UNSC (United Nations Security Council): Powers, Functions, UNSC UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

UNSC, or United Nations Security Council, was established in 1945 and is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations. It is headquartered in New York and is responsible for maintaining international security and peace. UNSC is also charged with accepting new members to the United Nations and approving any changes to UN Charter. India started its two-year tenure as a non-permanent member of the UNSC on January 1, 2021.

With authority to impose sanctions, authorize peacekeeping missions, and even authorize the use of force, the UNSC plays a vital role in responding to conflicts, addressing threats to international peace, and promoting diplomatic resolutions. This article explores the history, structure, power, functions, members and impact of the UNSC that would be crucial for USPC exam preparation.

What is UNSC?

UNSC stands for United Nations Security Council. Established in 1945, United Nations Security Council is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. The power of the UNSC includes the establishment of peacekeeping operations, international sanctions, and military action authorization through the security council resolutions. Since its establishment in 1945, the UNSC has navigated complex geopolitical dynamics, confronted evolving security challenges, and worked toward the lofty goal of a safer and more stable world.


UNSC is the only body of the United Nations that has the authority to issue binding resolutions to the member states. United Nations Security Council consists of 15 members, including 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members that are elected for 2-year terms by the United Nations General Assembly.

Functions and Powers of UNSC

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is entrusted with several important functions and powers to fulfill its mandate of maintaining international peace and security. Here are the key functions and powers of the UNSC:

  • To maintain peace and security globally with the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
  • To determine the existing threat to peace and decide what action should be taken.
  • Take military action when needed
  • UNSC recommends a method of adjusting disputes
  • It also investigates any situation or dispute that can lead to international friction.
  • To call on members to apply economic sanctions and other measures to prevent aggression.

Permanent & Non-Permanent Members of UNSC

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is composed of 15 member states, including five permanent members with veto power and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms.

  • The total number of members of the UNSC is 15, out of which 10 are not permanent and 5 are permanent.
  • The 5 permanent members of the UNSC include China, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and the United States. The 10, not permanent members are Albania, Brazi, Gabon, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, and United Arab Emirates.
  • The non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are elected for 2-year terms by the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly).
  • The five non-permanent members of the UNSC get replaced every year.

India as Non-Permanent Member of UNSC

India is a non-permanent member of the UNSC for the 2-year term 2021-2022. India was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council by winning 184 out of 194 votes at UNGA.

  • India was the one candidate from the Asia-Pacific region for the year 2021-2022.
  • This was India’s 8th time being part of the UNSC.
  • Previously, India was a part of the United Nations Security Council in 950-1951, 1967-1968, 1972-1973, 1977-1978, 1984-1985, 1991-1992, and 2011-12.
  • Being a member of UNSC, India is responsible for promoting international peace and security through its 5-S approach, namely, Samman – Respect, Sahyog – Cooperation, Samvad – Dialogue, Samriddhi – Prosperity, and Shanti – Peace.

India and UNSC

India has been trying hard for many years to become a permanent member of the UNSC, but it hasn’t been successful. Even though India is one of the countries in the world with a high population, nuclear power, and a growing economy, it hasn’t been able to become one of its permanent members.

  • India has raised a list of claims to secure its place as one of the permanent members of the UNSC, such as
  • India has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world,
  • It has the status of a Nuclear Weapons State.
  • India is the most highly populated country and the largest liberal democracy in the world.

Challenges for India in Getting a Permanent Seat at UNSC

India’s aspiration for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is accompanied by several challenges that it needs to overcome. These challenges include:

  • Even though it seems an easy process, it is made tough by the objections of some permanent members of the UNSC. Especially China has been blocking India’s way of getting a permanent seat.
  • India is seen as a proliferating nuclear power, and it is one of the significant factors that has been working as a roadblock.
  • Rising polarization between the major powers is one of the challenges as well.
  • There are only 5 seats for becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. However, in 2019, France became the latest member of the UNSC and pushed the permanent seat of India.
  • For now, it seems like a distant dream for India to become a member of the UNSC.


The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), a crucial pillar of the United Nations system, holds paramount importance in maintaining international peace and security. Aspirants, during their UPSC examination preparation, need to comprehend the intricate workings and significance of the UNSC, as it forms an integral part of the UPSC GS-2 syllabus. Understanding the intricacies of the UNSC is of paramount importance for aspirants as it covers various dimensions such as its composition, functions, decision-making process, and the challenges it faces in the contemporary world order.

UNSC UPSC Questions

Question: How many permanent members are there in the United Nations Security Council? a) 5 b) 10 c) 15 d) 20

Answer: a) 5

Question: Which country is NOT a permanent member of the UNSC? a) United States b) United Kingdom c) France d) India

Answer: d) India

Question: How many non-permanent members are there in the United Nations Security Council? a) 5 b) 10 c) 15 d) 20

Answer: c) 15

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