Civil Society and the UN Security Council

This chapter begins by examining the relationship between civil society actors and the UN Security Council (UNSC, sometimes also referred to as SC) in terms of their access to Security Council diplomats, strategies with which they target the Council, and influence they have on Council decision-making. The Council has five permanent members, who are referred to as the P-5, and ten elected members serving two-year terms. Historically, many members, including the permanent ones, have been wary about engaging with non-state actors such as NGOs. Recently, however, there has been a ‘substantial incorporation of prominent humanitarian, human rights, and development NGOs into Council activities’ (Graubart 2008, p. 159). As the Council began addressing not only interstate but also internal conflicts in the early 1990s, it ‘entered an arena where the expertise and action of NGOs was especially critical’ (Paul 2004b, p. 375). Therefore, during the 1990s, ‘Council members increasingly met with NGOs on their own and in groups, not only to brief them on recent developments ... but also to seek their input’ (Malone 2000, p. 33). The trend continued in the early 2000s, when the Council started considering a host of ‘soft security’ issues, such as children in armed conflict, HIV/AIDS, and even climate change. Today civil society actors actively ‘seek to gain some leverage against SC policy’ because they ‘have become aware of the increased role of SC and its expansion into the area of “human security” issues’ (Binder 2008, p. 7). Have they been successful in gaining access to the Security Council and influencing its deliberations, and through what strategies?

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