The UN Permanent Security Council verse “the others”

By Peter Reat Gatkuoth

“The whole institution of the veto power, has an anachronistic character that is unsuitable for the institution in an increasingly democratic age” (Dag Hammarskjold’s speech in 1960).

November 13, 2011 (SSNA) — In the wake of democratization movements across the continents, theoretical concepts and ideas to live together under big world umbrella became undeniable as major threat and crime against humanity emerge. The United Nation organization became a place to seek justice, peace and security. However, it is unquestionable these days that the office of the Security Council’s veto threat remains highly relevant. Few countries controlled the power of what has to be done in term of all outgoing issues facing the world, and mostly the issue of the membership recognition and others things. This power invested in five permanent members out of “the 194 members” is not only ruining the flavour of organization’s credential but waging a great threat to some nations as its ideology is routed in the Western philosophy.

Most nations who are willing to join the organizations are lingering around, looking for ways to get the membership in the permanent Security Council as “the United Nations organization became the only universal agency in which all countries with widely differing political institutions and at different stage of economic development may exchange views; share their problems and experience, probe each other’s reactions to politics of mutual interest and initiate collective action.” Therefore, it is acceptance that the Security Council need a major reform and expansion. This reform should be given to the 194 countries in General Assembly to decide on how many permanent members should join the Security Council, and debate upon the criteria for admission of the membership to the United Nations permanent Security Council.

The Security Council came to stage in early 1946 and by then, many things were conducted and passed through the resolutions and decisions that mainly come from the five permanent Security Council’s members. The decision of United Nations General Assembly has no binding force in regard to the recognition, and other major factors such as the issue leading to war. The General Assembly usually passed many requests unanimously but as long as the permanent Security Council do not agreed with the vote of 194 countries, the vote is always a waste of time if not energy.

It is to be noted that the composition of the Security Council does not accord to the present day reality. “A number of changes have taken place in the international community since the creature of the United Nations but no change has occurred in the composition of the Permanent Security Council except one that took place in 1965 when it was enlarged to fifteen members in accordance with an amendment to the charter. Five are permanent members and the other ten became non-permanent members, renewable after some years.” The need for increasing United Nation Security Council’s permanent seats becomes a struggle of decades for some countries such as India (1946), Germany (1973), Canada (1945) and Japan (1956) that had joined the General Assembly early since the inception of the organization. This concern of the permanents seats led many scholars and intelligent community to ask more questions. “The question arises as to whether the United Nation permanent Security Council, in term of the perceived legitimacy of its decision, can have more power than the sum of its part (General Assembly).” 

The fact is that the legality of power invested in five nations is not democratic choices rather than a policy of domination. Some countries claim that their population’s number exceed some of the countries’ population, especially those nations that are serving as the permanent members while other countries claim that their contribution in term of finance is better than some of the States that are serving as the permanent members. The good example is India that had served in the United Nations peace keeping operations for years and their contributions ranks the third. This is the same to Japan that always contribute financially, and on time more than some of the countries that the world’s power is invested on.

International community at large were looking for an urgent reform and expansion of the United Nation permanent Security Council. Reforming the Security Council will laterally mean many things. It will means that the United Nations is an organization representing the global society democratically and any judgement being taken in the level of United Nations Security council will always reflect a fair judgement. “The ideological barrier that had kept democratization off the table is the issue of veto being performed by only five nations (U.S.A, UK, France, Russia and China). The need for the expansion and reform of the permanent Security Council is rather compelling not only because “the global balance of economic and robust military power is undergoing a profound change” but the need to dialogues in order to bring the concerns of the States to the table of the international community for debate does matter more than an imagined.”

One of the agenda that matter in the International community today is the issue of peace and the security. The maintenance of the international peace and the security is “the primary responsibility of the Security Council. The power has been conferred to it under Article 24(1) of the charter which lays down that in order to ensure prompt and effective actions by the United Nations; its members confer on the Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.” If this big responsibility and power is invested on five nations, what would the world expect in the time differences emerged in the international level? Any decision being taken by the Security Council as to enforce law against any state is being challenged internationally by the other states that are not members because they argued that the five permanent members of the Security Council have certain entrenched interests on everything.

The mere assumption by then is that those nations serving in the permanent Security Council had egotistical interest of their own and therefore, some could not like the opponents to come to the stage of the permanent membership of the Security Council. The good example may be China against the India or Russia against Germany. “Germany, Japan, India and Brazil (known later as the Group of Four or G4) and their supporters have consistently argued for the creation of new permanent seats” but their requested has been negatively rejected and neglected from the permanent members of the Security Council on the ground that the Council, in order to be effective, must remain a small body. 

On the other hand, Germany and Japan waged and based their claims on the grounds that they are major donors. “India did so as the world’s second largest country in terms of population, with one of the world’s largest economies and the third largest contributor of troops to UN peace-keeping operations. Brazil based its case on being the largest country in terms of territory, population and economy in South America.” The two latter countries had increasingly based their claims on their status as leading countries of the global south. The question remain as to what criteria did the five permanent members want when all merits and credits of serving the international community are won by Germany, Canada, Japan, India, and lateral Brazil. If the claims should be justifies base on the population, India would have been the permanent members of the Security Council since the inception of the organization in 1946, and if it is the services they offered in term of contribution, then Japan would have been in the list of the permanent five members because of her contribution financially.

The Africa, on the other hand, could also launch a permanent claim that it has a good percentage of 54 countries in the General Assembly next to the Asia-pacific (56), and more than “the one- third” of all problems that matters in our global society are from Africa. Therefore, they deserve a strong voice and vote in all out going decision-making in the permanent Security Council. It is to be noted that the Rwanda case had been reported to the Security Council more than one times but because there is no single Africa country among the permanent members, the decision was not taken seriously and urgently as the request indicated. It could be argued that if there were one of the African nations among the permanent members, she should have influence and mobilize the Security Council to responded quickly base on the African cultural knowledge.

Although the reform would not reflect “the rotational system aimed at the equitable geographical distribution,” there is an urgent need to increase the permanent seats in the Security Council. The General Assembly should debate first, consider the seniority and the contribution of each nation as a major factor that can lead them to the decisions of which nation can join the permanent five members of the Security Council. For instance the India that stood third in the United Nation peace keeping operations. The Japan government that stood as one of the major donors should also be considered for the seat in the permanent Security Council and the same to the Germany although European nations and Asia pacific will dominate the Security Council office.

After looking at the participation of those countries that had served as long as of 1946 onward, and contribute with confident financially, militarily and diplomatically, the General Assembly should look back at the case of Africa continent, and the Latin American because they had never have chance to serve in the permanent Security Council and their geographical representations matter the most. This laterally meant that the five permanent Security Council should stay unchanged and add six more countries to the permanent seats plus 14 non-permanent members subject to renewable every two years. The seats should be allocated first base on the seniority and second, based on the considerations of the contribution of the each country to the United Nation Organization.

By using the seniority modality and the merits of the contribution that the countries had done back in the days, three of G4 nations (Germany, Japan and India) will quickly get in leaving the Brazil outside. Then comes the question of the group known as “the Coffee-Club, which was later renamed as Uniting for Consensus that is Italy, Spain, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and Pakistan.” Among the list of “the Coffee-Club group,” Argentina should be nominated for the permanent membership and allocated two seats to the African nations. One seat should go to one of the two countries between the Nigeria and South Africa and one seat to Egypt in particular. This reform and expansion would serve as an indirect regional representation and also would serve the interest of those who had joined earliest and sacrificed their time and energy serving the world in the international arena, politically, financially and militarily for long time since the inception of the organization.

It is true by then that the dignity and worth of the human person and their equal rights would not “get due recognition unless the Security Council is reconstituted to give representation among its permanent members to the majority of the human kind, belonging to various culture, religions and races.” In order to serve the world better and determined whether the Security Council’s readiness to live up its responsibility, the Security Council has to re-amended and look back to “the declaration on the occasion of the fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nation in 1955 which accepted that the Security Council should be expanded in a way that will further strengthening its capacity and effectiveness and enhance its representative characters.” 

The increase of the Security Council seats may thus clear the doubt from all countries that waged a wrong perception and claim that their cases had not been approved because the five permanent members may not like their nation and it will also help more in term of veto power and decision-making. Insecurity, extremists and war on terrorists need the collective voice and responsibility. Achieving greater security in the international stage required a heightened focus on how insecurity affects the live and prospects of poor people. For instance in Syria and Yemen the call for help has never stopped and people are dying under the dictatorships regime. 

“The main threat to the security of the international community is the weakness of the States’ authorities, owing to a lack of democratic structure and an inability to manage and combat such phenomena as organized crimes, international and domestic terrorism, lack of political liberties, human right atrocities, religious and ethnic conflicts, and aggressive nationalism.” The World politics also contribute into emerge of the radical and extremists across the international arena by ignoring their claims and aim to tell them radically that their views and claims does not matter. Peace without dialogue is just a slogan of the past centuries. For the world to achieve the best peace and the security, dialogue and forgiveness would be the best choice of bringing the States and those who act against the will of international community inclusive. Therefore, reforming and increasing the permanent seats/ membership may not only rally the support of the international community to the organization’s functions across the globe but heightening the focus and bringing all human family together in order to fight against the injustice in the international arena. “Any necessary reform or expansion should increase the involvement of all the countries in the decision-making in order to pursue the peace operations collectively.”

The author lives and study in Central America. He is currently a graduate student of the International Law and Human Right. You can reach him at [email protected] or visit his food for thought blogs at

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