Maintenance of international peace and security is a crucial role of the United Nations. Since 1945 the organisation has restored peace in the conflict-affected areas and prevented disputes from escalating into wars by peaceable means to settle dispute.
Security Council is the primary organ in charge of maintaining international peace and security. UN General Assembly and the Secretary- General also play important, complementary roles.
In the 21st century, conflicts are characterised by complexity and raised issues regarding adequate response of the international community and how best to protect civilians in conflicts. The United Nations has strengthened its role in preventive diplomacy with partnership with regional and sub-regional partners, host governments and local communities. The use of peacekeeping and political missions has been extended. The United Nations engages in conflict prevention and peacebulding through foster economic development, social justice and respect for human rights. Terrorism poses a serious threat to the international peace and security and its combat requires a multinational coordination and multidimensional approach.
The UN actively engages in the disarmament efforts advocating for world free from nuclear weapon (or its reduction), destruction of chemical and biological weapons and reduction of small arms and light weapons.
The Charter of the United Nations imposes on member states obligation to settle their disputes by peaceful means. Member States are also obliged to refrain from the threat or use of military force against any state. The UN Security Council plays the major role in the UN system of maintaining international peace and security. Empowered by the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council urges members to settle their disputes peacefully. The Decisions of the UN Security Council, contrary to recommendations from General Assembly, are legally binding and states cannot abstain from its implementation. In order to enforce it’s the decisions, the Chapter VII of the UN Charter empowered the Security Council to impose embargos, sanctions and as a last resort authorize the use of forces. The Security Council may also make recommendations, appoint special representations, undertake investigation and mediation in order to restore international peace and prevent conflict. The body plays also a significant role in implementing international criminal law by having power to establish international tribunals and prosecute those accused of human rights violations and serious breaches of humanitarian law.
In this framework, the General Assembly plays a complementary role. As a platform of political dialogue, the Assembly can make recommendations, discuss difficult issues and provide guidelines for the Security Council.
The UN Charter empowers the Security Council to take enforcement measures to maintain or restore international peace and security. These measures can vary from economic, personal sanctions to military operations. They might be use to support peaceful transitions, deter non-constitutional changes, counter terrorism, protect human rights and promote non-proliferation. The UN sanctions have ranged from economic trade embargoes to specific bans and arms embargoes, and measures targeting individuals, such as travel bans and asset freezes. Military actions are the last resort, when other peace-making efforts fail. The Security Council authorises states to use all necessary measure to deal with conflict.