From a report last month by the secretary-general of the United Nations on the work of the organization:

The Security Council has time and again slowed the onrush of events, gained time for vital changes in direction, produced face-saving mechanisms and substituted talk for violent action. It has striven for cease-fires and truces to prepare the way for negotiation. It has set important guidelines for the solution of complex problems and provided, with cooperation of the secretary-general, all manner of forms of conciliation, mediation, good offices, fact-finding, truce observation and quiet diplomacy. It has managed often to isolate regional conflicts from the area of confrontation of the nuclear powers. It has provided a repository for the most dangerous of problems even though it could not solve them. . . .

In a changeable and often unfavorable international climate, I believe the council's record in its primary task stands up better and is a good deal more central and relevant than is sometimes recognized. Of course, it is in no way up to the expectations of a chastened but hopeful world 40 years ago, and it does not include a full and effective use of the range of actions suggested by the charter. But in the unfavorable political conditions in which the Security Council has mostly had to operate, it represents a considerable effort to find alternative ways for the maintenance of peace.

There is no denying that in the present circumstances the peace and security system of the United Nations has many weaknesses and many shortcomings. . . . But I maintain that in the real conditions of international life these 40 years -- as opposed to various rhetorical versions of the same events -- the Security Council has played an essential and often central role in providing stability and limiting conflict.