UN Security Council Under the Spotlight
The United Nations Security Council is the most powerful organ of the United Nations. It is charged with maintaining peace and security between nations. While other organs of the UN only make recommendations to member governments, the Security Council has the power to make decisions which member governments must carry out under the United Nations Charter. The decisions of the Council are known as UN security Council Resolutions.
A representative of each Security Council member must always be present at UN headquarters so that the Council can meet at any time. This requirement of the United Nations Charter was adopted to address a weakness of the League of Nations since that organization was often unable to respond quickly to crises.
The presidency of the security council is rotated and lasts for one month.
The role involves setting the agenda, presiding at its meetings and overseeing any crises. It alternates in alphabetical order of the members' names in English.
There are two categories of membership in the UN Security Council: permanent members and elected members.
The Council has five permanent members, namely: People’s Republic of China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States of America.
The permanent members were originally drawn from the victorious powers after World War II. In 1971, The people’s Republic of China replaced the Republic of China as the China representative in the UN. In 1991, Russia became the successor to the seat originally held by the Soviet Union, including the seat in the Security Council. Currently the five members are the only nations permitted to possess nuclear weapons under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which lacks universal validity, as not all nuclear nations have signed the treaty. This nuclear status though, is not the result of their Security Council membership.
Moreover North Korea, India, Pakistan, Israel (allegedly; Israel has never admitted to nuclear weapons posession), and some other countries that are not permanent members of the UN Security Council do possess nuclear weapons outside of the antiproliferation framework established by the Treaty.
Each also have veto powers to void any resolution, a single blocking vote that outweighs any majority. Ten other members are elected by the General Assembly for 2-year terms starting on January 1, with five replaced each year. The members are chosen by regional groups and confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly. The African, Latin American, and Western European blocs choose two members each, and the Arab, Asian, and Eastern European blocs choose one member each. The final seat alternates between Asian and African selections. For many years, some member-states have been advocating expansion of the Security Council, arguing that adding new members will remedy the democratic and representative deficit from which the Council suffers. Disagreement on whether new members should be permanent or have veto power has become a major obstacle to Security Council reform. Brazil, India, Japan and Germany want a permanent seat in the Council, and have threatened to reduce their financial or military troop contributions to the UN if they are not rewarded with permanent member status. African countries have also expressed the need for permanent African representation in the Council to bring an end to the hegemony of northern industrialized nations in the powerful UN organ.
Scholars of International Relations argue that adding more permanent members to the Security Council would enlarge a discredited oligarchy rather than build for a democratic future. They also oppose the addition of elected members, arguing that an expanded Council would be too large to function effectively and not substantially more representative of all concerned nations. Instead, they propose a process of stronger regional representation as a future-oriented approach that can develop in stages and without the headache of Charter change.
Difficulty in Reforming the Security Council
In a world torn by war and violence, all parties concerned express the need for a far better Security Council to promote international peace and security and defend international law. Since the Council plays a much more active role than in the past, its failures are more evident and its reform is more urgent than ever. But the path to reform is exceedingly difficult. Nations can agree on the Council’s shortcomings, but they differ sharply on the necessary solutions. All agree, for example, that the Council’s membership and institutional structures reflect outdated geopolitical realities and political thinking, shaped by the world of 1945. The five permanent members, with their vetoes and many special privileges, now arouse widespread criticism as a self-appointed oligarchy. But for more than a decade, nations have been debating Council reform in the UN General Assembly without result. Change in the Council’s membership, the thorniest issue of all, requires revision of the UN Charter.
Proposals have come and gone, but no membership plan has yet won the needed support for such a major institutional change. At present, a new burst of diplomatic energy has enlivened this important but much-misunderstood issue.
Membership Change is not the Sole Case
The debate on membership expansion (and new permanent members) attracts most of the attention, but Council reform involves much more than the chairs around the table and who sits in them. The Council is far too loosely organized and depends far too much on the management of the permanent five (P-5). By design, it has only minor institutional support from the Secretariat, placing impossible burdens on the delegations of elected members and weakening all efforts at institutional development, precedent-setting and organized institutional memory. Incredibly, the Council’s rules of procedure remain “provisional” after nearly sixty years of operation. The Council’s influential presidency changes constantly in a monthly rotation, producing an organized confusion. Most of the Council’s business takes place behind closed doors, in“consultations of the whole,” away from scrutiny and accountability and lacking any record (such as minutes) that could be referenced by future members. The Council passes many resolutions but only haphazardly enforces them, fueling resistance to perceived “double standards” in its actions. Too often it seems the captive of great power politics with little connection to the needs of the world’s peoples. The ten elected members of the Council say they feel like “tourists” or short- term passengers on a long distance train. In spite of some minor improvements in working methods, the Council remains inflexible, oligarchic and out of touch with the world.
Democracy and the Security Council Reform
Calls for Council reform began in the early 1990s, in response to the Council’s controversial action and inaction (Iraq and Rwanda for example) and the Council’s growing activity in the post-Cold War period. Critics of the Council made seven demands namely that the Council be: more representative
more effective more fair and even-handed (no double standards).
Such demands seem reasonable, but they are not easily compatible. A Council of forty members, for example, might be more representative, but it would hardly be more effective. Still, many reformers have sought a more broadly democratic institution that would weaken the oligarchy and create a more diverse and broadly representative body. But reform action has to confront many questions: How best to promote accountability, transparency or other sought-after qualities? How to win political support for a reform package that the oligarchs must accept? And how to bridge the gaps between diplomatic rhetoric and institutional reality?
Lack of Democracy vs. Slogans
Reformers sometimes ask: how can even the best-organized Council function effectively and fairly in a world where great powers, like Bulldozers, force their way throughout the global landscape? Powerful governments that claim to champion “freedom,” “democracy,” and “good governance,” have been known to behave despotically in the international arena, bending small states to their will and acting in violation of international law. Such powers sit in the Council and cannot be expected to solve problems that they themselves have created.
This can be called the “foxes guarding the chicken coop” problem. Some reform proposals, couched in democratic language, would multiply this problem ultimately enlarging the
oligarchy by adding five or six other powerful governments. More permanent members would scarcely make the Council more representative, accountable, transparent, legitimate or
even-handed. Self-interest, not democracy, motivates these membership claims and a Council loaded with more permanent members would suffer from gridlock and political sclerosis.
Realism and the Security Council
Some scholars and think-tank analysts have argued that reform must bow to “realism” and that the Council must reflect the actual distribution of wealth and power in the world, not abstract ideas of fairness and justice. This line of argument shows an important conundrum in Council reform. How can democracy operate in a state system with such huge global disparities of wealth and power? Clearly, the answer cannot be a Council composed largely or entirely of major powers. Such a body could never command sufficient legitimacy much less arrive at fair and effective decisions. Reforms that appear “realistic” today would soon prove thoroughly un-realistic, leading to further domination, bitterness, destabilization and violence. Effective reform can and must solve this problem.
Shallow “realist” thinking and the narrow state-interest of aspirants to permanency will not produce the needed innovation.
Expending Perspective of Security Council
It has become a well-known notion by all concerned that the Security Council reflects the global power structure of 1945, when most of today's nations were still under colonial rule. In 1965, under pressure from a growing membership, the UN added four new elected members to the Council, bringing its total membership to 15. But the five principal World War II allies clung to their privileged status. They remain "permanent" and have the power to veto any Council decision. This arrangement makes the Council both undemocratic and ineffective. The veto-wielding permanent members (P-5) prevent many issues from reaching the Council's agenda and they often selfishly bar widely agreed and much-needed initiatives. Despite the ten elected members, the Security Council remains geographically unbalanced and seriously unrepresentative.
For more than a decade, the UN General Assembly has debated Council reform but has been unable to reach agreement. At the heart of this stalemate lies a conflict over claims to new permanent Council seats. Germany, Japan, Brazil, India, South Africa, Nigeria and others have demanded this special status and they have won some support for their bid. But the P-5 prefer to keep their own monopoly. And many other states firmly oppose the creation of new permanent seats, insisting that the Council should only be enlarged with new elected members.
Almost from the founding of the United Nations, smaller countries around the world, and a notably large one in South Asia, have complained that the global body and the world order it maintains lean unfairly against their interests. Through various arms of the UN, most importantly the Security Council, decisions are made that favor a select few nations, primarily the Council's permanent members, but also to a lesser degree Japan, Germany, Israel, and others that are part of the western alliance.
On most international issues, nearly all exercise of political power reflects a balance between these countries' interests. Understandably, it has been often demanded that this should change. First, it is argued that the world today is nothing like it was in 1945, when the UN was established, and newer arrangements of power are therefore needed.
Second, the UN's own professed goals namely, the promotion of freedoms, rights, etc around the earth, demand a more equitable order, not the perpetual denigration of some states by others.
Various ideas have been put forward to reduce the imbalance of power: the inclusion of more states in the Security Council, the elimination of veto powers, greater authority for the General Assembly, etc.
Nonetheless these arguments have routinely been defeated, and the lip-service paid to the issue is readily understood as such by one and all. The 10-year old United Nations Open Ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters related to the Security Council, its never-ending title notwithstanding, just finished yet another of its regular reports. Among the chief recommendations is that during the next annual session of the General Assembly the inquiry should continue, and a further report be submitted.
The Permanent Five, namely, Britain, the US, France, China and Russia and especially the first three of those are routinely assailed by other states for thwarting all efforts at reform. New Delhi has been particularly bitter, for it correctly sees itself as among the most likely capitals to gain from any change. India's case especially on economic, military, democratic and other grounds, is so compelling that almost any reconfiguration of authority will strengthen its hand. To remain eligibly at the verge of power forever is irrelevance of a particularly frustrating kind.
But, why? If the great powers economic, military, and other capabilities are truly significant, and their democratic credentials are a shining example, then, why has it remained
impossible to advance legitimate claims to a greater share of global authority?
The answer lies in separating the fact of great powers being lumped with the world's disenfranchised states from the processes by which this occurs. There is a method to the
institutional madness that suffocates the developing world, and the powers-that-be, have developed the infrastructure to deploy it in ways advantageous to them. And although the spotlight of criticism has shone mostly upon the UN, the World Bank and the IMF, to really understand how powerful nations have institutionalized their advantage, look to that other multilateral body specifically, the World Trade Organization.
Placing the WTO in the Picture
At the WTO, the disproportionate voting rights that the P-5 have in the UNSC and the controlling shares rich nations hold at the financial institutions are both absent. Nonetheless, during the last decade this one-nation-one-vote institution has emerged an equally powerful organ, as important to securing the advantage of the developed countries as the conventionally vilified three.
How? If veto power in the Security Council is an intolerable remnant of colonial power, and if the stacked boardrooms of the IMF and WB promote organized economic crime against the planet's majority, how is it that the WTO, which affords neither advantage to the global powers, is a similarly powerful instrument of their designs upon the world?
Although hundreds of billions of dollars are funneled to American and European agri-businesses each year from their governments, within the WTO there is disagreement over
whether these constitute unfair subsidies. It would seem a straightforward matter to decide whether governments are giving their citizens a competitive leg up, but in fact even
identifying a subsidy can be a difficult proposition in Geneva.
Governments can support their industries in many ways -- erecting tariffs, providing cheap credit for exports, guaranteeing price support, among others -- and developed nations have a fuller range of these options. By selectively eliminating only those support systems that developing states can also provide it is possible to pretend that the playing field is level.
And when those subsidies that remain are attacked as unfair, the typical response is to draft extensive 'new' proposals with a different distribution of the same subsidies, each time providing lengthy legal and economic reasoning to justify the shift. This is a nimble approach, where each criticism is met with a revised offer that merely rearranges the same cards.
Developing nations can contend with this process only if they too maintain armies of professionals to challenge every turn, an unrealistic expectation. More typically, countries lacking the resources and mechanisms to question the validity of each revision eventually yield. Agriculture is but one example; other agreements that are similarly unfair are now in the works in other industries namely, health care, tourism, intellectual property, drugs, etc. What options remain, then? If differences of opinion must be sorted out through complex institutions and processes that place developing nations at a disadvantage, what hope can there be of overcoming this handicap? The answer lies within the question itself. If weaker states hope to rearrange the world order more equitably, they must first defeat the complexity that maintains it. Free traders must be forced to explain why their faith in economic freedom hasn't expanded to include people, suffice it to say here why? When money, machines, and intellectual capital are free to roam the planet, people are still confined to their lands of citizenship.
The P-5's calls for restraint from further nuclear development and deployment must be met with demands for a timetable for disarmament. Our continuing membership in the United Nations, or troop deployments to support other people's wars under questionable UN auspices should be linked to reform for equity in its structure, elimination of veto powers, and moving a few of its arms outside North America and Europe.
These expectations aren't new; what are important is that they not be repeatedly diluted at the point of negotiation, and that any agreement with the developed nations be judged against these basic demands. Their value is amply demonstrated by the few instances where the global order's imposition of western authority upon developing nations have been successfully defeated.
To Indians, the most familiar of these exceptions is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. By rejecting the treaty's apartheid framework at the outset, India defeated the various mechanisms of scrutiny and sanction by which other nations were contained. Five years after the tests at Pokhran invited rhetorical condemnation from one and all India's nuclear ambitions have reached more or less the same plane of acceptance as those of the P-5. North Korea is now pursuing a similar outside-the-bounds course, and all of President Bush's moves to counter this keep returning to the basic question of the North actually possessing nuclear weapons. Reality is a powerful deterrent to nuanced arguments forbidding it.
Kofi Annan’s Stand of the SC
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged governments to endorse "bold and far-reaching" reforms of the body of the UN.
They include enlarging the Security Council, setting out rules on when it can authorize military force, and an agreed definition of terrorism. The proposals are designed to ensure the UN, which was shaken by the bitter debate over the war against Iraq, remains at the heart of world security.
Mr. Annan repeatedly asserted that the UN must be brought in line with "today's realities". The reform proposals come at a time when the world body faces criticism over its management of the oil-for-food program in Iraq and allegations of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The reforms proposed should be discussed by a meeting of world leaders attending a UN summit first, and must then be endorsed by the General Assembly. Mr. Annan said: "This hall has heard enough high-sounding declarations to last us for some decades to come. We all know what the problems are and we all know what we have promised to achieve. What is needed now is not more declarations or promises, but action - action to fulfill the promises already made." In a report setting out the reforms, Mr. Annan urges governments to "act boldly" and adopt "the most far-reaching reforms in the history of the United Nations". "We will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights," he said. The report comes two years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, which took place without explicit Security Council authorization.
Mr. Annan has repeatedly indicated to the current threats such as civil violence, organized crime, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, as well as poverty and disease, were
interconnected. "I am profoundly convinced that the threats which face us are of equal concern to us all," he told the General Assembly. The Secretary General called on UN members to agree on a definition of terrorism and to take urgent steps to prevent nuclear, chemical and biological weapons from getting into the hands of terrorists. In one of his reports, Annan suggests "any action constitutes terrorism if it is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating
a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act".
Mr. Annan also called on developed countries to increase their spending on development and debt relief, to help achieve targets on halving extreme poverty and achieving universal education. He declared a policy of zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and called for better oversight of UN contracts. And he proposed a new human rights body and gave his backing to the idea of expanding the 15-member Security Council to 24. Many of his suggestions are based on the recommendations made last year by a panel that he commissioned. Developing countries have argued that the structure of the Security Council is anachronistic and unreflective of the current realities of the post-cold war world. Their proposals for its reform, however, have not been met with enthusiasm by the G7. Scholars of International Organizations have argued that South Africa, as chair of the Non-Aligned Movement for the next three years, should unite Southern countries on this issue. Only then can the Movement fully utilize its leverage in the United Nations to bring about Security Council reform. The subject of United Nations (UN) reform has attracted increased attention over the past year, following UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's proposals for the reform of what is seen as a beleaguered organization. The issue of UN reform featured at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit held in Durban in September and is likely to remain prominent on the NAM agenda over the next three years, with South Africa as NAM chair.
Kofi Annan's reform proposals have focused on the UN Secretariat, calling for administrative changes to improve the functioning of the UN system. This is in line with the agenda of
powerful Northern countries that seek to downsize UN operations and eliminate bureaucratic waste. The United States, in particular, has been able to ensure that administrative reform takes place by using the financial whip and withholding its dues to the organization, which amounts to almost 80 per cent of the total arrears owed to the organization.
While many of these measures are necessary to enhance the effectiveness of UN operations, larger issues of UN reform such as the democratization of certain UN structures have not been adequately addressed by recent reform initiatives. It is developing countries that tend to be more concerned with substantive reform like the restructuring of the Security Council. The reform of the Security Council is crucial given its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It is clearly not a priority for the permanent members of the Security Council, the US, UK, France, Russia, and China, to agitate for the democratization of this body, which would only see their power reduced.
There is currently a consensus among the developing countries that the structure of the Security Council is anachronistic and unreflective of the current realities of the post-cold war world. Developing countries now make up more than two-thirds of the total UN membership, but are grossly underrepresented on the Security Council. This can be explained by the fact that many did not exist as sovereign independent states at the time the organization was founded. Some in the developed world would rebut the arguments of developing countries. They claim that the Security Council was never designed to represent the UN membership geographically, but was intended to be a concert of great powers that had the right to make major decisions by virtue of the fact that they held economic and military power. However, greater representation of developing countries on the Council is now more important than ever, considering the frequent intervention of the UN in conflicts occurring within the South. The more representative the Council, the more legitimate its actions will seem and the easier it will be to build consensus and have its actions carried out.
Additional Perspectives on SC Reforms
While it is generally accepted that the Council should be enlarged to make it more representative, the United States, France, Britain and Russia are opposed to any enlargement that will bring its total number to over 23 members. The United States insists that Germany and Japan should be included among the new permanent members, as they are both the world's second and third largest economies and UN dues payers, thus giving them the right to greater influence. Permanent members have not stated clear objections to the extension of veto power to new permanent members, but oppose any limitation of the veto power.
The Organization of African Unity (OAU) has argued for an expansion of the Security Council to bring its total number to no less than 26 members. According to the OAU proposal,
Africa should have at least two permanent rotational Security Council seats and five non-permanent seats. The representatives for the permanent seats would be nominated by the region and elected by the General Assembly. The OAU has stipulated that limitations be placed on veto use.
NAM pronouncements on Security Council expansion have been noticeably vague. The Movement argues for an increase in membership by no less than 11 states but does not specify to which regions these seats should be allocated. South Africa has officially supported the OAU position to expand the Security Council to 26 members and create a rotational seat system. Its position on the veto power has been that the veto should either be abolished in a new Security Council or extended to incoming members.
Recommendations for a restructured Security Council
As chair of the NAM South Africa will have the opportunity to present a detailed and clearly defined position on the reform of the Security Council to the South and attempt to rally developing countries behind a common proposal. To truly democratize the Council South Africa would need to advocate for the elimination of all permanent seats and the creation of regional seats elected by the General Assembly, although this would not be acceptable to the existing permanent members. It is recommended that South Africa adopt the following position on Security Council reform: Expand the Security Council to a total of 26 members, broken down as follows:
Existing permanent members
Additional permanent members
2 African seats
Latin American seat
Industrialized country seat
Existing non-permanent members
2 Asian seats
3 African seats
2 Latin American seats
Eastern European seat
2 Western Europe and others
Additional non-permanent members
2 African seats
2 Asian seats
Latin American seat
The permanent African seats should be rotating, enabling a number of key African states to exercise their influence and share the cost of permanent member status. Asia and Latin America can decide as regions whether or not their permanent seats should be rotational.
One permanent seat should be reserved for industrialized countries enabling states such as Germany, Japan, Canada, Italy and Sweden to contend.
Veto power should be extended to incoming permanent members and its use limited to actions taken under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
Objections to Such Proposal
The viability of such a position on Security Council reform may be challenged on a number of fronts. One foreseeable objection may be to the recommendation for rotational regional seats. Rotational seats may be seen as discriminatory by some in the South, when powerful Northern states are guaranteed consistent influence as existing permanent members. While a rotational seat system for incoming members is discriminatory there is little hope that the existing permanent members would forego some of their power in order to create regional seats across the board. Regional hegemons like Brazil and India have already stated their objections to a rotational seat system. This is problematic given that other powers such as Argentina, Mexico, Pakistan and Indonesia insist on this system. Developing consensus within the South will require compromise between these positions.
It is also questionable whether African countries have the financial resources to assume permanent status, even within a rotational system. While it is true that the majority of African states would have difficulty mobilizing the resources for such a position, key African states like Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Tunisia, and Nigeria claim the ability to assume such
responsibility. Within South Africa skeptics have challenged the wisdom of diverting much needed resources from development projects to finance a term for South Africa on the Security Council in the permanent category. The additional costs of permanent status are not significant in real terms, however, especially given the opportunity for South Africa to become a truly influential international actor. According to the South African department of foreign affairs, South Africa's contribution to the United Nations is currently a substantial sum, and permanent member status would only involve a one to five percent increase in this amount. A rotational system might also impede the ability of permanent members to develop fully the necessary structures and mechanisms within its own governing system to engage with the Security Council before their term expire.
In addition to objections concerning the viability of rotational seat system, there could possibly be opposition to the argument for extending the veto power to new members, even with stringent limitations. The point that has been made in the past is that a proliferation of veto holders would paralyze decisionmaking in the Council by doubling the number of potential naysayers and making it difficult for the Council to act promptly and effectively. This potential problem could be resolved by increasing the number of vetoes necessary to block the adoption of a resolution to a minimum of two. The existing permanent members will oppose the curtailment of veto power but will have a hard time ignoring the demands of the overwhelming majority of the General Assembly, of whom more than 95 per cent support future restrictions on the use of the veto.
Another challenge to the position outlined here is American professor Craig Murphy's argument that the ambivalence and disunity of the Group of 7 assures that no more than piecemeal UN reforms are likely in the near future. Murphy has pointed to France and Britain's disinterest in changing the current system of Council membership as it will diminish their influence, as well as the lack of political will on the part of the Canadian and Italian governments to use their influence to ensure substantive UN reform. As for the United States (US), Murphy contends that the conservative nature of the US Congress and the distrust of many Republicans of the UN system will lead American policymakers to block any efforts to empower developing countries.
He also characterizes Japan and Germany as distracted supporters of fundamental UN reform - Japan due to its growing regional focus and Germany due to its preoccupation with economic and environmental issues. The conclusion therefore is that if the G7 are indifferent, then fundamental reform is unlikely.
This defeatist line of argument does not take into account the power of developing countries as a bloc to bring about change. The NAM consists of 114 developing countries, which makes up almost two-thirds of the General Assembly, and its power to influence UN reform should not be underestimated. The UN Secretary General has publicly recognized the importance of positions taken by NAM, suggesting that objections held by NAM members, as a whole would probably prevent certain proposals from being realized. Kofi Annan specifically referred to the objection of NAM members to the provision of a permanent seat to Germany and was of the view that their objection made German inclusion unlikely.
The Need For a Compromise
The prospects of the above proposal for substantive UN reform being accepted by two-thirds of the General Assembly and the five existing permanent members will largely depend on the political will of Southern countries to compromise and agree on a common position. NAM has proved to be a house divided in the past on many issues but the challenge to South Africa as it heads the organization over the next three years will be to unite the South. One way in which South Africa can hope to achieve this would be to reach out to civil society organizations within the South, many of which are pro-UN reform, in an effort to get them to influence the views of their governments. It does not seem unrealistic to expect that consensus among developing countries on UN reform can be achieved in the forth coming years. Policy-makers should not lose sight of the fact that UN reform of the kind discussed here has enormous ramifications for the future of developing countries.
Rejecting Charter-Changing Reforms
Changes in the UN Charter, like all constitutional changes, must command a very high degree of support in the international community. Proponents of any Charter-based reform plan will face great difficulty in winning the necessary two-thirds vote in the General Assembly and still more difficulty obtaining
ratifications from two-thirds of all member states, including the mandatory endorsement of the five permanent members. Assent and ratification by the P-5 will be the most difficult (and unlikely) of all. In spite of public declarations to the contrary, the P-5 are content with the present arrangements and oppose any changes that might dilute or challenge their power or expand their “club.” China has already announced it will block permanent membership for Japan and the United States has suggested that it will only support Council reform that commands an implausibly “broad consensus.”
Middle Powers Pursue Permanency
Influential middle powers Japan, India, Brazil, and Germany have come together as the Group of Four (G-4), supporting each other’s bid for permanent seats on the Council. Brazil would be the only permanent member from Latin America, India and Japan would bring Asia’s permanent seats to three, while Germany would bring Europe’s permanent seats to four. Africa claims two new permanent seats of its own and has at least five aspirants, among whom South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt have the strongest claims. In seeking new permanent seats, these 7+ nations must curry favor with the P-5, who can veto their bid for permanent membership. So the aspirants give up at least part of their independence on the world stage and they abandon (for the time being) alternative reform projects that might be more innovative, lasting and democratic.
Manipulations of Permanent Member Candidates
Japan and Germany have realized that they cannot reach permanent status without other new permanent members from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Ironically, however, these Southern partners make the Japanese-German bid even more unattainable. Each additional candidate for permanent status stirs the opposition of its own regional rivals, multiplying the number of opponents. Thus Pakistan opposes India, Argentina and Mexico oppose Brazil, South Korea and China oppose Japan, and Italy opposes Germany, that is to name only the bestknown cases. In Africa, with many candidates in the wings, rivalry has become even more intense. This complex political geometry assures broad opposition and guarantees defeat for the aspirants. Opponents have come together in an organized grouping called “Uniting for Consensus”. The considerable interest attracted by the Uniting for Consensus group and the modest number of co-sponsors of the G-4 proposal suggest the looming collapse of the G-4’s reform initiative. If the G-4 resolution fails, as it likely will, the Council will escape from a dangerous and crippling reform. As the past sixty years have demonstrated, permanency of membership makes the Council inflexible and unable to accommodate change. Like “president for life,” permanent membership sets the stage for future anomalies and provides no avenue for normal evolution as states’ status and power rises and declines in the international system. One ambassador from an elected delegation in the Council called the permanent members mockingly the “H-5” or Hereditary Five, to highlight the anachronism of their status in a world that aspires to democracy. The present five permanent members already burden the Council heavily. Ten or eleven permanents would make matters much worse. Their presence would block future reform and make limitation or outright elimination of permanency far more difficult. The Council needs the involvement and support of major states to do its work effectively, but the permanent members often fail to meet their responsibilities. Permanent members have offered very few troops and military support to the Council’s peacekeeping operations and some permanent members have even been seriously in arrears with their UN assessments, putting the organization’s finances in danger, and preventing needed peacekeeping operations because of funding caps. An unspoken but key reform issue is: how to make those with the most influence and resources more supportive of the Council and of the UN, without the UN giving in to their blackmail and allowing them to call the shots because of their major-supporter status?
Permanent members, through their veto and veto-threat, prevent the Council from acting on important matters of peace and security that fall within their national interest. Five permanent members already prevent the Council from acting on a very wide range of topics. Five or six new permanent members would exclude many more matters. Indeed, eleven permanents might exclude virtually all topics from the Council’s agenda, making effective Council action all but impossible. The aspirants claim that they are ready to agree not to use their veto for fifteen years and presumably this would reduce the problem of blockage, but only partially. Since their votes would be important in Council deal making, they could still exercise powerful blocking action and impose their national interests in a manner not altogether different from their veto-wielding colleagues.
Burden of More Permanent Members
The five permanent members have two well-known Council advantages – continuous membership and veto power, both privileges provided in the Charter. But permanent members have wrested many more special privileges and perks for themselves. They insist on the right to control certain highranking UN posts and to name the tenants in those posts (or at least have a large influence over who among their nationals may occupy them). They intervene regularly in the workings of the Secretariat and disproportionately influence the wording of reports and the shaping of initiatives. They insist on the right to have one of their nationals sit as a judge in the World Court, so that their interests will be represented there. And they even have their own private lounges at UN headquarters. These privileges for the Five place a heavy burden on the UN, reducing, as a consequence, the rights and privileges of all others. Adding five or six more states in this “first class” category would be a ruinous development.
The Secretary General’s Panel on “Threats” proposed a new type of Council membership, that is to say a middle tier that would be elected but for longer terms, so as to provide a semipermanent status for middle powers. This solution, sometimes referred to as “Model B” or the “Blue Model,” is seen as a kind of consolation prize for Germany, Japan, Brazil and the rest. Further, by providing a new category of longer Council terms, it recognizes the problem of the very short, two-year terms that elected members have at present. Another proposal presented in the Uniting for Consensus resolution in July, and known as the “Green Model,” proposes simply an expansion of ten more elected seats, with all elected members being able to stand for reelection and win additional two-year terms. These proposals are greatly preferable to adding permanent members but they have a serious disadvantage – they add many new members to the Council, making it extremely unwieldy.
Enlargement is Ineffective
The Council is not a legislature, but rather a body that combines quasi-legislative authority in security emergencies with power for rapid executive action. With fifteen members, the Council is already past the outer limit of the size-efficiency range for an executive body with such big responsibilities. Even in private consultations, ambassadors frequently read lengthy official statements, prepared in capitals. A single round of such “discussion” can take half a day, preventing swift and decisive action. Negotiations are laborious among such a large number of members, and consultations with capitals, time zone differences, and multiple languages add to the burden. Ten or eleven new members would create a hopelessly awkward and inefficient institution.
In a famous essay, historian C. Northcote Parkinson used the history of the British cabinet to demonstrate what happens when a body goes past the most efficient size. Ample academic literature makes the same point – when committees get too large, they give rise to executive committees that do all the serious work, or else (worse still) the original body becomes dysfunctional and irrelevant. At the UN, an enlarged ECOSOC stands as a clear example of how greater size detracts from effectiveness. An enlarged Security Council would only reinforce the power of the P-5 (or P-11) as an executive committee, leaving the elected members (however numerous) more powerless and frustrated than ever.
In recent years, many ambassadors of elected Council members, from all regions and state types, have spoken privately against enlargement, based on their own two years of real Council experience. Such views have been especially striking since they have often run counter to the pro-expansion positions of their national governments. Ambassador Peter van Walsum, who represented the Netherlands on the Council in 1999-2000, was one of these many practical dissenters. In 2005, from retirement, he wrote a forceful commentary in the Financial Times, concluding that “No one can seriously believe a council with 24 members can be more effective than one with 15, but it has become politically incorrect to point this out.”
Member states often argue that added members will make the Council “more representative.” But this is only marginally the case. Adding members adds more states, with their own state interests. Such members only weakly “represent” their region or state-type (poor, island, small, etc.), since there is no system of accountability. Instead, they act primarily on the basis of their own national interest. If they are large regional hegemons, they may seek to increase their hegemony at the expense of other regional states. If they are states involved in civil conflict, they may seek to block Council remedial action (Rwanda notoriously sat on the Council during the genocide) with negative effects on many neighbors. And if they are small and weak states, they may be exposed to great power pressure, bowing often to threats or blandishments and voting according to the interests of the mighty, not the interests of regional neighbors and friends.
Informal regional arrangements provide the best route to representation on the Council, as a prelude to regional seats. Regional unions of states like the European Union or the African Union will lead in this direction. While the EU has developed furthest, other regional bodies may evolve quickly, including a proposed body in Latin America. In the meantime, regional groups can pool resources and policy coordination and take steps to make regionally-elected states far more responsive to regionally-agreed policy. Each region could have its own secretariat in New York that could strengthen its own elected members and promote common policies with no Charter revision required. This would help small and poor nations to enlarge their capacity and enhance their ability to participate in the Council on a strong footing. A small state with only three or four diplomats on its Council team suffers from a huge disadvantage compared to members with teams of 20 or more. That same small state, supported by a number of experts from a permanent regional secretariat, would magnify its capacity. The regional secretariat would also give elected members access to institutional memory of the Council, narrowing the huge advantage now held by the P-5. To further strengthen regional ties, member delegations could also include diplomats from other regional countries. Brazil and Argentina have already exchanged diplomats during recent Council terms. Other states could act likewise. But real progress can only take place if stronger regional states give up their hopes for permanent seats.
When these states realize that progress depends on common action with their neighbors, they can promote common interests and not theirs alone.
Reform of the Council must seek to restrict (and eventually eliminate) the veto, but this obviously cannot be done in the near future through Charter revision, which itself is subject to the veto process. Instead, states must mobilize pressure and persuasion to get P-5 members to limit their veto use, especially the threatened or “hidden veto” that casts a shadow over the Council’s proceedings at all times. If Germany, Japan, Brazil, India and the other aspirant states abandon their quest for ermanency, they can provide major diplomatic muscle in this veto-restriction effort along with support for a regional approach to membership. The veto should be immediately ended in such cases as decisions on new UN memberships, election of the Secretary General and other cases rarely touching on core P-5 interests. Similarly, the 185 non-permanent states should make joint efforts to limit other special P-5 privileges, such as claims on high Secretariat posts and World Court seats. Eventually, in the more distant future, permanency itself should be negotiated into well-deserved oblivion and the oligarchy eliminated once and for all.
The spotlight on membership, permanency and Charter change has obscured the promising reform possibilities in the Council’s procedures and working methods – changes that can occur with far less difficulty. In the past fifteen years, the Council has slowly been reforming itself, largely under pressure from the ten elected members. The Council today holds more effective public meetings, consults better with non-Council actors such as Troop Contributing Countries, goes on missions to crisis areas, publishes its program of work and targets its sanctions better, to name just a few significant improvements. But much remains to be done. The Council must close the chapter on the famous “provisional” rules of procedure and adopt standing rules at long last. It must hold more open meetings. It must consider ways to draw support from the Secretariat and to have a more institutionalized presidency. It must devolve more work to subsidiary arrangements such as the team coordinators, lessening the burden of discussion imposed on the ambassadors. It must strengthen the work of its expert panels and bring them together into a united information-sharing process. And it must work harder to seek information from the real world and to consult with NGOs and policy actors of all kinds. Council reform is a process for the long haul, not a quick fix. It must be based on ideas for a more democratic global future, not outworn concepts from the past like permanency and great power oligarchies. In the midst of the present diplomatic furor, it is time to take a more calm and long-term view. What kind of world do we want and how can we patiently find the way there? The Security Council is part parliament, part secret diplomatic conclave. Its procedures and working methods can be puzzling and mysterious. While the Council votes on its decisions in public meetings, it spends much of its time in private informal consultations, where ambassadors discuss, negotiate, persuade and pressure their colleagues, far from television crews and newspaper reporters and beyond the view of the rest of the UN's member states as well. The following pages provide information on the methods of work and procedures of the Security Council. It also links to Council resolutions and documents. Security Council reform should focus on “changes in the decision-making process” rather than membership expansion or veto rights to improve the UN’s multilateral nature, say Latin American analysts. Warning against the continued state of the Council as an “oligarchical, undemocratic mechanism lacking in transparency,” this Inter Press Service article nevertheless falls victim to the membership debate and mainly argues over the prospect of Brazil as a new permanent Security Council member.
Annan, Kofi: In Larger Freedom, Mar. 21, 2005.
Leopold, Evelyn: Annan wants swift decision on U.N. council reform, Reuters, Mar. 20, 2005.
Shimbun, Asahi: Koizumi: No Shift in Article 9 for UN Security Council Bid, Global Policy Forum, Aug.25, 2004.
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Reform_of_the_ United_Nations"
The Pursuing appendix is a Guide and orientation literature of major reference to this topic.
1. The purpose of this conference room paper (presented below), prepared by the Bureau of the Openended Working Group, is to produce a distillation of discussions held during the two substantive sessions of the Working Group in 1997, recognizing that a comprehensive package needs to be formulated to begin negotiations to achieve general agreement on all aspects of the reform of the Security Council. The first part of this paper deals with the expansion and composition of the Council and the second part with the working methods of the Council, the transparency of its work as well as its decision-making process.
PART A: SIZE AND COMPOSITION OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
2. The size of the reformed Security Council, taking into account representivity and legitimacy and considerations of effectiveness and efficiency, should be from 24 to 26 through an expansion in permanent and non-permanent membership. The new permanent seats will be allocated to Member States representing both developing countries and industrialized countries.
3. The number of permanent members should be increased by 5 or 6. In the event of 5 being the decision, the permanent seats will be distributed according to the following pattern:
(a) One to the developing States of Africa;*
(b) One to the developing States of Asia;
(c) One to the developing States of Latin America and the Caribbean;
(d) Two to industrialized States.
* OAU has made a case for two permanent seats for African States.
4. Given that permanent regional representation was discussed, it is not precluded that a region may determine its own selection taking into account regional considerations prior to the election by the General Assembly.
5. The number of non-permanent members should be increased by 4, 5 or 6. In the event of 4 being the decision, the seats will be distributed according to the following pattern:
(a) One to the African States;**
(b) One to the Asian States;
(c) One to the Eastern European States;
(d) One to the Latin America and the Caribbean States.
** In case additional five seats being the decision, the additional fifth seat should be allocated to the
6. In the event that no general agreement is reached on expansion of the Security Council in both categories of permanent and non-permanent membership, an expansion in the non-permanent category only will be considered.
7. The General Assembly shall elect the new permanent members by a two-thirds majority upon endorsement of the respective region or in the lack thereof from the individual candidatures presented to it. Balloting shall continue until all allocated permanent seats have been filled by the required majority. This will take place subsequent to a decision to be taken by the General Assembly on the framework for the comprehensive reform of the Security Council.
8. The veto as a voting instrument relates primarily to the decision-making process in the Security Council and is dealt with as such in the section covering "Decision-making in the Security Council" in Part B of this paper.
9. The question of the veto is closely linked to an increase in the number of permanent members. The view held by an overwhelming majority is that the veto is anachronistic and undemocratic and should be eliminated in a modernized United Nations. The veto should not perpetuate differences and discrimination among members of the Security Council on the one hand or between present and proposed new permanent members on the other. This view has been strongly underlined by the membership. However, the permanent five have indicated that they will not accept or ratify any Charter amendments which aim at abolishing or limiting the veto.
10. Several approaches to solve this problem have been suggested:
· no extension of the veto
· full extension of the veto
· full extension of the veto in principle but linked to a formula which would suspend the application of the veto by new permanent members for a period to be determined
· unilateral (voluntary or binding) declaration by a new permanent member containing a commitment not to resort to the veto ( 100 percent or partially; could also be applied to present permanent five)
· provision to enable a new permanent member to cast a negative vote without that vote constituting a veto if the member so declares (could also be applied to the permanent five)
· establishing a list - positive or negative - of matters which are not subject to the veto (applicable to both present and new permanent members)
· instituting some form of a collective veto for possible new permanent members (requiring 2, 3, 4 or 5 negative votes to constitute a veto in the sense now applicable to any of the permanent five)
· in addition to any of the above illustrations a recommendation by the General Assembly urging the permanent members (both present and new) to refrain from resorting to veto either generally or by the way of suggesting either a positive or negative list. Every effort should be made to avoid a veto and to promote consensus-building in the Council. Improvements in the working methods of the Council should help discourage a veto, especially in areas relating directly to the effectiveness and efficiency of the Council's decision-making.
V. Periodic Review
11. A periodic review should be conducted on the basis of automaticity every l 0 years, the first of which will be held 10 years after the entry into force of the adopted arrangements and amendments resulting from the present reform exercise. The scope of the review process should be comprehensive to evaluate the situation created by the present reform of the Security Council, including the status of new permanent members - whether their status should be terminated or reaffirmed by two-thirds majority - as well as the questions of the veto and accountability. The review process should also take into account the question of under-representation of any region and its continuing interest in enhanced representation on the Council in the permanent or nonpermanent category of membership, as well as the question of over-representation. The review process should not be subject to the veto.
PART B: WORKING METHODS OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL, TRANSPARENCY OF WORK AS WELL AS ITS DECISION MAKING PROCESS
VI. Relationship Between the Security Council, The General Assembly and the General Membership of the United Nations
1. Meetings of the Security Council
(a) Established arrangements
12. Under Article 28 of the Charter the Security Council is expected to organize its work so as to be able to function continuously. This includes readiness to hold meetings at any time as necessity demands. The Charter also requires the Council to hold periodic meetings at which States Members of the Council may be represented by other than their current representatives. The Security Council thereafter committed itself to meet at intervals not exceeding 14 days (Provisional Rule of Procedure (PR) 1) and to hold periodic meetings twice a year (PR 4). These commitments have not always been observed. PR. 48 requires the Security Council to hold meetings in public, except when the Council itself decides otherwise, or when it is considering a recommendation to the General Assembly for the appointment of a Secretary-General. In such instance, the Council meets in private. A practice has evolved over the years, whereby the members of the Council meet together informally to exchange views on any matter under its purview. Such informal consultations of the whole are not meetings of the Security Council in the sense stipulated in the Charter and in the Council’s Provisional Rules of Procedure. They are held in private.
(b) Improvement undertaken by the Security Council so far 13. By the Presidential Statement of 16 December 1994 (S/PRST/1994/81) the Council declared its intention to increase its recourse to open meetings in particular at an early stage in its consideration of a subject . The Council retained its prerogative to decide when to schedule such public meetings. (Seefull text of the Presidential Statement.)
(c) Suggested improvements to the present practice:
14. (i) The Security Council should, as a rule, meet in public.
(ii) The Security Council should hold open and substantive orientation debates at the beginning of the consideration by the Council of any substantive matter.
(iii) Open public meetings should also be held, as appropriate, when special envoys of the Secretary- General or representatives of UN agencies are reporting to the Council.
(iv) In certain cases, when it so decides, the Security Council may meet in private and/or conduct its business in informal consultations.
(d) Proposed form of institutionalization:
15. Amend rule 48 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Secunty Council.
2. Programme of work of the Security Council
16. Every in-coming President of the Security Council consults informally and individually with every other member of the Council on the tentative forecast of the programme of the work for the month.
Nowadays such a programme is drawn up by the Security Council Secretariat for the President’s approval and may thereafter be the basis of consideration by all the Council members during informal consultations of the whole. It is not an official document of the Council.
17. The Council does not issue annotated agenda for its prospective meetings. Only a provisional agenda covering the subject to be discussed is tabled at the meeting for the formal adoption of the Council. The content of the provisional agenda is normally agreed on beforehand by the members of the Council in informal consultations.
(b) Improvement by the Security Council so far
18. By a note issued by the President on 27 July 1993 (S/26176) the Security Council decided that the tentative forecast should be made available to all Member States for information under certain stipulated conditions; namely that it would not be binding on the Council and that the actual programme would continue to be determined by developments and the views of the members of the Council. (See full text of the Note by the President.)
19. As for the provisional agenda for formal meetings the Council has decided that the provisional agenda should be included in the Journal "provided that it has been approved in informal consultations". (See Note by the President dated 30 June 1993 (S/26015 paragraph 2(7).) Allowance is expected to be given for the exigency of meetings called on a day after the day 's Journal has already been issued.
(c)Suggested improvements to the present practice:
20. (i) In addition to the tentative forecast of the monthly programme of work of the Security Council, already distributed to the membership, the provisional schedule of the work of the Security Council for the month, and its updated versions, should also be circulated as soon as they are available.
(ii) The provisional agenda, including expected type of action (e.g. decision on draft resolution, reports, exchange of views, etc.) to be taken at Security Council meetings and an annotated agenda for informal consultations of the whole, should be included in the Journal of the United Nations.
(d) Proposed form of institutionalization:
21. Include this arrangement in the Provisional Rules of Procedure.
3. Briefings by the President of the Security Council to non-members: availability of draft resolutions and summaries of informal consultations
22. Informal consultations of the members of the Security Council are held in private for the members only. There are no official records of the deliberations of the members during informal consultations.
23. In the course of informal consultations proposals may be introduced and many ideas floated towards eventual formulation into a draft resolution. Some of those proposals and idea may be withdrawn; those that are pursued may undergo changes and amendments virtually each time the members consider them. Eventually, a formulation of them is reached in the form of a draft resolution, which is then issued in a provisional form (i.e. in "blue") with an S/-symbol.
(b) Improvements by the Security Council so far
24. In recent years a practice has evolved, after agreement among all the members of the Council, whereby the President may brief non-members of the Council and the public at large on what transpired during informal consultations immediately after the consultations. The President normally apprises the members of the Council beforehand of the content of his proposed briefing.
25. By a note issued by the President on 28 February 1994 (S/1994/230), the Council decided that, effective 1 March 1994, draft resolutions in "blue " would be available for collection by non-members of the Council. (See full text of decision in paragraph 1 of the Note by the President).
(c) Suggested improvements to the present practice:
26. (i) The practice followed by the Presidents to brief non-members of the Security Council should be continued on a regular basis. These briefings should be arranged promptly and they should provide more substantive and detailed information to non-members of the Council. Interpretation should be provided for these briefings. The President of the Security Council should decide whether the oral briefings should also be distributed to non-members of the Council in writing.
(ii)The President of the Security Council should make available draft resolutions as soon as the draft becomes the basis for informal consultations of the Council or even earlier if authorized by the author of the draft. In case they are not distributed, the President could inform members of the existence of the draft resolutions.
(iii) Information about the consultations with the troop-contributing countries, as well as briefings given to those countries, should be included in the briefings of the President of the Security Co uncil to the general membership, which should be organized immediately after such consultations have been undertaken.
(iv) Briefings should be announced in the Journal of the United Nations.
(d) Proposed form of institutionalization:
27.Adopt a Presidential Statement on the matter and annex this to the Provisional Rules of Procedure and/or add an appropriate rule in the Provisional Rules of Procedure.
4. Consultations with troop-contributing countries
(a) Evolutionary Practice
28. Like the institution of peace-keeping operations itself, which evolved as a measure of expediency outside specific stipulation in the Charter, the practice has similarly evolved of consultations between the Secretariat, and subsequently the Security Council, and the governments providing troops for the peace-keeping operations. Originally the consultations were on a bilateral basis between representatives of the governments providing the troops and senior members of the Secretariat dealing with the subject. This evolved into a more formal format of briefings by the Secretariat to troop-contributors for each field mission by mutual consent as regards timing and frequence. With the dispatch of peace-keeping forces to Somalia with a somewhat enhanced mandate, requiring the use of force in certain circumstances (UNOSOMII), and the increase in the number and size of the field missions, requiring many traditional contributing countries to increase their outlay of troops in the field, many contributing countries have sought more formal and regular briefings not only by the Secretariat but also by the Security Council.
(b) Improvement bv the Security Council so far
29. In six statements issued so far the Security Council has responded in various ways to matters relating to peace-keeping operations and to its relations with troop-contributing countries. The Council has responded to various aspects of the question based on the recommendations of the Secretary-General in his "An Agenda for Peace " and its Supplement, including stand-by arrangements for peace-keeping operations, civil personnel, financial and administrative issues, and communication with non-members of the Security Council (including troop-contributors). In particular, the Security Council decided that with effect from 4 November 1994(S/PRST/1994/62), meetings were to be held between members of the Council and troop-contributing countries, to be chaired jointly by the Presidency and a representative of the Secretariat nominated by the Secretary-General; such meetings to be in addition to those chaired solely by the Secretariat for troop-contributors to meet with the Secretary-General 's representatives or force commanders, or to discuss operational matters. Subsequently, the Security Council decided that meetings would be held as a matter of course between the members of the Council, the troopcontributing countries and the Secretariat for the purpose of consultations and the exchange of information and views, such meetings to be chaired by the Presidency of the Council assisted by the Secretariat.(See the full texts of the Security Council statements issued by the Presidents of the Council on 28 May 1993 (S/25859), 3 May 1994 (S/PRST71994/22), 24 July 1994(S/PRST/l994/36), 4 November 1994 (5/PRST/1994/62), 19 December 1995 (S/PRST/1995/61) and 28 March 1996 (5/PRST/1996/13).
(c) Suggested improvements to the present practice:
30. (i) Consultations between the members of the Security Council and troop-contributing countries, both current and potential, should be held promptly and on a regular basis during the decision-making process on the establishment, conduct and termination of peace-keeping operations.
(ii) Consideration should be given to inviting contributors of civilian components and other countries affected by and/or involved in multi-faceted operations.
(iii) Consultations between the members of the Security Council and the troop-contributing countries should be convened by the President of the Security Council upon a request from a troop-contributing country.
(iv) The Security Council should make fuller use of the proposals and/or information received in the consultations with the troop-contributing countries.
(d)Proposed form of institutionalization:
31. Security Council should adopt a new presidential statement on these measures which should be annexed to the Provisional Rules of Procedure.
5. Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly
(a) Established practice
(i) Annual Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly
32. Under Article 24 (3) of the Charter, the Security Council is required to submit an annual report to the General Assembly. The report, which today contains a factual record of the activities of the Council and indexes of those of its subsidiary organs for a period of 12 months from 16 June through 15 June of the following year, is submitted to the General Assembly during the regular session of the Assembly starting in September every year. The draft of the report is prepared by the Security Council Secretariat and copies of it are given to the 15 current members of the Council for their consideration and eventual approval, as well as to the five previous members whose terms on the Council expired at the end of the previous calendar year, who may have some comments or suggestions on the items in the draft report relating to the period of their tenure on the Council. Since 1974 and 1983, the Security Council has abandoned the practice of submitting an annual report that includes a summary of the deliberations at formal, public meetings and of the communications received, respectively. Since then the annual report has become less substantive.
(ii) Article 50
33. Applications by states under Article 50 of the Charter are routinely referred by the Council to the Security Council Sanctions Committees concerned, where they are scrutinized, often including oral hearings and written representations from the applying countries. The applications are also issued as documents of the Security Council. The Committees send their findings in a report to the Council, which includes a recommendation in the form of a draft resolution. If the Council accepts the report, it issues the recommendation as a resolution. The resolution normally contains an appeal to all other states and international organizations within the international community for all assistance to the applying
(b) Improvements bv the Security Council so far
34. By a note issued by the President on 30 June 1993 (S/26015), the Security Council announced a number of measures dealing with its annual report, including the following: the report to include an index listing all the Presidential Statements issued during the period, indicating the date and subject matter of each statement; the draft report no longer to be issued as a confidential document to the Security Council members only, but as a document with a "limited distribution" designation, and the draft report to be adopted henceforth at a public meeting of the Council, at which it would be available to any interested delegation (See the full text of the Presidential Statement.)
(c) Suggested improvements to the present practice:
35. (i) Each President of the Security Council should give an analytical assessment of the work of the Council during the month under his/her Presidency to be attached to the report of the Council to the General Assembly. The analytical assessments should also be distributed to the non-members of the Council immediately after they are issued by the President of the Council;
(ii) The annual report of the Security Council should give a substantive and analytical account of the Council's work and it should be made available to the General Assembly before the beginning of its annual general debate;
(iii) The Security Council should, through an appropriate procedure or mechanism, update the General Assembly on a regular basis on the steps it has taken or is contemplating with respect to improving its reporting to the Assembly, including improvements in its working methods and transparency;
(iv) The Security Council should include in its report information on requests received under Article 50 of the Charter and actions taken by the Council thereon.
(v) The Security Council should submit special reports to the General Assembly for its consideration as stipulated in paragraph 24(3) of the Charter.
(vi) The Security Council should, in preparing its annual report to the General Assembly, take into account resolution 51/193.
(d) Proposed form of institutionalization:
36. Annex these provisions to the Provisional Rules of Procedure or add a new rule.
6. Participation of non-members
(a) Current practice
37. In recent years a practice has developed (the so-called "Arria formula") by which members of the Security Council are invited to have a frank exchange of views with prominent personalities or
eminent international figures on matters of great import to the Council. The request to the members of the Council by, or on behalf such personalities must be sponsored by a member of the Council.
The resulting meeting is not regarded as a meeting of the members of the Council in informal consultations; it is not held in the Security Council consultation room, it is not convened or presided
over by the President of the Council, and is not even attended by members of the Secretariat (except interpreters). A variation of that practice would have been the so-called "Somavia formula ", under
which interested members of the Council would have met similarly to hear depositions by international or non-governmental organizations. The meeting would have been organized by a member of the Security Council for the benefit of all members of the Council. However, the meeting envisaged under that format did not take place; the "Somavia formula" has therefore not been realized yet. Instead, one meeting for the same purpose so far has been convened by the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs, to which members of the Council were invited, as well as representatives of the other organs interested in humanitarian affairs, such as members of the
bureaux of the Economic and Social Council, and the General Assembly Second and Third Committees. Since that meeting was not held under the auspices of the Security Council, it cannot be taken to constitute an endeavor by the Security Council under the proposed "Somavia formula"or any other arrangement.
(b) Suggested improvements to the present practice:
38. (i) Meetings of the Security Council and informal consultations of the whole:
-The Security Council should more often conduct consultations with countries most affected by the decision of the Council.
-The Security Council should invite non-members of the Security Council to participate in the informal consultations of the Council under similar arrangement as stipulated in Articles 31 and 32 of the
(ii) Informal meetings of the members of the Security Council:
-The members of the Security Council should have more frequent recourse to "Arria formula" where members of the Security Council on the initiative of a Council member can hear views of other Member
(c) Proposed form of institutionalization:
39. As far as meetings of the Security Council and informal consultations of the whole are concerned amend rule 37 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure to allow participation of non- members in informal consultations as well as to allow fuller participation of non-members in open meetings; other meetings
of the members of the Security Council will be left to the discretion of the members because they are not governed by the Council's Provisional Rules of Procedure.
7. Meetings of the Security Council in pursuance of Article 35 of the Charter
(a) Establishment arrangements
40. Under Article 35 (1) of the Charter any member of the United Nations may bring to the attention of the Security Council any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a
dispute. In actual practice states often include in their notice a request for a meeting (or an urgent meeting) of the Security Council to consider the subject matter of the notice. The letter from the
requesting state is always issued as a document of the Security Council. It is for the Council to determine whether and when to hold a meeting, which if held, need not be devoted to hearing the requesting
member per se. By Security Council PR37 any member of the United Nations which is not a member of the Council, may be invited by the Council, under the relevant provisions of the Charter, to participate,
without vote, in the Council 's deliberations. In practice, again, all non-members of the Council requesting so to participate are routinely invited by the Council to do so.
(b) Suggested improvements to the present practice:
41. The rules of procedure of the Security Council should allow any Member of the United Nations to request an urgent meeting of the Security Council to investigate any dispute, or any situation which
might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute, in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security. The President of the Council should circulate such requests promptly as documents of the Council. The rules of procedure should require that the President convenes a meeting of the Council to hear the Member in question.
(c) Proposed form of institutionalization:
42. Amend rule 3 of the Provisional Rules of the Procedure of the Security Council.
8. Consultations Pursuant to Article 50 of the Charter
(a) Suggested improvements:
43. (i) The rules of procedure of the Security Council should include a provision or a decision by the Council operationalizing the right contained in Article 50 of the Charter of the United Nations for
Member States to consult the Council with regard to a solution of problems arising from their implementation of preventive or enforcement measures imposed by the Council taking into
consideration also Article 49 of the Charter.
(ii) The Security Council should establish a mechanism to provide relief to affected states under Article 50 of the Charter on the basis of automaticity of application.
(b) Proposed form of institutionalization:
44. Add an appropriate rule to the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council
9. Mechanism to alert non-members of the Security Council of unscheduled or weekend meetings
(a) Suggested improvements:
45. The Secretariat should establish a voice-recording or another appropriate mechanism of alerting non-members of the Security Council of unscheduled or emergency meetings of the Council during
nights, weekends or holidays.
(b) Proposed form of institutionalization:
46. The Secretariat to implement as soon as possible.
10. Consultations between the Presidents of the Security Council and of the General Assembly Established Practices
47. Currently, the President of the Security Council and the General Assembly meet for informal consultations and exchange of views.
(b) Suggested improvements to the present practice:
48. The Presidents of the Security Council and of the General Assembly should have regular exchanges of views and consultations at least every month and in the event of international crises or urgent
developments more frequently. Other interested parties could be invited by both Presidents.
(c) Proposed form of institutionalization:
49. Include in the Provisional Rules of Procedure.
VII. Subsidiary Organs of the Security Council:
(a) Established practice
50. There are at present six Sanctions Committees established by the Security Council. All the Sanctions Committees to date have issued guidelines for the conduct of their business and for the guidance of States and international organizations in the discharge of their responsibilities under the sanctions regimes. The Committees have all decided to conduct their business behind closed doors. This means that their documents, including the summary records of their meetings, are treated on a confidential basis, restricted to the Committee members only. From time to time Committees submit reports to the Security Council. The Committees often invite, or grant requests by, representatives of interested non-Member States of the Security Council to present their case orally or in writing . Currently, every Sanction Committee comprises all members of the Security Council. The Committees solicit and often receive information from States and international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, and individuals on various aspects of implementation of the sanctions imposed by the Security Council.
51. In addition to the Sanctions Committees the following other subsidiary organs of the Security Council are in existence: The Committee on the Admission of New Members, the Committee of Experts, the Committee on Meetings Away from Headquarters, the UN Compensations Commission (based in Geneva), the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. A number of other subsidiary bodies have been established by the Security Council from time to time mostly on an ad hoc basis. Those that have not been specifically dissolved upon completion of their mandate must be considered as either dormant or defunct.
(b) Improvements bv the Securitv Council so far
52. In three notes issued by the President on 29 March 1995 (S/1995/234), 31 May 1995 (S/1995/438) and 24 January 1996 (S/1996/54) the Security Council announced improvements that should be introduced to make the procedures of the Sanctions Committees more transparent. They included the following: the use of press releases after Committee meetings to be increased availability to non-Members of status of communication lists under the "no objection" procedure (for decisions on humanitarian supplies) and other decisions by the Committees; each Committee to issue an annual report to the Security Council to continue the practice of hearing comments by States and organizations concerned during the Committees closed meetings and the Chairman of each Committee to give an oral briefing to interested Members of the United Nations after each meeting. (See the full texts of the notes by the President).
(c) Suggested improvements to the present practice:
53. (i) Sanctions Committees:
-Decisions and/or those parts of the summaries of the proceedings of the Sanctions Committees which do not compromise the confidentiality of the work of the committees should be made available also to non-members of the Security Council;
-[The results of the work of the subgroup on sanctions of the Working Group on An Agenda for Peace, provisionally adopted by the subgroup, should be included in this part when adopted by the General
Assembly and the measures adopted should be fully taken into account/implemented by the Council.]
(ii) Other subsidiary organs:
-Subsidiary organs of the Council established in pursuance of Article 29 of the Charter should be more transparent in their proceedings (i.e. announcements of the meetings in the Journal, briefings to nonmembers, etc.).
(d) Proposed form of institutionalisation:
54.Chapter IX "Publicity of meetings, records".
VIII. Relationship Between the Security Council and Other Principle Organs of the United Nations I. International Court of Justice
(a) Established arrangements
55. The role to be played by the Security Council vis-à-vis the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the realm of the Council’s activities in relation to that organ are clearly set out both in the Charter and the Statue of the ICJ. The [General Assembly or the] Security Council may request the ICJ to give an advisory opinion on any legal question (Article 96 of the Charter).
(b) Suggested improvements to the present practice:
56. The Security Council, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter, should make more frequent recourse to the International Court of Justice, in particular by seeking its advisory opinions.
IX. Relationship Between the Security Council and Regional Arrangements, Organizations and Agencies
(a) Established and evolutionary practices
57. Chapter VII of the Charter sets out the mode of relations between the Security Council and regional arrangements or agencies with regard to local or regional disputes or enforcement action under the
Council's authority for dealing with them.
(b) Improvements by the Security Council so far
58. In the course of its consideration of the Secretary-General’s "An Agenda for Peace" and its Supplement the Security Council has given further elaboration of the desired nature of its relations with
regional arrangements and agencies. The Security Council has reaffirmed the importance it attaches to the role of regional arrangements and organizations and to coordination between their efforts and those of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security; it has also expressed its
readiness to support and facilitate peace-keeping efforts undertaken within the framework of regional organizations and arrangements in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter. (See in particular the
full text of the note by the President issued on 28 May 1993 (S/25859)).
(c) Suggested improvements to present practice:
59. (i) In its relations with regional arrangements organizations and agencies the Security Council should fully take into account/implement the provisions of General Assembly resolution 49/57 of 9 December 1994 and the eventual results of the Agenda for Peace subgroup on co-ordination related to this matter.
(ii) Regional organizations, agencies and arrangements, should be consulted, at appropriate levels, on matters affecting the maintenance of international peace and security in accordance with Chapter VIII
of the Charter and the relevant mandates of regional organizations concerned.
X. Decision-Making in the Security Council, Including the Veto
(a) The question of procedural or substantive matters
60. Since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 267(III) of 14 April 1949, the Security Council on several occasions engaged in deliberations without definite resolution as to what constitutes a
procedural or substantive matter. The matter remains open as to whether a subject matter under discussion or to come under discussion before the Council is procedural or substantive. To date the status quo has been maintained to the effect that a decision to that end is itself subject to the veto.
(b) The question of voluntary exercise of the veto
61. It is now a settled practice that the requirement for an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members on a substantive matter (Art. 27(3) of the Charter) does
not necessarily entail affirmative votes by all permanent members of the Council; only that none of them casts a negative vote. There have been instances where a permanent member of the Council has either
abstained or not participated in the vote or been absent from the pertinent meeting on a substantive matter and the resulting vote has been held to be valid and binding. Members of the Council must
abstain from voting on decisions under Chapter VI and under Article 52(3) of the Charter relating to disputes to which they are a party - the so-called obligatory abstention.
(c) Suggested improvements to the present practice:
62. The Charter should be amended so that:
-as a first step, the veto should apply only to action taken under Chapter VII;
-a single veto will not prevent action on a proposal which has achieved the required majority;
-the right of veto should be subject to suspension on specific occasions, as defined by a prescribed qualified majority of the General Assembly;
-the Articles 4(2), 5, 6, 27, 97, 108 and 109 are changed with a view to limiting or abolishing the application of the veto.
63. The Security Council OR the General Assembly should:
-update the annex of General Assembly resolution 267 (III) of 14 April 1949, containing a list of decisions deemed procedural;
-provide a legal definition of what constitutes a procedural matter or clear criteria as to what is of a procedural nature (Art. 27.2 of the Charter);
64. The Security Council should:
-explore further the proposal for a provision enabling a permanent member to cast a negative vote without that vote constituting a veto if the member so declares;
-explore further the possibility for unilateral declarations by the permanent members containing a commitment not to resort to the veto.
(d) Proposed form of institutionalization:
65. Amend the Charter and/or to be included in Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council.
B. Action threshold
66. If the present action threshold is maintained at the approximately present level (60 percent), the number of affirmative votes required for a decision would be: in a Council of 24: 14, in a Council of 25:
15 and in a Council of 26: 16. Proposals for changing the present action threshold have been made.
(d) Proposed form of institutionalization;
67. Amend the Charter accordingly.
XI. Rules of Procedure and Institutionalization of the Measures Taken by the Security Council to Enhance Its Working Methods and Transparency
68. The Security Council should finalize its Provisional Rules of Procedure. Towards this end the following steps should be taken by the Council:
(i) The arrangements regarding various measures which the Security Council has already adopted to enhance its working methods and transparency, as well as the new measures discussed above, should be
institutionalized as proposed in sections VII-X.
(ii) After institutionalization of the measures described in sub-paragraph (i) above and subsequent to an overall review of the Provisional Rules of Procedure, the word "Provisional" should be deleted.
إنّ مجلس الأمن هو الأكثر قوة وفعالية في الأمم المتحدة، فهو مسؤول عن حفظ الأمن والإستقرار بين جميع الدول. في حين أن جميع أعضاء الأمم المتحدة مولجون فقط بالتمنيات والاقتراحات على الأطراف المعنية فإن مجلس الأمن وحسب الميثاق يلزم جميع الدول بقراراته
أقدمت ولسنوات عدة الكثير من الدول على الترويج لزيادة أعضاء مجلس الأمن تحت شعار أن المجلس الحالي يفتقد إلى الديمقراطية التمثيلية لدول العالم وأنّ الحل لفقدان هذه الديمقراطية هو بزيادة عدد أعضاء المجلس المؤقتين والثابتين. في هذا السياق فإنّ البرازيل، الهند، اليابان، وألمانيا يضغطون بقوة في اتجاه أن يكسبوا عضوية دائمة في مجلس الأمن. إنّ وسائل الضغط المعتمدة حالياً في هذا الاتجاه هو التهديد بأنّ التقديمات المادية والعسكرية التي تساهم بها هذه الدول ستتقلص تدريجياً إذا لم يستجاب لطلبها
في المقابل فإن الدول الأفريقية تطالب بأن يكون لها عضو دائم في مجلس الأمن وذلك لتقويم الهيمنة الشمالية على الدول الجنوبية في النظام العالمي. وعليه فهناك رفض من الدول الدائمة العضوية الحالية تحت حجة أنّ زيادة أعضاء مجلس الأمن بأعداد كثيرة سيضعف هذا المجلس وبالتالي يصبح غير فعال إن شدّ الحبال بين جميع هذه الدول المعنية بالموضوع استدرج الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة لأخذ مبادرات لا تزال موضع بحث على أمل أن ترسي الأمم المتحدة على برنامج جديد لهيكليتها