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Reforming the United Nations
by Christos Mouzeviris
2013-09-07 13:07:31
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The recent Syria crisis has once again outlined a very important problem, that hinders any quick political or humanitarian response to any crisis in a country in need. The issue is the inability of the United Nations Security Council of reaching to a quick agreement, on how to deal with a problem and take action fast.

We witnessed during this crisis how the Security Council was split and two of its members opposing the rest of the nations initial proposed response. And how can this be avoided since the United Nations and especially the Security Council, are reflecting and representing an era that will soon belong to the past.

The current formation of the Security Council was established right after WW2 and it includes the main players that came out as winners of the great war. It represents the then great powers, the two main sides of the Cold War. If we insist in keeping the U.N. and its Security Council formation as it is, then the organization does not longer represent the current political reality and all the changes that our world is going through.

There are 15 members of the Security Council. This includes five veto-wielding permanent members that are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.There are also 10 non-permanent members, with five elected each year to serve two-year terms. This basic structure is set out in Chapter V of the UN Charter. The current non-permanent members are Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Luxembourg, Morocco, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Korea, and Togo. (Wikipedia)

What we immediately observe is that the 10 countries that are also members of the Security Council are small and they do not represent the BRICS countries, the developing and rising economic powers of the world. Countries like Luxembourg, Guatemala, Azerbaijan, Rwanda and Togo are small to make any difference to the Council decisions and others like Australia are very close to Britain.

The very existence of the Security Council is controversial, as it establishes elite nations with more say in the global affairs. The right of a veto is given only to the five permanent members of the Security Council and no other member state.

If any countries should join permanently the Council, these should be the BRICS countries. Brazil, India and South Africa perhaps even Japan, Germany and Indonesia should join as permanent members, so that the U.N. will reflect the new political reality of our planet. A more globalized world, with more emerging blocks and countries that deserve more say in global affairs.

Such new reality not only will reflect the real status of our planet, but it would end the monopoly and hegemony of the powers that ruled our world since WW2. Their squabbles during the Cold War, resulted to a lot of inequality and troubles in many parts of our planet.  

The UN currently as it is acts more of block that promotes the old status quo of the planet. It does not represent all regions equally and is rather a organization that either has limited authority, or its authority can be ignored by the global powers if it does not suit them. A typical example of this situation is America, that has repeatedly ignored the UN's decision and enacted wars that did not have the organization's approval.

An option would be to scrap the Security Council altogether and give an equal say in all countries that are UN members. But such thing would mean unanimity in any decision would be almost impossible. So since we need to have a body within the UN that would regulate the organization, the Council's existence is  non-negotiable. But not its formation, responsibilities and functions.

Apart from the proposed expansion of the Council, another solution would be the rotation of its membership. There would be no permanent member and even the USA, Russia and China would have to lose their permanent seats for a period of time. In that way their influence over the UN and the world will be weakened.

Another scenario is for the European members such as France and Britain, to lose their seats in the Council, replacing them with just one. That of an EU representation, allowing Europe to speak with one voice in the world. Britain and France will retain their representations in the UN, but not in its Council. That of course can only be achieved, if Europe ever forms a common foreign policy.

We need to reform the UN if we like to see any real progress, but also equality in the world. America and the rest of the great powers of the past, should stop acting as the policeman in the world and have an absolute say on what is happening in it. The decisions of the organization should be respected by all and implemented fast.

For that to happen we need to give more powers and authority to the UN, limiting the influence of USA and the Security Council, or diversifying its membership and its roles. The organization should become more active and fast acting. And even the location of its headquarters should be reconsidered, if America decides to ignore the UN's ruling ever again. Perhaps a new proposed location would be away from the old powers and in one of the rising countries like Brazil or India. 

We need to promote a more politically and economically diversified world, that will not continue the old traditional divisions between East and West, North and South. And for that to be achieved we need to embrace the rise of new powers in our planet, giving them a stronger voice to counterpart the established ones. It is within the interests of all of us to end the hegemony of the winners of WW2, creating a more equal planet for everybody.


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