Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How to Reform the UN Security Council in 2014

The Security Council has been without doubt the greatest failure of the United Nations.

Its five “permanent members” (Britain, China, France, Russian Federation and United States), have not only failed to use their privileged position under the Charter to promote world peace, they have actively sabotaged it.

 This is not a matter of opinion. Hard statistics show that the five, along with Germany, are the world’s leading arms merchants and by all accounts they have been the primary source of global tensions and insecurity for the last six decades.

 Over that period the landscape and dynamics of global power have changed significantly, and although the five admit it, they have also marshalled a wily resistance to changing the composition of the Council to reflect the new realities.

 The reasons for that opposition are not legitimate: they are resisting change to protect the narrowest of elite interests in the highly criminalized world order they have built.   

In such a situation, the rest of the organization’s membership must act to force a fundamental reform of the Security Council.

The stratagem to that end is easy to explain.

At the forthcoming session of the General Assembly, the African, Asian and Latin American-Caribbean groups should agree to support only those candidates for non-permanent membership of the Security Council who commit beforehand not to take their seats.

That will render the Council as a whole inoperative because the UN Charter requires it to have 15 members.

Under its 1950 “Uniting for Peace” resolution (number 377), the General Assembly established the precedent that it can take over the functions of the Security Council when it is unable to act. Even if constitutionalists argue that the precedent is not valid, the Assembly can cite it in adopting a new resolution to take over the Council’s functions until such time as it is able to function again.

This course of action will deprive the P-5 of their special status in the Council and force them into negotiations with other power centres to get back what they can of it; in effect, that will bring to the fore the new realities of global power.

As there will be much roaring, thundering and tempting blandishments from P-5 members who have most to lose, those pushing for reform must be prepared to maintain their unity until an agreed minimum agenda of change is achieved; at the same time, it is unlikely that the Permanent Members will be able to maintain any kind of united front, for they face very different circumstances.

The United States, which has the least to lose because it is in reality a global Power, might actually end up supporting the initiative because of its impact on the other four Permanent Members.

The Russian Federation, for instance, will find very little backing for its Big Power ambitions and might rapidly reverse the current drift towards a new Cold War.

Britain and France will have to be diplomatically very nimble to keep their Permanent Member status against German-backed European Union pressure for some form of unified or rotating representation. Of the two, Britain will have a better range of options because it can not only call up wars and targeted murders, it has the means (from global organized crime) to pay trillion dollar bribes.

China will be in an extremely uncomfortable position. Caught between the reality of its Great Power ambitions and the rhetoric of South-South unity, it will have to come to grips with its regional unpopularity and Japan’s push for Permanent membership.

How the situation will work out is entirely up in the air, but one thing is certain: the current smug and stagnant corruption of the Security Council will have to come to an end.

That can only be for the overall good.


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