UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL

The Security Council is the United Nations' most powerful body, with "Primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security." Five powerful countries sit as "Permanent Members" along with ten elected members with two-year terms. Since 1990, the Council has dramatically increased its activity and it now meets in nearly continuous session. It dispatches military operations, imposes sanctions, mandates arms inspections,deploys election monitors and more. Under the Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The Security Council, the United Nations' principal crisis-management body, is empowered to impose binding obligations on the United Nations' 193 member states to maintain peace. The council's five permanent and ten elected members meet regularly to assess threats to international security, addressing issues that include civil wars, natural disasters, arms control, and terrorism. Structurally, the body remains largely unchanged since its founding in 1946, stirring debate among many members about its efficacy and authority as a mediator on matters of international security.