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Title: Reform of the UN Security Council Membership : An analysis of the desirability, effectiveness and achievability of a representative security council membership
Author: Hassler, Sabine
ISNI:       0000 0004 2694 3998
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2009
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The Security Council [Council] must be reformed. This is the mantra of some tireless proponents for whom the Council in its current form is untenable. Freed from the stasis imposed by the Cold War, increased activity was initially welcomed. However, it also highlighted inadequacies so much so that calls for reform became ever more demanding. And few issues engage as passionate an advocacy as the scramble for Council seats, resulting in a deadlock of a different kind. Post-Cold War effectiveness may have borne proof that collective action can be successful; but it made calls for reform more urgent to incorporate states that desire greater recognition as major players. The failure to reflect the changing power realities directly affects the perception of legitimacy of Council decisions and actions. Increasingly, the Council is seen as run by, and for the benefit of, a handful of states. This perception can be traced back to the Council's origins. At the outset it was seen as a basic requirement that responsibility to oversee the maintenance of international peace and security would have to be assumed by a core group of major powers. The incentive for the great powers of the time to participate consisted of a special permanent status with added voting powers. As a trade-off, and to ensure some balance, the remainder of the membership would have the opportunity to be elected onto the Council for a limited period of time. At the time it was accepted that this would be the price for peace, especially since it was hoped that the so anointed powers would realise that their exalted position also carried added responsibilities 10 act beyond reproach. If, however, the Council's restrictive set-up was seen as necessary at the time, it is now seen as out of step with current perceptions. A particular bias is perceived towards the industrialised North, which alienates those counted towards the developing world and there is an expectation that reform will, if not eliminate, then at least alleviate existing imbalances. With it being ever less representative of the increased UN membership, calls for changes to Council size and composition have become louder. Although expansion generally meets with favourable comments, discussions soon begin to revolve around maximum numbers and equity and whether enlargement should affect both non-permanent and permanent seats. Discussions also get caught up in determining appropriate membership ratios and acceptable action thresholds. Cautious voices question whether enlargement to attain better representation would affect the Council's effectiveness and efficiency. Consequently, arguments are put forward that either support enlargement as beneficial or reject enlargement as potentially debilitating. It appears that any change, whatever its scope, will have to show some benefit to all concerned. The most controversial point, unsurprisingly, revolves around the permanent member status and whether these seats should be retained, added to or disbanded. Less controversially, but nonetheless hotly debated, is the enlargement of non-permanent membership. The questions again revolve around extent of enlorgement and equitable representation. Finding the right candidates is fraught with difficulties, not least when considering criteria for qualification. The first port of call is commonly Article 23( 1) of the UN Charter, although some see the opportunity to amend, and maybe extend, the criteria. But even theoiteria as contained in the Article are subject to controversial, and often conflicting, interpretations. Besides, should Article 23( 1), which currently only applies to the election of non-permanent members, also encompass permanent members; or would other, status specific criteria, have to be introduced? Again, despite a great number of submissions, common ground is hard to find. An additional hurdle, finally, present the prerogatives commonly associated with the permanent member position, most notably the veto. Is it to be extended to any new permanent members? Various proposals outline alternative approaches from complete abolition to a qualification of the right and a limitation of its use to specific circumstances. The scale of the effort is decisive and requires an assessment of its necessity, practicality and the overall benefit that the change will bring. Proponents of reform take their cue from the 1960s reform precedent, where the pressures of an increased membership led to change - however limited. Since reform proponents seek mainly formal changes to the Council's setup, which is constitutionally fixed, it may necessitate constitutional amendment. However, change to the constitutional document of the UN is difficult, not least because of the relative inflexibility of the process enshrined in the UN Charter itself. Therefore, the success of a constitutional amendment process is highly questionable, which opens the possibility for more informal alternatives. Everyone involved should be aware of the repercussions that reform may have. This is particularly true when the focus is directed at the collective security task of the organ that was endowed with primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security. It is generally acknowledged that the Council needs to extricate itself from its past and concentrate on its primary task. This, however, presents a major challenge as its past still determines its present
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available