UN Security Council reform – a load of hot air?

As part of a speech he gave to the UN on the 27 September, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called for reform of the United Nations so that the institution could better represent “the world we live in today”. He claimed that if change was not forthcoming, the UN would become “a relic of a different time.”


Photo: Independent

The issue that Clegg has chosen to champion is not a new idea, which is the first hurdle the international community would need to negotiate. Fear of change and reform is engrained in society, from the scale of small rural communities to international coalitions; hence why previous calls for reform have been met with silence or half-hearted agreement.

Specifically, Clegg spoke of making room “at the top table”, meaning granting permanent membership on the UN Security Council to states which have seen their global importance rise exponentially over the last few decades.

The UN was created in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Security Council put together by the victorious Allies – the United States of America, the former Soviet Union, China, Britain and France. Naturally, a quick assessment of the last 68 years will show that the state of our world has changed significantly and that the world is much more multi-polar than it was during the cold war. Therefore reform seems only natural, and there are many candidates from which to choose such as Brazil, India, Germany, Mexico or South Africa.

The issues with reform refer back to the idea of resistance to change. Those countries which have already carved up the “top table” may be somewhat reluctant to “make room” for more countries all holding their own opinions and seeking to achieve their own goals.

As the US has recently failed to garner support for direct military intervention in Syria to remove Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapon stockpiles (due to the dogged stand taken by Mr. Putin), is there going to be much desire to see additional states to weigh in on matters of crisis? There is, of course, the view that “too many cooks spoil the broth”; if there are more countries involved in global security decisions the process of decision-making may get tied up in endless rolls of red tape.

Mr. Clegg sums up very simply by stating “we are stronger together, than apart”. Reform of the UN Security Council is unavoidable if global issues such as extreme poverty, global warming and the AIDS pandemic are to be successfully dealt with. What is more, we are now at a point in history where change not only makes


About Author

joejameson Joe is in his second year studying Politics and International Relations, and not-so-secretly wishes that he'd been around in the 1950s. When not reading the paper, with his shirt sleeves rolled up pretending to be Tintin, Joe spends his time reorganising his stationary, playing video games, drinking copious volumes of tea and immersing himself in as much science fiction as possible.

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January 2022
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