The United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, charged with the maintenance of international peace and security as well as accepting new members to the United Nations and approving any changes to its United Nations Charter. Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states. The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946.
Like the UN as a whole, the Security Council was created following World War II to address the failings of a previous international organization, the League of Nations, in maintaining world peace. In its early decades, the body was largely paralysed by the Cold War division between the US and USSR and their respective allies, though it authorized interventions in the Korean War and the Congo Crisis and peacekeeping missions in the Suez Crisis, Cyprus, and West New Guinea. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, UN peacekeeping efforts increased dramatically in scale, and the Security Council authorized major military and peacekeeping missions in Kuwait, Namibia, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC). South Sudan and Somalia are now irredeemably ruined by their warlord and probably beyond UN help now.
Structure and purpose
The Security Council consists of fifteen members. The great powers that were the victors of World War II— the Soviet Union (now represented by Russia), the United Kingdom, France, Republic of China (now represented by the People's Republic of China), and the United States—serve as the body's five permanent members. These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General. The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body's presidency rotates monthly among its members. Critics of the council often describe it as an undemocratic international body, and argue it fails its principal task, mainly because of the veto power of the permanent members.
Security Council resolutions are typically enforced by UN peacekeepers, military forces voluntarily provided by member states and funded independently of the main UN budget. As of 2016, 103,510 peacekeeping soldiers and 16,471 civilians are deployed on 16 peacekeeping operations and 1 special political mission. Evaluations of the Security Council's effectiveness are mixed, and calls for its reform predate the body's first meeting; however, little consensus exists on how its structure should be changed.
At the UN's founding in 1945, the five permanent members of the Security Council were the Republic of China, the French Republic, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. There have been two major seat changes since then. China's seat was originally held by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Government, the Republic of China. However, the Nationalists were forced to retreat to the island of Taiwan in 1949, during the Chinese Civil War. The Communist government assumed control of mainland China, henceforth known as the People's Republic of China. In 1971, General Assembly Resolution 2758 recognized the People's Republic as the rightful representative of China in the UN and gave it the seat on the Security Council that had been held by the Republic of China, which was expelled from the UN altogether with no opportunity of membership as a separate nation. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Federation was recognized as the legal successor state of the Soviet Union and maintained the latter's position on the Security Council. Additionally, France reformed its government into the French Fifth Republic in 1958, under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle. France maintained its seat as there was no change in its international status or recognition, although many of its overseas possessions eventually became independent.
The five permanent members of the Security Council were the victorious powers in World War II and have maintained the world's most powerful military forces ever since. They annually topped the list of countries with the highest military expenditures. In 2013, they spent over US$1 trillion combined on defence, accounting for over 55% of global military expenditures (the US alone accounting for over 35%). They are also among the world's largest arms exporters and are the only nations officially recognized as "nuclear-weapon states" under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), though there are other states known or believed to be in possession of nuclear weapons.
The Security Council's five permanent members, have the power to veto any substantive resolution; this allows a permanent member to block adoption of a resolution, but not to prevent or end debate.
Although the "power of veto" is not explicitly mentioned in the UN Charter, the fact that "substantive" decisions by the UNSC require "the concurring votes of the permanent members", means that any of those permanent members can prevent the adoption, by the Council, of any draft resolutions on "substantive" matters. For this reason, the "power of veto" is also referred to as the principle of "great power unanimity" and the veto itself is sometimes referred to as the "great power veto".
The actual use of the veto, and the constant possibility of its use, have been central features of the functioning of the Security Council throughout the UN's history. In the period from 1945 to the end of 2009, 215 resolutions on substantive issues were vetoed, sometimes by more than one of the P5. The average number of vetoes cast each year to 1989 was over five: since then the average annual number has been just above one.
The diplomats, economists and political figures that were creators of the United Nations Charter conceived that China\The PRC, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)\ the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States because of their leading roles in winning WW2 and mores so their key roles in the establishment of the United Nations. As a result they were expected to make sure it would continue to work as it was originay envisioned and that they would thus continue to play important roles in the maintenance of international peace and security. They were granted the special status of Permanent Member States at the Security Council, along with a special voting power known as the "right to veto" a (in theory, but rarely in practice) bad, dangerous or corrupt resolution or decision would not be approved. If they do not fully agree they may choose to abstain, thus allowing the resolution to be adopted if it obtains the required 9 votes in favor.
Originally 6 and then later 10 other nations are elected to the United Nations Security Council for 2 years and with out a veto.
Article 27 of the United Nations Charter states:
- Each member of the Security Council shall have a vote.
- Decisions of the Security Council on procedural matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members.
- Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.
The figures reflect the fact that a Permanent Member of the Security Council can avoid casting a veto if the proposal in question does not in any event obtain the requisite majority. In the first two decades of the UN, the Western states were frequently able to defeat resolutions without actually using the veto; and the Soviet Union was in this position in the 1970s and 1980s. Use of the veto has reflected a degree of diplomatic isolation of the vetoing state(s) on the particular issue. Because of the use or threat of the veto, the Security Council could at best have a limited role in certain wars and interventions in which its Permanent Members were involved – for example in Algeria (1954–62); Suez (1956), Hungary (1956), Vietnam (1946–75), the Sino-Vietnamese war (1979), Afghanistan (1979–88), Panama (1989), Iraq (2003), and Georgia (2008).
Not all cases of UN inaction in crises have been due to actual use of the veto. For example, re the Iran–Iraq war of 1980–88 there was no use of the veto, but the UN role was minimal except in its concluding phase. Likewise the limited involvement of the UN in the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan from 2003 onwards was not due to any actual use of the veto. A general lack of willingness to act was the main problem.
Reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) encompasses five key issues: categories of membership, the question of the veto held by the five permanent members, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods, and the Security Council-General Assembly relationship. Member States, regional groups and other Member State interest groupings developed different positions and proposals on how to move forward on this contested issue.
Any reform of the Security Council would require the agreement of at least two-thirds of UN member states, and that of all the permanent members of the UNSC enjoying the veto right.
The 2005 Annan plans
On 21 March 2005, the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called on the UN to reach a consensus on expanding the council to 24 members, in a plan referred to as "In Larger Freedom". He gave two alternatives for implementation, but did not specify which proposal he preferred.
The two options mentioned by Annan are referred to as Plan A and Plan B:
- Plan A calls for creating six new permanent members, plus three new nonpermanent members for a total of 24 seats in the council.
- Plan B calls for creating eight new seats in a new class of members, who would serve for four years, subject to renewal, plus one nonpermanent seat, also for a total of 24.
In any case, Annan favored making the decision quickly, stating, "This important issue has been discussed for too long. I believe member states should agree to take a decision on it—preferably by consensus, but in any case before the summit—making use of one or other of the options presented in the report of the High-Level Panel".
The summit mentioned by Annan is the September 2005 World Summit\Millennium+5 Summit, a high level plenary meeting that reviewed Annan's report, the implementation of the 2000 United Nations Millennium Declaration, and other UN reform-related issues.
G4 (Japan, Germany, India and Brazil)
The G4 plans envisage a Council with a total membership of 25, including six new permanent members (Brazil, Japan, Germany, India and two African countries) and an additional three elected seats.
United for Consensus (UfC)
UfC called for a 25-member Council, which would be achieved by adding ‘no permanent members to the Council, but would rather create new permanent seats in each region, leaving it to the members of each regional group to decide which Member States should sit in those seats, and for how long’.
The Ezulwini Consensus represents the Africa bloc and proposes two permanent seats and two additional elected seats for Africa. Under the proposal, the permanent members would be granted ‘all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership including the right to veto’.
6 nations were put forward an 5 of those nations have asked if they could take the proposed, as of 2016, 6th permanent members seat. They are:
- India: Almost certain, as most of the world sycophants to it, despite of it being more ecanomic spin than substance. It has good political conections, a modest econamy and strong millitary. Pakistan hates it and China fearsa it.
- Japan: Unlikely, despite it being well equipped for the job, as it has accrued only a few friends and supporters. It's bid also offends S. Korea's and China's political ego and historic concerns.
- Brazil: Unlikely, as it seen as too pathetic for the job, but dose have several supporters.
- Algeria: Unlikely, as it seen as too pathetic for the job, but dose have several supporters.
- Costa Rica: Very unlikely, as it seen as too pathetic for the job, only has intermittent Central American support and is not interested in the position on offer. It was not invited by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to take up the job.
- Germany: Never, as virtually no one likes it, despite it being well equipped for the job.
Note that- Diplomats from Poland and Oman were just joking to the world media in the late 1980s. Rumors about Canada, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Thailand, Israel, Iran, Libya, Morocco, Vietnam, Malaysia, NZ, Chile, Peru, Cuba, Argentina, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Poland, Mexico, S. Africa, Italy, Kazakhstan and Australia officially joining the process in 1997, 2002 and 2015 were false rumors.
Prior to the UN's founding in 1946, Franklin D. Roosevelt lobbied for Brazil to be included on the Security Council, but the UK and the Soviet Union refused.
In June 2005, the foreign ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) called for a permanent Muslim seat on the UN Security Council.
It has also been suggested that an African nation be given a seat on the Security Council, with Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa the most likely contenders. Algeria has gained a great deal of respect for its neutrality over the years, how it has handled the fall out from the 1991-2002 Algerian Civil War and its great commitment to pan-African development.
Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Nigeria were also informally put forward as caderdates in 2016.
On 26 July 2005, Italy, Argentina, Canada, Colombia and Pakistan, who represented the larger group of countries called Uniting for Consensus, proposed to the General Assembly another project that maintains five permanent members and raises the number of non-permanent members to 20.
A comparison of candidate nation's stats (2015 figures unless stated otherwise)
|Nation.||Global grouping.||% of World Population.||GDP (PPP) x $1,000,000.||GDP (nominal) x $1,000,000.||% of UN funding.||Number of UN peacekeepers.||Defence budget x US$ 100,000,000.||Numer of active paramilitary and military personnel.||Nuclear arsenal.||Total number of warheads.||Regular conic shortages\starvation and\or food riots.||Economic growth.|
|Brazil||G4||2.8% (5th)||$3,101 (7th)||$1,535 (9th)||3.82% (7th)||1,305 (20th)||$24.6 (11th)||318,480 (16th)||NO||–||Yes||-0.70%|
|Algeria||Arab league||0.54% (34th)||578.7 (2016 figures)||$ 1(2016 figures)||N\A||N\A||$10,57 (2016 figures)||520,000 (2016 figures)||NO||-||No||+3.125%|
|China||P5||18.8% (1st)||$20,853 (1st)||$11,383 (2nd)||7.92% (3rd)||2,622 (12th)||$215.0 (2nd)||2,333,000 (1st)||YES||260 (4th)||In places||+1.625%|
|France||P5||0.9% (20th)||$2,703 (10th)||$2,465 (6th)||4.86% (5th)||880 (33rd)||$50.9 (7th)||222,200 (24th)||YES||300 (3rd)||No||+0.30%|
|Germany||G4||1.1% (17th)||$3,935 (5th)||$3,468 (4th)||6.39% (4th)||434 (45th)||$39.4 (9th)||186,450 (28th)||NO-3||–||No||+0.425%|
|Costa Rica||CACM||0.065% (118th)||$74.9 (2016 figures)||$58109 (2016 figures)||N\A||N\A||Minimal $ (2016 figures)||About 2,070 paramilitaries and intelligence agents.*||NO||-||No||+0.7675%|
|Portugal (for a neutral comparitor)||EU||0.14% (85th)||$289.8 (2016 figures)||$204.761 (2016 figures)||N\A||N\A||$3.8 (2016 figures)||35,000 (2016 figures)||NO||-||No||+0.40%|
|Ghana (for a neutral comparitor)||ECOWAS||0.38% (46th)||$114.7 (2016 figures)||$43,264 (2016 figures)||N\A||N\A||$0.12 (2016 figures)||13,500 (2016 figures)||NO||-||In places||+0.875%|
|India||G4||18.1% (2nd)||$8,642 (3rd)||$2,289 (7th)||0.74% (22nd)||7,713 (2nd)||$51.3 (6th)||1,325,000 (3rd)||YES||110–120 (7th)||In places.||+1.775%|
|Japan||G4||1.7% (10th)||$4,901(4th)||$4,413 (3rd)||9.68% (2nd)||272 (55th)||$40.9 (8th)||247,150 (21st)||NO||–||No||+0.275%|
|Russia||P5||2.0% (9th)||$3,685 (6th)||$1,133 (14th)||3.09% (9th)||98 (68th)||$66.4 (4th)||845,000 (5th)||YES||7,300 (1st)||No||-0.945%|
|United Kingdom||P5||0.9% (22nd)||$2,757 (9th)||$2,761 (5th)||4.46% (6th)||336 (52nd)||$55.5 (5th)||169,150 (32nd)||YES||215 (5th)||In places||+0.55%|
|United States||P5||4.4% (3rd)||$18,558 (2nd)||$18,558 (1st)||22.00% (1st)||68 (73rd)||$597.0 (1st)||1,492,200 (2nd)||YES||6,970 (2nd)||In places||+1.65%|
- * Costa Rica defence spending is minimal in $ (2016 figures). Personnel are about 2,000 gendarmerie, paramilitaries, civil guards, an anti-terrorism unit, a hostage rescue unit, the presidential guard and an air surveillance crews, plus 70 military intelligence agents. (2016 figures).
- Donald Trump's known distrust of the UN on grounds of inifectivness and the American public's paranoid hatred off it, which makes expulsion possible, but the USA leaving the UN is very likely.
- The British government regards the UN as a evil and Islamist\Europhile cabal that is to be ignored. The UK is such a waste of space it is not worthy of even expelling and may even quit in time.
- France is mostly seen as OK and safely ensconced.
- China is mostly seen as OK and safely ensconced.
- Russia is seen as evil and pro-tyranny by most democracies, so exploitation is possible from the UN. It's only friends are dictatorships like Cuba, the pro-Assad part of Syria, N. Korea and Venezuela.
The United Nations Security Council "power of veto" refers to the veto power wielded solely by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States), enabling them to prevent the adoption of any "substantive" resolution, as well as decide which issues fall under "substantive" title. This de facto control over the UN Council by the five plus 1 governments is seen by critics, since its creation in 1945, as the most undemocratic character of the UN.
Critics also note the veto power as a main cause for most international inaction on war crimes and crimes against humanity. The veto does not apply to procedural votes, which is significant in that the Security Council's permanent membership can vote against a "procedural" draft resolution, without necessarily blocking its adoption by the Council.
The veto is exercised when any permanent member—the so-called "P5"—casts a "negative" vote on a "substantive" draft resolution. Abstention or absence from the vote by a permanent member does not prevent a draft resolution from being adopted. The UNSC "power of veto" is frequently cited as a major problem within the UN. By wielding their veto power (established by Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter), any of the UNSC's five permanent members can prevent the adoption of any (non-"procedural") UNSC draft resolution not to their liking. Even the mere threat of a veto may lead to changes in the text of a resolution, or it being withheld altogether (the so-called "pocket veto"). As a result, the power of veto often prevents the Council from acting to address pressing international issues and affords the "P5" great influence within the UN institution as a whole.
For example, the Security Council passed no resolutions on most major Cold War conflicts, including the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Vietnam War, and the Soviet–Afghan War. Resolutions addressing more current problems, such as the conflict between Israel and Palestine and Iran's suspected development of nuclear weapons, are also heavily influenced by the veto, actual or threatened. Additionally, the veto applies to the selection of the UN's Secretary-General, as well as any amendments to the UN Charter, giving the P5 great influence over these processes. Recently China also exercised its veto on India's Resolution to put Masood Azhar on list of Global terrorist list. He is proclaimed head of Jaish E. Mohammad a terror Outfit which is already designated as Global terrorist group by UNSC.
Discussions on improving the UN's effectiveness and responsiveness to international security threats often include reform of the UNSC veto. Proposals include: limiting the use of the veto to vital national security issues; requiring agreement from multiple states before exercising the veto; abolishing the veto entirely; and embarking on the transition stipulated in Article 106 of the Charter, which requires the consensus principle to stay in place. So, any reform of the veto will be very difficult. Articles 108 and 109 of the United Nations Charter grant the P5 veto over any amendments to the Charter, requiring them to approve of any modifications to the UNSC veto power that they themselves hold.
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