Biden Can Actually Score Some Quick Wins on Security Council Reform

Biden Can Actually Score Some Quick Wins on Security Council Reform
U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the U.N. headquarters, Sept. 21, 2022 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Among the perks of being president of the United States is the power to make even quite boring topics seem exciting. Joe Biden demonstrated this during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly two weeks ago, when he declared that the U.S. is open to the idea of U.N. Security Council reform. Diplomats who have been toiling away in fruitless discussions about council reform for years suddenly perked up. Could the U.S. actually make some change happen?

Whatever the chances of the U.S. actually engineering major U.N. reforms—and many diplomats don’t rate them highly—Washington now needs to demonstrate that it is at least serious about the effort. That could mean looking for fairly quick wins to show the U.S. means business.

Biden did not get into great detail about the reforms he wants to see. He talked about the need for the five veto-wielding members of the council, including the U.S., to “refrain” from blocking resolutions unnecessarily. That was a slap at Russia, which has used its veto to kill any criticisms of its war in Ukraine. Biden added that the U.S. would like to see an expansion of the 15-member council to include more members, including some new permanent ones.

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