One of the key themes of the High-Level Week of the UN General Assembly was the reform of the Security Council. In order to make the UN Security Council more representative and effective, the heads of delegations of many states spoke out – from the USA and France to Brazil and Turkey. Russia is also in favor of reforms, but it does not intend to give up its main right – to veto.
Almost every second speaker from the UN rostrum during this High-Level Week spoke about the need to finally do something with the UN Security Council. Chairman of the 77th session of the General Assembly Chaba Kyoryoshi said: the image of the entire organization “in the eyes of people around the world” depends on whether the Security Council is reformed. “It is long past time for the Council to more equally represent the people of the Earth and for it to reflect the realities of the 21st century. This is a matter of trust in our entire organization and the multilateral world order,” he said at the opening of the High Level Week.
The need to reform the Security Council was announced during his speech at the UN headquarters and US President Joe Biden. According to him, this body should become more inclusive, “so that it can better respond to the needs of the modern world.” “The United States supports an increase in the number of permanent and non-permanent representatives on the UN Security Council. We are talking about the permanent membership of those states that we have been supporting for a long time, as well as the countries of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean,” he specified.
Recall that now the Security Council has 15 members. Five permanent vetoes: UK, China, Russia, US and France. And ten changing every two years. The need to reform the key international institution of the post-war world order has been discussed for several decades.
The most serious attempts to make the council more representative and effective were made in the 1990s and early 2000s. However, the measures discussed have not yet been implemented.
Because of this, the Security Council is regularly criticized. Many countries, especially influential regional powers that do not have a permanent seat on the council, consider its structure to be inconsistent with today’s realities. In addition, the “five” of permanent members are often accused of blocking important decisions through the use of the right of veto.
President France Emmanuel Macron, during his speech at the UN podium this week, also spoke about the importance of reorganizing the council. “France proposes to start reforming the Security Council so that it becomes more representative,” he stressed, adding: the Security Council should accept new permanent members into its ranks.
There are many countries claiming to receive such status. One of the most persistent Turkey. Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly demanded that his country be granted permanent membership, pointing out that “the world is more than five” countries and “the fate of mankind cannot and should not be at the mercy of a handful of countries that won the Second World War.” During a speech in New York this week, he once again said that the reform would allow the Security Council “to work out solutions to ensure a more just world order and reflect the will of all mankind.”
The permanent members of the council are eager and Brazil. “We built the UN on the ruins of World War II. At that time, we were driven by the determination to avoid a repetition of the destructive cycle of the first half of the 20th century. To some extent, we have succeeded,” Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday. At the same time, according to him, today’s conflicts, including the Ukrainian one, indicate that the UN is no longer coping with the tasks it faces and must be reformed.
Chancellor Germany, another country that has long been seeking a seat in the Security Council, decided to ask for a small start. “Germany is ready to take on a greater responsibility – first as one of the ten rotating members in 2027-2028,” Olaf Scholz said from the UN rostrum. Then he added that “in the future” his country would like to receive the status of a permanent member. “We must adapt our rules and institutions to the realities of the 21st century,” he urged. “Too often they correspond to the world as it was 30, 50 or 70 years ago. This also applies to the UN Security Council.”
According to Olaf Scholz, “the promising, dynamically developing countries and regions of Asia, Africa and South America should have more political influence on the world stage.”
The head of the Russian delegation, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose speech is scheduled for Saturday, will certainly speak about the importance of reforming the UN Security Council. Before the start of the High-Level Week, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said in an interview with TASS that Russia is a firm supporter of the ideas of expanding the Security Council at the expense of developing countries.
At the same time, he stressed that Russia would not give up its right of veto under any circumstances. Earlier, a number of countries demanded that the five permanent members of the Security Council be deprived of the right to veto resolutions or at least curtail their powers. “A veto is a huge responsibility. But at the same time it is a tool and a guarantee to prevent the adoption of unbalanced decisions. When it comes to protecting the fundamental interests of our country and our allies, we are not going to abandon the use of the veto,” said Vasyl Nebenzya.
When asked by journalists to comment on the US initiative, according to which the permanent members of the UN Security Council should impose self-restraints and use the right of veto only “in rare, emergency situations,” the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation replied: “Neither we nor other permanent members of the council are interested in using a veto in other cases, except for extraordinary ones, and each such decision is of an extraordinary nature.
This year, Russia used its veto power three times – when voting on resolutions on Ukraine, North Korea and the Middle East. In more than 70 years of the existence of the UN, Russia/USSR most often used the right of veto. In second place is the USA.