In Hindsights

  • There has been a string of military takeovers in Africa in the last two years. Since August 2020, power has changed hands unconstitutionally six times in five countries: Burkina Faso (January 2022), Sudan (October 2021), Guinea (September 2021), Chad (April 2021), and Mali (August 2020 and May 2021). Two other African countries saw thwarted coup attempts in this period, Niger in March 2021 and Guinea-Bissau in January 2022, the latter of which led to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) deploying a force to the country.

  • The veto power conferred by the UN Charter is, after permanency itself, the most significant distinction between permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council. The UN would not have been founded without the five permanent members having the power...

  • Few crises in recent decades have galvanised the Security Council’s attention like the current conflict in Ukraine. During the past two months, the Council has held 13 meetings on Ukraine—11 open briefings, one meeting in closed consultations, and one discussion...

  • As Russia moved from massing troops on the border of eastern Ukraine to attacking Kyiv and other cities by land, sea and air over the course of 29 days, the Security Council remained highly focused on the situation in Ukraine. It convened for seven public meetings, including on the humanitarian situation. It voted on an Albanian-US draft condemning Russia’s military operation on 25 February but failed to adopt it due to a Russian veto. And on 27 February, it adopted a resolution referring the situation to the General Assembly, acknowledging that the lack of unanimity among the Council’s permanent members over the situation in Ukraine had prevented the Security Council from exercising its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. (For more information on the meetings, see our 31 January, 16 February, 22 February, 25 February and 27 February What’s in Blue stories.)

  • When Security Council Report (SCR) published an In Hindsight on The Security Council and Cyber Threats in January 2020, the Council had never held a formal session on the effects of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on the maintenance of international peace and security. But the issue seemed likely to gain greater prominence in the Council, as incoming member Estonia had identified cybersecurity as one of its priorities, and the Council held its first formal meeting on cyber threats in June 2021.

  • 28 December 2021

    The Security Council in 2021

    The Security Council enters 2022 following a challenging year. Political upheavals in countries long on the agenda, such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Mali, Myanmar, and Sudan, required close Council attention. The Council faced a continuing crisis as a result of the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia.

  • The women, peace and security (WPS) agenda was inaugurated in 2000 with the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325. Trepidation marked the agenda’s 20th anniversary last year, with difficult Council dynamics characterising engagement on this issue in 2019-2020. Against this backdrop, the “presidency trio” initiative on WPS led by Ireland, Kenya and Mexico during their consecutive presidencies (September, October and November) may be understood as an initial attempt to find a way forward for the agenda at the Council.

  • The practice of extending a peace operation’s mandate—usually for a brief period—through a “technical rollover” has become fairly common. The term has not been used in Security Council decisions, however, and is rarely found in UN documents. Frequently, a technical rollover refers to an unaltered mandate that is extended by a concise resolution for a shorter period than is customary.

  • 30 September 2021

    The GERD and Water Security

    Council practice in recent years has shown a growing concern about water security issues. At one level, the Council’s discussion of the GERD could be viewed as an evolution of this practice. But while other Council discussions on water security have been at the thematic level or broad in focus, this case pitted the direct interests of influential member states against one another in a strategically important region.

  • More recently, and particularly in the past decade, the Council has expressed itself more frequently on humanitarian affairs, including in politically difficult environments. The proliferation of humanitarian crises in country situations on the Council’s agenda has undeniably contributed to this development.

  • On 9 July, in an astonishing show of unity on a perennially contentious issue, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2585, re-authorising the cross-border mechanism to deliver humanitarian assistance into Syria’s northwest. Not since the adoption of resolution 2332 in December 2016 had the Council reached consensus on the cross-border humanitarian aid delivery mechanism for Syria. And, unlike in December 2019, January 2020 and again in July 2020, the Council voted only on one draft text.  

  • In recent years, few thematic issues addressed by the Security Council have aroused as much attention, or controversy, as climate change and security. While it is not a formal agenda item, climate change and security has increasingly become a focus of signature events spearheaded by Council presidents. More and more, the Council is also emphasising the need for risk assessments and risk management strategies for climate change and ecological changes

  • The 75th session of the UN General Assembly is scheduled to hold elections for the Security Council on 11 June for five non-permanent members of the Security Council for the term 2022-2023.

  • The Arria-formula meeting format was conceived as the Security Council emerged from its stagnant Cold War period and members were open to wider information sources than government officials and the UN Secretariat on the many conflicts on its agenda.   

  • Mercenaries, the proverbial soldiers of fortune, have been part of conflict for almost as long as conflict has existed.