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Calls To Reform The United Nations Security Council International Law Essay

The United Nations Security Council (henceforth SC) is the executive arm of the United Nations (UN). The SC consists of five permanent members (P-5), namely: the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. In addition it has ten non permanent members which are chosen by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Calls to reforming the most dominant organ of the United Nations, the Security Council have gained an increased consideration in the last few decades. The Reform proposals about mainly discussed about changing the membership or the working methods and other procedures adopted by the current SC. However, the question which arises from the proposed reforms is whether a change in the structure or the procedures will enhance the credibility of this institution.

Hence the use of the journal and the two consecutives articles will play an integral in the dissertation process. It will give an insight how I will proceed in investigating why the SC should be reformed, why it is difficult to reform the SC and also the problems with present reform proposals.

2. C. Eduardo Vargas Toro [1] , ‘UN Security Council Reform: Unrealistic proposals and viable reform options’, 25 November 2008, American Diplomacy

This article evaluates that the majority of reform proposals that have been brought forward by different nations so far are either due to their quest for a permanent seat in the SC or to their will to prevent their rival from joining the security council. The author that claims that in any way, these motives will not bring along any reform to the Security Council, which he described as being “flawed from the beginning”.

He mainly concentrates on the shortcoming of an enlarged membership of permanent members. According to him, an increased membership does not essentially mean an efficient SC as a larger group might slacken serious negotiations while at the same time being too small to represent today’s world. the author also argue that it is merely self-interest and not democracy issues which lies behind these membership claims. Therefore it might prove difficult to reach a conciliation when it comes to political issues since each member state will be fighting for their own national interests. He claims by adding new members with veto powers will only hinder the SC from acting proficiently. The writer support this argument by stating that P-5 national interests already impede the SC from addressing issues closest to them and adding new veto members will further decrease the “odds of a specific issue from being addressed”.

This editorial constitutes vital source on this subject that will help me in-depth analysis of the reform and veto issues since its proposed reforms are more focused on attainable objectives that eventually render the Security Council into a more effective and competent organization.

Indeed, the scheme set forward by the writer are mainly to limit the use of the veto. he also claims that without the veto the SC might lack the necessary political and military might to carry out the functions for which it was created. However, the author adds that countries invoking the veto should be required to state and defend their reasons for using it.

Unlike other reform proposals, the author points out that a set of well-defined standing rules of procedures by the SC will be an effort to ensure that the power struggle over interpretation does not fall exclusively into the hands of the P-5, thereby avoiding their use of the double veto.

moreover, the author proposes a triumvirate- institutionalised presidency. He emphasize a that such a presidency will allow the leadership of the SC to rest into an institution, He also believes that having a secretarial body provided for by the P-5 or E-10 groups of friends having a systematic experience to act as an institutional memory by providing a better understanding of the procedures which will be beneficial as well as an essential tool in creating an efficient SC.

Finally the writer claims that the reforms of the UN Security Council has to look forward for more realistic objectives for the P-5 to accept as any amendment to the Charter obviously require their votes and its evident they will not go against proposals which will hinder their interest or powers.

Thomas G. Weiss [2] , ‘The Illusion of the UN Security Council Reform’, Autumn 2003, The Washington Quarterly, 26:4 pp 147-161

Unlike the above piece of writing, the writer here consent that SC does not reflect the actual distribution of the 21st century power but he stressed on the fact that reform proposals deriving from diplomats have not yet addressed the imbalance between seats at the SC and the actual military capacity outside the SC chamber.

He states that with a US global presence as great as that of any empire in history, it can be said at present that there are in fact two world’s organizations: “The UN- global in membership and the US global in reach and power”.(pg 152) he further states that “jostling about the UN charter reform is a mere distraction”, as the US will certainly not agree to take part in an organization whose aim will be to limit its big powers.

the author prove his point by stating the UN's powerful capacity is only on loan, and UN led or UN approved military operations are carried forward only after the signature of Washington. He asserts that this fact won't alter until the Europe an steps in investing particularly on their defense system in order to acquire an equivalent independent military capacity as US.

After having analysed the bombastic fireworks over the proposed reforms of the SC, the author is of the opinion that adaptation to the actual SC behaviour, rather than any formal alterations to either its membership or procedures, will rather improve the SC credibility. He refers to the steps taken by member states in enabling more transparency and accountability within the SC as a “pragmatic modification” in the SC’s procedures.

The author concludes by stating that the SC should preserve the aim for which it has been set up and that any change brought in the structure of this institution will not fight against its main weaknesses, among which the veto and complete reliance upon the US military force in projecting military power across the globe.

Nico Schrijver “Reforming the UN Security Council in Pursuance of Collective Security” (2007) Journal of Conflict and Security Law 12 (1) 127 - 138

Unlike both articles, in this journal the author summarize the functions of the SC and says how the drafters wanted to set up an institutions unlike from the “L.O.N” [3] . He develops his arguments on how the SC enlarged after the cold war. With the challenges and tensions to security such as refugees and terrorism for example, urge the need of expansion. Throughout these recent threats he observed that the council took up a quasi-legislative role, by ratifying legislation that repeatedly applied to national law of the member states. He therefore raise the question of the SC taking on a more semi-judicial part. Schrijver responds to the main task of the SC which he decided “should be an organ of limited membership capable of acting timely, decisively and with the power to enforce its decisions.” nevertheless the major challenge to the SC is how to form a council adequately small for “effective and efficient action” [4] and large enough to work and its choices acceptable.

The writer look at the approaches to achieve this “perfect council” through Article 23 – “which distinguished between permanent and elected members” [5] and refers to the expansion of elected seats in 1963 as “a more adequate geographical representation ... and making it a more effective organ for carrying out its functions under the charter of the UN.” [6] 

He also looks for reform, arguing how they would increase to a council of 24, and would have a distinct view of geographically equalising membership. Nico examines Annan’s 2005 report and how none of the proposals put forward gained enough support.

In the end the writer search for different ideas to those proposed for representativeness and effectiveness of the council. He also disputes if expansion is what is needed, would a council of 15 members not be as efficient as one of 24. Or even a change to membership “this could be a way of giving substance to Article 23.” [7] besides, he repeat on his expansion comments and again calls for an alternative method, an instance would be by bettering the way the council works. He notes that an increased council will not do any better unless “it provides for more transparency, accountability and inclusiveness.” [8] 

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