Global Policy Forum

General Articles and Documents on Security Council Reform


GPF Perspectives

Towards a Democratic Reform of the UN Security Council (July 13, 2005)

James Paul and Céline Nahory argue that adding more permanent members to the Security Council would enlarge a discredited oligarchy rather than build for a democratic future. They also oppose the addition of elected members, arguing that an expanded Council would be too large to function effectively and not substantially more representative. Instead, they propose a process of stronger regional representation as a future-oriented approach that can develop in stages and without the headache of Charter change. (Global Policy Forum)

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." (IPS)


What Impact? The E10 and the 2011 Security Council (March 2011)

This IPI Report focuses on the changes in Council dynamics with emerging powers making up a signification portion of the E10. It examines the Council’s change in focus with these  countries leading efforts to sustain UN post-conflict involvement and greater support for international justice mechanisms like the ICC. (International Peace Institute)

UN Security Council Elections 2010 (September 17, 2010)

This Special Report on the upcoming UN Security Council Elections outlines the candidates for the five open non-permanent seats. India, South Africa and Colombia appear to be guaranteed seats as there are no competing candidates for those regions. Two seats for the Western European and Others Group are contested by Canada, Germany and Portugal. The report highlights possible outcomes of the elections. For example, five UN members who have asserted bids for permanent membership could be on the Council in 2011. It also considers the effect of clean slate elections and potential partnerships between future Council members. (Security Council Report)

The New General Assembly President Opens Session with Call for UN Reform (September 15, 2009)

The new General Assembly President, Ali Treki of Libya, calls for further efforts in reform of the Security Council to make it more representative of all UN member states. He supports a larger role for Africa, Latin America and small states in the Council. Treki also mentioned that the General Assembly ought to have a larger influence in UN decision making. (UN News Centre)

Press Conference by General Assembly Facilitator on Security Council Reform (July 20, 2009)

A third round of negotiations on Security Council reform is scheduled to begin on August 27, 2009. Zahir Tanin, the ambassador of Afghanistan and facilitator of the negotiations, has presented an overview. He announced that there is a consensus among all states on continuing the process. Tanin said that he saw "a light at the end of tunnel" after the first two sessions, but "there is a long way to go." (United Nations)

Second Round of Security Council Reform Talks Ends (June 29, 2009)

Report of the Facilitators for Security Council Reform to the General Assembly (June 26, 2007)

In their report to the President of the General Assembly, the facilitators, Ambassadors Heraldo Muñoz of Chile and Christian Wenaweser of Liechtenstein, propose a temporary approach to expedite Security Council reform. This transition period should include a new category of membership with longer-term seats, either renewable or not. The agreement would include a mandatory review in a set number of years. The facilitators do not recommend how many new seats should be added, nor how long the transitional phase should last, but insist that the process move from consultations to concrete intergovernmental negotiations.

Review of Progress on Security Council Reform (December 19, 2005)

In this report, the President of the General Assembly Jan Eliasson reiterates its commitment towards Security Council reform, including issues related to the body's expansion and working methods. In 2005, member states put forward numerous proposals for a more representative, effective and efficient Council. Eliasson encourages member states to continue to engage in constructive dialogue to reach the broadest agreement possible.



Turkey Calls for UN Security Council Reform Over Failure to Pressure Syria (September 29,2012)

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan rebuked the UN Security Council for its members’ inability to find a common ground on a resolution to solve the crisis in Syria. Arguing that “it's high time to consider a structural change for international institutions, especially for the UN Security Council," Erdogan described the latest as an unequal and unfair system that failed to reflect the will of most countries. While Erdogan certainly has a point, this statement should be seen as Turkey’s rhetoric in the context of increasing tension and military confrontations on the border with Syria? (The Guardian)

Africa Must Have Due Representation in Security Council, Ministers Tell UN Debate (September 29,2012)

In another bid for Security Council reform, African ministers at the United Nations General Assembly called for expansion of the Security Council. "The working methods of the Security Council must be revised to ensure democratization, and its membership must be expanded to include new permanent and non-permanent members of the developing world, particularly Africa, the cradle of civilization," said Algeria's Foreign Minister, Mourad Medelci. But Africa does not have a united position on Council reform and its hopes for expansion of permanent members runs up against firm opposition from the existing five permanent members. (allAfrica)

UN General Assembly 2012: Reforming Security Council Should Be Top Priority (September 26, 2012)

The 67th annual session of the General Assembly opens the floor to an ongoing debate about Security Council reform. At present, critics of the existing structure say that it reflects the world order sixty years ago, as much of the Global South remains largely unrepresented on the Council. The question is not whether the Security Council needs reform- consent on that is largely unanimous. What needs to be addressed, rather, is the shape that this reform should take. Brazil and India have the strongest cases amongst the “G4 nations”, but their inclusion would still leave out many other groups. Agreeing on which countries may acquire permanent status is almost impossible, and the P5 have blocked any reform initiatives so far. (Policy Mic)

Five Lightweights’ Fight to Reform the Security Council (July 2,2012)

In the United Nations Security Council, the “Small Five” (Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland) are trying to stand up to the Big Five Permanent members. The Small Five have proposed to reform several of the Security Council’s working methods, the most high-profile of which is the restriction of the use of the veto. After a number of UN member countries opposed China and Russia’s use of the veto on Syria, the S5’s proposal seemed to gain momentum. However, the S5 eventually had to withdraw their proposal for procedural reasons engineered by the Big Five. (Pass Blue)

India Changes Tack to Secure UN Security Council Seat (June 25, 2012)

With only six months left of its two year membership on the Security Council, India is changing tactics. India continues to strive for permanent membership on the Security Council. In light of this, India has decided to join the L69 group (comprising 41 countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific) over its previous G4 agenda. New Delhi described the L69 as ‘friends of Security Council reform’ and has decided to support the L69 before the General Assembly in August.(SAFPI)

India's Bid Suffers Setback (March 16, 2012)

This article from Pakistan’s The Nation reviews India’s hopes and tactics in achieving Security Council reform. Along with the rest of the G4 (India, Brazil, Germany and Japan), India has been attempting to secure itself a place as a permanent member of the 15-member Security Council, and has claimed wide support for its efforts. However, these supporters are yet to make themselves known. The Security Council reform debate covers five key issues - the category of membership, the question of veto, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council, and the Council’s working methods and its relationship with the General Assembly. (The Nation)

G-4 Nations put Joint Bid for Security Council Expansion (January 26, 2012)

India, Japan, Brazil and Germany--- known as the ‘Group of Four’ has put in a joint bid to the United Nations General Assembly, proposing that the Security Council be expanded for both permanent and non-permanent members, as well as a permanent African Seat. Security Council reform continues to be a divisive topic of discussion at the United Nations, and the new bid will reignite the debate in the coming weeks. The motion steers clear of the more controversial areas of the UN reform debate – namely the use of the veto – but is likely to garner severe criticism from the “United for Consensus” group (lead by Italy, Argentina, Colombia, Canada and Pakistan) who wish to block any new permanent member seats. (Times of India)


Security Council Reform: Past, Present and Future (December 15, 2011)

Shashi Tharoor, former UN Under Secretary General for Public Information, discusses the membership of the Security Council and why it is outdated, inequitable, and unrepresentative. He describes the political tension of expanding the number of permanent members and adding representation from countries of the developing world, steps aimed at righting the current North-South imbalance. There also appears to be wide support across the full UN membership for abolition of the veto. Ultimately, emerging states (like India and Brazil) could strengthen international institutions, or they could lose interest in a body they see as increasingly illegitimate, with far-reaching implications for the future of global cooperation. (Carnegie Council)

Update on Security Council Reform (April 5, 2011)

This article gives an update on the current state of Security Council Reform discussions in the General Assembly, including summaries of the discussions from October 2010 to March 2011. (Center for UN Reform Education)

Countries Ask for ‘Tangible’ Reform of UN Security Council (February 12, 2011)

The G4 has renewed efforts towards more “tangible” Security Council reforms as three of the four are currently serving as elected members. Statements made by the G4 indicate that there may be movement this year in Council reform. (MSN News)


Security Council Reform and the G-20 (November 9, 2010)

US backing India for permanent membership on the Security Council just before the G-20 summit was part of US efforts to display its willingness to challenge the status quo in the international system. This article argues that the G-20 is a more representative body that includes the largest economies in the world. As such, the G-20 could serve as a guideline for Council reform that would have greater parity and efficiency. (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

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)

"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)

Integrity Too High a Price for Security Council Role  (February 3, 2010)

Australia questions whether a non-permanent seat on the Security Council in 2013-14 is really worth the effort, expense and moral compromise. The Arab League informed Australia that it would block Canberra's attempts to gain a non-permanent seat because of its pro-Israel stance. Further, Australia is unsure about the purpose of the UN at all: ex-ambassador to the UN, John Dauth, called it "defunct" and "rotten."  (The Australian)

Increased Security (January 20, 2010)

Many who actively advocate for expansion of the UN Security Council's membership argue that an increase in the number of members will remedy the democratic and representative deficit from which the Council suffers. In October 2010, Canada will once again stand for election to a two-year term as non-permanent member of the Security Council. This article represents the Canadian viewpoint as it explores the need for the nation's increased role in the Council. (The Canadvocate)

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)

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)


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)

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)

Official Statement from China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (April 4, 2009)

The P-5 members of the Security Council have resisted Council reform, but are making open statements to argue that they must be included in the reform process. As the commentary on this statement shows, the P-5 feel largely ignored as they’re not consulted directly but must respond to proposals in the media. Ironically, it is a reversal of the Security Council where the P-5 is at the center and the rest of the United Nations is waiting for them to release statements (Wordpress)


Security Council Reform - An Overview of Member States' Positions (December 8, 2008)

This chart by the Center for UN Reform Education outlines the positions of various UN member states on issues relating to Council reform, including regional seats, veto reform, and preferences for timing of intergovernmental negotiations.

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 Reform - the 62nd GA Session and the Road Ahead (November 11, 2008)

In 1993, UN members including Japan and Germany helped to establish a General Assembly Working Group on Security Council reform, but members of this Working Group cannot agree on various issues such as expansion of the permanent members. In February 2009, further negotiations will take place, but as in the past, the divergent interests of UN members are likely to stand in the way of any reform agreement.(Center for UN Reform Education)

UN Security Council Reform: Unrealistic Proposals and Viable Reform Options (November 11, 2008)

This article argues that discussions on Security Council reform have not been focusing on issues that would actually make the Council more efficient and representative because countries are working to increase their own power. Looking at the Council’s working methods it proposes changes to some of the procedures, such as abolishing permanent membership, and institutionalizing the presidency. Working methods of the Council are as important as membership, but few proposals have included substantial changes to make the Council more inclusive and transparent. (American Diplomacy)

A Look at the Transitional Approach to Security Council Reform (June 24, 2008)

The transitional approach to Security Council reform means that UN members would agree on basic reforms and adapt these agreements later on at a conference. Countries have not been able to decide on the timeframe for a review conference or on the proposals for the transitional reform approach because New Zealand, Germany and others fear that the initial basic reforms would become permanent. (Center for UN Reform Education)

Between Enlargement and Reform - The UN Security Council: Choices for Change (May 2008)

This article focuses on two different debates of Security Council (SC) reform. The quantitative theory wants equal representation of different regions in the SC. The qualitative theory, however, believes that countries who contribute the most to maintaining international peace and security should be permanent members of the SC. The author supports the quantitative theory because it promotes greater regional involvement instead of the interests of a single country. (Dag Hammarskjold Foundation)

Reform of the Security Council (April 2008)

This Center for UN Reform Education article reviews Security Council reform proposals from 1991-2008. The article notes that UN member states such as Italy and Pakistan cite the need for consensus to stall the reform process, and prevent regional rivals from gaining seats at the Council. Furthermore, previous efforts to increase the openness of the Council have backfired, as permanent members move the decision-making process to informal closed meeting rooms adjacent to the Security Council chambers.


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)

Security Council Reform: a Transitional Approach (December 3, 2007)

Member states have agreed that the UN Security Council must become more representative, efficient and transparent to be seen as more legitimate, yet a number disagree on how this reform should occur. Among various proposals from countries, the GA appointed facilitators to conduct consultations about the Council's reform. The facilitators main point consists of adding a mandatory review clause, which demands that after a couple of years, the Council has to review its reform. (UN Chronicle)

Cuba Opposes Greater Power to UN Security Council (November 13, 2007)

During a UN General Assembly (GA) meeting on Security Council Reform, Cuba called for a more democratic, representative, responsible and effective Council. Cuba's Ambassador Rodrigo Malmiera argues that the Council suffers from a lack of representation from developing countries. The Council does not represent the world's contemporary realities, raising questions about its legitimacy representative and procedures. Malmiera called for greater involvement of non-permanent members in the Council's agenda, as well as membership reform. He also expressed apprehension about the Council's jurisdiction and working methods, such as the selection of Council agenda items. (Prensa Latina)

UN Reform, Including SC Expansion Not End in Itself - Russia Envoy (November 13, 2007)

Russia, one of the five permanent members with veto power, declared at a General Assembly meeting that Security Council reform discussions should preserve the "foundations" of the United Nations. According to Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN Representative, the Council should only expand if it can also become more effective. Even though Churkin expressed a willingness to work with non-Council members, in order to continue further peacekeeping improvements, his speech did not seem to favor the Council's enlargement. (Itar-Tass)

General Assembly Launches New Effort to Tackle Divisive Issue of Security Council Reform (April 20, 2007)

The UN General Assembly issued a report on Security Council reform, proposing that UN member states consider a temporary expansion of Security Council membership. All previous attempts at reform have failed for lack of agreement on size and composition of an expanded Council, due to national and regional rivalries. The report says that reform should increase opportunities for countries to serve as members on the Council and should increase involvement with the Council's work whilst not serving. (Associated Press)


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.


Security Council Reform Debate Ends Without Agreement (November 12, 2005)

Disputes over permanent membership once again blocked UN member states from reaching consensus on Security Council reform. While the five permanent members consider the debate closed, ambassadors from countries seeking permanent seats said they might bring the issue to a vote in the General Assembly. (Voice of America)

Like Fixing the Weather, Council Reform Eludes UN (September 19, 2005)

According to David Malone, a former Canadian UN ambassador, Security Council reform failed at the UN summit because "most countries adopted a fairly self-interested position on the subject." French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said that he hoped that the African countries and the G-4 could reach an agreement by the end of the year. But asked if Council reform was dead in the foreseeable future, Pakistan's UN Ambassador Munir Akram said: "It's on life support." (Reuters)

Annan Acknowledges Delays in UN Council Reform (August 11, 2005)

Acknowledging the deadlock over Security Council expansion, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has extended the target deadline from September to December 2005 for member states to reach an agreement. Annan says he would like to see a provision in the summit's outcome document committing states to decide on Security Council reform by the end of the year. (Reuters)

Japan Ups Aid by $10bn (July 8, 2005)

At the Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Japan announced that it would sizably increase its foreign aid budget by $10 billion over a five year period. Japan's current official development assistance rate lies at 0.19% of gross national income, way below the UN's 0.7% target. The decision to increase aid is likely a move to "make the country's presence felt as it seeks to win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council," says Finance24.

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