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A United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) is a United Nations resolution adopted by the Security Council (UNSC), the United Nations (UN) 15-member body charged with "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security".[1]

The UN Charter specifies, in Article 27, that decisions of the Security Council shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members, out of the 15 members of the Security Council. With the exception of purely procedural decisions, all other resolutions adopted by the Security Council can be vetoed by any of the five permanent members.[1] The five permanent members are the People's Republic of China (which replaced the Republic of China in 1971), France, Russia (which replaced the defunct Soviet Union in 1991), the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.[2]

Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations stipulates that "The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter".

As of 29 April 2024, the Security Council has passed 2729 resolutions.[3]

Terms and functions mentioned in the UN Charter

The term "resolution" does not appear in the text of the United Nations Charter, which instead uses different formulations, such as "decision" and "recommendation".

The UN Charter authorizes the Security Council to take action on behalf of all members of the United Nations, and to make decisions and recommendations. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion in the 1949 "Reparations" case indicated that the United Nations, as an Organization, had both explicit and implied powers. The Court cited Articles 104 and 2(5) of the Charter, and noted that the members had granted the Organization the necessary legal authority to exercise its functions and fulfill its purposes as specified or implied in the Charter, and that they had agreed to give the United Nations every assistance in any action taken in accordance with the Charter.[4]

Under Article 25 of the Charter, UN member states are bound to carry out "decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter".

In 1971, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – also called the "World Court", the highest court dealing with international law – asserted in an advisory opinion on the question of Namibia that all UN Security Council resolutions are legally binding.[5] Some voices,[6][7] however, defend that a difference should be made between United Nations Security Council resolutions adopted under "Chapter VII" of the UN Charter, which are legally binding, and those adopted under "Chapter VI" of the UN Charter, which are non binding; in practice, however, United Nations Security Council resolutions seldom explicit whether they are being adopted based on Chapter VI or VII of the UN Charter.

The Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, a UN legal publication, says that during the United Nations Conference on International Organization which met in San Francisco in 1945, attempts to limit obligations of Members under Article 25 of the Charter to those decisions taken by the Council in the exercise of its specific powers under Chapters VI, VII and VIII of the Charter failed. It was stated at the time that those obligations also flowed from the authority conferred on the Council under Article 24(1) to act on the behalf of the members while exercising its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.[8] Article 24, interpreted in this sense, becomes a source of authority which can be drawn upon to meet situations which are not covered by the more detailed provisions in the succeeding articles.[9] The Repertory on Article 24 says: "The question whether Article 24 confers general powers on the Security Council ceased to be a subject of discussion following the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice rendered on 21 June 1971 in connection with the question of Namibia (ICJ Reports, 1971, page 16)".[10]

In exercising its powers the Security Council seldom bothers to cite the particular article or articles of the UN Charter that its decisions are based upon. In cases where none are mentioned, a constitutional interpretation is required.[11] This sometimes presents ambiguities as to what amounts to a "decision" as opposed to a "recommendation".[12]

If the Security Council cannot reach consensus or a passing vote on a resolution, its members may choose to produce a non-binding presidential statement instead of a Resolution. These are adopted by consensus. They are meant to apply political pressure—a warning that the Council is paying attention and further action may follow.

Press statements typically accompany both resolutions and presidential statements, carrying the text of the document adopted by the body and also some explanatory text. They may also be released independently, after a significant meeting.

See also


  1. ^ a b "UN Charter (full text)". The United Nations. 2016-04-15. Retrieved 2020-04-05.
  2. ^ "Current Members". United Nations Security Council. Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  3. ^ "Resolutions adopted by the Security Council in 2024". United Nations. Retrieved 2024-03-12.
  4. ^ "Reparation for Injuries Suffered in the Service of the United Nations (Advisory Opinion)" (PDF). International Court of Justice. Apr 11, 1949. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-05-22. Retrieved 2014-11-19.
  5. ^ Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970) Archived 8 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Advisory Opinion of 21 June 1971 at paragraphs 87-116, especially 113: "It has been contended that Article 25 of the Charter applies only to enforcement measures adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter. It is not possible to find in the Charter any support for this view. Article 25 is not confined to decisions in regard to enforcement action but applies to "the decisions of the Security Council" adopted in accordance with the Charter. Moreover, that Article is placed, not in Chapter VII, but immediately after Article 24 in that part of the Charter which deals with the functions and powers of the Security Council. If Article 25 had reference solely to decisions of the Security Council concerning enforcement action under Articles 41 and 42 of the Charter, that is to say, if it were only such decisions which had binding effect, then Article 25 would be superfluous, since this effect is secured by Articles 48 and 49 of the Charter."
  6. ^ "The International Court of Justice took the position in the Namibia Advisory Opinion that Art. 25 of the Charter, according to which decisions of the Security Council have to be carried out, does not only apply in relation to chapter VII. Rather, the court is of the opinion that the language of a resolution should be carefully analysed before a conclusion can be drawn as to its binding effect. The Court even seems to assume that Art. 25 may have given special powers to the Security Council. The Court speaks of "the powers under Art. 25". It is very doubtful, however, whether this position can be upheld. As Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice has pointed out in his dissenting opinion: "If, under the relevant chapter or article of the Charter, the decision is not binding, Article [69/70] 25 cannot make it so. If the effect of that Article were automatically to make all decisions of the Security Council binding, then the words 'in accordance with the present Charter' would be quite superfluous". In practice the Security Council does not act on the understanding that its decisions outside chapter VII are binding on the States concerned. Indeed, as the wording of chapter VI clearly shows, non-binding recommendations are the general rule here." Frowein, Jochen Abr. Völkerrecht – Menschenrechte – Verfassungsfragen Deutschlands und Europas, Springer, 2004, ISBN 3-540-23023-8, p. 58.
  7. ^ De Wet, Erika. The Chapter VII Powers of the United Nations Security Council, Hart Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1-84113-422-8, pp. 39-40. "Allowing the Security Council to adopt binding measures under Chapter VI would undermine the structural division of competencies foreseen by Chapters VI and VII, respectively. The whole aim of separating these chapters is to distinguish between voluntary and binding measures. Whereas the specific settlement of disputes provided by the former is underpinned by the consent of the parties, binding measures in terms of Chapter VII are characterised by the absence of such consent. A further indication of the non-binding nature of measures taken in terms of Chapter VI is the obligation on members of the Security Council who are parties to a dispute, to refrain from voting when resolutions under Chapter VI are adopted. No similar obligation exists with respect to binding resolutions adopted under Chapter VII... If one applies this reasoning to the Namibia opinion, the decisive point is that none of the Articles under Chapter VI facilitate the adoption of the type of binding measures that were adopted by the Security Council in Resolution 276(1970)... Resolution 260(1970) was indeed adopted in terms of Chapter VII, even though the ICJ went to some length to give the opposite impression."
  8. ^ See page 5, The Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, Extracts Relating to Article 25 [1]
  9. ^ see The Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, Extracts Relating to Article 24, [2]
  10. ^ See Note 2 on page 1 of Sup. 6, vol. 3, Article 24
  11. ^ See Repertoire Of The Practice Of The Security Council, introductory note regarding the contents and arrangement of Chapter VIII [3]
  12. ^ Schweigman, David "The authority of the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter". 2001. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers: The Hague