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UN Security Council: the expansion debate

UN Security Council: the expansion debate

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UN Security Council: the expansion debate

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  1. UN Security Council: the expansion debate • “The UN’s most powerful decision-making body is its most prominent anachronism”, - these are the words that best reflect the most countries’ opinion on the UN Security Council.

  2. UN Security Council: the expansion debate • Nowadays, few still argue that the UN Security Council, in which Africa, Latin America and the Islamic World have no permanent voice, can genuinely speak for the international community; • Iraq crisis (2003) generated a debate on the functioning and the efficacy of the Security Council and of the UN itself.

  3. UN Security Council: the expansion debate • The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan: “the need for SC reform is not questioned <…> It needs new members and more of them, but how many, and which ones?” • Will the expansion lead to the dilution of SC’s power and make the SC weaker in terms of decision making?

  4. UN Security Council: the expansion debate • Proponents of expansion: - greater representation will grant additional legitimacy of Council resolutions; • Many experts disagree: - history and experience suggest that expansion will impede the ability of the Security Council to act promptly and decisively.

  5. UN Security Council: the expansion debate • Security Council is the first among six equal bodies in the U.N. system; • UN Charter created an 11-member Security Council that included five permanent seats for the victorious powers of World War II (USA, UK, France, China, USSR) + six elected seats for other member states to hold for two-year terms; • 1963 – amendment to the UN Charter added four more elected seats for a total of 15 members.

  6. UN Security Council: the expansion debate • Membership in the U.N. now totals 191 • Many members again are for expansion of the Security Council: - Germany, Italy, Japan - Non-Aligned Movement (UN General Assembly coalition for developing countries) • “Every country looks to its own advantage when it comes to reform of the composition of the Council.”

  7. UN Security Council: the expansion debate • Germany and Japan on the basic economic influence see themselves as potential new permanent members; • A single permanent seat was suggested for the European Union; • Some developing countries consider themselves natural candidates for permanent membership (India, Brazil, Nigeria).

  8. UN Security Council: the expansion debate • Many middle powers oppose the reform entirely: - Italy’s proposal is to create no new permanent members, but rather a new class of rotating seats.

  9. UN Security Council: the expansion debate • Such countries as the United States, France, China, and Russia believe: if the Security Council membership is increased to some 25 or more states, the Council may become a smaller version of the unwieldy and quarrelsome General Assembly.

  10. Conclusion • Debate at the UN on the issue of composition is currently deadlocked; • While everyone has their favorite scheme for reform of the composition of the Council…their second best is the status quo; • Lack of progress reflects badly on the unity of the United Nations.