Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

Patrick assesses the future of world order, state sovereignty, and multilateral cooperation.

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UN Security Council Reform: Is it Time?

by Stewart M. Patrick
January 11, 2012


Check out the new Internationalist video series, which we’re launching today. This weekly series will feature brief, but in-depth analysis of multilateral cooperation in the news, or pressing issues that are flying under the radar.

In the first show, I discuss the impetus to reform the UN Security Council, which has remained “frozen in amber” since the end of World War II despite huge shifts in the global distribution of power over the past fifty years.

But while it’s clearly outdated, is it time to reform it? Watch the video to explore the arguments for and against changing its structure. Some questions I answer in it are:

  • Why is the argument based on the need for regional representation misguided?
  • How could UN Security Council reform help the United States achieve its foreign policy goals?
  • Which countries would battle the move to reform the Council, and would they succeed?

In the end, I place a wager on the near future of UN Security Council reform. I invite you to join the conversation and place your own bet below.

Post a Comment 5 Comments

  • Posted by Fernando Leme

    Really great overview on reasons for and against the reform of the Security Council.

  • Posted by Timothy Cohen

    Based upon my understanding biblical prophecy, I would say that an expansion of the UN Security Council will soon happen. Specifically, five new permanent members will be added, with Germany being among them. Of the permanent ten members on a reformed council, five will be from the East and five from the West, as we loosely think of the East-West division in the world today. Three of the same ten will be from the EU, and their diplomatic missions will effectively be unified and come under the direct influence of Prince Charles, who appears to be the first beast of Revelation 13 (i.e., the AntiChrist), the “little horn” with human eyes of Daniel 7, etc. This topic of UN reform, and many others related to coming geo-political events that conform to biblical prophecy, are covered in detail in my books, one of which was published in 1998 and the others of which are soon to be published. I would be happy to share my insights with those interested.

  • Posted by Casey L Coombs

    The Group of Four (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan) today announced their official Security Council reform proposal.

    Three of the proposal’s more substantive passages:

    1. “Our proposal is straightforward. It focuses on two aspects of Security Council reform, on which, according to our outreach, large majorities exist among Member States: firstly, that expansion in membership should be in both categories, permanent and non-permanent, and secondly, that the working methods of the Council should be improved. Nothing more, nothing less.”

    2. “the short resolution finds resonance with many reform proposals and positions, including the African Group position articulated in 2005.”

    3. “our initiative has garnered wide cross-regional support from Member States. Thus far, nearly 80 Member States have expressed their support in writing, in addition to a substantial number of strong commitments.”

    The Uniting for Consensus bloc will propose its reform plan next, in February, as part of a strong push by outgoing non-permanent member India to reinvigorate stalled UNSC reform discussions.

    A vote on the matter is expected around mid-year.

    Link to the full text:

  • Posted by SJDKansas

    Ideally, the UN security council should have a four tier structure based on population, economy, military and democratic norms.

    The UN expansion should be a permanent solution, not an ad hoc one. Thus the restructuring should not be based on today’s power structure, but also take into account the projected power of various nations around the middle of the 21st century (circa 2050).

    Here is my 5+5+5 proposal:

    GLOBAL POWERS (permanent members with veto)
    1. China
    2. India
    3. USA
    4. European Union
    5. Russia

    CONTINENTAL POWERS (permanent members without veto)
    6. Brazil
    7. Japan
    8. South Africa
    9. Indonesia
    10. Nigeria

    REGIONAL POWERS (semi-permanent members)
    11. Turkey
    12. Mexico
    13. Egypt
    14. Pakistan
    15. Korea

    OTHER NATIONS (rotation)

  • Posted by Trojan

    Reform needs to balance the veto system to minimize the amount of power the permanent nations have to push their own agendas or hinder efforts that are against their beliefs/policies but in line with the rest of the worlds.

    Case/Point: Israel-Palestine. The GA just voted 138-9-41 to upgrade Palestine to NMO status. A clear indication that the majority of the world believes in a two-state solution/peace in the region. However there have been many 14-0-1 (Veto) UNSC resolutions that have blocked Palestine becoming its own state due to the US’s vested interest in Israel. Granted this is a gross oversimplification of the issue, it just goes to show how one countries policies can sway the entire council’s actions with just the press of a button.

    Oh and to SJDKansas: Why was the EU consolidated into one member? That would never fly with the EU nations as its violating their sovereignty and not giving them their individual voices. The EU is predominantly an economic agreement and it tries very hard not to mess with political policies due to sovereignty issues. And 5+5+5=15 but what about rotating members? 10 again? A 25 seat UNSC might be just as ineffective as a 15 seat UNSC.

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