Global Policy Forum

Permanent Membership: Objective Criteria


by Ellen Paine

During the current debate about additional non-elected (permanent) members of the Security Council, delegations often say that this or that member state meets the requisite criteria. All too often, though, the attributes mentioned are extremely vague -- such as "the ability to undertake global responsibilities." But sometimes delegations mention more objective criteria -- such as population size, wealth, contribution to UN peacekeeping operations, and other kinds of support for the UN (including timeliness of payment of budget assessments). The following table looks at how existing and aspirant "permanent" members measure up on some of the more commonly-mentioned criteria.

Based on December 1996 Data

PKO Trp.
Cont. Rank
Permanent-5 . . . . .
China 1 1,210 7 48 fair
France 19 58 4 24 fair
Russia 6 148114poor
United Kingdom 18 58627fair
United States 3 266117poor
Candidates . . . . .
Argentina 30 352121fair
Brazil 5 163 9 8 poor
Egypt 16 643434fair
Germany 12 84330fair
Indonesia 4 2071629fair
India 2 952132fair
Japan 8 125245fair
Mexico 11 9610nonefair
Nigeria 10 104 52 39 fair
Pakistan 7 129 23 1 fair
South Africa 26 42 24 none good
Assessment Payment Timeliness Criteria:
good = pays on time
fair = does not pay on time, but pays within the budget year -- no major debts outstanding
poor= does not pay within the budget year -- major debts outstanding


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