The Security Council, formed after World War Two, appears out of tune with the realities of the 21st Century - in its makeup, its priorities, its voting methods and its enforcement of resolutions.
It becomes by the day harder to justify its makeup on the basis of GDP. If you look at worldwide trends by 2050, the accountancy firm PWC believes that Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia will all have overtaken the UK. The USA will have slipped to third place, behind both China and India. France won't even be in the top ten.
If you look at population - we currently have a situation where India - a democracy of over 1.2 billion people - lacks a seat at the top table. Other developing countries are also anticipating substantial population rises before 2050. The population of Nigeria is expected to jump from 166m today to over 400m (becoming the fourth highest), whilst Ethiopia's is predicted to triple (to seventh place). By then Russia will sit in just 16th place.
Furthermore, it is highly unrepresentative - with the permanent members being made up of two European countries and three other 'superstates' - USA, China and Russia. Not one African, Arabic or South American country has a permanent seat.
This lack of representation, combined with an absolute veto for the five permanent members, has led to a complete lack of fairness within international politics.
Since 1984, China and France have vetoed three resolutions each, Russia/USSR four, the UK ten, and the United States 43 times. Nearly 30 of these 43 U.S. vetoes have been in support of Israeli interests, despite at times the remaining 14 members all voting in favour of the resolution.
There is also the issue of 'mission creep' with Security Council resolutions. Long term decision making and trust within the Security Council becomes difficult to uphold when the agreed framework of a resolution is exceeded substantially.
So what is to be done?
Although there are a few options for reform which have been previously proposed, many of these are either self-serving or lack the necessary reform to keep the Security Council relevant.
This is not to say that the existing members should be sidelined however, a compromise needs to be found, or a situation may develop where some major countries decide not to engage with the UN and its institutions at all.
There are seven potential steps to reform.
1. India should be given the same status as the five permanent members of the Security Council. There is overwhelming international support for their membership - in the most recent election for a non-permanent seat - they gained the votes of 187 out of 191 countries. They also have had the support of all five permanent members at various points in time for a fixed place.
2. Introduce a new second tier of six further permanent members, who would be the same as the other permanent members, except with slightly different voting rights in respect to vetoes.
These would include Brazil, Japan and Mexico, who by 2050 will have the fourth, fifth and seventh highest GDPs in the world respectively. The remaining three would come from the African Union, the Arab League and the EU, who could either decide to choose a country or perhaps could be represented by their alliance.
3. The number of non-permanent members should be reduced from 10 to 8. Currently 10 are chosen for a 2 year term by their regional peers (and then approved by the UN General Assembly). In fact, five new members were selected only this week.
By reducing this to eight, there would be 20 Security Council members at any one time. The remaining eight countries would be represented as follows: two from each of Africa, Asia and Latin America, with one from each European grouping.
(Of the five new members - under these proposals - three would be from Africa and Asia combined and two would be from Central & South America. The other areas would maintain the same number of representatives within the Security Council, albeit as smaller ratio of the total number.)
4. The absolute veto should be changed to a multi-lateral veto. Currently the permanent members each have an absolute veto, but this should be altered to encourage conciliation and negotiation.
Instead, each tier one permanent member would have two votes and each tier two permanent member would have one vote. To gain a veto, a total of 6 votes would have to be secured - from a maximum available of 18 - therefore 1/3 of the total.
5. A 'super majority' of all Security Council members should be able to overrule a veto. This would require perhaps 15 of the 20 countries (3/4 of countries) to be signed up, with no weighted voting.
As no regional group has more than five members, this system means that countries would have to find support from outside their regional group for a veto - or face being potentially overruled by the super majority.
6. Funding for the UN should be mandated as a percentage of GDP per capita in every member state to ensure fairness. Currently funding for the United Nations is done on a voluntary basis. This system leads to a situation whereby some countries seek to withdraw their funding unless the U.N. promotes their own interests.
For instance the United States House of Representatives (Republican controlled) have initiated the United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act, which seeks to only fund UN agencies which "advance U.S. issues and values".
7. The UN needs to have its own security force. Whilst controversial, this is the only way to ensure that resolutions are upheld and to mitigate against self interest. Every permanent member of the Security Council would have to provide forces to the central taskforce, based upon population and GDP, although perhaps they could volunteer more should they wish.
Although introducing this would be challenging, UN peacekeeping forces have existed for many years, and therefore this could be an extension of that.
Of course, modernising such a complex and politicised institution is not easy. However, the Security Council and the UN itself will only become less and less relevant over time unless it decides to become more representative of the world we live in.
The UN Security Council is a World War Two relic trying to respond to the challenges of the 21st Century. Surely this is in much greater need of reform than the EU?
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