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Focus: GS-III Disaster Management, GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

India is gearing for diplomatic activities as the U.N. Security Council appears set for a special session over the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is likely to happen?

  • A special closed session of the UNSC is to be held as early as on April 9 when all 15 members of the highest U.N. body are likely to discuss the situation on the intensifying crisis that has disrupted life and economy in India as well.
  • The session will draw statements from all the member-countries with interested non-members participating as observers.
  • A meeting of the UNSC had been talked about since the beginning of the pandemic in China in December 2019, but the process seems to have taken off with the arrival of the Dominican Republic as the president of the body.
  • The meeting though closed is not “closed door” and there is a possibility that it could be globally webcast if all members agree.


  • Though other regional and global bodies like G20 have convened urgent virtual summits, the Security Council’s inability to meet raised concern in world capitals in recent weeks.
  • Several of its 10 elected members demanded a special session on the pandemic caused by the novel coronnavirus during the previous presidency which was with China.
  • The COVID-19 crisis has gripped almost all the U.N. member-countries barring a few with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom being one of the most high profile names to be affected by the viral infection.
  • COVID-19 is a truly global crisis that the SC must discuss.
  • It makes sense to have a meeting of the UNSC as the pandemic is threatening global peace and economy.
  • Apart from the health aspect, the economic disruption will require global cooperation among all member-nations of the UNSC and the UN General Assembly.
  • This is a time for cooperation and the meeting should not be seen as an occasion to corner any member of the UNSC.

United Nations Security Council

  • The Security Council is one of the six main organs of the United Nations.
  • Its primary responsibility is the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter- Hence, It is the only body of the UN with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
  • Resolutions of the Security Council are typically enforced by UN peacekeepers, military forces voluntarily provided by member states and funded independently of the main UN budget.
  • It has 15 Members (5 as Permanent Members and 10 as Non- Permanent Members), and each Member has one vote.
  • Five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Each of the Permanent Members has Veto Power over every decision of UNSC.
  • The Permanent Residence of UNSC in the UN Headquarters New York City, USA.
  • The presidency of the Council rotates monthly, going alphabetically among member states.

Functions and Powers of UNSC:

Under the United Nations Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:

  • to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;
  • to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;
  • to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;
  • to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;
  • to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;
  • to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
  • to take military action against an aggressor;
  • to recommend the admission of new Members;
  • to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in “strategic areas”;
  • to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.
December 2023