Thursday, September 23, 2004

UNSC Reform

On Tuesday, the German, Brazilian, Japanese, and Indian missions to the United Nations issued a joint statement calling for reform of the U.N. Security Council. The statement reads, in part:

The Security Council must reflect the realities of the international community in the 21st century. It must be representative, legitimate and effective. It is essential that the Security Council includes, on a permanent basis, countries that have the will and the capacity to take on major responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of international peace and security. . . . The Security Council . . . must be expanded in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, including developing and developed countries as new permanent members.

The statement also announced the four countries' support of each other for permanent membership on the Security Council and called for an African state to be given a permanent seat.

On Wednesday, Swiss President Joseph Deiss called for reform of the Security Council in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly. Unlike the joint India-Japan-Germany-Brazil statement, Deiss's speech explicitly tied the need for reform to the Iraq crisis. "In hindsight," he said, "experience shows that actions taken without a mandate which has been clearly defined in a Security Council resolution are doomed to failure."

The procedural obstacles to Security Council reform remain formidable. Nonetheless, it is possible that the Iraq War will mark a turning point in the international campaign to make the United Nations more democratic. Thanks to events in the Security Council in February 2003, there is widespread sentiment that a more democratic Security Council would also be more effective.