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Rajesh Singh asked: What are the pros and cons of the idea of restructuring of the UN Security Council?

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  • Satish Nambiar replies: There are no pros and cons. There are only pros. The UN Security Council as presently constituted is an outdated formulation that was put in place in 1945 when the United Nations Charter was framed under the circumstances that prevailed after the end of World War II. This is particularly so in regard to the permanent membership which only included the five major powers that emerged victorious at that time, namely the USA, the USSR, France, the United Kingdom and China (formerly Nationalist China, later replaced by the PRC). It is an anachronism in the second decade of the 21st Century, almost seven decades after the signing of the UN Charter.

    The UN Security Council, as constituted today, particularly in its permanent membership, lacks credibility and legitimacy because it is not truly representative of the international community of the day. It does not have any representation in the permanent membership from Africa, that has 53 member states, or from South America; a situation that would be laughable, if it was not so serious.

    Equally, there is much to commend the induction in the permanent membership of the UN Security Council of powers like Germany and Japan that have contributed so much over the years to the work of the United Nations and continue to do so, as also of emerging powers like Brazil, South Africa and India that even today contribute, and can be expected to contribute more in the years to come.

    The cons, if any, are only conjured up by:

    • Spoilers who are aware they do not find place, but would like to prevent their adversaries from finding a permanent seat on the Council;
    • Current permanent members like France and the UK resisting change because their own positions are so fragile; and
    • The USA not probably wanting to have in the permanent membership even more opposition than at present posed on occasions by Russia and China.