Critically Discuss the Suggestions for Reform of the United Nations Security Council by High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change

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  • Published : April 21, 2012
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Critically discuss the suggestions for reform of the United Nations Security Council by High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change

In order to fulfil its main task of maintaining global peace and international security more efficiently in the 21 century and to live up to its Chapter, the current structure and practice of the SC needs to be reformed. Reforms of the UNSC have been in the centre of contention for more than 20 years, where the criticism of the Council’s lack of representativeness and transparency has increased. In order to address the new challenges to peace and security the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan established the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change. And indeed this is what this essay will consider for examination, the panel’s main proposals that call for reform of the structure of the UNSC, in order be more effective, expedient, democratic and efficient in carrying out his role.

Therefore my approach in tackling the question will be structured as follows; firstly I shall examine the issue of Veto power of the permanent five members of the SC and the concept of it as a structural weakness of the Council that forestalls decision-making process from reaching adequate actions.

In the second part of my essay I shall take into consideration the two models for enlargement suggested by the panel. I shall examine the advantages and disadvantages of the two models towards a more effective and legitimate SC, in order to strike a balance between the most that contribute and the geographical arrangement of the seats. Put differently will examine the relationship between legitimacy and effectiveness towards a new enlarged SC.

Amongst the reforms proposed by the Panel, one of the most controversial issues that remain unsolved is the Veto power of the current permanent members. The Panel could not find any alternative of changing the existing members’ veto power despite the numerous calls for its removal. Many states and critics argued that the current P5 do not represent the great world powers of the current global power system, they indicate that it is undemocratic and it is a neo-colonial institution that represents the victorious powers of WW2(Schrijver:2007,Verhoeven:2005).

While some like Alounkhed Kittikhoun of Lao’s People’s Democratic Republic rendered the veto power as anachronistic and contrary to the principle of sovereign equality of states, others even question why they should listen to the P5 at all(Afoaku and Ukaga:200:158). However, according to Zhenqiang (2005:4), the argument to abolish the Veto is a bit far stretched. He with some scholars argue that the veto actually strengthened the United Nations (Moore and Pubantz: 2006:131).

Authors argue that once the P5’s have the veto taken away, without securing the big powers, they run the risk of repeating the lesson of League of Nations that is the disbanding of the UN. Some point out that the veto holding members of the UN SC are unique as they are the only countries that have nuclear arsenal according to NPT(Rachman:2008), one of the biggest them being America. Moreover when the organisation was set up ’’ The veto provision was an absolute condition for US participation in the United Nations. The superpowers would not be subject to any collective coercion. The veto ensured that the General Assembly could not act against any of the permanent five’’. In other words the current permanent members were and would be a law unto themselves (Mehta: 2006)

Moreover that is supported by articles 108 and 109 of the United Nations Charter which grants the P5 veto over amendments to the charter, requiring them to approve stripping away their own veto powers. Put differently any changes must meet the P5’s approval. Another point to be taken into account is made by Mahbubani(2010), he argues that every election of non-permanent members legitimises the permanent members because, by joining...
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