Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Security Council Veto Must Go!

The Security Council is the organ of the United Nations tasked with the duty of maintaining peace and security. Why then does it appear to be failing so miserably and is there anything that can be done to restore its credibility in the eyes of an increasingly cynical world?

Restoring the Security Council's credibility is possible but only if it is seen to be taking decisive action where it is most needed: for instance in putting an end to the brutal acts of the regime in Syria or eliminating the threat to world peace posed by Iran's unwillingness to come clean on its nuclear program. For such decisive action to be even possible requires the international community to take the following minimal steps:

First, we must we must revamp the Security Council to make it more representative of our world as it is today -- not as it was in the middle of the last century. Part of this process of modernizing the Security Council requires that we sweep away that relic of our past, namely the veto power granted to the five permanent members of the Security Council. This relic, far from being a quaint reminder of our history, has become a solid barrier to world peace, paralyzing the Security Council at those critical moments when it needs to act quickly and decisively, and encouraging countries to act solely in their narrowly-perceived self-interest rather than in the interests of the global community.

Secondly, the Council needs to be given the proper tools with which to discharge its responsibility. It must have an international standing force at its disposal with which to enforce its decisions to maintain peace and security. Without such a force, it will continue to remain largely impotent, falling back on shrill and repeated watered-down resolutions calling for actions that recalcitrant nations feel free to ignore.

Thirdly, the mandate of the Security Council to act to restore the peace must be clearly delineated, especially regarding the circumstances in which it may use force. The mandate must be based on international rules rather than fuzzy policies and must be applied even-handedly to all nations.

How much more suffering does our world need to witness, before we are willing to take these steps to bring it some measure of peace and security?

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