Global Policy Forum

General Articles on Security Council Reform



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 is Beyond Reform... It has to be Reinvented" - Fmr. GA President Miguel d'Escoto (April 26, 2010)

Former General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto was one of the distinguished participants at the recent climate conference in Cochabamba. In his interview with Democracy Now, d'Escoto criticized the United States' "hegemonic" role in the United Nations, and further suggested that veto power is open to inappropriate use by permanent members of the Security Council. Such abuse could undermine democracy within the UN.  (Democracy Now)

UN Security Council Reform: a Gordian Knot? April 2010

Efforts to reform the UN Security Council have been in the pipeline for decades. However, the efforts have been scuppered by disagreements, regional rivalries and institutional obstacles, which in turn have delegitimized the UNSC reform process. The article argues that the SC reform debate must be reinvigorated and all sides need to demonstrate compromise, without watering down the reform goals. The article highlights reasons for SC reform, competing models for reform, controversial reform issues, structural obstacles to SC reform and Switzerland's role in SC reform.  (CSS Analysis)

Bosom Buddies? Ban and Obama's Curious Relations (2010)

President Obama's election pledge for a close US-UN partnership has failed to materialize. Following tokenistic, initial engagement with the international organization, Obama now rarely talks, let alone acts with the UN. The US has sidelined the UN on Pakistan, Afghanistan, global warming, terrorism, Iran and North Korea (except for sanctions). Sources within the Obama-administration argue that US-disenchantment with the UN stems from Ban Ki-Moon's weak and ineffectual leadership. However, this does not tell the whole story.  (World Policy Institute)

Pros and Cons of  Security Council Reform (January 19, 2010)

In the heated environment that accompanies Security Council reform debates, opinions and national interests are often presented as altruistic aspirations. As a result, it can be difficult to obtain unbiased information about the pros and cons of various reform proposals that are untainted by national sentiment. The author outlines and explores the advantages and disadvantages of "five key cluster reform areas." It explores two main arguments - one that considers reform an indispensable part of a "just solution," and the other that argues it would only weaken the Council's ability to carry out its duties without solving the problems of equitable representation. (Center for UN Reform)

UN Reform Process Mired by Lack of Consensus (January 5, 2010)

In a recent statement, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called for "a strengthened United Nations" which is "effective, efficient, coherent and accountable." This article suggests that the challenge lies in defining what shape UN reforms should take, and what a reformed UN should achieve. It also briefly considers issues concerning reform of the Security Council. (Deutsche Welle)


D'Escoto: "The UN Has Failed" (October 2009)

In this video interview, Miguel d'Escoto speaks out on the obstacles he has encountered during his term as General Assembly President. D'Escoto held the democratization of the UN as a key pillar of his Presidency, but ran up against the limits of the General Assembly's power. According to d'Escoto, the UN is failing to effectively address the two objectives for which it was created - the prevention of war and the eradication of poverty - because of the most powerful states' disproportionate influence over the organization. (The Real News Network

European Nations Highlight the Need for Security Council Reform (September 24, 2009)

During the UN General Assembly debate, several European leaders have expressed an urgent need for a Security Council reform. According to some, reform is urgent because further delay in will undermine the Council's credibility. In addition, the structure of the UN needs improvement for more effective and successful peacekeeping operations. (UN News)

UN Reform: Don't Hold Your Breath (August 26, 2009)

According to Ian Williams, member states of the UN have presented many suggestions for a reform of the Security Council. However, other states reject the proposals to protect their own power in the UN. Williams believes that reaching an agreement on a reform of the Security Council is not likely in the near future. He urges citizens of the permanent members to put pressure on their governments to agree to democratic reform. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Security Council Reform Remains Deadlocked (August 5, 2009)

Open-Ended Working Group has been working for past 15 years on revamp of 15-member Security Council of the UN. An overwhelming majority agrees that membership should be increased; however there is no consensus on the choice of members. This article reviews the deadlock condition of the reform effort. While talking to IPS, James A. Paul of Global Policy Forum expressed that "beyond the doomed idea of enlarging the oligarchy, other reform ideas stand a better change of adoption."

Iran urges reform of UN Security Council (July 14, 2009)

Iran has urged reform of the UN Security Council at a recent meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement stating that the current structure of the Council poses a "challenge" to global peace. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki stated that sanctions imposed by the Council, in dealing with issues that are "not necessarily a threat to global peace and security," are often inappropriate and have violated human rights. He complained that various Council reform proposals, especially those submitted by the NAM, are weakened by differences within the movement and lack of a strong common position.(PressTV)

UN Launches Talks to Expand Security Council (February 19, 2009)

Political dynamics within the UN Security Council very much reflects the 1945 geopolitical situation. The P5 still remain the most significant members in the council, despite a number of competing powers such as the G4 (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan). The G4 proposes that the Security Council includes an additional five permanent members without veto power, as well as, five new non-permanent members. African countries support the G4 proposal, but want a permanent seat for the African Union. Italy, among others, rejects the proposal of additional permanent members and instead advocates for ten non-permanent members. (Reuters)


UN Security Council Reform: Unrealistic Proposals and Viable Reform Options (November 25, 2008)

The Security Council does not adequately represent the world's population and its decision making process is slow and not transparent. Abolishing the veto of the five permanent members is not realistic, since all P5 members must agree with this change. The author argues that countries must exert pressure to restrict use of the veto, by requiring the P5 to justify invoking it, especially in cases that are not in their vital interest. (American Diplomacy)


Security Council Accused of Overstepping Bounds (April 12, 2007)

Veering from its traditional agenda of preserving international peace and security, the UN Security Council plans to hold a meeting to discuss the issue of climate change. The Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement have denounced this decision as evidence of the SC's "ever-increasing encroachment" on the mandates of the UN's other main bodies. Citing the UN Charter, they argue that the Council should only "come into action when there are actual threats to peace or breaches of the peace." (Inter Press Service)


UN Reforms Not Possible Without Security Council Expansion: Sen (November 22, 2006)

In this Zee News article, India's Ambassador Nirupam Sen warns against maintaining the status quo of the UN Security Council. He also points out that the Council's encroachment on the General Assembly's area of competence leads to the "marginalization" of the Assembly. The ambassador calls for expanding the Security Council membership, as well as ensuring that the General Assembly keeps a strong and effective role.

UN Security Council Edicts Challenged (October 26, 2006)

This Inter Press Service article analyzes permanent member's domination and influence at the UN Security Council. The author denounces action driven by national interests and the "double standards" of the Council's resolutions, which allow some countries to possess nuclear weapons whilst forbidding others. Citing the endorsement of the Iraq occupation by the 15 members of the Security Council, the author comments on the UN inability to prevent powerful nations, such as the US, to dictate their will. The article concludes that the disregard for international law and double standards call into question the legitimacy of the top UN body.

A Bigger Security Council, With Power to Act (September 26, 2006)

With UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urging reform of the UN Security Council, this International Herald Tribune article calls on the US government to make reform of the institution a top priority. The author proposes to expand of the Council and abolish the veto for all Security Council resolutions authorizing direct action in response to a crisis. "We need a Security Council that is both representative and effective," the author concludes.


Revitalizing the United Nations: Reform through Weighted Voting (2004)

Professor Joseph Schwartzberg advocates reform of the Security Council and General Assembly through a system of weighted votes. The weighted vote in both UN organs would depend on members' relative population, financial contribution to the UN budget, and share of the total UN membership. (Institute for Global Policy/World Federalist Movement)

A Radical Vision for the Future of the UN (October 24, 2004)

The author points to past Security Council failures, citing the Iraq war amongst others, and calls for radical reform of the UN multilateral system by abolishing the Security Council. In its place, he proposes that nationally elected representatives make decisions through the General Assembly based on transparent processes and majority rule. The author further advocates a "gradual shift of military power" from nations to the UN. Radical reform is highly unlikely given national interests and global power structures, and even "pragmatic" reforms do little to shift the balance of power. (ZNet)


Governing the Globe (June 14, 2003)

Britain's proposed Security Council reforms address current economic and political power realities. The Guardian argues that the reforms amount to "doodling in the margins of the global narrative" because the reforms do not acknowledge the influence of non-state actors, such as activists.

The In-Security Council - Dump It or Grow It? (May 12, 2003)

Article 30 of the UN Charter states that the Security Council can "adopt its own rules of procedure." Arguing that this unique privilege keeps the Security Council undemocratic and outdated, the author calls for a change to ensure the equality of all UN member states. (Media Monitors Network)

Reforming the United Nations Security Council: Will its Time Ever Come? (March 17, 2003)

Jeffrey Laurenti remarks that the issue of Security Council reform - a hot topic in the 1990's - is now a low priority on the global agenda. Rather than continuing the debate in terms of preferential treatment, he suggests re-framing the discussion in terms of Security Council effectiveness in the 21st century. (UNA-USA)


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.