UN reforms are a must
    Expert opinions on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  15 September 2023 - 15:41

    Samir Ibrahimov

    The United Nations Security Council (UN) must be reformed, as the international organization is not capable of solving emerging problems, considers Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    “As injustice grows in the world, the ability of international organizations to find solutions to these problems is unfortunately diminished. That is why, we believe that `the world is bigger than 5’ and say this at every opportunity,” the Turkish president said.

    In his opinion, international organizations should be fair, democratic and transparent, and they should also have wider representation.

    In June, US President Joe Biden instructed Permanent Representative to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield to discuss the issue of Security Council reform. The United States proposed increasing the permanent numbers of Security Council and adding six more states, including from Africa and Latin America, to the five existing countries - Russia, the USA, France, Great Britain and China. At the same time, the new states will not have the right of veto, like the existing five countries.

    Many states are talking about the overdue reform of the UN Security Council. A particularly broad discussion about this took place in September 2022 at the UN General Assembly, and subsequently other politicians continued to raise the issue of change. It should be noted that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev also stated that he supports the idea of reforming the UN Security Council and proposed his own option.

    “Under the current circumstances, not only we, many countries say and insist that serious reforms are needed, especially the composition of the Security Council should be reviewed. I am also a supporter of this idea,” Aliyev said in an interview with Azerbaijani TV channels.

    The Azerbaijani president believes that a Muslim country should become a new permanent member of the UN Security Council, which will be determined by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on a rotating basis. In the opinion of the Azerbaijani president, the country chairing the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) should also be represented on a permanent basis in the UN Security Council. Both new permanent members of the UN Security Council should have the right of veto if it is retained, Aliyev believes.

    It is difficult to disagree with the urgent need for reform of the UN Security Council. But is it possible? Who can or has the right to initiate it? Is there some written, provided mechanism for this? After all, it is clear that if there is no approved procedure, then Russia and, possibly, China will oppose it.

    Foreign experts agreed to share their thoughts with Caliber.Az.

    Polish analyst, professor at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies at Nicolaus Copernicus University of Torun, Roman Bakker, asked the question: is reform of the UN Security Council even possible?

    “Let's start from the beginning. The UN Security Council consists of 15 members. 10 of them are non-permanent members, elected on a rotational basis from a group of countries in the region. The remaining five are permanent members with veto power. This structure reflected the situation during the Cold War. They did not want to show that the USA and the USSR were the most powerful powers, and therefore the largest countries of the anti-Hitler and anti-Japanese coalition were chosen as superpowers. Then these 5 countries became nuclear powers. Therefore, for many years, this arrangement in the Security Council could be considered as an approximate reflection of the structure of world powers,” the professor explained.

    But today the Security Council in no way reflects the global power structure, he says.

    “There are still many nuclear powers. Suffice it to mention India and Pakistan. Many countries are able to compete with France and Britain in terms of economic potential. It is worth mentioning, for example, Germany. It is necessary to mention the existence of an increasingly powerful geopolitical and economic entity, which is the European Union.

    However, any attempt to reform the UN Security Council may prove very difficult. None of the five permanent members of the Security Council would easily give up their veto power. This is not just the ability to make decisions on the most important agreements within the UN. It is also a symbol of a superpower. If France and Britain could still make some compromises, then in the case of Russia, suffering from the besieged fortress syndrome, this is impossible,” Bakker noted.

    In his opinion, an attempt to expand the number of permanent members at the expense of strong powers, even those with regional status (India, Brazil, South Africa), will immediately cause a negative reaction from all those countries that feel threatened by the growing power of their neighbors.

    “Just imagine Pakistan's reaction to India joining the Big Five. In addition, these countries will take away seats from non-permanent members of the Security Council. It is possible to expand the number of members of the Security Council, but it is unknown how to prevent the demands of smaller states that would also like to have the status of a superpower, at least in the Security Council.

    There are two possibilities in this situation. The first is a persistent search for a compromise that would satisfy all UN member states. It may be difficult and time-consuming, but there is a chance. The second option is to wait until Russia bleeds so badly in the war with Ukraine that it can no longer even dream of maintaining its superpower status. However, this process is fraught with much greater dangers than in the first case.

    At the moment, there are no signs that any reform of the Security Council or the entire UN is possible. Everyone knows that things are not very comfortable right now, but at least politicians can show public opinion within their country that the world is listening to us. Fortunately, no one wants to be the one who brings about the UN's downfall. Everything indicates that they will talk about UN reforms, but everything will remain the same,” says the Polish analyst.

    In his turn, the head of the board of the Institute for Security of Eastern Europe (Kyiv), Anatoly Pinchuk, noted that conversations about the advisability of reforming the UN and, in particular, the principles of the formation and functioning of the UN Security Council have been going on since 1992.

    “Then, in December 1992, the General Assembly created an open-ended working group to consider the issue of equitable representation on the council. In October 2008, the UN officially authorized intergovernmental negotiations on "the issue of equitable representation and increase in the membership of the Security Council." But these conversations and negotiations did not produce any results.

    “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which violates all UN principles, has again sharply put on the agenda the need to reform the UN and especially the questions of the competence and validity of the use of the veto power by permanent members of the Security Council,” said the head of the institute.

    The issues of forming the Security Council were also updated.

    “We are talking primarily about the G4 group, which includes Germany, Japan, India and Brazil. US President Biden, during the G20 Summit in India, supported India's ambitions for permanent membership in the Security Council. In addition, there are still coalitions UFC (advocating expanding the number of temporary members of the Security Council from 10 to 20) and AU (advocating giving the African continent two permanent seats on the Security Council with a joint veto power).

    But existing UN regulatory procedures make reform virtually impossible. Unless something happens that will motivate not even 2/3, but 80 percent of all members to make some kind of decision limiting the use of the veto right by Russia, for example, as a country violating the norms and principles of the UN. In the meantime, there is rather a decrease in the influence of the UN on world politics and a search for new ways to regulate it,” Pinchuk concluded.


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