United Nations Security Council
The Security Council is one of the principal organ of the United Nations (UN).
Its primary responsibility under the UN charter is the maintenance of peace and security among UN member states.
How the council votes
The Security Council consists of five permanent members and ten non-permanent members.
The following are the permanent members of the Security Council:
The following are the current non-permanent members of the Security Council (May, 2004):
Nine votes are needed to pass a resolution including the concurring votes of the permanent members.
Who gets a seat on the council
The permanent members can only be changed by amending the charter. the chinese seat was transferred from Taiwan to the people's Republic of China by ruling of the council's president. The same process was used to transfer the Soviet seat to Russia.
The ten non-permanent members are voted on by the General Assembly. In practise the seats are zoned so that geographical areas are guaranteed a set number of seats although the country varies. For example, Spain and Germany belong the European group and, together with permanent members the UK and France, Western Europe usually has 4 seats on the council. Romania, although it is considering joining the EU, is part of the group which represented former soviet allies.
The ten non-permanent seats are split into two groups of five such that every year five seats are re-elected. Terms for non-permanent members are two years.