chapter  2
The agency of the UN Security Council
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The overarching aim of this chapter is to better understand how this enigmatic institution works. An explanatory model for council agency will be built and used to better understand the mechanics of the council. For the council, agency can be defined as its capacity to act in world. Members of the UN, generally, and the members of the council, specifically, give the council its agency. It is determined by a complex interaction of forces: legitimacy, political will, permanent member alignment, leadership, resources, and the quality and content of its output. The model will attempt to trace the currents and eddies of typical council decisionmaking processes. By understanding what determines council agency, one can come to understand the council’s defects and deficiencies. As reform is concerned with repairing defects and addressing capacity deficits, a discussion of agency seems an obvious place to begin. In short, the following is a description of the workflow of council’s ad-hoc and semi-institutionalized processes for managing international crises.