Abstract and Keywords
The Security Council is the leading body on international peace and security in the United Nations system. Its authority to identify and respond to breaches of international peace puts it in a position of legal authority over governments. This contradicts the popular image of an anarchic international system. Its practical power, by contrast, is animated by the desires of the great powers. A full view of its role in international security combines these legal and practical elements. The Council amplifies the power of its strongest members and legitimizes their collective global rule. When they share a common interest, the Council helps them enact it in the world; when they do not, it largely goes dormant. Forged at the intersection of international law and international politics, the Council oscillates between global hegemon and marginal player.
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