The Security Council is the primary instrument for establishing and maintaining international peace. Its main purpose is to prevent war by settling disputes between nations. Under the charter, the council is permitted to dispatch a UN force to stop aggression. All member nations undertake to make available armed forces, assistance, and facilities to maintain international peace and security.
The Security Council has 15 members. There are five permanent members: the United States, the Russian Federation, Britain, France, and China; and ten temporary members elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms, from five different regions of the world. Voting on procedural matters requires a nine-vote majority to carry. However, on questions of substance, the vote of each of the five permanent members is required. As of Jan. 2009, the ten elected nonpermanent members were Austria, Japan, Uganda, Mexico, Turkey, Burkina Faso, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Vietnam, Costa Rica, and Croatia. In Jan. 2010 the terms of Burkina Faso, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Vietnam, Costa Rica, and Croatia will expire.