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There Should Be Equality in the UNSC
Anika Sharma

Nov 08, 2023

The UN is supposed to be a peacekeeping organization, dedicated to human rights and international equality. But the UN Security Council fails in these respects.

The United Nations (UN), established in 1945, was implemented with one goal in mind: to maintain international peace and security. However, the UN fails to fulfill this goal to its full potential, partially due to the structure of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

There is a clear power imbalance in the UNSC. The organization is divided between permanent members — namely the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., and France — and a selection of 10 other members. Only the five permanent members hold the power to veto any significant UNSC action.

The council should be reformed to be more inclusive by ensuring representation for all regions and removing the veto power. 

It is imperative that all continents, not including Antarctica, are equally represented. According to the Statista Figure, which illustrates the most frequently elected UNSC members. Regions like Africa, South East Asia and Central America do not make the list. 

Without representation of all continents and regions, nuanced regional issues are less likely to be handled appropriately. Underrepresented areas, such as Africa, are unable to voice their opinion on issues that are directly impacting their region.

According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “over 50 percent of council meetings and 70 percent of its resolutions are about Africa.” Providing representation for the regions that are directly impacted, using their specialized and regional knowledge, will ensure that regional conflicts are addressed appropriately. 

Additionally, the removal of veto power is essential to ensure a more equal distribution of power among states. There are countless examples of permanent five (P5) members abusing veto power.

For example, in 2017, Russia and China vetoed holding Syria accountable for the use of chemical weapons. This veto disregarded millions of Syrian lives facing heinous abuse in their own country, and it was the seventh time Russia has used its veto power on a draft resolution for Syria in particular.

Using veto power, permanent five actors can further their selfish interests. In 1997, China exercised its veto power to prohibit a peacekeeping mission for Guatemala. China exercised the veto due to Guatemala's close ties to Taiwan rather than the actual issue at hand.

Further, the use of veto power by the P5, in many instances, has compromised the goals of the UN, impacting the effectiveness of the UNSC. For example, in 1999, Serbia and Kosovo were at war due to Serbia’s ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Albanians from the territory. During this time, no UN resolution was passed to stop Serbian aggression.

Since Serbia is a close ally of Russia, any resolution acting against Serbia would’ve likely been vetoed. The other P5 members knew this all too well.

The UN must be reformed to address the power imbalance and lack of representation in its Security Council. The UN’s founding principles include promoting equality between states; that’s not happening right now. Ultimately, equal representation in the UNSC will bolster progress in the UN’s goals of world peace, international cooperation and stability for all.  

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