Assessing the UN Security Council: A Concert PerspectiveDavid BoscoThis article distinguishes between the UN Security Council’s “governance”and “concert” functions and argues that the latter is important in assessingthe body’s diplomatic value. It presents data suggesting that serving to-gether on the Council deepens diplomatic linkages between permanentmembers. It also argues that Council membership may offer several bene-fits for managing relations between the permanent members. Specifically,the Council provides a mechanism through which permanent membershave slowed the pace of crises that might threaten their relations, used am-biguity to produce exits from potentially dangerous situations, and miti-gated diplomatic humiliation. The article contends that many proposals forCouncil reform pay little attention to this concert function and, if adopted,may unwittingly diminish a key benefit of the institution. KEYWORDS:UnitedNations, diplomacy, Security Council.THEUN SECURITYCOUNCIL HAS BEEN MORE ACTIVE IN THE PAST TWENTYyears than during any other phase of its existence. The Council has met morefrequently, authorized more peacekeeping and observation missions, andenacted more sanctions regimes and arms embargos than in its first fourdecades. The Council’s move toward the center of international politics hasintensified efforts to assess its role. Yet the metrics for doing so are notalways clear, and a central challenge in analyzing the performance of inter-national organizations is clarity about what is being evaluated.1Most scholarly attempts to assess the Council have focused on its broadexternal impact or judged the effectiveness of certain Council “products,”including peacekeeping operations and sanctions regimes.2In this article, Iseek to shift the focus to intra-Council dynamics and, in particular, to comitybetween the Council’s Permanent Five (P5) members. Specifically, I distin-guish between two methods of assessing the Council. I briefly define gover-nanceand concert approaches,with the former focused on the maintenanceof international peace and security and the latter on fostering major-powercomity. I argue that the P5 in key respects represents a concert of major pow-ers and that assessing its impact accordingly is appropriate. I then presentdata suggesting that serving together on the Council deepens high-leveldiplomatic contacts between P5 members. Through illustrative historicalexamples, I outline some benefits that the Council structure offers to its per-545Global Governance 20 (2014), 545–56105-GG204-Bosco_GG 9/24/14 10:40 AM Page 545
manent members in managing their own relations. By providing an alterna-tive approach to assessing the impact of the Security Council, this articleoffers a new perspective on how the Council should be used and reformed.