The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (also known as the Permanent Five, Big Five, or P5) are the five sovereign states to whom the UN Charter of 1945 grants a permanent seat on the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The permanent members were all allies in World War II (and the victors of that war), and are also all states with nuclear weapons (though not all five had developed nuclear weapons prior to the formation of the United Nations). The remaining 10 members of the council are elected by the General Assembly, giving a total of 15 UN member states. All five permanent members have the power of veto, which enables any one of them to prevent the adoption of any "substantive" draft Council resolution, regardless of its level of international support.
The following is a table of the current permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
|Country||Current state representation||Former state representation||Current executive leaders||Current representative|
|China||People's Republic of China||Republic of China[a] (1945-1971)||President: Xi Jinping[b]
Premier: Li Keqiang[c]
|France||French Republic|| Provisional Government of the French Republic (1945-1946)
French Fourth Republic (1946-1958)
|President: Emmanuel Macron
Prime Minister: Jean Castex
|Nicolas de Rivière|
|Russia||Russian Federation||Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1945-1991)||President: Vladimir Putin
Prime Minister: Mikhail Mishustin
|United Kingdom||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||N/A||Monarch: Elizabeth II
Prime Minister: Boris Johnson
|United States||United States of America||N/A||President: Joe Biden||Linda Thomas-Greenfield|
At the UN's founding in 1945, the five permanent members of the Security Council were the French Republic, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. There have been two seat changes since then, although these have not been reflected in Article 23 of the United Nations Charter, as it has not been accordingly amended:
Additionally, France reformed its provisional government into the French Fourth Republic in 1946 and later into the French Fifth Republic in 1958, both under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle. France maintained its seat as there was no change in its international status or recognition, although many of its overseas possessions eventually became independent.
The five permanent members of the Security Council were the victorious powers in World War II and have maintained the world's most powerful military forces ever since. They annually top the list of countries with the highest military expenditures; in 2011, they spent over US$1 trillion combined on defence, accounting for over 60% of global military expenditures (the U.S. alone accounting for over 40%). They are also five of the world's six largest arms exporters (along with Germany), and are the only nations officially recognised as "nuclear-weapon states" under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), though there are other states known or believed to be in possession of nuclear weapons.
The "power of veto" refers to the veto power wielded solely by the permanent members, enabling them to prevent the adoption of any "substantive" draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft. The veto does not apply to procedural votes, which is significant in that the Security Council's permanent membership can vote against a "procedural" draft resolution, without necessarily blocking its adoption by the council.
The veto is exercised when any permanent member--the so-called "P5"--casts a "negative" vote on a "substantive" draft resolution. Abstention or absence from the vote by a permanent member does not prevent a draft resolution from being adopted.
There have been proposals suggesting the introduction of new permanent members. The candidates usually mentioned are Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan. They comprise the group of four countries known as the G4 nations, which mutually support one another's bids for permanent seats.
This sort of reform has traditionally been opposed by the Uniting for Consensus group, which is composed primarily of nations that are regional rivals and economic competitors of the G4. The group is led by Italy and Spain (opposing Germany), Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina (opposing Brazil), Pakistan (opposing India), and South Korea (opposing Japan), in addition to Turkey, Indonesia and others. Since 1992, Italy and other council members have instead proposed semi-permanent seats or expanding the number of temporary seats.
Most of the leading candidates for permanent membership are regularly elected onto the Security Council by their respective groups. Japan was elected for eleven two-year terms, Brazil for ten terms, and Germany for three terms. India has been elected to the council eight times in total, with the most recent successful bid being in 2020.
|UNSC Member state||People's Republic of China
|United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland
|Coat of arms|
|Populations||1,411,778,724 (2020)||67,427,000 (2021)||146,171,015 (2021)||67,886,004 (2020)||331,449,281 (2020)|
|Area||9,596,961 km2 (3,705,407 sq mi)||640,679 km2 (260,558 sq mi)||17,125,242 km2 (6,612,093 sq mi)||242,495 km2 (93,628 sq mi)||9,833,520 km2 (3,796,742 sq mi)|
|Population density||145/km² (375.5/sq mi)||104.71/km² (40,4/sq mi)||8.4/km² (21.8/sq mi)||270.7/km² (701.1/sq mi)||87/km² (33.6/sq mi)|
|EEZ||877,019 km2||11,691,000 km2||7,566,673 km2||6,805,586 km2||11,351,000 km2|
|New York City|
North America/South America/Oceania/Africa
North America/South America/Oceania/Africa
|Government||Unitary Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist republic||Unitary semi-presidential
democratic constitutional republic
|Unitary parliamentary democratic
|Ruling political party||Chinese Communist Party||La République En Marche!||United Russia||Conservative Party||Democratic Party|
|State leaders||Xi Jinping[b]
|Queen Elizabeth II
|Official languages||Standard Chinese[d]||French||Russian||British English||None at federal level, but English de facto|
|Subdivisions with highest GDP||Guangdong
$1.11 trillion (2014)
$845 billion (2011)
$340 billion (2012)
$2.69 trillion (2013)
$2.28 trillion (2014)
|GDP per capita (nominal)||$8,141 (73rd)||$37,653 (21st)||$9,243 (64th)||$43,902 (13th)||$56,084 (6th)|
|GDP per capita (PPP)||$14,340 (84th)||$41,476 (26th)||$25,965 (48th)||$41,499 (25th)||$56,084 (11th)|
|GDP (nominal)||$11.38 trillion (2016) (2nd)||$2.422 trillion (2015) (6th)||$1.178 trillion (2016) (12th)||$2.679 trillion (2015) (5th)||$18.558 trillion (2016) (1st)|
|GDP (PPP)||$20.85 trillion (2016) (1st)||$2.647 trillion (2015) (10th)||$3.493 trillion (2016) (6th)||$2.849 trillion (2015) (9th)||$18.558 trillion (2016) (2nd)|
|Military expenditures||$145.8 billion (2015) (2nd)||$46.8 billion (2015) (7th)||$65.6 billion (2015) (4th)||$56.2 billion (2015) (5th)||$597.5 billion (2015) (1st)|
The following list is sourced from the 2018 edition of "The Military Balance" published annually by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
|Country||Active military||Reserve military||Paramilitary||Total||Per 1,000 capita
|Per 1,000 capita|