First Session At UN Security Council - [January 17, 1946] This Day in History

17 January 1946

UN Security Council held its first session


What happened?

UN Security Council

On 17 January 1946, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held its first session in London.

Background

  • The United Nations was formed on 24 October 1945 in the wake of the large-scale disaster caused by the Second World War.
  • During the discussions that led to its formation, the “Big Four” countries were the allied powers of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and China.
  • US president Franklin Roosevelt proposed the formation of a council to guarantee world peace known as the “Four Policemen” comprised of the “Big Four”.
  • As per the UN structure, there was to be an enforcement branch to aid the executive in fulfilling its decisions. This was to be the council of “Four Policemen” and it became effective as the Security Council of the UN. A fifth member, France was added later in 1945.
  • After the official formation of the UN, the UNSC met for the first time at London in the UK.
  • The five permanent members of the UNSC are US, UK, France, Russia and China.
  • The primary role of the UNSC is to maintain international peace and security. In case of any threat of war or aggression, the UNSC asks member nations to settle disputes amicably. In case of violation, it can impose sanctions on the violating member country. It also oversees the settling and negotiation of disputes between countries.
  • It can also authorise the use of force in order to maintain peace if the need arises and peaceful methods do not work. It can take military action against aggressors.
  • The UNSC conducts peacekeeping operations in troubled regions of the world. The UN peacekeeping forces wear trademark light blue helmets are often called ‘Blue Berets’ or ‘Blue Helmets’.
  • Other roles include recommending a Secretary-General to the UN, and the appointment of judges to the International Court of Justice along with the General Assembly. The Council also looks into the admission of new members into the UN.
  • The UNSC is one of the 5 main organs of the UN, the other being the General Assembly, the Secretariat, the International Court of Justice, and the Economic and Social Council.
  • The UNSC has 15 members including the five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members.
  • Each member has voting rights. The permanent members have veto power over UN resolutions. They can block the adoption of a resolution but not the debate over the issue.
  • Many countries are calling for a change in the structure in the Security Council. India, Brazil, Japan and Germany are calling for their inclusion in the UNSC. They are collectively known as the G4 Nations. While Japan and Germany are the second and third largest fund providers respectively for the UN, India and Brazil are the two largest contributors of personnel for the UN peacekeeping missions.
  • There is another group of member countries called the ‘Uniting for Consensus’ that aims at preventing any expansion to the permanent seats. Some of the members of this group are Canada, Spain, South Korea, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, Columbia and Argentina. They propose the creation of semi-permanent seats.
  • The current ten members of the UNSC are: Bolivia, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Peru, Poland and Sweden. Each member has a term of two years each. And, every year, five of them are replaced by new members.
  • Each member holds the presidency of the Council for a period of one month in turns.
  • The permanent residence of the UNSC is in the UN headquarters in New York City, USA.
Also on this day

1706: Birth of Benjamin Franklin, scientist, inventor and one of the Founding Fathers of America. 1905: Birth of recreational mathematician D R Kaprekar, who discovered the Kaprekar Constant. 1917: Birth of former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M G Ramachandran. 1981: Full statehood granted to Mizoram. 1991: End of the Gulf War/Operation Desert Shield. 2010: Death of veteran communist leader and former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

 

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