Security Council Subsidiary Bodies


The Security Council may establish subsidiary bodies as needed under Article 29 of the UN Charter and Rule 28 of its own Provisional Rules of Procedure. (The Rules remain provisional because the Council is an organ of power and should not be bound procedurally.)

Representation: All 15 members of the Council sit on its subsidiary committees and working groups. Standing committees are chaired by the sitting President for the month. Designated members of the Council serve one-year terms as chairs of other committees and working groups.

Mandates: The mandates of subsidiary organs can range from procedural matters (documentation, meetings away from headquarters), to substantive issues (sanctions, counter-terrorism action, peacekeeping operations).

International Courts and Tribunals: The Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1993, following massive violations of humanitarian law during the fighting in the former Yugoslavia. It was the first war-crimes court created by the United Nations and the first international war-crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals at the end of the Second World War.

The Council created the
 International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1994 to prosecute those responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda between 1 January and 31 December 1994. It may also deal with the prosecution of Rwandan citizens who committed acts of genocide and other such violations of international law in the territory of neighbouring States during the same period. In 1998 the Rwanda Tribunal handed down the first-ever verdict by an international court on the crime of genocide, as well as the first-ever sentence for that crime.


Both ICTY and the ICTR are subsidiary organs of the Security Council dependent on the UN for administrative and financial support but substantively independent. 

Counter-Terrorism Committee: Established after the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the CTC acts under Security Council resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005) to bolster the ability of Member States to prevent terrorist acts national borders and internationally. The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) implements the directives of the Committee, conducts expert assessments of each Member State, and supports technical assistance to countries. In practice, the CTC has fallen victim to the divided interests of some permanent members of the Security Council and do more to facilitate terrorism than fight it. A case in point is the Chinese block on the effort by India and the United States to designate as a terrorist Hafeez Saeed, the Pakistani national who masterminded the 2008 attacks on Mumbai that killed 166 people.    

Non-Proliferation Committee: Established under Chapter VII of the UN Charter (enforcement action), by resolution 1540 (2004), the Committee aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery. The resolution requires States to refrain from supporting by any means non-State actors from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems. The current mandate of the Committee runs to 2021.


Military Staff Committee: The Military Staff Committee under the UN Charter is supposed to gear the Council's policy decisions to military action to regulate armaments internationally. It consists of the five members of the Security Council.

Sanctions Committees: These subsidiary bodies oversee the implementation of mandatory sanctions imposed by the Council on States or non-State entities. In theory, the sanctions must be implemented by all UN member States and can be an effective method of nonviolent action to pressure progress towards peace. Historically, sanctions have ranged from comprehensive constraints on trade and other economic relations to narrowly targeted measures such as arms embargoes, travel bans, financial or diplomatic restrictions. The consolidated list of Council sanctions is here, and separately,  ISIL, Daesh and al Qaeda,North Korea‚Äč

Standing Committees and Ad Hoc Bodies: Standing Committees address particular procedural questions, such as the admission of new members. Ad hoc committees are established for a limited time and to address a specific issue.

Peacekeeping Operations:  The UN Charter contains no mention of peacekeeping operations. They were invented to deal with the short-term need for international military, police and civilian supervision of politically volatile situations to allow negotiations towards lasting settlements. In practice, most peacekeeping operations have become long lasting and often complex efforts providing cover for the manipulation of strategically important or resource-rich countries/regions in Africa and the Middle East. They undertake a multiplicity of tasks. In some countries like South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, peacekeepers do little more than protect themselves from attack. In other countries they can be called upon to facilitate political processes; protect civilians; assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; support the organization of elections; protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law.


Political Missions: work to manage situations headed into or out of conflict. They can thus either end in or result from peacekeeping operations. Some merely report on situations with no political movement at all. Download 2017 list.


Peacebuilding Commission: (PBC) is an intergovernmental advisory body of both the Security Council and the General Assembly. It is meant to support peace efforts in countries emerging from conflict. In effect, it replaces the Trusteeship Council, the Charter body that has long been moribund. The PBC brings together regional governments, international donors, financial institutions and countries contributing troops to peacekeeping operations. It advises on and proposes integrated strategies for post-conflict peacebuilding, marshals resources and monitors threats to peace. Countries currently on the agenda of the PBC are Burundi,  Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Central African Republic. 

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