During The Avengers, we saw Nick Fury chatting to the World Security Council several times, a mysterious organisation fronted by shadowy individuals.

Are they the “next level”, who in effect helped assemble S.H.I.E.L.D. ?

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    It’s a council dedicated to preserving the security of the world. – Paul D. Waite May 29 '14 at 8:40

As far as we can tell at this point, they did not help assemble SHIELD. What we do know is that SHIELD was formed out of the SSR (Strategic Scientfic Reserve) team in Captain America: The First Avenger.

After the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we know that Peggy Carter was directly involved with the creation of SHIELD, and most likely included Howard Stark in the beginning.

In the Agent Carter One Shot we also see her interacting with Dum Dum Dugan, one of the Howling Commandos, so it is likely that the Howling Commandos were involved in the formation of SHIELD, which is further reinforced in Agents of Shield when the original SHIELD gadgets are bought into the show. They used to belong to Agent Tripletts grand father, a member of the Howling Commandos.

Although we do not know exactly what role the World Security Council take, I think it is safe to assume that they are like a smaller, more covert version of the UN (United Nations) that are specifically tasked with ensuring that the world is secure (hence the name). This would explain their ties to SHIELD and the fact that they appear to made up of multiple nationalities, not just Americans. This is futher backed up by the fact that they have an input into the Insight program from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is not only an American, but a world wide security measure. They also appear to be able to choose who is currently in charge of SHIELD, shown in The Avengers when they notify SHIELD personnel that Nick Fury is no longer in charge of SHIELD after he disobeys an order, suggesting that they may also provide funding to SHIELD, or have some form of legally recognised authority.

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    Given Coulson's "We're working on that" commends during Iron Man I suspect it hadn't been called SHIELD that long! – Liath May 29 '14 at 10:11
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    @Liath That's actually a really good point, but I suspect that the upcoming Agent Carter TV show will show us that the SSR was renamed to SHIELD shortly after World War 2, and that Coulson was simply dismissing Tony Stark's comment (I beleive it was Tony who said "That's quite a mouthful" or something along those lines). Also, consider the fact that Couslon was orignally a one off character, and that it is a throwaway line, and that the MCU hadn't been mapped out in great detail at the time of Iron Mans filming, and I would imagine that SHIELD had in fact been names SHIELD for some time. – Dr R Dizzle May 29 '14 at 10:18
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    It seems closer to NATO (USA + allies) than the UN (everyone in the world, with various competing interests in conflict with each other) to me, but otherwise +1. – evilsoup May 29 '14 at 15:13
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    @evilsoup, Actually, it seems like a direct analog to the UN Security Council. While there are 193 members of the UN, there are only 15 members of the UNSC. While there are 200+ sovereign states, there are only 5 members of the WSC. – Brian S May 29 '14 at 21:09

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