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United Nations: An Introduction

This LibGuide was created for the purpose of providing users with a basic understanding of the United Nations, its structure, and to provide users with access to resources available online and at FIU’s Green Library.

Security Council

The UN Charter established the Security Council, which gives primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the Security Council, which may meet whenever peace is threatened.The Security Council consists of ten elected members, and five permanent members (China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation). The current and past membership of the Security Council since 1946 can be found in the Members section.

According to the Charter, the United Nations has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

All members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. 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. (Information taken from What is the Security Council.)

Security Council documents are identified by the following symbols:  


Security Council




Consecutive number


S/2003/207 Security Council, year 2003, document 207

For the period 1946-1993 the year references were excluded and the documents only carried the symbol S/ and a current number consecutively through the years. (This chart was taken from the Dag Hammarskjold Library guide to UN documentation.)

Click here to access key Security Council documents.

Article 29 of the Charter sets out that he Security Council has the power to establish subsidiary bodies as needed for the performance of its functions. This is also reflected in Rule 28 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure.