By: Lorenzo Lombos
The Security Council is the principal organ of the United Nations that maintains international peace and security. Its functions include the investigations of any disputes to prevent any escalation of international crisis, preempting aggressive states by sending joint-military operations, and even recommending the admission of new member-states. Fifteen countries constitute the body and membership is on a rotating basis, all except the Big Five—the five permanent members who were endowed with certain privileges including the veto power. And the perks of the Big Five—United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China—always come to heated arguments in the global political and diplomatic arena.
In view, these five countries were given preferred position because of their prestige and image of leadership should the need for the preservation of international order and peace arises. However, it was this very system the intelligentsia of international relations blame for nulling a consensus on a single veto from one of the Big Five. Many studies discussed on how other member-states would introduce resolutions for memberships and reforms on the coveted body, however, they all failed given the five permanent members would tragically oppose any actions taken against them.
As a Foreign Service student and in any case should I be given the opportunity to lay out a plan for tackling this issue I would propose something that most members of the United Nations have long practiced yet overlooked in the process, the Acheson Plan. Adopted in November 1950, Resolution 377 A or the “Uniting for Peace Resolution” was passed by the General Assembly to circumvent further vetoes from the Soviet Union during the height of the Korean War. The Acheson Plan is a mechanism to make the United Nations function in response to an immediate and international issue should the Security Council failed to reach consensus, primarily because of a veto-wielding permanent member blocking the passage of any preventive resolutions.
In this method, the same resolution could be invoked by any member-state in the General Assembly and establish an argument of reforming the Security Council’s permanent membership on the grounds that globalization and the present circumstances have dramatically transformed the geopolitical landscape and thus requires not only the “prestige” of the five permanent members but also of the periphery states and others who share similar economic and political prowess such as Japan, Germany, India, Canada, and the likes.
We could pursue two paths for the body to choose: either we increase the number of permanent members who, by then, would have proportional representation from each continent, or would make the permanent membership on a rotating basis but on a longer period than the other ten temporary members. Once this proposal reaches the negotiating table, the Big Five will not possess any veto powers as it will directly goes on the General Assembly and decisions will be based on a majority vote. The very essence of this Uniting for Peace Resolution strike down the notion that the five permanent members of the Security Council were the sole arbiters when it comes to matters of maintenance of international security and peace.
Sometimes, there are certain alarming situations where the world should be concerned and the judgment of the Security Council is not sound enough as they were represented only by fifteen members, five of which are capable of killing any resolutions. This puts the General Assembly to be the direct representation of the world’s government and much closer to the sentiments of humanity itself.
Any future plans to abolish the permanency of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China, who were always pitted on dissents themselves, at the Security Council, might not yet gain any popularity as of the moment. However, if the representatives of the member-states would soon see reason on how gravely important the voice of almost 200 different countries are much more important than the voice of five, then perhaps, we might still see the day when the United Nations really became united for peace and not divided for self-interests.
This commentary by Lorenzo Lombos from the Philippines was a finalist of the 2016 Nextgen Essay Contest.