The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council

The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (also known as the Permanent Five, Big Five, or P5) are the five sovereign states to whom the UN Charter of 1945 grants a permanent seat on the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States.[1][2]

The permanent members were all Allies in World War II (and the victors of that war), and are the five states with the first and most nuclear weapons.[3] All have the power of veto which enables any one of them to prevent the adoption of any "substantive" draft Council resolution, regardless of its level of international support.[4]

The remaining 10 members of the UN Security Council are elected by the General Assembly, giving a total of 15 UN member states on the Security Council.

Permanent members

The following is a table of the current permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

State Current state representation Former state representation Executive leaders Permanent representative
China  People's Republic of China Taiwan Republic of China[a] (1945–1949, 1949–1971) General Secretary and President: Xi Jinping[b]
Premier of the State Council: Li Qiang[c]

Fu Cong[5]
France  French Republic (Fifth Republic)  Provisional Government of the French Republic (1945–1946)
 French Fourth Republic (1946–1958)
President: Emmanuel Macron
Prime Minister: Gabriel Attal

Nicolas de Rivière[6]
Russia  Russian Federation  Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1945–1991) President: Vladimir Putin
Prime Minister: Mikhail Mishustin

Vasily Nebenzya[7]
United Kingdom  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Monarch: King Charles III
Prime Minister: Rishi Sunak

Barbara Woodward[8]
United States  United States of America President: Joe Biden
Vice-President: Kamala Harris

Linda Thomas-Greenfield[9]


The original permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in 1945 (dark blue) with their respective colonies and other holdings shown (pale blue)
Leaders of the five permanent member states at a summit in 2000. Clockwise from front left: Chinese paramount leader Jiang Zemin, U.S. President Bill Clinton, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and French President Jacques Chirac.

Based on the consensus on the Security Council's structure agreed upon at the 1944 Dumbarton Oaks Conference[10] and subsequently at UN's founding in 1945, the five permanent members of the Security Council were the French Republic, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. There have been two seat changes since then, although these have not been reflected in Article 23 of the UN Charter, as it has not been accordingly amended:

Additionally, between the founding of the United Nations and the end of the 20th century, many of the overseas territories of the United Kingdom and France became independent with the breakup of the British Empire and French colonial empire, and France had a reduction in de jure territory with the independence of Algeria in 1962.[d] France maintained its seat as there was no change in its international status or recognition. (During this time, France also reformed its provisional government into the French Fourth Republic in 1946 and into the French Fifth Republic in 1958, both under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle.)

The five permanent members of the Security Council were the victorious powers in World War II and have maintained the world's most powerful military forces ever since. They annually top the list of countries with the highest military expenditures along with India and Germany; in 2011, they spent over US$1 trillion combined on defence, accounting for over 60% of global military expenditures (the U.S. alone accounting for over 40%). They are also among the world's top 10 largest arms exporters and are the only nations officially recognised as "nuclear-weapon states" under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), though there are other states known or believed to be in possession of nuclear weapons.

Veto power

Main article: United Nations Security Council veto power

The "power of veto" refers to the veto power wielded solely by the permanent members, enabling them to prevent the adoption of any "substantive" draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft. The veto does not apply to procedural votes, which is significant in that the Security Council's permanent membership can vote against a "procedural" draft resolution, without necessarily blocking its adoption by the council.

The veto is exercised when any permanent member—the so-called "P5" casts a "negative" vote on a "substantive" draft resolution. Abstention or absence from the vote by a permanent member does not prevent a draft resolution from being adopted.


Main article: Reform of the United Nations Security Council

The G4 nations: Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan

There have been proposals suggesting the introduction of new permanent members. The candidates usually mentioned are Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan. They compose the group of four countries known as the G4 nations, which mutually support one another's bids for permanent seats.[19]

This sort of reform has traditionally been opposed by the Uniting for Consensus group, which is composed primarily of nations that are regional rivals and economic competitors of the G4. The group is composed of Italy and Spain (opposing Germany), Colombia, Mexico and Argentina (opposing Brazil), Pakistan (opposing India), and South Korea (opposing Japan), in addition to Canada, Malta and Turkey. Since 1992, Italy and other council members have instead proposed semi-permanent seats or expanding the number of temporary seats.[20]

Most of the leading candidates for permanent membership are regularly elected onto the Security Council by their respective groups. Japan was elected for eleven two-year terms, Brazil for ten terms, and Germany for three terms. India has been elected to the council eight times in total, with the most recent successful bid being in 2020.

In 2013, the P5 and G4 members of the UN Security Council accounted for eight of the world's ten largest defence budgets, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Leaders of the permanent members

The following are the heads of state or heads of government that represent the permanent members of the UN Security Council as of 2022:

Historical leaders

Harry S. TrumanDwight D. EisenhowerJohn F. KennedyLyndon B. JohnsonRichard NixonGerald FordJimmy CarterRonald ReaganGeorge H. W. BushBill ClintonGeorge W. BushBarack ObamaDonald TrumpJoe BidenClement AttleeWinston ChurchillAnthony EdenHarold MacmillanAlec Douglas-HomeHarold WilsonEdward HeathHarold WilsonJames CallaghanMargaret ThatcherJohn MajorTony BlairGordon BrownDavid CameronTheresa MayBoris JohnsonLiz TrussRishi SunakJoseph StalinGeorgy MalenkovNikita KhrushchevLeonid BrezhnevYuri AndropovKonstantin ChernenkoMikhail GorbachevBoris YeltsinVladimir PutinDmitry MedvedevVladimir PutinCharles de GaulleVincent AuriolRené CotyCharles de GaulleGeorges PompidouValéry Giscard d'EstaingFrançois MitterrandJacques ChiracNicolas SarkozyFrançois HollandeEmmanuel MacronChiang Kai-shekLi ZongrenChiang Kai-shekMao ZedongHua GuofengDeng XiaopingJiang ZeminHu JintaoXi Jinping

See also


  1. ^ On 25 October 1971, with opposition from the United States, the mainland communist People's Republic of China was given the Chinese seat on the Security Council in place of the Republic of China on Taiwan.
  2. ^ The President of China is legally a ceremonial office, but the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (de facto leader) has always held this office since 1993, except for the months of transition. The current paramount leader is President Xi Jinping.
  3. ^ The de jure head of government of China is the Premier of the State Council, whose current holder is Li Qiang.
  4. ^ At the time, both the law of France and the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories recognized French Algeria as a part of France, instead of a colony of France.
  5. ^ General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party since 15 November 2012 and President of China since 14 March 2013
  6. ^ Previously President of Russia in 2000–08


  1. ^ "United Nations Charter (full text)". United Nations. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  2. ^ "Security Council Members". United Nations Security Council. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Table 10.1. World nuclear forces, January 2020", page 326, Chapter 10: "World nuclear forces", Military Spending and Armaments, 2019, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), retrieved March 18, 2023
  4. ^ [1] WHAT WE DO: THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL Archived 20 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "China's EU ambassador Fu Cong to take over United Nations role". South China Morning Post. 13 April 2024. Retrieved 16 April 2024.
  6. ^ "Nicolas de Rivière". France ONU. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Постоянное представительство Российской Федерации при ООН". Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Barbara Woodward DCMG". GOV.UK. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield". Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  10. ^ Robert C. Hilderbrand (2001). Dumbarton Oaks: The Origins of the United Nations and the Search for Postwar Security. UNC Press Books. pp. 122–123. ISBN 9780807849507.
  11. ^ Froehlich, Annette; Seffinga, Vincent (2019). The United Nations and Space Security: Conflicting Mandates between UNCOPUOS and the CD. Springer. p. 40. ISBN 978-3-030-06025-1.
  12. ^ Sarmento, Clara (2009). Eastwards / Westwards: Which Direction for Gender Studies in the 21st Century?. Cambridge Scholars. p. 127. ISBN 978-1-4438-0868-2.
  13. ^ Hudson, Christopher (2014). The China Handbook. Routledge. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-134-26966-2.
  14. ^ Rigger, Shelley (2002). Politics in Taiwan: Voting for Reform. Routledge. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-134-69297-2.
  15. ^ Blum, Yehuda Z. (1992). "Russia Takes Over the Soviet Union's Seat at the United Nations" (PDF). European Journal of International Law. 3 (2): 354–362. doi:10.1093/ejil/3.2.354. Retrieved 20 October 2022.
  16. ^ MacLeod, Andrew (24 February 2022). "Ukraine invasion: Should Russia lose its seat on the UN Security Council?". The Conversation.
  17. ^ MacLeod, Andrew (25 February 2022). "Ukraine invasion: Should Russia lose its seat on the UN Security Council?". King's College London.
  18. ^ Menon, Kiran Mohandas (7 March 2022). "How did Russia get USSR's permanent seat on UN Security Council?". RTÉ.ie.
  19. ^ Sharma, Rajeev (27 September 2015). "India pushes the envelope at G4 Summit: PM Modi tells UNSC to make space for largest democracies". First Post. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  20. ^ "Italy Accuses G4 of Foul Play | DW | 27 July 2005". Deutsche Welle.

Further reading