Even though the story isn’t new–how UN Security Council reform can’t ever seem to get off the ground–the challenges facing this most powerful of all UN bodies are:
David M. Malone, a veteran Canadian diplomat and now rector of United Nations University, calls it “a crisis of relevance.” The Security Council has been unable to end the conflict in Syria for five years and it has been adrift in the face of a civil war in South Sudan. It has remained largely silent on what could amount to crimes against humanity in Yemen as a Saudi-led coalition backed by the United States conducts a campaign against Houthi rebels that has also killed hundreds of civilians. And it has been unable to stop the Russian seizure of Ukrainian territory; even a move to set up a tribunal to prosecute those who downed a Malaysian civilian aircraft over eastern Ukraine was vetoed — by Russia.
Several Council diplomats — and Mr. Ban — are increasingly exasperated by the inability of the Security Council to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. The United States has repeatedly vetoed measures dealing with the conflict. It helped defeat a French-led effort to set a deadline for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Source: Calls Grow at U.N. for Security Council to Do Its Job: Keep the Peace – The New York Times
Wonder how reforms ought to be undertaken so as to assuage US fears? Read this from Kara McDonald and Steward Patrick at CFR.
What if you threw a Security Council party and someone important didn’t want to come? This past week saw a shocker that comes as a slap to the UN’s only organ with an enforcement mechanism:
Saudi Arabia stunned the United Nations and even some of its own diplomats on Friday by rejecting a highly coveted seat on the Security Council, a decision that underscored the depth of Saudi anger over what the monarchy sees as weak and conciliatory Western stances toward Syria and Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.
The Saudi decision, which could have been made only with King Abdullah’s approval, came a day after it had won a Security Council seat for the first time, and it appeared to be unprecedented.
via Saudi Arabia Rejects U.N. Security Council Seat in Protest Move – NYTimes.com.
Why would they do this? Wouldn’t it be easier to influence the SC from within? As noted by Erik Voeten in the Monkey Cage, “as a non-permanent member, Saudi Arabia would have little power to affect votes” with the P5’s veto standing in the way.
The call for reform from a somewhat surprising area:
Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United Nations Security Council does not repsent democracy and urged for a reform in UN Security Council.
While speaking during the Bali Democracy Forum in Indonesia President Karzai said, “Coming to the global democratic governance, I think there is no disagreement here, that it isn’t just nor is it very democratic, the security council does not represent all of us, the five permanent members having the right of veto is not democratic and the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly is not democratic and of course, we all wish it to be democratic.”
President Karzai further added, “How do we get there, Afghanistan is too small and insignificant to make an impact but the talk we will, democracy allows that, the freedom of speech. So we do ask for a more democratic global order and we hope all of us together can push for that.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said the decision regarding the future of world belongs to five nations as the UN Security Council is comprised of five permanent members and ten temporary members.
He said, “We want to experience a change in UN Security Council and the new formation which should lead justice and equality.”
via President Karzai urges for UN Security Council reform – Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan Online Newspaper.
Along with South Korea and Australia, election results are in on the SC’s new term members:
Argentina, Rwanda and Luxembourg also were elected yesterday to fill seats on the 15-member Council, the highest decision-making body of the world organization. Bhutan, Cambodia and Finland ran and failed to get enough votes from the UN’s 193 members to win any of the five contested seats.
via S. Korea, Australia Among Five to Join Security Council – Businessweek.
Rwanda’s victory is called a “dreadful day and very sad ay for Africa” by Atoki Ileka, Congo’s ambassador to France, amid allegations that it is the power behind an uprising of M23 rebels involving arms embargo violations, child soldiers and prisoner executions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A new memoir from the former UN Secretary General reveals drama behind the scenes of the Iraq War–when Colin Powell was put in the awkward position of making the case for a war he didn’t believe in–and was later shown to have been deceived about:
Six weeks after the Iraq invasion, Mr. Annan wrote, Mr. Powell visited his 38th-floor office at the United Nations to privately exult with him over news that American forces believed they had found mobile laboratories in Iraq that the administration claimed were used by Saddam Hussein to make weapons of mass destruction — the core reason for the war.
“Kofi, they’ve made an honest man of me,” Mr. Annan quoted Mr. Powell as telling him. Mr. Annan wrote that “the relief — and the exhaustion — was palpable. I could not help but smile along with my friend, and wanted to share in his comfort,” even though Mr. Annan himself was far from convinced. Still, Mr. Annan wrote, “I could only be impressed by the resilience of this man, who had endured so much to argue for a war he clearly did not believe in.”
via Powell Was More Skeptical Than Thought on Iraq, Annan Says – NYTimes.com.
A little wit from David Bosco on what possible ‘training’ for new Security Council members might include:
Still, with all that said, it’s hard not to smile at some of the wisdom that current Council members could offer their new colleagues. Some possible offerings:
–A session by India on how to blow your chances at a permanent Security Council seat in the space of a year.
–U.S. ambassador Susan Rice could speak on how to lecture the Security Council on responsibility without being at all certain that Congress will appropriate America’s annual UN dues. Alternatively, she could offer a seminar on how to find authorization for regime change in a resolution on protecting civilians.
–China’s ambassador could expertly lead a session on appearing powerful while abstaining repeatedly.
–Bosnia’s ambassador could expound on how to manage conflicting voting instructions from three different presidents.
–Last but not least, as Brazil prepares to depart the Council, it seems only appropriate that China, Russia, India, and South Africa should reveal once and for all the location of the secret BRICS clubhouse, where their strategy for protecting beleagured dictators is refined.
via UN Security Council 101 | The Multilateralist.
Will the Palestinians continue to press the case at the Security Council? Meanwhile play the game that Colum Lynch suggests–and try to figure out whether each of the 15 members is vote yes, no, or abstain:
In the meantime, Turtle Bay, decided to post a copy of the latest report on the Security Council’s deliberations on Palestinian statehood. The report, which will be officially issued tomorrow, was first reported by Al Hurra….
A hint: Britain, Colombia, and France revealed they would abstain on the resolution. The United States, meanwhile, argued that Palestine could not be considered a “peace-loving” state so long as Palestinian militants were firing rockets across the border at Israeli communities.
via Inside the Security Council deliberations on Palestine – By Colum Lynch | Turtle Bay.