Global Policy Forum

Regional Representation

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The ongoing debate about Security Council reform has mainly focused on the expansion of membership of the Council. The rationale for membership expansion is to include emerging powers on the Council, but new single state members could exacerbate regional competition rather than collaboration. This section aims to examine an alternative model for Council reform that would give permanent seats to regional organizations or blocs rather than individual countries. This could make the Council more representative without having to enlarge the Council too much. Additionally, regional secretariats in New York could provide support for smaller countries that are serving on the Council and would normally have a small team with fewer experts on the large number of issues before the council.

Proponents of regional representation, like Italy, see the European Union as the first potential candidate for a regional seat on the Council seat representing the interests of a large number of states. However, opponents argue that the UN Charter does not recognize regional organizations as eligible for membership in the UN.  This argument could block the EU from becoming the first regional member of the Security Council..

Below there are documents and articles that discuss the possibility of regional representation as the solution for Council reform. Statements can be found separately sorted by year or by country.


Documents | Articles 


The European Union and the Reform of the UN Security Council: Toward a New Regionalism? (May 2011)

Drawing on the recent papers that both authors have written, this paper further elaborates on the thinking of the writers on the possibility of a European seat on the UN Security Council. (Istituto Affari Internazionali)

Towards a More Effective UN Security Council? The EU’s Role in the Post-Lisbon Era (March 2011)

Nicoletta Pirozzi of the Istituto Affari Internazionali discusses the European Union’s relationship with the United Nations. Her paper highlights some dimensions, both benefits and potential challenges, of the EU being represented as a single actor within the UN system.

Upgrading the EU's Role as a Global Actor (January 25, 2011)

Following the ratification of the Lisbon treaty, the EU needs to sort out its foreign policy to beocme a leader on the international level. (Center for European Policy Studies)

The EU's Contribution to the Effectiveness of the UN Security Council: Representation, Coordination and Outreach (July 2010)

This report from the Istituto Affari Internazional highlights the role that the EU is already playing in the Security Council. It further highlights the f benefits that would come if the EU was more formally accepted as a member of the UN and possibly the Security Council. (Istituto Affari Internazionali)

The Reform of the UN Security Council (July 2010)

This report from Istituto Affari Internazionali discusses the current proposals for Security Council Reform.  While there is a general consensus that the Council must be reformed to reflect the current world order, there is no agreement on the scope of reform and how best to implement it. The report looks at the role that regional organizations play and presents arguments for regional representation as a possible means of reforming the Council. (Istituto Affari Internazionali)

Restarting Negotiations of the Reform of the Security Council (May 2010)

Despite agreement that Security Council reform must take place, there is limited convergence on how the main issues should be addressed. This report discusses the possibility of partial reforms as an intermediary step towards larger Council reform. (Istituto Affari Internazionali)

Regional Representation as a Basis for Security Council Reform (June 2007)

Professor Joseph E. Schwartzberg suggests weighted regional representation as a way to reform the membership of the Security Council.  His proposal consists of twelve regional seats including four individual states (the US, China, India and Japan) and eight regional groupings. These seats would be based on a weighted vote based on a formula including the country's population and contribution to the UN budget. Schwartzberg argues that the weighted voting system would bring a fairer and more workable allocation of power in the UN as well as a more legitimate world body.



There is a Seat on the UN Security Council for the European Union – The French Seat (December 22, 2010)

According to this article, the European Union needs a seat on the Security Council in order for the EU and UN to coordinate their efforts. One possibility would be for the EU to take over the French seat, which critics argue is a relic of a by-gone era.  The French seat would be most logical because France is fully integrated into the European Union, while the United Kingdom is not. (Harvard International Review)

UN Security Council Membership: The Admission of India and Other Necessary Reforms (November 24, 2010)

The US backing of Indian aspiration to join the Security Council may have opened the door for more systemic reforms. This article argues that Security Council reform should incorporate five permanent regional representatives (that would rotate among three countries), three additional permanent members, and ten elected non-permanent members. (The Jurist)

Call for Reforming the UN Security Council with Regional Unions as New Members (October 27, 2010)

In his upcoming book on UN reform, Shiv R. Jhawar, the founder of Noble World Foundation, argues that the UN Charter should be amended to allow regional organizations to join the UN and have permanent seats on the Security Council. The EU, as a legal entity with a political, legislative and judicial system, should be the first regional member of the Security Council. (Noble World)

Islamic and Arab States Should Have Security Council Seat, Says Pakistan (June 30, 2010)

Pakistan argues that changes must be made to the Security Council to reflect “current realities” that the UN Charter does not take into account, specifically the need for permanent representation on the Council for Arab and Muslim states.  Pakistan’s proposal is one of the many put forward by countries vying for seats and rival groups hoping to restructure the Council. (CNSNews)

France Backs Africa for UN Seat (May 31, 2010)

Speaking at the 25th Africa-France Summit in Nice, French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that it was "not normal" that Africa has no permanent seat on the UN Security Council. He expressed France's support for greater African representation in global governance bodies such as the Security Council, the G20 and the World Bank Executive Board. However, at a summit focusing largely on economic ties between the two regions, Sarkozy's gesture was clearly a diplomatic effort to woo African leaders and gain leverage with business interests. With Chinese and Indian investment flooding the African continent, old powers like France are struggling to maintain their economic influence and market access.  (Al-Jazeera)


The United Nations Role in Peace and War (December 4, 2009)

Former UN Assistant Secretary General, Denis Halliday, argues that the UN has become a body of unrealistic expectations. The five veto powers corrupt the UN charter by acting out of the interests of states rather than "we the peoples". Halliday suggests that regional permanent seats in the Security Council would entail less corruption of international law and the UN Charter. He believes that the rights of the worlds poorest would be properly addressed for the first time if all regions were presented. (Global Research)

Third Meeting on Security Council Reform Looks at Regional Representation (April 2, 2009)

In 2009, member states of the United Nations discussed the possibility of regional representation on the Security Council, but most decided that regional organizations would not be effective. Critics of regional representation spoke out against it as potentially misleading and too complicated. Furthermore, the argument was made that only states can be members of the United Nations, which excludes regional organizations. (Center for UN Reform Education)



Britain Will 'Have to Give Up Seat On UN', Claims Think-Tank (August 15, 2007)

European think-tank Skeptika claims that under new European Union (EU) treaty provisions, the UK and France must cede their UN Security Council seats to the EU on issues where the EU takes a common position. The UK Foreign Office rejects this possibility, claiming that the "UN Charter does not allow international organizations like the EU to hold a seat on the Security Council." (Daily Mail)




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