Critically assess the case for reform to the permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
“Chief responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security lies with the Security Council. It is therefore essential to its legitimacy that its membership reflect the state of the world.” French President Chirac’s address to the United Nations General Assembly.
The United Nations has had a lot to contest with since it came in to play in 1945 after the five permanent members agreed to set this organisation up in San Francisco. The United Nations has a number of bodies that deal with world affairs; however this essay will focus on the Security Council which will explore whether the permanent members and their authority in the United Nations should be reformed.
This essay will also focus on the role of the Security Council and what effect it has on current affairs across the globe. There are just fewer than 200 members in the United Nations and these numbers of members alone state the size of the organisation. The United Nations Security Council has five permanent members that have higher authority over non-permanent members. Academics have argued that the Security Council need to be reformed to set an example of democracy through the organisation.
The five permanent members of the United Nations are the United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia (formerly USSR) and France. These members have been involved in the United Nations since its inauguration in 1945. However, there has been a lot of discussion whether to pass in more permanent members or to change the perpetual members after a time period. As we know now, there are ten non-permanent associates of the United Nations Security Council which make fifteen members of the Security Council and the members of the United Nations take turns in a rotating cycle. But the discussion for this essay is to see whether to change the permanent members (Hanhimaki 2008:51). Should we change the permanent members? Would we have more permanent members? Must there be no permanent members? These questions will be answered and discussed throughout the essay in depth.
Under the United Nations Charter, the Security Council have a number of powers and roles they have to undertake and obligate. The responsibility of these roles is for the five permanent and the ten non-permanent members to complete and abide by. Below is a list of areas the United Nations Security Council is accountable for (www.un.org): •
‘to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and the purposes of the United Nations’ •
‘to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction’ •
‘to recommend the admission of new members to the United Nations’ •
‘to take military action against an aggressor’
‘to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken’
These are only a selection of responsibilities for the United Nations Security Council which show most relevance to this particular discussion.
Historically there have only been three amendments made to the United Nations Charter in sixty years and this gives the impression that changing a major area like the Security Council, would need some convincing and consideration. The Security Council came to pass in the year of 1965, two-thirds of all United Nations members of the Security Council ratified , ‘resolution 1990’ which projected expanding the Security Council from eleven to fifteen members and also the majority from seven to nine votes (Weiss 2003:149).
Weiss discusses suggestions of reforming this particular area of the United Nations. He suggested that, ‘A Security Council of twenty-one or twenty-five members would hardly improve effectiveness’. This claim is interesting due to the United Nations cover worldwide current affairs and the permanent member’s only amounts up to five. Arguably,...
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