Monday, June 20, 2005

The UN Insecurity Council

From The Guardian:

The US threw its weight behind an expansion of the UN security council that would take in Japan as a permanent member yesterday but not the other prime contender from the developed world, Germany.

Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said Washington backed a limited expansion from 15 members to about 20, with "two or so" new permanent ones, including Japan.

The secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, confirmed American support for Japan's permanent council seat in a telephone call to the country's foreign minister.

The UN Security Council is already incapable of solving crises where the interests of the "major" powers diverge (hence the Iraq War, neither endorsed nor condemned, along with numerous examples throughout the organization's history). The only major action was the Korean War - and that action was only pulled off because Stalin was boycotting the UN and Taiwan was still recognized as an actual country. How is making the council bigger going to help?

According to the BBC:
Japan, India, Brazil and Germany have put forward a plan for adding 10 seats to the council - six of them permanent, including two from Africa, and four of them non-permanent.
Now setting aside the problem of giving votes to non-democracies, what good can come of this?

An expanded Security Council with additional vetoes will be more incapable of reaching decisions than the current arrangement.

An expanded Security Council without additional vetoes will also make it harder to reach decisions, but it also reeks of tokenism. For example, one of the biggest questions is essentially: "who's the best African?"

The current Security Council arrangement may seem dated, but at least it has a real historical basis. While we're adding seats, how about giving one to each American state?

For more commentary the issue, check out Reforming the U.N.

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