France and the United Nations Security Council

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Membership of the Security Council

The Security Council comprises five permanent members, including France, each of which have the right to veto.

  • United States of America
  • Russian Federation
  • France
  • People’s Republic of China
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Security Council also includes 10 non-permanent members, which have no right to veto. They are elected by the United Nations General Assembly for two year terms.

In 2018, the non-permanent members are:
Bolivia, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland and Sweden.

Over 60 Member States of the United Nations have never been Security Council members.

How the Council works

The presidency of the Security Council is held in turn for one month by the members in the English alphabetical order of their names. France will next preside over the Security Council in March 2019. It will be succeeded by Germany.

If a Member State which is not part of the Security Council deems that its interests are particularly affected by an issue being discussed therein, it may attend the Security Council meeting but may not vote.

The Security Council adopts two types of decisions:

  • Resolutions. They must receive nine votes, with no dissenting votes from any permanent member (veto).
  • Presidential statements. Presidential statements are adopted by consensus, with no vote.

The role of the United Nations Security Council

The United Nations Security Council is competent on issues linked to international peace and security. It adopts resolutions which apply to all UN Member States, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

Finally, the Security Council decides on the implementation and mandates of UN Peacekeeping Operations.

The right to veto at the Security Council

The five permanent members have a right to veto, which prevents a resolution from being adopted. It has been exercised a total of 287 times since the creation of the UN. France has not used it since 1991.

100 countries support France’s initiative to regulate use of the veto in cases of confirmed mass atrocities.

France is convinced that the veto cannot and must not be a privilege. It carries with it duties and a special responsibility granted by the Charter of the United Nations. The right to veto was granted to the five permanent members to foster cooperation among them to enable the United Nations to prevent and resolve international conflicts, ensure effective compliance with international law and protect civilian populations.

Updated: September 2018