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Viles

Structural and Functional Change in the UNSC



Brad Viles
AS.191.417
Thursday, May 7, 2015

An Argument for Structural and Functional Change in the UN Security


Council
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has faced the question of reform for
many years, as the institution of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) has grown considerably
over time. There are those who question if the Security Council actually needs reform, and
others who believe the UNSC is more stable in its current format. There is also debate that
the UNSC should be the basis for a global peacekeeping force. As tends to be the case, what
is viable and probable lies somewhere in the compromise of these many competing views,
and when implemented will cause a shift in the global balance of power.
The UNSC is in need of reform, and for two main reasons. The representativeness
of the Security Council has changed drastically and is no longer an accurate account of the
actual interests of all member states, and the function and responsibilities of the UNSC must
change as the atmosphere of the global theatre shifts. For these reasons reform is essential
for the UNSC to continue to be an effective agent in the international arena.
Since the initial signing of the charter of the UN, membership has grown
substantially, and therefore the UNSC represents an increasingly smaller percentage of the
member states. An essential element of reform will be the expansion of the Security

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Council seats, and potentially even the addition of more permanent members on the Council
(Bailey, 1988).
With the change in the political atmosphere due to increased communications and
warfare capabilities, it is also imperative that the Security Council begins to take new
measures to adapt to the new technologies in play. There has been some call for the UNSC
to begin to regulate both peaceful and weaponized nuclear programs around the world.
While it is unlikely that reform will go this far, it is certainly the necessary direction.
The problem with leaving the Security Council unreformed is that the current
makeup of its members no longer accurately reflects the resources that each state puts into
UN directives, and many nations and regions of the world have become underrepresented.
The growing number of member states of the UNGA also gives cause for there to be a shift
in the dynamic between General Assembly members and the Security Council members in
order for there to be an equitable representation of the interests of different regions of the
world (Bailey, 1988).
The framework for the UNSC was based on the dissolution of its less effective
predecessor the League of Nations. The League could rarely achieve anything due to the
unanimity rule of Article 5 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, stating decisions at
any meeting of the Assembly or of the Council shall require the agreement of all the
Members of the League represented at the meeting (Hassler, 2012). This stipulation of
veto power being held by every member of the League caused obvious problems in the case
of any conflict, and thus the United Nations was formed, with a Security Council of the

Viles Structural and Functional Change in the UNSC




hegemonic powers of the Post World War II era taking the forefront. Since its incipience,
the UNGA has grown extensively, with an initial membership of 51 states in 1945. As
recently as 2011, with South Sudan joining soon after its independence, the membership has
grown to 193 member states (Strand, 2011). The framework of the UNSC was sound for an
organization the size of the UN in the 1940s and 1950s, as the five permanent states in the
Council would hold veto power while the remaining ten seats would rotate between
members of the UNGA in two-year terms decided by general assembly vote (Carswell,
2013).
Quickly the issue is becoming that the UNSC is no longer able to rightfully claim
that it wholly represents the interests of the entire General Assembly, as the 15 Security
Council seats are now a mere 7.77% of the member states, and the non-permanent members
only 5.18%. It seems inevitable that there will be new members in the UNSC in the near
future, but the nature and number of the members is still vastly argued (Dreher, 2014).
Because of the growing number of states in the UNGA, it is absolutely imperative
that the Security Council grows to more accurately represent the increasing variety of its
member states. Without expansion, the global hegemons will continue to conduct policy
that cannot feasibly represent the opinions of all its member states.
The second aspect necessitating a major change in the United Nations has to do with
the responsibilities attributed to the Council. In Chapter I Article 1 of the UN Charter, the
purpose of the UN is listed as first and foremost to
maintain international peace and security, and to: take effective collective
measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for

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the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to
bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of
justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international
disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.
The United Nations has become less of a world peacekeeping force and more of an arena of
international prestige and power with its growth in members since the original signing of the
charter. As small nations join, they are granted the validation and status of taking part in the
discussion involving world security and policy. This also can become detrimental to the
whole, as with an ever-increasing number of members, there will be ever-increasing desires
for these new member states to voice their opinions to gain the recognition of the whole. In
addition, each new state that joins will bring with it its own issues that it hopes to have
resolved or debated. This influx of ideas could be lauded as a melting pot intended to bring
out the best solutions, but in reality it will simply cause a very noticeable setback in the
productivity of the General Assembly and its committees. As such, it is imperative that the
Council reforms some of its actions and responsibilities to more accurately suit the current
issues at hand.
Ian Hurd claims that by increasing the number of nation states in the Security
Council, the legitimacy of the organization will drastically increase based on five
hypotheses that he admits are wrought with evident weaknesses. His argument is that
with the changes in international realities and the growing gap with Council membership,
the legitimacy of the Security Council itself is at risk. A new member state or states in the
Security Council would attain new prestige and influence by simply being a part of the

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Council, and through this the Council itself would become a more legitimate institution in
the eyes of the global public as it becomes more representative of the new international
realities.
Hurd argues that the present inequalities have led to the loss of legitimacy within the
UNSC, and that this loss of legitimacy has led to a decrease in power and effectiveness.
Hurds solution is a change in structure, which will increase legitimacy and therefore restore
the effectiveness of the Council (2008). By this measure it is absolutely necessary that the
UNSC reform itself in order to more effectively carry out its mission.
Hurds five hypotheses are presented saying that a state will see the Council as
more legitimate to the extent that:
H1: the membership of the Council is representative of the General
Assembly membership.
H2: the membership of the Council is diverse.
H3: the state is a member of the Council.
H4: the state has an opportunity to participate in deliberations at the
Council.
H5: the level of deliberation at the Council is high.
Hurds analysis may hold true for some member states of the General Assembly, but there
are definitive power constructs that purely limit the true amount of influence one state will
have (2005). The legitimation of the Security Council does not come purely from increased
membership, but rather from the actual implementation of directives aimed toward its
Charter. While Hurds work provides an interesting side to the argument for expansion, the
issue of increasing the legitimacy of the UNSC is not necessarily of the greatest import for
the actual functionality of the Council as it is now. The argument of legitimacy would be

Viles Structural and Functional Change in the UNSC




much more applicable to less established Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), but
because of the tenured status of the UN and the UNSC, further legitimation should not be
made a huge priority, as the UNSC already has such renown that a slight decrease in
legitimacy will not adversely change its effectiveness.
Bart Szewczyk offers a different view of the legitimacy of the UNSC. He states that
there is a democratic deficit in the workings of the UNSC, and as such there is no way that
it ever could be legitimate. The foundations of the UN and the UNSC were laid in order to
benefit the victors of World War II, and in no way ever reflected a majority of the worlds
population. Szewczyk argues that the permanent UNSC members were also never chosen in
free and fair global elections that would legitimize the makeup of the Council as
representative of the world. The General Assembly is much more indicative of the global
population, however they have no binding power over the Council, and are not consulted
unless the Councils decision directly impacts their nation. This lack of democratic
legitimacy is cause for a reformation of the nature of the Security Council in order to
properly represent the global population in a democratic sense. This would require the
permanent members to surrender much of their historical power, meaning the prospects for
Szewczyks argument coming to fruition are very slim (Szewczyk, 2012).
Another option that has been experimented with is the idea of weighted voting. In
this sense, there would be a formula put forward to index the entirety of a nations
economic, military and political power as well as other variables such as population or
contribution to UN directives to grant each member state of the UNSC with a particular

Viles Structural and Functional Change in the UNSC




weight to their vote. The interesting concept is that depending on the value attributed to
each particular variable, the entire power system of the Security Council could very easily
shift. A simulation predicted the potential voting power of nations for three different
variable weighting systems, each leading to different power constructs of the Security
Council itself (Strand, 2011). The issue with this format would obviously be the fact that
there is no equal way to attribute the weights to the variables, and therefore every state
would seek to load the scales in their own favor in order to garner more strength for their
vote. While it is an interesting case study this is quite simply not a feasible option for
Security Council reform.
Several proposals have been put forward in recent years as to the possible new
membership of the UNSC, as well as the nature of the seats. The G4 states of Brazil, India,
Germany and Japan proposed an enlargement to 25 seats, with six permanent seats with veto
power and four temporary seats. All four G4 states anticipated a permanent seat, with the
remaining two permanent seats to be given to African states. Hassler explains that this
effort slowly lost support after Japan decided that it wished to pursue its bid for membership
independent of the G4 states due to a worry that there would be too little support (2012).
The African Union, the Uniting for Consensus Group, and the Working Group all made
similar size proposals for the expansion of the Security Council (Luck, 2009).
The African Union proposal was for a total Council size of 26 members, with six
new permanent members with veto power, and with a majority of the new seats on the
Council being reserved for African and Arab countries. The Uniting for Consensus proposal

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headed by Italy called for ten new temporary seats on rotating two-year terms, but asked for
the stipulation that the terms for all temporary members be renewable (Gasimova, 2012).
The proposal that garnered the most support was undoubtedly that of the Working
Group. Chairman Razali Ismail proposed in the Razali Paper that Council membership be
increased to 24, adding five permanent members and four temporary members, however
Ismails largest points come from five points he addresses in his proposal in order to
enhance transparency and to strengthen the support and understanding of its decisions by
the whole membership of the Organization (Ismail, 1997). First, Ismail puts forward the
idea that consensus among states is impossible. Second, he denotes three stages by which
Council enlargement must take place: framework resolution by a two-thirds majority of
those present and voting; selection of new permanent members by a two-thirds majority of
all members; and amendment and ratification of the Charter by a two-thirds majority of all
members. Third, the new permanent members would be elected jointly, with one seat going
to a developing state from Africa, Asia, and Latin America respectively. The remaining two
seats would be elected from industrialized states. Ismails fourth point is that the new
permanent members would not be granted veto power, and the fifth calls for a review
conference in ten years (Hassler, 2012). Ismail also tried to discourage the use of the veto
by the permanent members, as many member states consider the use of veto in the Security
Council anachronistic and undemocratic, and have called for its elimination (1997).
As would be expected, the current permanent states strongly oppose any new
permanent member acquiring veto power, as the fear is that the original P5 will lose much of

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their hold on the power of the UNSC if other states attained veto power. Morris also writes
that there is concern that too great of an increase in member states will dilute the votes of the
P5. A US representative said that an increase in size to 25 or 26 gives Washington great
pause, and the maximum number of additional seats that could be supported was 20 (2000).
China has outwardly been supportive of the proposition of adding new permanent
members to the Security Council, and has insisted that if the permanent members grow, they
do so in a way that will expand equally over the global geographic region to include players
from all areas. Meanwhile Beijing has refused to support the bids of regional powers India
and Japan, despite their concern that the Council is overrepresented by rich and white
nations. This has not stopped them from supporting the remaining two G4 members in their
search for UNSC membership. In this sense China has shown its bias toward the exclusion
of any other nation from the Asian region in any sort of restructuring in order to protect its
hegemony (Malik, 2005).
Another consideration to take is which states should receive permanent membership,
providing permanent seats become available on the Council. Jabeen notes that the G4
nations all have very legitimate claims to a permanent seat, with Brazil being the leading
country from an under-represented region, Germany being the economic and arguably
political leader of Europe, India being the worlds largest democracy, and Japan contributing
the second highest amount of resources, behind the United States, to UNSC directives
(2010). There has also been a large movement for more representation of developing
countries as well as nations from the African continent. The two most logical choices would

Viles Structural and Functional Change in the UNSC




be Egypt and South Africa, however this would continue the trend of more industrialized
and powerful countries being given permanent seats rather than empowering the developing
world.
One more nuanced proposed option is the inclusion of regional permanent seats, with
all the rights and veto power of the current permanent states. These seats would be available
on a rotating basis to nations within the regions. Some of the initial framework of such an
agreement would hold one seat for the Arab States, two for African nations, and one for
Latin America and the Caribbean (Malone, 2004).
Cuba has been at the head of the opposition to UNSC enlargement, mostly due to the
opinion that the special privileges of some Council members have no justification.
Appointing new permanent members would only cause greater problems with veto power,
as even more topics would be taken off the table for potential action. Cuban officials have
argued that if as many as ten new permanent members are appointed it would remove any
hope of the UNSC being able to act on any issue. Kenya has also pointed out the flaw in
permanent membership being that state power will rise and fall, and there is little room for
future anomalies (Andersen, 2012).
The best situation would be to create a package that combines the need for greater
global equity with assurances for the P5 that their interests as founding members are
protected. In order for this to happen, the US will need to make a concession on the number
of new member states to allow, and China needs to accept the legitimate bids of other Asian
countries for a spot on the Council as in the arguments of Morris and Malik respectively.

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The total number should increase to 25 nation states, with four permanent seats not holding
veto power to be assigned to regional groups. One seat each would be reserved for the Arab
States, Latin American and the Caribbean, the Asian States, and African States. These seats
would change based on a rotational basis instead of elections, and would be decided within
each region. This allows for a greater distribution in the power around the globe and grants
more influence to currently underrepresented regions. This reflects the framework presented
by Hassler and the G4 states, but with the added conditionality of regional permanent seats
as seen in Malones work. In addition, Japan and Germany would be added as permanent
members without veto power. The contributions of these two nations over recent decades
have been disproportionately large, and deserve recognition. Germany has been one of the
only models of a great nation without nuclear power in recent years as well as being one of
the strongest economies in the world, and Japans contributions to UNSC directives has
been enormous in comparison to its representation. These two are the most influential from
the G4 states, and their arguments from Jabeens work for inclusion as permanent members
is very strong.
This leaves four new temporary seats to be elected from the General Assembly every
two years, without the prospect of re-election. These seats are to be reserved for developing
countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This structure leaves the P5 with assurances of
the maintenance of its status and power, and balances the global representation disparity
while assuring developing countries of their interests being addressed in the Security
Council forum. This addresses the concerns of Malik that the Council is too rich and

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white as well as the argument of Malone that diversification is necessary. Szewczyk would
support these changes as it would increase the democracy of the institution, however it still
does nothing about the issue of the illegitimate power holdings of the P5 states.
Unfortunately the only way such a reform could take place is if the P5 members make large
concessions on previously held stances in order to achieve a more workable Security
Council, which does not seem likely in the near future.
Also highly important to restructuring of the UNSC is Razali Ismails plea that the
veto takes a less pronounced role in Security Council proceedings. With the addition of new
members without veto power, the strength of the veto itself is increased, and as such the
usage of veto is a much greater tool to those who have it at their disposal. It must be
recognized that in order to avoid the issue previously faced by the League of Nations, veto
power absolutely cannot be made a commonplace tool.
One of the interesting nuances of the veto is that there is currently no way in which a
veto holding state can negatively cast a vote without using their veto power. In this sense,
there is not a true way to negatively cast a vote without either abstaining from the vote or
vetoing it altogether. With the addition of new states, a reform of the veto process should
also be considered. There has been talk of complete abolition of the veto, but some states
other than the P5 oppose this, noting it is a last resort safeguard to protect the national
interests of the strongest players in the system of collective security (Hassler, 2012). The
veto remains an incredibly useful tool for those wielding it, and although it may not be
indicative of a complete democracy, the veto is an essential apparatus to the operation of the

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UNSC and should not be removed from the framework of the Council. Instead, vetoholding states should earn the right to vote negatively rather than abstaining or vetoing.
This gives a greater democratic feel to the Security Council, and allows for more discussion
to take place within the Council itself. When a nation decides to use its power of veto, it
will now take on a greater importance and the haphazard use of veto power will likely be
diminished as a result.
Because of its overwhelming strength however, veto power must be diluted, but not
abolished. The veto necessitates interaction between states, as the US is required to work
with China in the Asian theatre to resolve conflicts of the Middle East, South Asia and the
Korean peninsula. The proposed dilution of veto power would require a permanent state to
attain support from three non-veto nations or the support of one other veto nation (Malik,
2005). By this contingency, nations are no longer allowed to simply protect individual
interests at all costs. Absolute veto power is too strong of a tool, and there must be some
system of checks and balances in place in order to ensure that democracy is working as
intended.
In summary, this proposed reform of the structure of the UNSC would allow for:

Introduction of four permanent regional seats without veto


power
Introduction of Japan and Germany as permanent members
without veto power
Introduction of four temporary seats to be held by developing
countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa

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Veto reform requiring veto-holding nations to gain support of


their veto use from either one other veto-holding nation or
three non-veto holding nations
Introduction of a negative, non-veto vote for veto-holding
states.

The second part of this paper will address the potential for reforms in the other areas
of the UNSC, most specifically with the responsibilities attributed to the Council. This
section will argue that this type of reform is just as important as the structural reform
previously debated, and will provide a framework of possible adaptations that can be made
to strengthen the ability of the UNSC to carry out their aims as listed in the United Nations
Charter.
The United Nations must therefore revamp itself in order to fit the new globalized
world and be able to achieve its primary goal of collective security for all member states.
Anna Spain addresses a particular nuance of the Security Council that leaves a loophole for
the Security Council to take a back seat. When the UNSC is presented with a crisis within
the scope of its mandate, the Security Council has no obligation to make a decision on
whether or not to intervene. This allows for UNSC members to defer from making
politically difficult decisions when faced with them. Spain argues that in order for the
Security Council to become effective in the fulfillment of its charter, three procedural duties
must take place. The duty to decide requires the UNSC to make a decision on whether or
not it will act on crises that occur within its jurisdiction. The duty to disclose requires the
UNSC to publicly explain its reasoning when deciding not to intervene in a crisis within its

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jurisdiction. Finally, the duty to consult obligates the UNSC to consult the nations afflicted
by the crisis and its people most affected by its decisions (Spain, 2013).
Spain puts forward an emotional and convincing argument that the Security Council
should be required to decide if it will intervene in a crisis. The tactful wording of her article
allows for the UNSC to decide not to intervene, but requires them to give justification of its
reasoning. This is a definitive first step toward renewing the fulfillment of the UN Charter,
and would make the Security Council much more accountable for the duties it has set itself
to uphold in the realm of collective security.
There has also been an argument put forward for the UNSC to become the basis of a
global police force with sovereign power granted by world governments in any security
matter. Klaus Schlichmann claims that if the UN Charter is put to full effect, war could be
abolished entirely. He argues that should the UNSC be put in complete control of the
worlds arsenal, and all semblance of deterrence nuclear or otherwise be eliminated, that
there could be lasting peace in the world with international legal order and cooperation
(Schlichmann, 1999).
Schlichmanns argument seems idealistic, and it is definitely not visible in the near
future, however he creates a basis for a new-age Baruch Plan to take control of the worlds
nuclear arsenal. Due to the sheer destructive power of nuclear weapons, there has been
intense debate of the prospects and outlooks of a third World War, with opinions ranging an
entire spectrum of complete disarmament to the oxymoronic term of tactical nuclear weapon
usage. The main problem with Schilchmanns idea is that there is no way to ensure that all

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weapons are gathered, and there are still rogue states such as North Korea who will not
simply give up their nuclear capabilities if asked. In addition, many great powers such as
the United States will not believe the benefits of collective security under the UNSC will
outweigh the security that they already possess through their very strong deterrence. In
essence, the idea of the UNSC as the singular holder of military power in the world would
be incredibly advantageous for small and medium states without huge military presence of
their own, but the tradeoffs presented to the larger states are simply not worth losing. On the
other hand, if an arrangement were to be made for the large states to relinquish their military
power, nations such as the USA would regain an enormous portion of their budget, which
could be used in a variety of ways to improve the quality of life of their citizens.
The most likely situation that would arise from a proposal of this kind is a military
force composed of components of UNSC member states that would be under the directive of
the Security Council. It is just not likely that any large governments would grant complete
military sovereignty to a third party in trust of their promise of collective security.
In the combination of the arguments of Spain and Schlichmann, there comes
potential for a fully new outlook of the United Nations. With the Security Council required
to either take action on crises within its scope or justify its reasoning otherwise, and with the
resources of having increased military presence under the command of the United Nations
itself, any possible crisis could be quickly and effectively responded to.
In an ideal world under Schlichmanns framework, the large states would not oppose
the dissolution of their military power, leaving the worlds only legitimate military force in

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the hands of the sovereign power of the United Nations. This could easily give rise to the
foundations of a world government, in combination with the earlier reforms. Spains
conditional arguments would create a binding code of ethics for the UNSC that would act as
a deterrent threat to any state that would intentionally create a crisis or conflict, and with a
more unified force it would be easier to seek out rogue states that remained in control of
their arsenals. While this is likely not to be seen at any point in the near future, it is an
interesting combination of the two ideologies that sets the groundwork for what will be
increasingly necessary for collective security with the escalation of violence capabilities in
the world.
Because of the growth of the world since the end of the Second World War, it is
becoming more and more necessary to see a change in the nature of the United Nations
Security Council. Not only does the Security Council itself need to implement changes to its
representative and functional nature, but the attitude of the Security Council as a whole must
shift back to collective security rather than individual interests. In doing so, the framework
for an eventual world government can be initiated, beginning with the introduction of
sovereign power over a military governing force.
The most essential part of reform must come from the expansion of the Security
Council membership and a rework of the veto to a point where it is no longer an
oppressively strong tool with absolute power. The expansion of the Council itself should
occur with four permanent regional seats without veto power, four temporary seats for

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developing nations in the underrepresented areas of Asia, Latin America, and Africa,
instatement of Japan and Germany as Permanent members without veto power.
Veto reform should dilute the overbearing power that it now holds. In order for an
absolute veto to take place, two veto-holding members must both cast their veto, or one
veto-holding member must cast their veto with the support of at least three non-veto nations.
In addition, the introduction of a negative vote for veto nations must take place in order to
dissuade the meaningless use of veto power and promote an arena of greater discussion in
the UNSC.
Policy change highlighted in Anna Spains article should be implemented requiring
the UNSC to deliberate on crises within the scope of their jurisdiction, and to disclose the
reasoning if the choice that is made is inaction. In addition, an attempt should be made at
Schlichmanns framework of an international police force in control of the worlds
collective arsenal. While it may not fully take place, any dilution of deterrence could lead to
the greater acceptance of collective security under the UNSC and the eventual abolition of
war.
As the world has changed and grown from the initial establishment of the United
Nations, it is imperative that the United Nations adapts itself to give it the best shot at
fulfilling its major aims. To do so, the Security Council must become more open to new
members, and re-establish its legitimacy by becoming more representative of the
international distribution of power. UN reform is most necessary in two main areas; namely

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the structural aspect of the Council itself as well as the functional aspect of the
responsibilities of the Council in an era of decreasing global security.
It is past time for the UNSC to reform, and the implementation of these policies
would strengthen the prospects for lasting collective security in the new era. While many of
these views are optimistic based on the historical framework of the Security Council, there
must be some sacrifices made on all parts to move into a safer world in the future.

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