11/08/2014 08:44 BST | Updated 08/10/2014 06:59 BST

Reform the UN Now


Imagine your children joined a playgroup in your new home town. But, unbeknown to you, the playgroup isn't the 'all kids are equal' kind of place. No no, it turns out that your delightful kids (which of course they are) are at the back of the queue for milk, nursery blankets and, above all, the toys.

Instead of the playgroup sharing the toys with all the kids, the poor nursery nurses have to let five kids, whose parents founded the playgroup, have the final say on the toys. And as kids will tell you (and beg for you to buy), it's the toys that matter.

There's not much difference in logic between this playgroup and the United Nations' (UN) Article 23, still somehow creaking on. Article 23 states that only the Permanent 5, our privileged playgroup children, can sit, vetoes in their pocket, on the Security Council. It reads: 'The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council.' Forever. It's odd that for the UN, an organisation founded on beating the 1,000-year Reich, it appears to want to have a similar guarantee for some of its members within it.

Arguably, with the Cold War, it made practical sense. But that was a long time ago. There is no conflict threatening the wider world with global nuclear destruction. The world has changed. And the UN needs to change with it. Why? Well, what would you do with your poor kid constantly losing out to the best toys in playgroup? You might leave. At the very least, you wouldn't hold those kids' parents in the best regard.

For two clear and current examples, look at Ukraine and Gaza. Both cases could, properly overseen by a more just and fairer UN, be dealt with in a manner more fitting to the long-term benefit of world affairs and the people involved. Instead of resolutions getting log-jammed by vested interests, a fairer share of the powers and posts on the Security Council could lead to action, not verbal dithering.

Such skewing of current global politics is not just confined to the UN. Last month, the so-called BRICS kids bought their own development bank trainset. No longer do they have to bother with the Western-facing (if only by design and shareholding) IMF or World Bank so much. In a more interdependent world, it is vital that the UN doesn't do a League of Nations. But the longer Article 23 dodders on, the more we risk exposing ourselves and one another to a nasty geo-political shock.

That's why we need to reform Article 23 along more fairer and just lines. Let the Security Council have a broader and more credible remit through a more representative and equitable design. Yes, the P5 won WW2. But a more appropriate dedication to all of those who died would be the evolution of international peace in our time.

This isn't to kick sand over the UN. What Woodrow Wilson started with the League of Nations, and what became the United Nations, is our first real go in history of international peace. We haven't had WW3 yet. Potentially, however, a lack of reform is really quite dangerous. It's not right that today's, let alone yesterday's, biggest kids in the class get the final say. As the BRICS are demonstrating with their growth, a big kid one day might not be so forever. And people have memories of how they were treated when they were smaller. That's why it's best to sort out the rules and share the power out peacefully while we can.