Reform UN Security Council To Reflect The Face Of The World

In the wake of a political statement that was declared in Addis Ababa by African heads of States insulating Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and all sitting African presidents for that matter from being tried by The International Criminal Court (ICC), attention has now shifted towards United Nation Security Council (UNSC).


African leaders deliberated in their extra-ordinary summit under the auspices of African Union (AU) and implored the UN Security Council to invoke its law on security and peace and defer or even terminate charges of crimes against humanity facing Mr. Kenyatta. Global eyes are now fixated upon UNSC to see how it will respond to AU demands.


However, my concern isn’t whether UNSC should or shouldn’t give in to AU demands. Rather, I’ am concerned about lack of administrative and governance reforms at the UN Security Council.  Being one of the six principal branches of the United Nations (UN), responsibilities of the UN Security Council cannot be gainsaid. Its primary mandate gravitates around the maintenance of “international peace and security… establishment of peacekeeping operations, establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action.”


Fundamentally speaking, UNSC is a body entrusted with enormous political and legal leverages that require checks and balances. Unbalanced UNSC can use or abuse its powers for selfish gain. But, the Council can accomplish its mission fantastically by incorporating equal representation of countries of the world in its governance and administrative structures to capture the face of the world.


Yet, if the current composition of UNSC membership is any indicator; it can as well be described as skewed institution with embedded political interests that benefits a handful of powerful countries while disregarding the interests of a majority of countries around the world.


Instead of embracing reforms to reflect the contemporary face of the world and the emerging global dynamics, UN Security Council is stuck in history. The allies during the World War II, namely; China, France, Russia, United Kingdom (UK) and United States have unilaterally and strategically awarded themselves permanent seats at the high table of the UN Security Council.


A negative vote by each one of the five permanent member states has the capacity to disorient substantive resolutions made by the Council even if it is in the best interest of humanity. In some sad instances, some of the so called P5 make screwed up decisions based on their selfish political and economic interests. The common good of the human decency is sacrificed at the altar of deeply embedded interests as it was exemplified in the Syrian case.  UN couldn’t intervene in Syria crisis because Russia and China vetoed all efforts.


Additionally, the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council have bestowed upon themselves an irrevocable veto power that disenfranchises other world countries, hence; tilting power scale in their favor. The current non-permanent members including Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Luxembourg, Morocco, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Korea, and Togo are inconsequential. They have been paraded merely as “flower girls” to romanticize the story of the bride.  Non-permanent member states are like watchdogs without teeth.  They lack powers to make a binding decision. They can’t bite.


By and large, the current composition of UN Security Council as it stands doesn’t represent the world. It is prejudicial against the majority. By designating some countries as permanent members with enormous powers including veto power while relegating others as non-permanent members without powers to agree or disagree on substantive decisions, UN Security Council has exposed its underbelly. It must be reformed to correspond to the dynamics of the 21st century.

This century require honesty, equality and inclusivity. Undue cockiness and high handed-nesses belongs to the past. That’s why changes at the UN Security Council should be jumpstarted to reflect the face of the world.

By Jacktone Ambuka, a Kenyan residing at State College Pennsylvania USA. You can reach me at email [email protected] or Twitter @JackAmbuka.

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