Explain why there is a persistent move to reform the United Nations Security Council and why both the United States and China have reservations about making a prompt decision on the overhaul of the Council. Apply theories of international relations you have already studied to account for the American and Chinese behavior. Support your answer with examples. Introduction
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is the main organ responsible for maintaining international peace and security. Due to all of this body’s flaws, calls for reform have increased. Increasing calls for reform have led to several proposals for the better functioning of the Council. There, however, has been no agreement on how to change so far due to the opposition and reluctance of major powers of the Council. This paper will first discuss reasons why the current Security Council should be restructured and what is wrong with the current Council, and describe various proposals under deliberation. Second, it will discuss why the United States and China are unwilling to enlarge the Council and explain their behaviors by applying realist theory of international relations. Reasons why the UN Security Council needs to reform
There are several factors that underline the need for the UNSC reform. The first factor is the Council’s small size. According to Chan (2010), the UN has grown from 57 to 193 members, but the Security Council has only 15 members: five veto-bearing permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United States and United Kingdom) plus ten non-permanent members which are elected by the General Assembly for a term of two years. The representativity of the Council membership has decreased accordingly, and as a result its rules and decision-making do not reflect the will of the modern international community. In other words, the Council’s legitimacy is losing. That is why many countries are advocating for the Council reform. Second, the regional representation of the Council attracts many calls for reform. In the current composition of the UNSC, Western states are overrepresented compared to non-Western regions such as Africa, Asia, and South America. For a long time, major developing countries from these regions such as Nigeria, Egypt, India, and Brazil have been demanding better representation and a permanent seat on the UNSC. Moreover, Zurich (2010) states that some regional major powers are demanding that the composition of the UNSC should better reflect their economic and political clout as well as their financial and personnel contributions to the UN. For example, Japan and Germany have demanded for a change since their influence in decision-making is not commensurate with their finical contributions to the UN. Their financial contributions to the UN are greater than that of all permanent members of the Council, except the US (UN regular budget for the year 2011). Third, the undemocratic privilege of the permanent five (especially veto power) have led to several calls for reform. Since the establishment of the Security Council, permanent members have used their power of veto as a tool for protecting their national interests or those of their allies as well as providing political cover for their strategic friends. For example, over the last 20 years out of a total of 24 vetoes, 15 have been used by the USA to save Israel from having resolutions passed against it (Okhovat, 2011). The reason is that Israel is the US’s most loyal and powerful ally in the Middle East. For all of these fifteen resolutions, the USA was the only country which cast a negative vote. Therefore, veto power held by permanent members is the main factor that has rendered this body undemocratic. Lastly, its lack of transparency, many of working methods and to some extent its agenda have led to strong calls for reform. According to Okhovat (2011), many countries are critical of the agenda of the Council because they believe the conflicts in Europe, Africa and the...
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