Research Reports

Longer in-depth analysis of particularly significant Council decisions, processes or practices.

  • The adoption of resolution 1701 on 11 August 2006 was a critical step in ending the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel after 33 days of intense combat, which left over a thousand people dead (1,187 people in Lebanon and 160 in Israel) and displaced approximately one million Lebanese and 300,000 Israelis. But the Security Council, in this resolution, did much more than just achieve a ceasefire. The establishment of a robust UN peacekeeping force, the focus on principles and elements for a "permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution" and wide authority for the Secretary-General to take the lead in peacemaking efforts are all major innovations in the Council's approach to the region. The Security Council is engaged much more proactively than ever before in the Middle East, and its ongoing involvement is seen as a message for a permanent peace. Resolution 1701 is therefore a very important window of opportunity for the region and for the UN. A key question, however, is whether this will be sustained.

  • In only twenty days, from 11 to 31 August 2006, the Security Council adopted three resolutions which seem likely to increase UN peacekeeping levels around the world by approximately 50 percent and perhaps increase the overall cost of peacekeeping from the expected 2006-07 level of US$4.7 billion to possibly US$8 billion per year. This new Council activity represents the fourth major surge in UN peacekeeping since the end of the Cold War, each bringing new complex challenges. The first was in the early 1990s, followed by a period of retrenchment until the second surge in 1999-2000 with the establishment of UNMEE (Ethiopia/Eritrea) and MONUC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and the two transitional administrations, UNMIK (Kosovo) and UNTAET (Timor-Leste). The third was in 2003-04 when five new large multidimensional operations commenced: UNMIL (Liberia), ONUB (Burundi), UNOCI (Côte d'Ivoire), MINUSTAH (Haiti) and UNMIS (southern Sudan).

  • In mid October the General Assembly will hold elections for five seats on the Security Council. The 2006 election has an unusual level of interest because of high profile contested campaigns within two regional groups. In the Asian Group, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Nepal are vying for one seat. In the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, Guatemala and Venezuela are in a very hot contest, also for one seat. The elections in the African Group and the Western European and Others Group are uncontested. As a result, South Africa, Belgium and Italy are assured of election. However, because these are elections to a "Principal Organ" of the United Nations, formal balloting is still required. (General Assembly Decision 34/401, paragraph 16, which allowed the Assembly to dispense with elections where there was a "clean slate" from a regional group only applies to subsidiary organs and therefore does not apply.)

  • The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) is a subsidiary body of both the Security Council and the General Assembly. It is being formally inaugurated on 23 June. The Council has requested that the PBC consider Burundi and Sierra Leone. Because of the institutional link with the Council, as well as the fact that the PBC will be involved with a number of issues on the Council agenda, Security Council Report will provide occasional reports on the progress of the PBC, starting with the present report on the inauguration of the PBC Organisational Committee and surrounding issues. The PBC Organisational Committee was convened for the first time on 23 June. Members elected Angola as Chair of the PBC and adopted provisional rules of procedure. Two vice-chairpersons were also elected, and Burundi and Sierra Leone were included as the first cases in the PBC's country-specific mode following the Council's request.

  • On 16 February 2006 Security Council Report published a Special Research Report titled, Appointment of a New Secretary-General. It described the past history of appointments and discussed the processes used for appointing previous Secretary-Generals. It also described the decisions taken by the United Nations General Assembly in 1997 regarding the introduction of new appointment procedures when the time came to appoint a successor to Kofi Annan. In the three months since February there have been a number of important developments, both in the Security Council and the General Assembly. There were even indications in May and early June that the General Assembly and the Security Council may have been on a collision path. At time of writing, however, it seems that the prospects of a contentious vote in the General Assembly have receded. This Special Research Report looks at the issues that have arisen and what this means for the 2006 selection process which now seems set to commence in July.

  • The most important decision that the Security Council will take in 2006 will be the selection of the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations. The decision will be of major importance for the future of the United Nations, coming as it does in the midst of a protracted and increasingly rancorous debate over the reform of the sixty-year-old organisation and how to adapt it to respond better to the challenges of the twenty-first century. As the time for the appointment decision approaches, Security Council Report will analyse and preview specific developments, Council dynamics and possible options. At this early stage, our purpose in writing this Special Research Report is to provide relevant factual background on the history, process and procedure; because it seems that Council members are beginning to discuss those issues, at least informally.