UNSC Reform

The UN Security Council is among the multi-lateral institutions thatjust about everyone agrees needs to be reformed to better reflect theemerging influence of various “Second World” powers (e.g. Brazil,India, South Africa). There’s been talk of expanding its permanentmembers for the past ten years, but so far very little progress hasbeen made on articulating a solution that everyone finds acceptable. Onthe other hand, tons of progress has been made articulating thesolutions that everyone finds unacceptable, and today another draft proposal joined the reject pile.

In their Century Foundation monograph (.pdf), Rising Powers and Global Institutions,G. John Ikenberry and Thomas Wright identify the Security Council asthe most change-resistant of the multi-lateral institutions, and thesection they devote to it (pp. 13-17) gives a good idea as to why, aswell as the reason finding some solution is so important:

The deadlock over U.N. reform stems inpart from the relative weakness of the United States and aspiringmembers of the UNSC to press for reform, and the correspondingdetermination of those with a vested interest in the status quo.Continuing inertia is likely to further alienate the United States fromthe United Nations and lead to greater use of coalitions of thewilling, with costs for the legitimacy and effectiveness of U.S. actionthat such a course entails. (p. 17)

They offer some suggestions, most notably a dilution of veto power. Butthe problem’s obstinacy seems to bely the authors’ thesis that today’sglobal order, more than those of the past, will prove more resilientbecause it allows more room for emerging powers to take their placewithin it.

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