Is UNSC reform possible?

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Is UNSC reform possible?
The reform of the United Nations Security Council is a crucial issue on the current international agenda. Depending on the outcome, it will determine the effectiveness of the work of the whole UN system for the foreseeable future.

Bearing that in mind, Russia is advocating giving the SC a more representative character and favors the idea of preserving the compact membership of the Council, which should not exceed, at best, the ceiling of ‘low 20s’. We strongly believe that the efforts in this area should be aimed, first of all, at enhancing the Council's ability to promptly and effectively react to emerging challenges. This becomes even more relevant today as we witness multiplying conflict situations.

Any ideas that impinge on the prerogatives and powers of the current permanent members of the Council, including the veto right, are unacceptable. These prerogatives are a reflection of the historic contribution that the P5 made towards making the UN a reality. Besides that, the veto is an important factor that motivates the SC members to seek balanced decisions. It would be incorrect, both history-wise and politically, to infringe on this right, which was established to help escape one-sided decisions, fraught with ruining the UN.

However, the level of progress so far does not allow to say that we have come closer to a universal formula of the SC reform. The approaches of various countries still differ substantially. Under these circumstances, there is no alternative to a continuation of the patient work towards bridging the gap.

This work should take into account that the issue of the UN SC reform could not be simply addressed by way of math, by putting to vote a draft reform and obtaining the required two thirds of the General Assembly. A result thus achieved would hardly add authority to the Council, or serve to strengthen the United Nations.

Within this context we would fully endorse a formula of the SC reform that would enjoy the widest possible support of UN member-states - by a much larger majority than the legally-required two-thirds, i.e. we need general agreement. We are also ready to consider any option for expansion of the SC that would be reasonable, including the so-called ‘intermediate solution’, provided it is based on compromise and supported by the widest consensus in the UN. It is also important to try to make this process as transparent and inclusive as possible.

We hope that all member-states will show political will and readiness to reach a reasonable compromise in order to make the UN SC reform possible.


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