The Secretary-General’s relationship to the work of the Security Council gives him an aura of the world’s constable. It resembles the model of the classical English “bobby,” the police oﬃcer who, backed by law and without weapons more threatening than a baton, patrols dangerous streets to oﬀer help and protection to the public. The metaphor accurately suggests that the Secretary-General can collect information and draw conclusions about threats to international peace and security. His signals of trouble ahead serve as his baton. In some circumstances, he may intervene in quarrels to create a mood, or even a process, to attempt conciliation. These gestures, even when backed by responses from persuasive governments, may not succeed. And like a classical constable, the Secretary-General cannot pronounce binding judgments as to guilt or innocence, or apply punishment. Rather, he can sometimes start a process of judgment and possibly enforcement. Some of this is stated and much more implied in Article 99 of the UN
Charter that authorizes the Secretary-General to bring before the Security Council anything that in his opinion may threaten or breach the peace. As the Secretary-General heads a principal UN organ and sits with the representatives of the 15 governments that make up the Security Council, he is at least guaranteed access to its formal deliberations. This chapter takes up the role of the Secretary-General in what
the UN Charter and broad opinion set out as the primary function of the organization-that is, maintaining peace and security. It treats the means available to the Secretary-General and the constraints on his developing policies and carrying them out. It examines his activities in several UN responses to active and possible threats to the peace.