« Taiwan Journal of Political Science No.37Publish: 2008/09

Reform of the UN Security Council: Challenges and Prospects

Author: Wen-Cheng Lin

Abstract / Chinese PDF Download

This article looks at United Nations Security Council reform and analyzesthe positions of the five permanent members (P5), namely the United States,Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China, toward Security Council reform.Although the United Nations is the most important international politicalorganization of its kind, its achievements in maintaining peace have been widelycriticized, and voices calling for reform have never ceased to be heard. Indeed,since the end of the Cold War in 1989 demands for reform have gained newmomentum.

Reforming the Security Council is key to successful reform of the UnitedNations, as the Security Council is the most powerful organization within the UN.Criticism of the Security Council centres on the following three issues: (1) SecurityCouncil membership does not reflect today’s world; developing countries are underrepresented,and there are no permanent members from either Africa or LatinAmerica; (2) five permanent members enjoy veto power and frequently abuse theirprivileges; and (3) there is a lack of transparency and efficiency in the SecurityCouncil’s decision-making process. Although the Security Council has improvedits decision-making, transparency, and efficiency over the past decade, there hasbeen no progress on the enlargement of the Security Council.

Many UN member states would also like to cancel the P5’s veto power, butthey realize that this is a mission impossible, because the P5, which can veto theUN Charter amendment, will not agree to give up their veto power. Therefore,some countries concede, and have asked for restriction of the use of veto powerby the P5. It is still highly difficult to achieve this goal.

Almost all of the UN members agree that it is necessary to reform the SecurityCouncil. However this issue touches not only on the North-South conflict, but alsoon the redistribution of power in the world. Every country bases its actions on itsnational interests. There has been no consensus reached among UN members,including the P5, on how to adjust the Security Council’s structure, and in particular,on how to increase the number of new permanent members. Thus it would beoptimistic to assume that the Security Council can be enlarged in the near future.

Keywords:Reform、Security Council、United Nations、Veto