Global Governance, Power & Security Survival: Global Politics and Strategy April–May 2021

April 26, 2021
By Various Authors | Survival

Several thought pieces based on conversations at our 2020 Global Order Colloquium, 'The UN at 75: Coronavirus and Competition', have been published in the latest issue of Survival.

Resolving the Dilemma of UNSC Reform | Kishore Mahbubani

A more ruthless and cunning India can persuade the P5 to stop blocking reform.

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reform has proven as difficult as it is necessary. Contrary to conventional wisdom, however, the problem is not the permanent-five members’ (P5’s) veto power. While the veto does seem unjust and undemocratic, it is essential for keeping great powers supportive of the UN. Perhaps the only reason the United States has not left the UN is that the veto is a powerful weapon that it would hate to lose. The real flaw in the P5 is rather its composition. To remain credible, effective and legitimate, the P5, which dominate and run the council, should constitute the great powers of today. Instead, the body includes two members, the United Kingdom and France, that are no longer ranking great powers. London and Paris implicitly recognise this reality, as they have not used their vetoes since 1989. Furthermore, the Security Council excludes one obvious contemporary great power, India. Martin Wolf, the influential Financial Times columnist, observed in 2009 that ‘within a decade a world in which the UK is on the United Nations Security Council and India is not will seem beyond laughable’. Also conspicuously left out are Brazil and Nigeria, the most populous states in Latin America and Africa, respectively.

The Intricacies of UN Security Council Reform | Martin Binder and Monika Heupel

The only way forward would be a grand bargain under which actors holding maximalist positions gave them up and agreed to a ‘reforms lite’ compromise.

United Nations member states widely agree that reforms to the UN Security Council are necessary to bolster the body’s legitimacy. Over the years, myriad reform proposals have arisen. Scholars speak of a norm of Security Council reform, as it has become dubious for member states to deny its necessity. Yet Security Council reform is hard to achieve, and states that have invested the most in the reform debate are increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress.

What’s the UN Security Council For? | Sergio Aguirre and William Wagner

To be worthy of its name, the Security Council will need to engage more deliberately and resolutely on new threats involving cyber and emerging technology, climate and the environment, and global health.

The United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) inaugural responsibility was to maintain international peace and security – nothing less than preventing the Third World War. As the UN turned 75 last year, that worst case had not come to pass. But for the UNSC to stay relevant in helping to protect future generations, its members will have to renew its agenda to keep pace with new threats. This may seem like a mammoth task as the UNSC’s five permanent, veto-wielding members – the P5 – remain sharply divided. But the UNSC has reinvented itself before, and can do so again.

UN Peacekeeping After the Pandemic: An Increased Role for Intelligence | Allison Carnegie and Austin Carson

Increasing peacekeepers’ access to information derived from intelligence sources could help compensate for their reduced physical presence due to COVID-19.

United Nations peacekeepers have a tough job, and the coronavirus is making it much tougher. Effective peacekeeping requires detailed information about rebel movements, troop levels and other ground-level conditions. However, the coronavirus has reduced peacekeepers’ abilities to obtain this information by diminishing their physical presence in conflict areas.

Read more in Survival >>