Reform of the United Nations Security Council


Reform of the United Nations Security Council

Reform of the United Nations Security Council encompasses a variety of proposals, including procedural reforms, such as eliminating the veto held by the five permanent members, and expansion of the Council. In practice, "Security Council reform" usually refers to schemes to restructure or expand its membership.

General Assembly Task Force

The General Assembly Task Force on Security Council Reform [ [http://www.reformtheun.org/index.php?module=uploads%26func=download%26fileId=3220 ReformtheUN.org Tracking Developments -> Ensuring Transparency and Accountability ] ] has delivered a Report (on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council) recommending a compromise solution for entering intergovernmental negotiations on reform [ [http://www.reformtheun.org/index.php?module=uploads%26func=download%26fileId=3221 ReformtheUN.org Tracking Developments -> Ensuring Transparency and Accountability ] ] .

The report builds on existing transitional/intermediary approaches to suggest a “timeline perspective”. The “timeline perspective” suggests that Member States begin by identifying the negotiables to be included in short-term intergovernmental negotiations. Crucial to the “timeline perspective” is the scheduling of a mandatory review conference – a forum for discussing changes to any reforms achieved in the near-term, and for revisiting negotiables that cannot be agreed upon now [ [http://www.reformtheun.org/index.php/eupdate/4290 ReformtheUN.org Task Force Suggests "Timelineâ€? Solution for Security Council Reform, States Remain Divided ] ] .

Increasing membership

"In Larger Freedom"

On March 21, 2005, the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called on the UN to reach a consensus on expanding the council to 24 members, in a plan referred to as "In Larger Freedom". He gave two alternatives for implementation, but did not specify which proposal he preferred [http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=7953909] . In any case, Annan favored making the decision quickly, stating, "This important issue has been discussed for too long. I believe member states should agree to take a decision on it – preferably by consensus, but in any case before the summit – making use of one or other of the options presented in the report of the High-Level Panel" [http://www.un.org/largerfreedom/sg-statement.html] .

The two options mentioned by Annan are referred to as Plan A and Plan B:
*"Plan A" calls for creating six new permanent members, plus three new nonpermanent members for a total of 24 seats in the council.
*"Plan B" calls for creating eight new seats in a new class of members, who would serve for four years, subject to renewal, plus one nonpermanent seat, also for a total of 24.

The summit mentioned by Annan is the September 2005 Millennium+5 Summit, a high level plenary meeting that reviewed Annan's report, the implementation of the 2000 Millennium Declaration, and other UN reform-related issues [http://www.un-ngls.org/MDG/unaction.htm] .

"Uniting for Consensus"

On July 26, 2005, five UN member countries, Argentina, Italy, Canada, Colombia and Pakistan, representing a larger group of countries called Uniting for Consensus, proposed to General Assembly another project [http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/ga10371.doc.htm] , that maintains five permanent members, and raises the number of non-permanent members to 20. On April 11, 2005, China had 'embraced' this initiative [http://www.china-un.org/eng/zt/gaige/t191026.htm] .

New permanent member proposals

One proposed change is to admit more members: the candidates usually mentioned are Japan, Germany, India and Brazil (the G4 nations), and an African country.

Britain, France and Russia support G4 membership in the UN. [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-11-01-voa46.cfm] Italy has always opposed this kind of reform, and has submitted since 1992 another proposal, together with other countries, based on the introduction of semi-permanent membership [http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/reform/cluster1/2005/04italianmodel.pdf] ; In addition, Pakistan opposes India; and Mexico and Argentina oppose Brazil, a Portuguese-speaking country in a largely Spanish-speaking Latin America. All these countries have traditionally grouped themselves in the so-called "Coffee Club"; officially Uniting for Consensus.

Most of the leading candidates for permanent membership are regularly elected onto the Security Council by their respective groups: Japan and Brazil were elected for nine two-year terms each, and Germany for three terms. India has been elected to the council six times in total, although the last of those was more than a decade ago, in 1991-92.

BRA

Brazil is the largest country in Latin America in terms of population, GDP and land area; in addition to having one of the largest defense budgets(11th) and armed forces(18th) in the world [ [http://www.globalfirepower.com/country_detail.asp?country_id=29 Global Fire Power: Brazil Military Strength] ] [ [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/br.html#Military CIA - The World Factbook: Brazil] ] . Furthermore, with Africa and Oceania, South America is one of three inhabited continents without permanent representation on the Security Council.

Brazil has been elected nine times to the UN Security Council. It has contributed troops to UN peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East, the former Belgian Congo, Cyprus, Mozambique, Angola, and more recently East Timor and Haiti [ [http://www.mre.gov.br/ingles/politica_externa/grupos/onu/onu_organiza.asp Brazil and the United Nations (Ministry of Foreign Relations of Brazil)] ] . Brazil is one of the main contributors to the UN regular budget [ [http://www.globalpolicy.org/finance/tables/reg-budget/large07.htm Regular Budget Payments of Largest Payers: 2007 (Global Policy Forum)] ] .

The United States sent strong indications to Brazil that it was willing to support its membership; albeit, without a veto. Brazil has received backing from other permanent members: Russia, the United Kingdom and France [ [http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files_156/brazil_444/index.html Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France] ] and from the Portuguese-speaking countries. [http://noticias.uol.com.br/ultnot/lusa/2006/09/12/ult611u73031.jhtm] Brasília thought it could gain Chinese support by recognizing China's full market economy status [ [http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200411/14/eng20041114_163822.html People's Daily:Brazil recognizes China's full market economy status] ] ; but despite its efforts, China has shown no official support for its bid.

The greatest impediments to its candidacy are the regional oppositions of both Mexico and Argentina, two important countries in Latin America.

DEU

Germany is the third largest contributor to the U.N. regular budgets, and as such, claims for a Security Council seat next to Japan.

France has explicitly called for a permanent seat in the UN for its close EU partner: "Germany's engagement, its ranking as a great power, its international influence — France would like to see them recognised with a permanent seat on the Security Council", French president Jacques Chirac said in a speech in Berlin in 2000. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/807923.stm] The former German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder also identified Russia, among other countries, as a country that backed Germany's bid. [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-11-01-voa46.cfm] Italy and Netherlands on the contrary, suggest a common EU seat in the Council instead of Germany becoming the third European member next to France and the UK. The former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said that Germany would also accept a common European seat, but as long as there is little sign that France and the UK will give up their own seats, Germany should also have a seat. [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-11-01-voa46.cfm] There have been suggestions that the EU should "share" the existing two permanent seats that it already has, without gaining a third seat. Suggestions have been voiced that the French should pool their vote with Germany in the Franco-German EU integrationist tradition and the UK would represent the EU tradition of less integrationist views. Thus, the German campaign for a permanent seat was intensified in 2004. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder made himself perfectly clear in August 2004: "Germany has the right to a seat". [" [http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,1302199,00.html German Hopes for UN Security Council Seat Dampened] ", Deutsche Welle, 20 August 2004. Retrieved 14 May 2006.] Its bid is supported by Japan, India, Brazil, France, the United Kingdom and Russia, among other countries. Current German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had initially been quiet on the issue, re-stated Germany's bid in her address to the UN General Assembly in September 2007.

IND

India, a nuclear power, has the world's second largest population and is the world's largest liberal democracy. It is also the world's twelfth largest economy and fourth largest in terms of purchasing power parity. Currently, India maintains the world's third largest armed force. India is one of the largest contributor of troops to UN-mandated peace-keeping missions.

India's bid is unequivocally backed by permanent members France, Russia [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4069453.stm BBC NEWS | South Asia | Putin backs India's UN seat bid ] ] and the United Kingdom [ [http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/PoliticsNation/UNSC_without_India_unrealistic_Brown/articleshow/2972896.cms UNSC without India unrealistic: Brown- Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times ] ] . The Chinese government in Beijing has recently advocated the candidacy. [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/10/25/asia/AS-GEN-China-India.php China offers tepid backing for India bid for UN council seat - International Herald Tribune ] ] Though several countries like Brazil, [ [http://www.hindu.com/2008/04/17/stories/2008041762061400.htm The Hindu : International / India & World : “Working together for Security Council seat” ] ] Australia, [ [http://www.abc.net.au/ra/news/stories/200804/s2219356.htm?tab=australia UN seat 'central' to Australian foreign policy ] ] and African Union [http://www.flonnet.com/stories/20080509250906100.htm] support India's candidature, popular belief expressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is that certain "Major Powers are hindering India's Candidacy".

Though initially opposed by the Chinese due to geo-political reasons (China being an ally of India's arch-rival Pakistan and the country also having fought a brief war with India in 1962), recent history has turned China's official support for India's candidature from negative to neutral to positive, in correlation with stronger economic ties.Fact|date=February 2007 On 11 April 2005 China announced it would support India's bid for a permanent seat, but without a veto. The veto power, however, is the most defining characteristic of a permanent member and in the eyes of the G4 countries, to be denied the veto power is just a way for the five current permanent members to retain their superiority. Although the U.S. officially does not back India's bid — for various reasons, some of which remain decidedly unclear — it has privately been eager to work with India and to support the nation (which translates to not using a veto).Fact|date=March 2008 However Indo-American relations are currently improving from the Cold War levels of de facto derision, marked by an alliance of mutuality, recently, in March 2006, by the US President George W. Bush making a visit to India, signing a civilian nuclear power sharing programme. Taking into account its huge population and growing economic and political clout, India is a strong contender to clinch a permanent seat. Another factor which bolsters India's candidature is the fact that it was one of the founding members of the Security Council and has participated in several of its activities, including UN operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cyprus, Cambodia, Yemen, Somalia, Rwanda , Namibia, Sinai peninsula, among others.

JPN

Japan, which joined the UN in 1956, is the second largest contributor to the UN's regular budget [http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/United-Nations/The-United-Nations-Budget-ASSESSED-CONTRIBUTIONS-OF-MEMBER-STATES-TO-THE-REGULAR-BUDGET.html] . Its payments surpass the sum of those of the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia combined. Japan has been one of the largest ODA donor countries. Thus, Japan is considered the most likely candidate for one of the new permanent seats.

Japan's eagerness to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council has met with strong opposition from People's Republic of China, North Korea, and South Korea. However, Mongolia has backed Japan's bid.

Some JapaneseFact|date=February 2007 speculate that these countries, especially China, are motivated by more current problems such as territorial disputes. In late April 2005, large-scale anti-Japan protests broke out in mainland China. The reasons for the protests are varied, including Japanese history books approved by the government, annual visits by former Prime Minister Koizumi to the Yasukuni Shrine which houses 14 class-A war criminals, and territorial disputes of islands claimed by both China and Taiwan. While the protests were not officially sanctioned by the PRC, some analystsFact|date=February 2007 suggested that the PRC government allowed the protests to proceed in order to upset Japan's bid to be added to the Security Council. OthersFact|date=February 2007 argued that the Chinese government did not want the protesters' anger to be focused on them, as preventing these demonstrations would be construed as supporting Japan. There have also been many protests in South Korea. The ruling and opposition parties, majority of the media and even the President of South Korea openly criticized the visits regardless their political positions. [ " [http://news.naver.com/news/read.php?mode=LSD&office_id=044&article_id=0000023828&section_id=108&menu_id=108 Lawmakers visit Japanese Embassy to protest Koizumi's planned Seoul trip] ," "The Korea Herald", 12 October 2001.]

Some other Asian nations have expressed strong support for Japan's application, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-11-01-voa46.cfm] - all major recipients of loan and/or foreign investment from Japan. Other countries such as Australia, India, Brazil, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom also back Japan's bid. [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-11-01-voa46.cfm]

Although the United States strongly supports Japan's bid for Security Council membership, it rejects the combined G4+One bid for membership as a whole, which Japan needs to keep its support. While Russia is interested in a local counterweight to China, it is also wary of Japan's strong ties to the United States. However, China has the power to veto any bid on the part of Japan to become a permanent member.

The United States has refrained from supporting Germany and India (as Europe is represented by 2 out of the 5 permanent members), but supports Japan's bid. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking at Sophia University in Tokyo, said, "Japan has earned its honorable place among the nations of the world by its own effort and its own character. That's why the United States unambiguously supports a permanent seat for Japan on the United Nations Security Council" [http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=7953909&pageNumber=1] . Her predecessor, Colin Powell, had objected to Japanese permanent membership because Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan forbids the country from going to war [http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/reform/cluster1/2004/0825bid.htm] .

The People's Republic of China, as well as North Korea and South Korea, oppose Japanese membership because of the perceived refusal of Japan to take full responsibility for its World War II atrocities as well as its potential militarism [http://english.people.com.cn/200409/26/eng20040926_158376.html] . Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu support Japan. [http://www.matangitonga.to/article/spnews/pacificislands/palm_japan2_290506.shtml Japan increases aid to Pacific Is.] Matangi Tonga Online]

Katsuyuki Kawai, secretary for foreign affairs, member of the Japanese parliament, and special envoy to Nepal, was sent to Kathmandu to lobby for the Nepalese government's support for Japanese membership in the UNSC. Kawai met with King Gyanendra and told the press, "If Japan loses its bid this time, Japanese people will think the support Japan has been providing to the world for the last 60 years has been futile." Japan donates significantly to Nepal. [http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?article_class=3&no=231517&rel_no=1 Japan Seeks Nepal's Support for UN Bid] Ohmynews]

Membership of a Muslim-majority Nation

Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire the predominantly Muslim Middle East has been an area of persistent international conflict, and the periodic flare-ups in the region have been the subject of many UN Security Council debates and resolutions. Therefore, the prospect of introducing a permanent Islamic member to the security council is highly sensitive, especially if such a member were to be granted the power of veto. However, a "compromise state" can be seen in India, a nation that has the third largest population [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_by_country#Top_sixty] of Muslims (behind Indonesia and Pakistan), has close ties with many Arab nations, but at the same time is seen as a moderate and acceptable force on the security council.

Outside the Muslim world, commentators have raised concerns that a veto-wielding Islamic member could use it to restrict the UN's ability to act forcefully in the Middle East or on the boundaries of the Islamic world, rendering the UN impotent in those regions. The impression of the lack of democracy in Middle Eastern states that are predominantly Muslim is another reason cited by some Western commentators who argue against the idea of including these countries in the club of permanent, veto-wielding states.

At the same time, the draft G-4 reform proposals may leave over 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide (which is not limited only in the Middle East, and also include areas such as Southeast Asia) without any permanent representation on the UN security council. This is a highly controversial issue within the Islamic world and would adversely impact the UN's credibility in portions of the Middle East and in the Islamic world. In June 2005, the foreign ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) called for a permanent Muslim seat on the UN Security Council [http://www.nation.com.pk/daily/june-2005/29/index3.php] .

Recent resistance to the reform draft proposals emanating from the G-4 states can be attributed in part to this highly sensitive issue. The US and several Western states have objected to any proposal that gives new members any veto powers, [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-11-01-voa46.cfm] and within the African Union, Egypt has led resistance to a proposal by Nigeria to adopt a version of the G-4 proposals that removes the right of veto for new members, [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-11-01-voa46.cfm] and may enable the creation of a reformed council that does not have any permanent members with a predominantly Muslim identity.

Another reason given in opposition to the inclusion of an Islamic nation is the religious aspect to which it is linked [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-11-01-voa46.cfm] . Other religious nations might also request to be provided with permanent membership in the name of religion, such as the largely Jewish state of Israel or nations with large populations of Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, etc. [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-11-01-voa46.cfm]

Africa

It has also been suggested that an African nation be given a seat on the Security Council, with Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa being the most likely contenders.

Currently, no country in Africa has a permanent seat on the Security Council and this is seen as a major reason behind the push to have an African nation be given one. There are indeed several popular reasons why Africa has a good chance of gaining a Security Council membership:
* Africa is the second-largest and second most populous continent behind Asia (in which Russia and China already have seats and Japan and India are petitioning for ones).
* Africa has more United Nations members than any other continent.
* Africa, as a whole, is seen as militarily non-threatening.
* It currently has the support of most of South America and India (the South-South Alliance) and Japan of the G4 nations. [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-11-01-voa46.cfm] There are also calls by the UK, France, and China for more political representation from Africa. [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-11-01-voa46.cfm]

Although no one nation from Africa has formally been put forward as a candidate for membership on the Security Council, Algeria, Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria are seen as the strongest choices. Algeria has gained a great deal of respect for its neutrality over the years and its great commitment to African development; South Africa has one of the largest and the most developed economies on the continent; and Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and consistently contributes many troops to UN peacekeeping operations.

Arguing against such proposals--aside from the difficulty inherent in selecting only one of the proposed nations to represent Africa as a whole--is the lack of democracy and human rights in all of the candidates except Nigeria and South Africa. While the choice of Egypt would satisfy demands for a "Muslim" member, full democracy there would likely bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power--and depending on the result of UNSC membership reform, give them a UN veto. Such an outcome would be anathema to Israel as well as the United States.

Veto Reform

The UNSC 'power of veto' is frequently cited as a major problem with the UN. By wielding their veto power (established by Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter), any of the UNSC's five permanent members can prevent the adoption of any (non-'procedural') UNSC draft resolution not to their liking. Even the mere threat of a veto may lead to changes in the text of a resolution, or it being withheld altogether (the so-called 'pocket veto'). As a consequence, the power of veto often prevents the Council from acting to address pressing international issues, and affords the 'P5' great influence within the UN institution as a whole.

For example, the Security Council passed no resolutions on most major Cold War conflicts, including the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Vietnam War, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Resolutions addressing more current problems, such as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and Iran's suspected development of nuclear weapons, are also heavily influenced by the veto, actual or threatened. Additionally, the veto applies to the selection of the UN's Secretary-General, as well as any amendments to the UN Charter, giving the P5 great influence over these processes.

Discussions on improving the UN's effectiveness and responsiveness to international security threats often include reform of the UNSC veto. Proposals include: limiting the use of the veto to vital national security issues; requiring agreement from multiple states before exercising the veto; and abolishing the veto entirely. However, any reform of the veto will be very difficult. Articles 108 and 109 of the United Nations Charter grant the P5 veto over any amendments to the Charter, requiring them to approve of any modifications to the UNSC veto power that they themselves hold.

Nonetheless, it has been argued that the current UNSC 'power of veto' is, fundamentally, irrelevant. [Hunt, C. " [http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11353 The 'veto' charade] ", ZNet, 7 November 2006. Retrieved 1 March 2008] With the Assembly's adoption of the 'Uniting for Peace' resolution on 3 November 1950, it was made clear by the UN Member states that, according to the UN Charter, the P5 cannot prevent the UN General Assembly from taking any action necessary to restore international peace and security, in cases where the UNSC has failed to exercise the 'primary responsibility' for maintaining peace. Although not couched in the same language, various high-level reports make explicit reference to the 'Uniting for Peace' resolution as providing the necessary mechanism for the UNGA to overrule any vetoes in the UNSC;UN document |docid=A-52-856 |type=Document |body=General Assembly |session=52 |document_number=856 accessdate=2008-03-01] [International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. " [http://www.iciss.ca/menu-en.asp The Responsibility to Protect] ", ICISS.ca, December 2001. Retrieved 1 March 2008.] [" [http://www.un.org/ga/58/documentation/list0.html A/58/47 Report of the Open-ended Working Group on the Question of Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council] ", UN.org, 21 July 2004. Retrieved 1 March 2008.] [Non-Aligned Movement. " [http://www.un.int/malaysia/NAM/MMCOB_FinalDocument.pdf MINISTERIAL MEETING OF THE COORDINATING BUREAU OF THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT] ", UN.int, 27 - 30 May 2006. Retrieved 1 March 2008.] thus rendering them little more than delays in UN action.

Overall positions on reforming the Security Council

U.S. position

According to a formal statement by the U.S. Department of State:

India's position

As per the official website of India's Permanent Mission to UN [ [http://www.un.int/india/india_and_the_un_unreform.html "India's position on UN Reform Process"] ] :

Notes

References

* Hans Köchler, [http://i-p-o.org/koechler-Voting_Procedure-UN_Security_Council.pdf The Voting Procedure in the United Nations Security Council] , 1991, ISBN 3-900704-10-4
* Hans Köchler, [http://hanskoechler.com/UNID.HTM The United Nations and International Democracy. The Quest for UN Reform] , 1997, ISBN 3-900704-16-3
* Malone, D & Mahbubani, K: [http://www.un.org/webcast/worldchron/trans934.pdf "The UN Security Council – from the Cold War to the 21st Century"] , UN World Chronicle, 30 March 2004.

External links

* [http://citron-vert.info/article.php3?id_article=668 The different projects of reform (G4, Africa Union, United for consensus; 2006)] fr icon
* [http://www.centerforunreform.org Center for UN Reform] - Independent policy research organization offering documentation and in-depth analysis on ongoing reform processes.


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