On the United Nations Security Council

By Mustafa Rasheed

Formed in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations Security Council is one of the most iconic bodies of the inter-governmental organization. Understanding the importance of international cooperation, this essay does not encourage a country to secede. Rather, this essay briefly analyzes the flaws in the Security Council and recommends a more effective body. This is a continuation of a series of essays I wrote for Dr. Eric Montgomery’s Introduction to Peace and Conflict class at Wayne State University.

Aside for technical revisions, there has been no substantial revision from the paper. I wish to thank Dr. Eric Montgomery, Ph. D and Cultural Anthropologist at Wayne State University. The opinions and any errors herein are, of course, solely mine.

Conflicts arise that demand the attention of the international community. Countries from across the globe condemn and seek legal action against crimes against humanity and others, however, it is unlikely they will be enforced. In addition, the threat of nuclear weapons are ever more pressing as terrorist networks grow and agendas become more ambitious. Nations, states, the United Nations, and large scale non-governmental organizations must find a way to enforce their decisions on leaders and countries that have gone out of line. Unfortunately, as Barash and Webel write about countries in “Peace and Conflict Studies: Third Edition”, “they emphatically do not recognize that there is an authority that supersedes theirs”(Barash & Webel 374). In order to enforce international law to prevent nuclear catastrophe, the international community must replace the United Nations Security Council in a body that is more representative and has the ability to respond to global crises such as the destruction of nuclear weapons.

The United Nations Security Council is the sole body in the UN that has the power to make decisions, and it has a tremendous issue in its lack of representation. According to Frederic L. Kirgis of the American Society of International Law, “Its five permanent, unelected members-China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States-can veto any substantive measure”. Although member-states rotate on the council, the insufficiency on international consensus is extremely troubling. As far as enforcement, no rapid or effectives strides to peace can be made with so few countries. To correct this, the United Nations should dissolve the Security Council and proceed to create a body that is far more representative and is free of veto votes. Such a body would lead to quick response authorized by a greater body of countries. With more representation, there is less hostility in utilizing methods of enforcement to defuse situations as they are sanctioned by the world rather than a few countries.

It is no doubt that international enforcement is most relevant to the destruction of nuclear weapons, as its very possession by any country is the first step to potential genocide. The presence of nuclear weapons is completely possible to lead to genocide, defined by the Office of the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide,”any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part1 ; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” It is absolutely necessary for the international community to rally for reducing nuclear arsenals. If the United States can engage in nuclear warfare, then it is absolutely plausible for an extremist or genocidal minded group to carry the same risk. With regards to solving the conflict with nuclear strikes, “They can only serve as deterrents”(Montgomery 2016). Meaning, a nuclear strike will never solve the real conflict. Modern presence of nuclear weaponry is presented as precautionary or because other nations have them. These are all excuses for relinquishing power. However, if countries don’t proceed to rid their nuclear arsenals, there is the risk of them falling into the hands of genocidal figures who the international community would be too slow to react or enforce against.

Democracy and a strong relationship between a community and their representatives is vital for this world to move forward in enforcing law and bringing criminals to justice. Thus, the international community must seek to evolve to a better world. That involves making international governance more efficient in its ability to rid the world of violence, which would surely be tremendous in a nuclear war.

Image Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

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