Current Affairs

Role of UN Security Council in international peace and Security

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    19th Oct, 2020

“We the people of UNs determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”- The preamble of Charter of UN directly shows its main motive for the peace and security in the world.

UNSC, which came in existence in 1945 after the WWII, has main role in maintaining peace and security. Its central mission is to maintain International Peace and Security.

It helps in preventing conflict; helping parties, in conflict, make peace; peacekeeping; creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish.

Under chapter VII of the charter, the SC can take enforcement measures to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such measures range from economic sanctions to international military actions. The council also establishes UN peacekeeping operations and special political Missions.

UN peacekeeping is guided by three basic principles

  • Consent
  • Impartiality
  • Non-use of force except in self-defense and defense of mandate civilians.

The multinational resolutions set out the mission’s mandate and size for UNSC.

Methods to maintain International Peace and Security by UN

  1. Conflict prevention: The most effective way to diminish human suffering and huge economic costs of conflicts and aftermath is to prevent conflicts in the first place. The UN helps in conflict prevention with the help of diplomacy, efficient office and mediation.
  2. Peacekeeping:It is a multidimensional process. It includes facilitation of political processes, protection of civilians, assistance in disarmament, demobilization and re-integration of former combatants, to support constitutional means, organization of elections, protection and promotion of human rights, assistance in restoring the rule of law and extending legitimate state authority.
  3. Peace-building: This is the measure to ensure sustainable peace and development. To support it, the Peace-building commission and Peace-building fund was set up.
  4. Counter Terrorism: One of the methods to maintain peace is to coordinate the global fight against terrorism. In 2006, the Global Counter Terrorism strategy was adopted.
  5. Disarmament: The office of Disarmament affairs is tasked to work to advance international peace and security through pursuit of the elimination of nuclear weapon and other weapons of mass destruction and the regulation of Conventional arms.

Some of the initiatives toward international peace and stability

  • In 2005, peace-building commission was formed to better anticipate and respond to the challenges of peacekeeping.
  • In 1970, Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was signed.
  • Chemical Weapon Convention (1997), Biological Weapon Convention (1975) and Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1996) came in existence.
  • UN office on Drugs and Crime, which is the guardian of UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and Protocols on Trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and trafficking of firearms was formed.
  • To make the peace gender sensitive a resolution 1325- Regional partnership, National and local mediation and Gender inclusion was adopted, in 2000.
  • In 2006, the Global Counter Terrorism strategy was adopted.
  • At present 14 peacekeeping operations are deployed and since 1948, 71.
  • In 2019, Action for Peacekeeping Initiative (A4P) to renew mutual political commitment to peacekeeping operations was started.

Some of the achievements of UNSC

  1. In Conflict Prevention: In countries such as Burkina Faso (2015-15), Colombia (2004) and Krygyzstan (2010), the UNSC mediated and helped in internal conflict prevention successfully.
  2. Peacekeeping Missions: Some of its peacekeeping missions were successful in operations such as Suez crisis, Cyprus and West New Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan.
    Some of its present operations are, such as UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, UN Truce Supervision Organization stationed in Middle East, working.
  1. Peace-building: The commission addressed several country specific, regional and thematic issues to help to maintain and draws attention, to and enhance, coherence in peace-building, sustaining peace to strengthen coordination and synergies.
    In Chad and Brundi, the commission has helped in implementing the national development plan and strengthening cooperation with multilateral and bilateral partners.
  1. Counter Terrorism: CT Committee passed a resolution 1373 against the terror activities in 2001. The terror financing resolution 2462 was passed in 2019. The resolutions against the terror activities of Iraq and Levant, Al-Qaida and associated groups were passed in UNSC.
  2. Disarmament: Resolution 1540 (2004) was passed to oblige the states to refrain from supporting non-state actions from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting chemical or biological, nuclear weapons. The respective states report the action taken by them.


British historian Paul Kennedy said –“glancing failures had not only accompained the UN’s many achievements, they overshadowed them”. Having a record of successful operations across the world, the UNSC is also grappled with some shortcomings. They could by as under

  • UN’s lack of reliable permanent military source. The military personals are voluntarily provided by the member states. India and China has been the major contributor to this.
  • The five permanent members have created a nuclear club that pre-dominantly addressed the strategic interests and political motives of the permanent members.
  • Failure of consensus reaching in Sri-Lanka, Syria, Israel-Palestine conflict among the member states.
  • Lack of will to prevent massacres at some not-so-strategically important places such as Bosnia and Rwanda.
  • Lack of consensus over the expansion of permanent membership and representation for developing states.

Silk Route and its significance for the world

The term "Silk Route" was first used by German geographer Ferdinand Von Richthofen in 19th century when he referred to an ancient trunk road crossing in Central AsiaThis Great Silk Route, the first Trans -continental trade and diplomatic road in the history of mankind, connected China and the Far East with Europe and India passed through Central Asia covering 6,400 kms.

The Silk Route was a network of roads, which followed the wide and varied contacts between the peoples of the Mediterranean countries, Near and Middle East, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent and East Asia.

The Silk Route

There was no one Silk Route, but many routes, roads, and paths that headed in an east-west direction.  The route was mainly comprised of three parent routes as follows:

1. Oasis Route

The “Oasis Route”, connected the caravan cities in the desert and semi-desert areas of Central Asia. This was the most popular route not only because of its historical significance in terms of East-West trade and cultural exchange, but also because it attracted people mainly because this route evolved through consistent human efforts, with countless people traveling along this route over thousands of years. The terminals of the Oasis Route were Changan (Xian) in the East and Rome in the West; and later on Luayang in the East and Byzantium (Constantinople) in the West.

The route crossed many hazardous regions such as the TaklaMakan desert, the Tien Shan and Kunlun Shan, the Pamirs, the Karakum and Kyzylkum deserts, and the Hindu Kush.

The 4,000 kms long section of the Oasis Silk Route that ran through East and West Turkistan was located in the heart of AsiaThe caravan city states along the Oasis Route maintained accommodation and market facilities for caravans and travelers.

2. Steppe Route

The "Steppe Route", the commercial route controlled by nomadic tribes who lived in the Eurasian steppe region extending to the north of the Oasis Route. This was the second important constituent of the Silk Route. It had been used by nomads when they moved from east to west or vice-versa. They used this route for securing fodder for their cattle. The Steppe Route originated from the migration of nomadic cattle raising tribes in the pre-historic age.

The Steppe Route was not a road but it was a continuation of plains from east to west which served as an artery of traffic in Northern Eurasia. It was a convenient artery for nomadic equestrian tribes for migrating in any direction and to breed cattle or trade at various locations. The Steppe Route was itself a fertile pasturage and also a stage of military activities.

3. Southern Sea Route

The "Southern Sea Route", linked the China Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Southern Sea Route started from the Southern cost of China in of Kuangchou (Canton), rounding the peninsula of Indo-China, through the Malacca Straits and up to the mouth of the Ganga.

Alignment of the Silk Route

The Great Silk Route spanned half the then known world. It started from Changan, which is today's Xian and was the capital of China during Chi, Han, Sui and Tang dynasties. Passing through Kansu, the principal route bifurcated at Anxi near Dun Huang.

  • The northern routepassed through well-known oasis like Hami, Turfan, Urumqi and either went further west to IIi and to the area of Caspian Sea or trenched off south to Korla, Kucha, Aksu and Kashgar. It skirted round the Taklamakan desert (Tarim Basin) from the North.
  • The southern route passed through Dun Huang, Niya, Keria, Khotan, Karghalik, Yarkand (Shache) and joined the northern route at Kashgar.
  • The middle routewhich went west from Dun Huang through Yumen Pass (The Jade Gate), to Lop Nor going along the extended Great Wall to the ruined city Loulan from where it either went North West to join the Northern route at Korla or South West to meet the Southern route at Jechiang (Shanshan).The road again bifurcated from Kashgar which was the junction of the two principle routes. Kashgar, being the meeting point of the various roads of the Silk Route, became one of the most important trade centers of Central Asia.
  • Thewestern route continued over the Roof of the World (Pamirs) towards Samarkand, Balkh, Bukhara, Merv, Nissa through Parthia to the shores of the Mediterranean at Antiock and then on to Rome and Alexandria by ship.
  • The southern routes turned to Tashkurghan to cross the Karakoram pass and then on to the great Buddhist University of Taxi Ia or to Gandhara.9 There were other routes also, the one from Khotan or Yarkand to Leh and on to Srinagar in Kashmir and the other over theTaghdumbashPamirs, through Wakhan to Afghanistan and Iran.

Silk Production

Sericulture or silk production has a long and colorful history unknown to most people. For centuries the West knew very little about silk and the people who made it. For more than two thousand years the Chinese kept the secret of silk altogether to themselves. In 8th century B.C., Lei-tsu, the queen of the legendary Chinese Emperor Huang-ti, invented the basic methods of weaving and embroidering with silk thread.

Multiples Roles of Silk Route

  1. A link for inter-continental nations: It was virtually a huge economic and cultural pipeline through which products from both East and West The goods were bartered or sold in the various oases on the way, in Central Asian cities like Samarkand and Bukhara, in Parthian and then in the Mediterranean lands. Goods were eventually shipped to Rome and Alexandria.
  2. Spread of Metal Culture: The nomadic equestrian tribes developed the metal culture that commonly called Scytho-Sibarian style, disseminated to the East and West by way of this Steppe Route. This metal culture was diffused by the sixth to fourth centuries B.C. in the Kazakh plain, Altai mountains, the semi-plain in the upstream of the Yenisey in the Central Eurasian continent, as far as the Steppe regions in Southern Russia and the Donauriver basin in the West and the semi -plain, semi- desert region in Mongolia and near the Great Wall of China in the east.
  3. Facilities for the travelers: The caravan city states along the Oasis Route maintained accommodation and market facilities for caravans and travelers.
  4. Development of Cities and Market: At the foot of steep mountains, there were oases of various sizes with streams and springs. Cities were constructed in the oases and protected by gates and walls, and these cities were surrounded by green trees, farmlands and orchards, with ponds possessing water and flower beds. Many travellers from various lands gathered in the oases to form markets and open air trading markets where they traded goods which they had brought from their respective localities. People of these oasis cities formed caravan and got engaged in the intermediate activities of the East-West trade.
  5. Spread of technology and information:It was virtually a huge economic and cultural pipeline through which not only products from both East and West were exchanged but also technology and information's from various parts of the world were brought to nomadic equestrian tribes in Central Asia. New metallurgical techniques as granulation, loop in loop chains and an early form of cloisonné were acquired from the West via Chinese contact with the nomads during the Eastern Zhoa dynasty and perfected during the Qin and Han dynasties.
  6. Life Style influence: The migration of equestrian nomads living in Eurasia made possible by the Steppe route and this route served as a natural highway through which the life style of the nomads, animal patterns and gold culture were diffused in East and West directions.
  7. Trade Route:These nomadic groups conducted trade with neighboring regions from a very early period, including the purchase of silks, bronze mirrors and weapons from China; furs and gold from Siberia; nephrite jade and wool from East Turkistan, and horses from West Turkistan. Rare plants, medicines, spiced and other goods from the west were to be found in the markets of the city.
  8. Silk Trade:This was something which happened in the West only in modern times. The Silk Road was first established, silk was not the chief commodity. Han dynasty made very little profit from it until the Romans were fanatic about silk that the large profits came in. The Roams love silk so much that they even exchanged silk for its weight in gold. During the Tang dynasty, thirty percent of the trade on the Silk Road was comprised of silk. Silk, indeed, rapidly became one of the principal elements of the Chinese economy. Silk was used for musical instruments, fishing-lines, bowstrings, bonds of all kinds, and even rag paper, the world’s first luxury paper.
  9. Cultural Exchange:The Persian Empire controlled a large swathe of the Middle East, regions when Alexander the Great conquered this area as far as Ferghana on the border of the modern-day Xinjiang region of China. Here, in 329 BC, he founded the city of Alexandria. The people absorbed a lot of the local culture, and the cultures that passed them by along the route. The settlers profited from the passing trade, and also absorbed much of the local culture as well as the alien cultures they encountered through commerce.
  10. The new military technical innovation: The Han dynasty acquired technical innovations from neighboring countries through the Silk Road. These innovations were critical in the development of Chinese civilization and absorbed via early trade and military contacts on the Silk Road. These innovations were harnesses, saddles and stirrups (from the Steppe nomads), construction methods for bridges and mountain roads, knowledge of medicinal plants and poisons and the cultivation of cotton and seafaring (from India).
  11. The facilities to the travelers:The peasant colonies were founded in the fertile lands, inns and posts for changing horses were established along the main routes, messengers and couriers traveled in every season of the year and the merchant strangers knocked daily on the gates.
  12. Diffusion of Art and Culture:Trade and commerce of Han dynasty with its neighbours influenced the art. Predominating ideas from Steppe art, such as confronting animals or openwork narratives and landscapes are to be found on Chinese bronze belt plaques and harness fittingsA lot of examples of Han dynasty art reveal contacts with the influences from the Southeast Asia and Central Asia. The nacked Cherub appears on a liquer plate unearthed at the tomb of General Zhu Ran (d.249 AD) in Ma'anshan, Anhui province. Artistic styles such as the carving of narrative scenes on stone and the production of stone sculpture in the round have no precedent in previous dynasties. Their origins may be traced to the sculpture and carved reliefs of the Greco-Roman world and of Assyria by a process of gradual dissemination along the Silk Road. The Central Asian dancer, who can be visualized through the Tang tricolored ceramic figurines of foreign entertainers (examples of which may be found in almost any museum with a significant collection of Chinese art), to reveal cultural diffusion in the case of music and dance and to show activities of the court.
  13. Foreign Relations:Tang Emperors of China welcomed foreigners and foreign trade. In these foreigners many were missionaries, merchants and pilgrims but every other occupation was also represented. A Persian merchant and a Central Asian dancer represented the travelers of this time. The Japanese sent students, officials and Buddhist monks to China for training. The Japanese, Yellow and Eastern Seas became a continuation of the Great Silk Road.
  14. Spread of Buddhism:Along with trade and migration this world's oldest international highway was the vehicle which spread Buddhism through Central Asia. Buddhism came into China from India as early as the first century AD, and changed the face of Silk Road towns with monasteries and pagodas. The transmission was launched from north-western India to modern Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Xinjiang, China, Korea and Japan. Buddhism not only affected the lives and cultures on those regions but also left us with a world of wonders in arts and literature. Buddhism influence was seen in the art, as more artists began using the image of the Buddha in their work.
  15. Promotion of languages and literature:During the 4th  Century, Kumarajiva, a Buddhist from Central Asia organised the first translation bureau better than anything that had existed before in China. He and his team translated some 98 works from many languages into Chinese of which 52 survive and are included in the Buddhist literatureWhile numerous pilgrims arrived China from the West, Chinese Buddhist pilgrims were sent to India during different times and the accounts which some of them have left of their travels in the Silk Road provide valuable evidence of the state of Buddhism in Central Asia and India. Some of the more famous Chinese pilgrims were Fa-hian (399 to 414), Xuan-zang (629-645) and I.tsing (671-695).
  16. Establishment of new empires: The Yueh-chi appear to have begun their migration in about 165 B.C. and arrived in Bactria in about 140 B.C., thus migrating over a distance of more than 4,000 km within a single generation. They extended their rule across Bactria and the Kabul region and during the first century A.D. into the Gandhara Kingdom with Panjab. Much of this was accomplished during the reign of Kujula-Kadphises (ca 30- 80 A.D) thereby ending Parthian rule in the area. Kushanas conquered large parts of Central Asia. Kushan kings issued coins that initiated the style of the Sythians and Parthians who preceded them. Fascinatingly, some of these coins include depictions of the Roman Emperor, Augustus, with motif.
  17. Establishment of new trade links:The Kushan King sent an embassy to Rome because China and Persia were made their trade agreement. The kingdom of Kushans was hoping to form an association with Rome, due to the differences between China and Kushans. Therefore Rome and Kushans came on common platform and engaged in direct trade.
  18. The Currency Issuance: There was not any currency in politically unstable Central Asia like the copper coins of China. Later on, with the contacts of China, coins were issued by different kingdoms. Kushan kings issued coins that initiated the style of the Sythians and Parthians who preceded them. Fascinatingly, some of these coins include depictions of the Roman Emperor, Augustus, with motif.


The Silk Route had a rich heritage since its inception and was an early example of political and cultural integration due to inter-regional trade. It sustained an international culture that brought together groups as diverse as the Magyars, Armenians and Chinese and encouraged them to integrate, and helped spread new products and, even more importantly, new ideas. The Silk Route has benefitted all the regions equally and helped in setting up of common and mutual relationship in lieu of economy.

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