UN Security Council faces international pressure to reform
The world is in New York today as the general debate portion of the United Nations General Assembly is getting under way.
This year's meeting of member states from the entire planet is a momentous one. It's the 70th anniversary year since the body was created following the second world war. And, while the milestone of 70 is cause for celebrations, the birthday is also underscoring long-standing calls that the UN is in serious need of reform. And nowhere more so than with the Security Council.
The UN's veto-wielding Security Council and how it works:
- The UN Security Council has five permanent members, known as the P5: The United States, Russia, China, the UK and France. These five members haven't changed since 1946.
- Each of these countries has the power to veto any resolution before the security council. Since 2001, vetoes have been used 28 times.
- In that time, Russia and the United States used their vetoes 11 times each and China vetoed 6 resolutions. France and the UK haven't used their vetoes since 1989.
For a sense of just what those vetos can do -- consider what's happened since 2011, when the Syrian civil war broke out. That's the same war and humanitarian crisis that has given rise to the refugee crisis roiling Europe right now.
And since that conflict's outbreak, Russia has vetoed four resolutions that would have addressed the situation... China has too.
When it comes to the UN security council, the P-5 veto has really hampered any kind of initiative that's been brought forward to try to either put sanctions on the Assad regime or to, to really meaningfully block the flow of of weapons to various armed groups that are participating in this conflict.- Samantha Nutt, Warchild Canada
On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel repeated the call, saying new power players need to be taken into account.
In fact, numerous attempts at change have been made in recent decades.
- Michelle Fanzo was part of the effort to reform the UN Security Council when she served on the Executive Team of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. She continues to advise the U.N. as the President of Four Corners Consulting. We reached her in Pittsburgh.
- Jonathan Cristolis a fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York.
This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Julian Uzielli.