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    The limited nature of the right of veto


    Under the terms stipulated by the UN Charter, the right of veto of the permanent members of the Security Council is restricted, i.e. it does not apply in cases of a procedural nature (related primarily to the functioning of the Security Council itself). In such a situation, the support of nine members is needed for the Security Council to make a decision, regardless of whether they are permanent or non-permanent members of the Security Council. The powers of non-permanent members are also in theory strengthened by the so-called “collective right of veto” (a Ssecurity Council decision does not receive support if at least seven non-permanent members of the Security Council vote against its adoption, regardless of the support of all states – permanent members).



    Monthly presidency the Security Council


    A convenient opportunity for non-permanent members of the Security Council to influence the work of the Security Council is the monthly presidency of the Council, held in turn by all member states, in alphabetical order. The chair of the Security Council has influence on, amongst other things, shaping the monthly programme of the Council. It is also granted a number of powers of an organizational nature (including decisions concerning the order of voting in the Security Council on amendments to resolutions).

    The country holding the presidency of the Council in a given month usually also proposes the content of so-called thematic debates. For many non-permanent members, these debates are an opportunity to draw attention to issues important to them in the sphere of international peace and security.



    Crisis issues, sanction committees


    Measures taken by the Security Council in relation to global crises are usually initiated by the permanent members, which present the motions and other documents of the Council. The non-permanent members, however, can play an important role in matters concerning their respective geographic regions (eg. Arab countries with regards to issues pertaining to the Middle East) and thematic issues (eg. contributing states on issues regarding peacekeeping operations). Increased influence on the Council’s decisions is also provided by the leadership of sanction committees and Security Council working groups, which are traditionally exercised by non-permanent members.



    The opportunity to build a coalition of states


    The importance of non-permanent members is increased when a large group of non-permanent members of the Security Council presents a united position on a given issue that is on the Council’s agenda. This happens often in situations where several members of the Security Council belong to the same regional organization or interest group. The importance of non-permanent members is also increased during serious political crises, during which permanent members do not represent a unanimous position but where the differences between them are not deep enough to completely paralyze the work of the Council.



    Consensual nature of certain Security Council decisions


    Also playing to the favour of non-permanent members is the fact that in the course of its work the Security Council often seeks to reach a consensus, not only with regards to legal documents (resolutions) and political documents (statements) but also organizational issues (the Security Council’s programme of work for a given month).


    Incorporating the most important issues during informal meetings gives non-permanent members a chance to protect their interests and place issues that are important to them within the content of negotiated documents. In recent years, non-permanent members have not only played a significant role in the process of negotiating the content of documents, they have also started to present their own proposals for solutions.



    Photo: United Nations Photo/Flickr


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