of this Horn of Africa region.
The UNSC plays an important role of preserving intercontinental peace and security. The Charter of the UN provides the Security Council with powers to enforce peacekeeping operations in regions that experience conflicts. However, the UNSC has demonstrated a degree of incompetence in enforcing its powers as denoted by the lack of action in the Darfur War and Rwanda genocide. Therefore, there is the need for reinforcing the powers accorded to the UNSC to foster the efficiency and effectiveness of its functions.