UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL MODIFICATION OR CONTINUITY

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  • Name: UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL MODIFICATION OR CONTINUITY
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CHAPTER ONE

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

In 1945, with the ending of World War II, a pattern of winners and losers occurred. That same year, the United Nations was founded, and the founders aimed for the organization to play a central role as the leading forum for managing threats to international order (Bourantonis 2005: 4). To do this they needed the victorious countries of the war to play an active part in the organization. The Security Council was therefore established, as the organ with primary responsibility for international peace and security. In the Council, the five great powers in the aftermath of the war, The United States, The Republic of China, The Soviet Union, France and The United Kingdom were given permanent seats and the right to veto any Council decision in which they disagreed. In addition to the permanent five, known as the P5, there were six non-permanent members, distributed among the other members of the United Nations according to a certain pattern. The non-permanent members did not have the right to veto decisions. It soon became clear that the ones that mattered in the Security Council were the P5. Through their permanent seats and their veto power, they were able to control the Council.
The quest for reform started already about ten years after the United Nations was founded. In 1965, after years of efforts, four non-permanent seats were added to the Security Council. The membership now counted 15 members, including the P5. The P5 in the Security Council agreed to a reform in 1965, even though this reform to some extent diminished the power of the P5 (Leigh-Phippard 1998: 428). Although the quest for reform had been met and the geographical representation to some extent had improved, it did not take long before the debate flared up
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again. However, apart from small adjustments in working methods and membership, the Security Council has largely remained unchanged since 1965. The process of reforming it has been in a deadlock for decades, despite years of debate and several demands for reform. Although the reform debate might be in a deadlock, it is certainly not dead.
After World War II, the United Nations was set up to end all wars, enhance respect for international law and promote human rights and peoples’ well-being. The U.N was established as an association of nations which accepted the values of civilized life and agreed to co-operate together for the good of all. According to Tomuschart (2002:45), the U.N was founded as it is enshrined in the Charter, to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
As stipulated in its Charter, the principal function of the U.N is to maintain international peace and security. Other roles include international cooperation, coordinating social, economic and cultural covenants as well as international conventions and other humanitarian problems, notably, in areas of promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms. The U.N mainly comprises of the Security Council (UNSC), General Assembly UNGA, the Secretariat and specialized agencies. As Sydney (2001:40) argues, The United Nations General Assembly consists of all the small and large, greedy and generous, allied and neutral, democratic and tyrannical, arrogant and diffident member states of the United Nation. When the U.N was established, the core responsibility for maintaining international peace and security was entrusted to the UNSC. This organ is made up of five veto power wielding permanent member countries, the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and China, requiring it to act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the U.N.
According to Rourke (1995:363), in the U.N Security Council, any of the permanent members can, by its single vote, veto a policy statement or action favoured by the other 14 members.
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Between 1946 and 1990, the veto was cast 246 times, with each of the members using its special prerogative to protect its interests. The use of veto by permanent members has led to some questioning whether or not the UNSC can still be the custodian of international peace and security. As Young (2003:56) puts it, the UNSC operates, by and large, according to the golden rule – those who have the gold make the rules.
In the century prior to the UN’s creation, several international treaty organizations and conferences had been formed to regulate conflicts between nations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. Following the catastrophic loss of lives in World War I, the Paris Peace Conference established the League of Nations to maintain harmony between the nations. This organization successfully resolved some territorial disputes and created international structures for areas such as postal mail, aviation, and opium control, some of which would later be absorbed into the UN. However, the League lacked representation for colonial peoples (than half the world’s population) and significant participation from several major powers, including the US, USSR, Germany, and Japan, failed to act against the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in 1935, the 1937 Japanese invasion of China, and German expansions under Adolf Hitler that culminated in World War II, Berlie (1986).
The earliest concrete plan for a new world organization was begun under the aegis of the US State Department in 1939. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt first coined the term ‘United Nations’ as a term to describe the Allied countries. The term was first officially used on 1 January 1942, when 26 governments signed the Atlantic Charter. (Ganghof, 2003: 7-8)
In mid-1944, the Allied powers met for the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in Washington, D.C. to negotiate the UN’s structure, and the composition of the UN Security Council quickly became
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the dominant issue. France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the UK, and US were selected as permanent members of the Security Council; the US attempted to add Brazil as a sixth member, but was opposed by the heads of the Russian and British delegations. The most contentious issue at Dumbarton and in successive talks proved to be the veto rights of permanent members. The Soviet delegation argued that each nation should have an absolute veto that could block matters from even being discussed, while the British argued that nations should not be able to veto resolutions on disputes to which they were a party. At the Yalta Conference of February 1945, the American, British, and Russian delegations agreed that each of the “Big Five” could veto any action by the council, but not procedural resolutions, meaning that the permanent members could not prevent debate on a resolution.
On 25 April 1945, the UN Conference on International Organization began in San Francisco, attended by 50 governments and a number of non-governmental organizations involved in drafting the United Nations Charter. At the conference, H. V. Evatt of the Australian delegation pushed to further restrict the veto power of Security Council permanent members. Due to the fear that rejecting the strong veto would cause the conference’s failure, his proposal was defeated from twenty votes to ten.
The UN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945 upon ratification of the Charter by the five then-permanent members of the Security Council and by a majority of the other 46 signatories. On 17 January 1946, the Security Council met for the first time at Church House, Westminster, in London, England.
The background of this study is expected to broaden my knowledge on the formation of the United Nations Security Council, its functions, therefore I shall focus mainly on the modification of the principles, policies and responsibilities of the body.
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1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security (UN 2010a). Furthermore, is it designed to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations (UN 2010b).
According to (Bailey and Daws 1998: 226), the United Nations and Security Council is “so organized as to be able to function continuously, and a representative of each of its members must be present at all times at UN Headquarters.
The Presidency of the Council rotates monthly, according to the English alphabetical listing of its member States” (UN 2010a). The Council consists of fifteen members. Apart from the permanent five there are ten elective members, each of them elected by the General Assembly for a period of two years and five of them on election each year. The ten elective seats are distributed between the regions. The distribution of seats in the Security Council was not as equal due to the capacity and economic involvement of the member states.
It is obvious that amendments through subsequent practice cannot impinge upon the number of SC members. It is also difficult to conceive of practice giving rise to a custom limiting the right of veto.
Since the establishment of the U.N, global politics has been facing major systematic challenges. Throughout this period, the UNSC did not fully live up to peoples’ expectations as a guarantor of international peace and security. The incessant calls for reform result from the fact that the UNSC today still reflects the global power structure of 1945, though its non-veto membership was expanded from eleven to fifteen in 1965. The four World War II victors have held on to their privileged status. They are permanent and can veto any UNSC decision that affects their
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respective interests. Considering the current geopolitical context, it is no longer possible to conceive of and implement an international peace and security which is restricted to the maintenance of order. Hence, in a bid to adjust the UNSC to new global governance and geo-political realities, consistent calls for reform have become louder.
Since it has often been argued that the use of the veto has blocked the ability of the Council to take effective, timely action to safeguard peace and prevent the massive loss of life (Lund 2010: 4). Only the P5 of the Council have the opportunity to cast a veto (and only on non-procedural matters). When this is done the member exercising the veto is not required to explain for what reasons the negative vote (the veto) has been cast. The report from the High-level Panel states that even outside the use of the formal veto, the ability of the P5 to keep critical issues of peace and security of the Security Council`s agenda has further undermined confidence in the body`s work. Furthermore, the institution of the veto has anachronistic character that is unsuitable for the institution in an increasingly democratic age, but sees no practical way of changing the existing members veto powers (UN 2004 art. 256).
At the end of this research, I should be able to examine the way and manner how the power its being wielded among the members of the council and to provide a formidable recommendations that could address the use of veto in the council.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
i. To examine how the unilateralist approaches to global changes exercised by veto- wielding countries militates against the objectives of the UNSC.
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ii. To assist decision-makers in Governments, international organizations and members of international community on how these reforms will affect the activities in areas of foreign policy and diplomacy.
iii. To examine whether or not the inclusion of new permanent veto-wielding members will result in powerful states being limited in taking a unilateral military action without the express endorsement of the UNSC.
iv. To answer how the veto powers affected the reform processes and to what extent the outcomes can be explained by the veto player theory.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
My research question is as follows:
1. How has the veto powers in the Security Council affected the reform process in these three cases?
2. To what extent can the outcomes been explained by the Veto Player Theory?
3. To what extent can military action be taken to influence any veto power among the new member states without the endorsement of the UNSC?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE TO THE STUDY
Following the structure of the United Nations, the major objective of the body, was to ensure that all Member States recognize that the Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and agree to be bound by its decisions. It is therefore of vital importance, not only to the Organization, but to the world, to understand that the Council is equipped in order to carry out its responsibilities by creating enabling environment in peace-keeping and security among member states (UN 2005 art.167).
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The study will serve as a supportive tool for effective action in the responsibilities of the United Nations Security Council. That is, modification of the UNSC‟s policy will re-address the unjustified veto power by the actors of the Security Council.
Another significance of this study is that, both the permanent and non-permanent members of the UNSC will breed a spirit of oneness for a formidable relationship among the member states.
The third world countries that are deprived of social welfare, peace and security, modification of the policy of the UNSC would influence quick attention on the affected member states.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Since the topic is based on the question whether the United Nations Security Council should be reformed or reconciled, in this study, I have decided to base my argument on reformatory aspect and it could be traced through the major actors that were actively involved in the reform. The light of United State, China and other permanent seat members were in the front line with a particular motive in reforming the UNSC‟s policies.
1.7 ORGANISATION OF CHAPTERS
The research work will be divided into five chapters. Chapter one will primarily focus on the introduction which will form the basis of analysis in understanding the background to the study, statement of the study, objective of the study, scope, limitations and research questions. Also Chapter two deals will methodology; Chapter three will focus on the literature review and theoretical framework, which further elaborates on the main arguments of the veto player theory in addition to a further explanation as to why I consider the theory a suitable framework for my analysis. The chapter also includes a short outline of the game theoretic approach and the concept of rational actors. Furthermore, I outline some examples on use of the veto player theory