Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous briefs the Security Council on the situation in Mali. UN Photo/Loey Felipe.

Historic Step toward’s Peace UNSC

On 10 April 2015 – The members of the United Nations Security Council welcomed a peace and reconciliation accord between the Malian Government, armed groups and an international mediation team in what the body described as an “Historic Opportunity” for resolving the African country’s ongoing political and security crisis.

In a press statement, Council members said the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, initialled by representatives of the Government and a coalition of armed groups, known as Platform, on 1 March was “a critical step to achieving lasting peace” in the conflict-ridden country and urged other armed groups to follow suit.

The members of the Security Council encouraged the parties to seize this historic opportunity & to continue to engage constructively with sustained political will and in good faith, supported by the members of the international mediation team, to sign this agreement as soon as possible and commit to its effective, complete and sincere implementation, through the further development of implementation modalities and timelines.


The Security Council

Under the Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The Security Council also recommends to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and the admission of new Members to the United Nations. And, together with the General Assembly, it elects the judges of the International Court of Justice.

What is the Security Council?

The UN Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council. It gives primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the Security Council, which may meet whenever peace is threatened.

According to the Charter, the United Nations has four purposes:

1.To maintain international peace and security;

2.To develop friendly relations among nations;

3.To cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;

4.And to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

All members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter.

Maintaining Peace and Security:-

When a complaint concerning a threat to peace is brought before it, the Council’s first action is usually to recommend that the parties try to reach agreement by peaceful means. The Council may:

1.Set forth principles for such an agreement;

2.Undertake investigation and mediation, in some cases;

3.Dispatch a mission;

4.Appoint special envoys; or

5.Request the Secretary-General to use his good offices to achieve a pacific settlement of the dispute.

When a dispute leads to hostilities, the Council’s primary concern is to bring them to an end as soon as possible. In that case, the Council may:

1.Issue ceasefire directives that can help prevent an escalation of the conflict;

2.Dispatch military observers or a peacekeeping force to help reduce tensions, separate opposing forces and establish a calm in which peaceful settlements may be sought.

Beyond this, the Council may opt for enforcement measures, including:

1.Economic sanctions, arms embargoes, financial penalties and restrictions, and travel bans;

2.Severance of diplomatic relations;


4.Or even collective military action.

A chief concern is to focus action on those responsible for the policies or practices condemned by the international community, while minimizing the impact of the measures taken on other parts of the population and economy. First Session of the United Nations Security Council in London, United Kingdom on 17 January 1946. Credit: UN Photo/Marcel Bolomey


The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946 at Church House, Westminster, London. Since its first meeting, the Security Council has taken permanent residence at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. It also travelled to many cities, holding sessions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1972, in Panama City, Panama, and in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1990.

A representative of each of its members must be present at all times at UN Headquarters so that the Security Council can meet at any time as the need arises.

Functions and Powers:-

Under the United Nations Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:

1.To maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;

2.To investigate any dispute or situation which mightlead to international friction;

3.To recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;

4.To formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;

5.To determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;

6.To call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;

7.To take military action against an aggressor;

8.To recommend the admission of new Members;

9.To exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in “strategic areas”;

10.To recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.

United Nations Security Council Reform:-

“Chief responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security lies with the Security Council. It is therefore essential to its legitimacy that its membership reflect the state of the world.”

United Nations Background:-

The United Nations was born out of the turmoil of two devastating world wars. It was established in the hopes that a strong international organization could foster enough cooperation between nations in order to prevent future conflicts. In 1945, representatives from 50 countries met in San Francisco to draw up the United Nations Charter. Those delegates deliberated on the proposals worked out by the representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States at Dumbarton Oaks, United States in August and October of 1944. The Charter was signed on June, 26 1945 by the representatives of the 50 countries. Poland, which was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and became one of the original 51 Member States.Since then the United Nations has grown significantly. The United Nations General Assembly now consists of 191 Member States.

The predecessor of the United Nations was the ill-fated League of Nations, which was conceived under similar circumstances after World War I. The League of Nations ceased its activities after failing to prevent World War II.

Fifty-eight years after the signing of the Charter, the world has changed dramatically. Its universal character and comprehensiveness make the United Nations a unique and indispensable forum for governments to work together to address global issues. At the same time, there remains a large gap between aspiration and real accomplishment. There have been many successes and many failures. The United Nations is a bureaucracy that struggles – understandably – in its attempt to bring together 191 countries. It must come at no surprise, therefore, that a consensus cannot always be reached with so many different competing voices.

Security Council Background

The Security Council of the United Nations has the primary responsibility under the United Nations Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security. Under the Charter, all Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. While other parts of the United Nations make recommendations to various States, the Council has the power to make decisions that Member States are obliged to obey. This gives the Security Council a very important and powerful position in the United Nations and in the world.

During the first forty-five years of its existence, the Council was paralyzed by the Cold War, which polarized many of the permanent Security Council members. During this time, world power was concentrated in the United States and the Soviet Union, but there were a few noteworthy Council actions. These include the June 1950 call for United Nations members to help South Koreans – the Soviet Union was not present at the vote.After the thawing of the international political climate, however, the Security Council has been very active.

The Security Council is currently made up of 15 United Nation Member States. Five of the members were designated permanent members in the original charter. These five countries are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These permanent members have the power of veto. This veto power has proved to be extremely controversial in reform debates. The veto is cast much less than during the Cold War, but it is still very much in use as a threat that blocks action.

The remaining ten members of the Council are elected by the General Assembly to two-year non-renewable terms. These seats are allotted regionally so that there is representation in all the major world regions – two to Asia, two to Latin America, two to Western Europe, one to Eastern Europe, and three to Africa.

Membership of Security Council in 2003


Membership Term ends


Permanent Member


31 December 2004


31 December 2003


31 December 2003


31 December 2004

Russian Federation

Permanent Member


31 December 2004

Syrian Arab Republic

31 December 2003

United Kingdom

Permanent Member

United States

Permanent Member


31 December 2004


31 December 2003


31 December 2003


Permanent Member


31 December 2004

The Security Council’s main responsibility is peace and security. In this realm it performs three major functions: mediation, peacekeeping, and enforcement. Acting under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, the Security Council assists in the peaceful settlement of disputes by mediating conflicts and negotiating settlements. It also establishes and oversees UN peace-keeping forces. After the Cold War when there was greater consensus among the members, the Security Council established numerous peacekeeping operations. In the mid-1990’s there were over 70,000 peacekeepers deployed. Under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Security Council can take enforcement measures against offending States or entities. For example, the Security Council has imposed economic sanctions against countries such as Iraq. Under Article 42 of the Charter, the Security Council also can use military force to promote peace and security.

Member States not on the Coucil are often unsatisfied with the results of Security Council operations. These operations are often seen as selfishly motivated by the powerful states taking part, and not sufficiently reflecting the will of the General Assembly as a whole. For example, the recent and ongoing war in Iraq instigated by the United States came with no United Nations mandate and little international consensus.


The focus of this paper is on the United Nations Security Council reform issue. It will start by giving some history on the United Nations charter and the Security Council. This background will set up a discussion on the past and present proposals to reform the Security Council. I will also offer analysis on the feasibility of these reform proposals. I will then discuss what the key countries think about Security Council reform.

Some Security Council Actions:

The awakening of the Security Council may be dated quite accurately to the Iran-Iraq war when the Security Council’s decision to impose economic penalties on Iran for continuing the war. This was in 1987-1988. The threat of sanctions helped force Ayatollah Khomeini to finally end the war. By the early 1990’s the Council had become effective for mobilizing the world community to repel aggression and maintain peace. The successes did not, however, come without failures.

Since 1945, the Security Council has not been able to stop the deaths of over 30 million people in armed conflict including genocide in Rwanda, wars in Angola, central Africa, Sudan and elsewhere[viii]. The Security Council also did nothing to prevent Britain from going to war to claim the Falkland Islands. Also, the most powerful members of the Security Council, charged with promoting peace, are– ironically enough – the world’s biggest arms traders. For Example, the United States continues to arm Israel and the Security Council does nothing.

The Reform Movement

In this section, I will first look at what is currently wrong with the Security Council and then I will discuss possible solutions.

Iraq fiasco and the bypassing of the Security Council – Catalyst for change?

The entire Iraq crisis has been a depressing period for the United Nations. As Chirac said in front of the UN General Assembly, “the war, embarked on without Security Council approval, has undermined the multilateral system.”Having failed to bully the Security Council into supporting the Iraq invasion, President Bush went ahead and attacked without a mandate. After occupying Iraq, President Bush again pushed to attain a United Nations mandate for the American-led coalition hoping that this would encourage other countries to provide financial aid and soldiers. The United States sought assistance but refused to give up leadership to the United Nations. Even with a United Nations mandate, however, its perceived lack of legitimacy ensures that a mandate will not have a large effect.

Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary General, recognized that flaws in the Security Council had been brought to light by the protracted debate over the Iraq war, but he was optimistic about the future. Mr. Annan commented that “in a way, Iraq has more or less driven home to leaders around the world that the United Nations is a precious instrument, the United Nations is important…There are lots of issues that no one country, no matter how powerful, can deal with alone.”The United States in its narrow minded unilateralism needs to work within the United Nations framework in order to be effective. Not only can the United States then share the financial burden but it can also garner international credibility and legitimacy.

Annan stressed that because the United Nations was no longer involved in the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the search would continue to lack credibility. “I know that we have the British and American scientists looking for weapons in Iraq. They may find them, they may not find them. But even if they find them would they be credible?”Chances are we can only speculate on this question posed by Anna since so far the United States’ “coalition of the willing” has yet to turn up any WMDs. French President Chirac reiterated Annan’s point when he addressed the General Assembly. He said, “multilateralism is the key, for it ensures the participation of all in the management of world affairs. It is a guarantee of legitimacy and democracy, especially in matters regarding the use of force or laying down [of] universal norms.”

Security Council Representation Imbalance:-

Washington wanted the international community via the United Nations Security Council to take a tougher line on Iraq. The council, however, is far from representative of the international community. Decisions really come down to five countries meeting behind closed doors. This same group of permanent, veto-bearing members has shaped nearly every major international peace and security decision since World War II. Currently, four out of five veto-bearing members are industrialized countries and the fifth, China, is rapidly approaching industrialized status. Many in the rest of the world seethe at their exclusion from this elite group. Africa, Latin America, and the Islamic world, for example, have no permanent voice on the council. Without a voice, it is understandable why many countries are unwilling to send troops or aid whenever the Security Council demands it. This imbalance, highlighted by the Iraq war, has made Security Council reform a hot topic of debate.

Reform History:-

Any change in the membership of the Security Council requires a two-thirds vote from the General Assembly, which includes all the permanent members. The only change so far to the Security Council was in 1965. At that time, non-permanent membership was enlarged from six to its present ten.

It is generally agreed that something still needs to change. Even though everyone seems to agree on the fundamental idea of reform, efforts have been stymied for over a decade. Most reform proposals relate to the work, size, and composition of the Security Council. Concerning size and composition, the General Assembly at the prompting of General Secretary Kofi Annan adopted resolution 48/26 in 1993. This established the Open-ended Working Group to consider all the issue of Security Council membership reform.. For a decade now, diplomats and committees have been working on Security Council reform. Most of the discussion has revolved around technicalities such as how much should it be expanded, should they be permanent members, and whether they should have vetoes or whether vetoes should be abolished altogether.

In 1997, there was a strong push to get Germany and Japan permanent Security Council seats. The initiative faced many hurdles that eventually derailed the effort. Many delegations opposed any more permanent members since they would create more arbitrary distinctions between member states. Other delegations felt it was unfair to only add Germany and Japan since it would elevate yet another European state and make the council even more unrepresentative of the world’s people.[xv] Italy intensely opposed the Germany-Japan initiative and pushed for its own Italian Proposal. This proposal rejected further permanent members in favor of a special class of intermediate states that would be elected periodically by the General Assembly and would rotate in and out of Security Council seats.

Security Council Reform Idea: Expansion of Security Council:-

Many argue for expansion, if only to reflect the steady rise in membership in the United Nations. The General Assembly has grown from 51 to 191! The number of permanent members, however, has remained the same. Most reform proposals suggest expanding the council from five to ten permanent members, and elected members from ten to fourteen. Beyond that there is little agreement. What should the new geographic composition be? Which new members should be awarded permanent seats? Should states be elected by regional groupings?

“If you add another five permanent members, all of them casting vetoes, forget about anything being accomplished,” says James Paul, executive director of the Global Policy Forum. “It’s not just casting a veto, but the threat of casting a veto that keeps the whole issue off the agenda. A lot of council members wanted to act regarding Chechnya, but the Russians wouldn’t even allow any discussion, much less action.”

The countries that will most likely receive a permanent seat on the Security Council if it ever happens would be Germany, Japan, India, and Brazil. Later in this paper I will discuss in further detail the position of individual countries.

Security Council Reform Idea: Giving or taking away the Veto:- 

How did the permanent five secure these privileges in the first place? After World War II, the victors took another crack at forming an international body to bring stability to the globe. Hoping to do better than the ill-fated League of Nations, the victors anointed themselves responsible for providing the money and muscle to “maintain international peace and security.” Others saw them as simply protecting their own interests, but decided that this was a small price to pay if it meant peaceful coexistence. The Cold War unfolded soon after and polarized the globe and effectively froze the Security Council. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, this inactivity changed. There was an outbreak of ethnic, tribal, and religious conflict across the globe which spurred Security Council activism in both peacekeeping missions and punitive sanctions. At that point, the rest of the world, confronted with an active and powerful Security Council began to question the wisdom of the veto.

Use of the veto after the Cold War has dropped off dramatically but the statistics belie the true power of the right to veto. The mere threat of the veto has prevented many actions or talks to ever get under way. For example, the Security Council never acted in Chechnya since it was assured that Russia would veto any measure. Following is a graph that shows how many times each of the Permanent Five countries have used this power. Also included is a chart showing the subjects of recent veto issues.

 Veto Use in the UN Security Council

Subjects of UN Security Council Vetoes

Source: data from the UN and Sydney D. Bailey and Sam Daws “The procedure of the UN Security Council,” 3rd Edition, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998


Date of Vote

Vetoing Member State

(yes-veto- no or abstain)



October 14



on the security wall built by Israel in the West Bank.


September 16



on the Israeli decision to “remove” PalestinianAuthority leader Asser Arafat.


December 20



on the Israeli killings of several UN employees andthe destruction of the World Food Program(WFP) warehouse


June 30



on the renewal of the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and the immunity of US peacekeepers from ICC jurisdiction


December 14



on the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian-controlled land and condemning acts of terror against civilians


March 27



on establishing a UN observer force to protect Palestinian civilians

(report of Council meeting SC/7040)


no vetoes





February 25



on the extension of UNPREDEP in the Republic of Macedonia


no vetoes





March 21



Demanding Israel’s immediate cessation ofconstruction at Jabal Abu Ghneim


March 7



Calling upon Israel to refrain from East Jerusalem settlement activities


January 10



Authorization for 155 observers for the purpose of verification of the ceasefire in Guatemala

While in recent years the permanent members have shown restraint in using the veto, this guarantees nothing of the future. Moreover, the simple threat to use the veto has been shown to strongly effect the final outcome of Security Council debates. The position of Belgium’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Erik Derycke is that “the right to veto is incompatible with the general interest.Many countries feel the same.

Security Council Reform Idea: More Transparency

The Security Council is an exclusive club and acts the part. Oftentimes their discussions are back-door closed talks. This problem is already being addressed by measures that would enhance the communication between the Council and the General Assembly. There is really no argument against maintaining, improving, and formalizing these measures. Some of these measures include: regular meetings between the Security Council and the General Assembly, briefings on the work of the Security Council, more open meetings of the Council, and transparency of the work of sanctions committees. These efforts will go a long way to bringing the Security Council and the General Assembly closer together.

Security Council Reform: Dissolution

One bold proposal would forget about expansion of the Security Council and just eliminate all permanent membership and create a council of elected representatives from different regional areas. Those advocating this approach point out that permanent members are like presidents for life. The problem with this drastic proposal is its unfeasibility. Any proposal that does pass would have to have the support of the powerful veto-bearing countries. A more pragmatic suggestion would be to add five permanent Security Council members but without veto powers. This idea is based on basic 21st century political reality and not on any ideal concept of equality or fairness. The result of adding more countries would increase global representation and thereby bolster its credibility.

Perspective of the Players:

I have already given an overview of the United Nations and Security Council. I have also discussed why reform is needed and what some possible reforms are. This section will now discuss the various positions that different major countries have taken in the reform debates. The countries discussed will include the current Permanent Members and commonly discussed candidates for expansion.

Keep in mind that changes in the United Nations Charter requires the vote of two-thirds of the General Assembly. Obviously, the support of the veto-bearing members is particularly important since they carry a lot of weight and influence.

The Permanent Five: China

It is in China’s interest not to make any drastic changes probably because it is already a veto-bearing Security Council member. In an official statement to the United Nations Working Group on Security Council of Reform in 1998, Ambassador Shen Goufang crystallized the position of China. First, on the topic of the veto Goufang said that the veto “was formed on the basis of lessons drawn from the experience of the League of Nations. Its existence is a historical necessity as well as an objective reality. Therefore, in our view, the mechanism of veto has both historical and practical rationality.”

Second, Goufang discussed what reforms would be acceptable and effective. He opts for more democratic and inclusive working methods rather than more drastic expansion plans. In essence, Goufang argues for more transparency by further cementing “the Council’s relationship with the General Assembly and the vast number of Member States…so that decisions and actions taken by the Council will be able to reflect the will of the overwhelming majority of Member States.” Referring again in the same statement to the veto, Goufang says that instead of losing veto power, “Permanent Members of the Security Council should exercise caution” when thinking of using the veto.

The Permanent Five: France

Less than three months ago, French President Chirac made a bold statement in support of Security Council expansion. The main motivation cited was strengthening the Security Council so that it would carry more international legitimacy. Chirac also pointed out that since the inception of the Security Council “there are countries that were unknown that have become very important for political reasons, demographic reasons, [and] economic reasons.”Chirac called specifically for the addition of Germany and Japan – two countries often mentioned for inclusion. Chirac also mentioned that he could see Asian, African, and Latin American countries gaining seats as well. He singled out India as a possible candidate saying “it’s very hard to imagine how one could exclude India from the possibility of having a permanent seat in Security Council given its characteristics.”

On the subject of the veto, France is unwilling to give up its right and it is unclear about whether it would be willing to give new Permanent Members the veto power.

The Permanent Five: United Kingdom

Britain has long been consistent in its support for an expanded Security Council. Robin Cook, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, supported expansion in a statement to the General Assembly in 1997. He argued that

“the Security Council must move on if it is not to lose its legitimacy. Japan and Germany should be included in an expanded permanent membership, and there should be a new balance between developed and developing countries in a modernized Security Council. We are all agreed on the need for change; we have been discussing it for four years. It is time that we agreed that a proposal for change which has the backing of the vast majority of Members is better than a status quo which has the backing of none.”

Five years after this statement a proposal for change still has not made it through the General Assembly. Along with Germany and Japan, in early 2002 Britain’s Blair also assured India that Britain supported India’s quest for a permanent seat.

The Permanent Five: Russia:-

The idea of reforming the Security Council is not a top priority of Russia. Russia will neither initiate nor particularly insist upon reform, especially if the power of veto is altered. At this time, Russia is generally seen as not strong enough to dictate anything that is solely in her interest. That is not to say, however, that Russia’s interests will be ignored outright. It still has a formidable collection of nuclear weapons that can not be discounted.

In a 1999 statement to the Working Group on Security Council Reform, a Russian representative said that the veto is “crucial to [the current Council’s] ability to function effectively and to arrive at balanced and sustainable decisions.”I think that this Representative has hit upon a pragmatic truth. The veto provision may ensure that any Council decision that does pass will have a good chance of actual implementation. Russia’s view is that the veto is a reality because with or without it countries can hijack decisions be merely refusing to participate or give up resources.

Russia has stated that it is willing to expand the permanent membership but whether they should be given veto power is another matter that “should be given substantial consideration after the composition…[has] been agreed upon.”[xxiii] Russia has, for example, backed the bid of India. Russia is also keen on the idea of improving the Council’s working methods by way of more transparency.

The Permanent Five: United States

“Whether progress will be made on the council reform issue depends on the U.S.” said a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official.The United States is the most powerful country in the world and carries tremendous influence.

Its inclusion in the Security Council is crucial, but that doesn’t mean that the relationship is one-sided. The United States, as evidenced by the situation in Iraq, also needs the United Nations. The Bush “go it alone” attitude is ineffective and detrimental to peace and security. In a world so dependent on global trade and ties, the United States cannot afford to be arrogant. Perhaps current president Bush will internalize the lesson of the recent WTO steel tariff decision against the United States. The lesson being: the rest of the world has plenty of leverage against the sole superpower of the world.

The United States has, however, supported reform of the Security Council. During the Clinton administration, the United States backed and fought hard for expansion and inclusion of Germany and Japan.The plan eventually stalled after a number of small and weaker states were afraid that their influence would diminish with expansion. With the collapse of this plan the momentum for reform in the mid 1990s was lost. The United States invested a lot in this effort and unfortunately nothing was ever passed.

On the topic of the veto, the conservative leadership in the United States is fearful that they will lose sovereignty if their veto power is ever diluted or taken away. The veto power is also, not surprisingly, used most by the United States – recently to defend its Israeli allies from any formal criticism (see veto history on pg.11). Another concern of the United States, whether under the leadership of liberal internationalists or conservative nationalists, is that the Security Council not be too large and unwieldy that it cannot come to conclusions.

Potentials: Japan

Japan is first or second in line to get a permanent seat on the Security Council if it is ever expanded. Japan has worked very actively to realize reform without ever succeeding. In a 2000 Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs document, Japan’s position was outlined. Here are some of the main points:-

1.“It is absolutely necessary to expand the permanent membership with the addition of both developed and developing countries which possess the ability and will to assume global responsibility for international peace and security. Japan is prepared to assume greater responsibilities as a permanent member of the reformed Security Council.

2.In order to maintain both effectiveness and representativeness, the appropriate size of the expanded Security Council should be twenty-four members, with the addition of two developed and three developing countries to the permanent membership and four non-permanent members.

3.Concerning the veto, as a matter of principle, there should be no differentiation between new and old permanent members. In Japan’s view, the resolution of this issue will require the political judgment of all nations at the final states of negotiation.

4.The Security Council’s work methods should be improved to increase transparency and accountability.”

Another point that Japan has brought up to justify its place on the Security Council is the fact that they are major contributors to the United Nations budget. In fact they shouldered over 20% of the budget in 2000 – second only to the United States.

Japan’s bid is not without opposition. Opposition comes not only from member states but also domestically. In Japan, a large sector of the public fears that a Security Council seat might draw Japan into distant conflicts and strengthen Japanese militarism.

Potentials: Germany

Usually spoken in the same sentence as Japan, Germany is another country that will likely be added if expansion ever occurs. Germany’s situation also shares a lot in common with Japan’s situation.

Both enjoy the support of many member states. One notable exception is Italy. Italy intensely opposes a permanent seat for Germany and has often made harsh references to history in making its case.[xxix] Italy is also probably worried of being the one major industrialized European country left out of the council. Instead, Italy has proposed that no new permanent members be added but an expansion in the number of non-permanent members. Germany also faces some domestic opposition from the conservatives in Germany.  Germany also insist that as second and third largest due-payers they are entitled to special status.

Potentials: Brazil

Brazil is seen as a leading contender for a seat among developing countries and in its South American region. Currently, there is no permanent representation from South America and little representation from developing countries. In a statement to the United Nations Working Group on reform, the Brazilian Government states that it would like to see changes take into consideration “the emergence of countries – developed and developing alike – that are capable and willing to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security. Permanent membership would entail additional responsibilities and costs. One issue that opponents of Brazil’s entry is that it fails to represent the South American region well since the official language is Portuguese and not Spanish.

Potentials: India

Recently (2001-02), India has clamored for Security Council reform. Any expansion of the Security Council would definitely include a developing country since this representation is currently lacking. India is using this argument that the Security Council is “unrepresentative and anachronistic” to push forward its own agenda of gaining a seat on the Security Council. Along with Brazil, India is seen as one of the strongest candidates among developing countries.

A large number of powerful countries have come out in support of India’s bid. Britain, Russia, and France have all made strong statements supporting India in its quest. In the strongest example of support, Britain’s commitment was solidified in the New Delhi declaration signed by Blain and Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee in early 2002. “Britain continues to view India as a natural contender for permanent membership of the Security Council and will work with India to achieve it,” the declaration said.

India believes that the United Nations (UN), especially the UN Security Council (UNSC), must reflect contemporary global realities. For this purpose the reform of the UN including the expansion of the UNSC in both permanent and non-permanent categories is essential. To this end, the Government of India has been actively working along with other like-minded countries for building support among the UN membership for a meaningful restructuring and expansion of the UNSC.

Why UNSC reform is necessary:-

1.UNSC still reflects the geopolitical architecture of the Second World War.

2.Expanded only once in 1963 to add 4 non permanent members.

3.Since then the membership of the United Nations has increased from 113 to 193 without any change in the composition of the UNSC.

4.No permanent member from Africa, despite 75% of work of the UNSC focused on Africa.

5.Unable to respond effectively to situations of international conflict.

India’s credentials:-

The Government of India has strongly put across to the international community India’s case for permanent membership of the Security Council which is based on India’s extensive contribution to the activities of the UN particularly the maintenance of international peace and security. By any objective criteria such as population, territorial size, GDP, economic potential, civilizational legacy, cultural diversity, political system and past and on-going contributions to the activities of the UN – especially to UN peacekeeping operations – India is eminently suited for permanent membership of an expanded UNSC. India’s performance as a Non-permanent member of the Security Council during 2011- 2012 has also significantly strengthened India’s claim to permanent membership.

India and the UNSC:- India has served as a non-permanent member of the UNSC for 7 terms, viz. in 1950 – 1951, 1967 – 1968, 1972 – 1973, 1977 – 1978, 1984 – 1985, 1991 – 1992, and 2011 – 2012. India has again put forth its candidature for the 2021-22 term.

Efforts by India:-

India along with Brazil, Japan and Germany (together known as the G-4) has proposed expansion of the membership of the UNSC in both the permanent and non-permanent categories. Separately, India is spearheading a group of around 42 developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America – called the L.69 Group – which has demanded urgent action on the UNSC reform front. With a view to harness the support of the 54-member strong African Group, the L.69 has engaged in discussions with the Committee of C-10 of the African Union to evolve a joint position on UNSC reform. India is also pursuing the matter through bilateral channels with our interlocutors. A large number of countries have supported India’s initiatives for reform of the UNSC as well as endorsed its candidature for permanent membership.

India urges UN for decisive action on Security Council reform in 2015:

UNITED NATIONS: India has told the UN that 2015 is a year for decisive action on the much-delayed reform of theSecurity Council, and called for negotiations to begin on a concise text to achieve meaningful progress.

The 11th round of Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) should not be like the previous rounds where discussions were held without a text and no outcome could be reached, said Ambassador Bhagwant Bishnoi, Acting Permanent Representative to the UN.

Year 2015 :- 

There is also broad support for the idea that there should a concrete outcome on the issue of UNSC reform in 2015, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the UN and the 10th anniversary of the 2005 World Summit which had called for ‘early’ reform of the UNSC.

Obama endorses India’s bid for permanent membership of UN security council:-

WASHINGTON: US President BRACK OBAMA endorses India’s candidature as a permanent member of the reformed UN security council, the White House has said.

“As it relates to India’s membership in the security council, I know the President endorsed that…the security council in the context of a variety of other important reforms to the operations of the United Nations,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said 24TH FEB.2015.

ISLAMABAD: India’s permanent membership in the reformed UN Security Council is unacceptable to Pakistan as it has not complied with UN resolutions on Kashmir, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has told US President Barack Obama.

The US president called Sharif ON 12TH FEB.2015 night and both leaders discussed issues of mutual interest and those related to regional stability and peace for over half-an-hour, officials here said.

During their conversation, Sharif expressed reservations about US support for India’s bid to secure a permanent UN Security Council seat.

Sharif told Obama that India cannot become a UNSC permanent member due to its non-compliance of all the resolutions passed by the UN on Kashmir and has “not fulfilled the commitment to give the right of self-determination to people of Kashmir,” officials said.

India does not deserve to be a permanent member of the UN,” Sharif was quoted as saying.

During his unprecedented second India visit last month, President Obama had reaffirmed his support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member.  In his telephonic conversation with Obama, Sharif also said that Pakistan wanted to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.  Obama, during his India visit, had also reaffirmed the US’ position that India is ready for NSG membership.  Obama visited India last month and was the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade, the first US President to do so. In his conversation with Sharif, Obama also discussed his India visit.

Sharif asked Obama to impress upon India to resume peace dialogue with Pakistan to address all outstanding issues including Kashmir, the News reported.  The two leaders also exchanged views about bilateral issues including terrorism and Obama congratulated Sharif on the success of operation ‘Zarb-i-Azb’ to wipe out militants from the North Waziristan tribal region.  The two also decided to meet at a convenient date. The White House, in a statement on Obama’s call to Sharif, said, “the President discussed his recent visit to India, and noted the United States supports all efforts by both nations to improve ties.Obama had also telephoned Sharif before going to India and had promised to take him into confidence at the conclusion of the visit.


Security Council reform is unlikely to be taken seriously while George Bush is still in office. Hopefully the frustration that has gathered in connection with the unilateral action of the United States in Iraq will translate to momentum at an opportune time. At which time, Security Council reform will have a chance to succeed.

In my own opinion, I believe that moving forward the best reform would be to expand the Security Council by five permanent members who do not get the veto power. I think that this is pragmatically the best idea because it has a realistic chance to pass. Furthermore, it makes the Security Council more representative of the world without making the Council too bulky.

The challenges facing today’s international community, such as tension in the Middle East, AIDS, and the environment, can only be resolved through coordinated and multilateral efforts. The reason being is the global nature of many of these problems. As the United Nations debates possible reform let us not forget the importance of having a strong international organization. As frustrating as it might be for the largest country or the smallest country to work within the United Nations framework the alternatives are not worth considering.

Importance:-G.S.2(International Relationship&Foreign Policy)

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