Peace

Reforming the UNSC: A Path to Global Peace

By Shiv R. Jhawar

In a world fraught with ongoing wars and geopolitical tensions, the need for a more effective United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has never been more critical. From the war-torn streets of Ukraine to the ravaged regions of Gaza, the impact of unresolved conflicts highlights the urgent need for strong global governance. The vision of the United Nations (UN), founded in 1945 and expressed in the first sentence of the UN Charter, “We the peoples,” places the collective well-being of humanity above individual national interests.

Urgent Need for UNSC Reform

Article 2(4) of the UN Charter makes it illegal for any country to seize another’s territory by force. However, Article 51 permits self-defense if an armed attack occurs, a clause often exploited to justify wars.

The UNSC has the authority to pass legally binding resolutions for all 193 UN member states. Yet, its failure to act effectively makes it indirectly responsible for deaths, injuries, and the destruction of infrastructure. This structural flaw highlights the urgent need to reform the UNSC to better fulfill its mission of maintaining global peace and security.

Challenges of the UNSC

Veto Power: The veto power held by the five permanent members (P5)—the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom—often hinders the UNSC’s ability to resolve conflicts. This can lead to a deadlock when these countries’ interests conflict, preventing decisive actions.

Geopolitical Interests: The national interests of the P5 members often influence UNSC decisions, such as Russia’s veto used to block resolutions related to the Ukraine conflict.

Lack of Enforcement: Even when the UNSC passes resolutions, enforcing them is challenging. For example, on March 25, 2024, the UNSC passed Resolution 2728, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. This resolution, passed by a vote of 14-0 with the United States abstaining, is legally binding but remains unenforced. This illustrates a critical challenge in the enforcement of UNSC resolutions. While the UNSC has the authority to pass legally binding resolutions, the enforcement of these resolutions remains challenging without a dedicated mechanism to ensure compliance.

Proposal for a Representative UNSC

In response to the urgent need for reform, the Noble World Foundation (NWF) proposes transferring UNSC membership and veto power from individual nations to regional organizations that embody pooled sovereignty, such as the European Union (EU). This structural reform seeks to empower regional organizations with veto power, ensuring a more balanced and democratic Security Council.

Key Benefits:

  1. Reduces Dominance: This reform mitigates the influence of any single nation, promoting a more balanced global governance structure.
  2. Promotes Democracy: By encouraging democratic decision-making processes within the UNSC, this proposal fosters greater cooperation and consensus, reflecting the true spirit of global governance.
  3. Reflects Collective Interests: The emphasis on combined interests ensures that the veto power is wielded in service of broader, more inclusive goals, addressing regional conflicts more effectively.
  4. Addresses Criticisms: The reform directly tackles concerns about the UNSC being unrepresentative, paving the way for a more legitimate and respected Council.
  5. Enhanced Legitimacy: Bolsters the legitimacy and effectiveness of the UNSC.

To further substantiate this proposal, it is essential to consider a historical precedent that demonstrates its feasibility.

Historical Precedent

In 1991, the dissolution of the Soviet Union led to the emergence of 15 independent states. Despite this significant geopolitical shift, Russia was recognized as the successor state to the Soviet Union and inherited its permanent seat on the UNSC without the need for a Charter amendment. This decision was based on the principle of continuity and practical necessity, acknowledging Russia’s geopolitical influence and the need for stability in global governance.

Legal and Practical Basis

The UN Charter, particularly Articles 23 and 108, outlines the process for amending the Charter, which requires a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly and ratification by two-thirds of the UN member states, including all the permanent members of the UNSC. Given the political complexities and the potential for vetoes by the P5, amending the UN Charter can be highly challenging.

However, the precedent set in 1991 provides a legal and practical framework for implementing changes without formal amendments. Just as the Soviet Union’s dissolution was recognized without amending the Charter, the EU’s amalgamation can also be recognized. Both involve state transformation, making the principle of recognizing regional entities consistent. Dissolution and amalgamation are fundamentally similar processes, differing in degree, not kind.

Sovereignty and Legal Identity

The UN Charter currently restricts membership to sovereign states. However, the European Court of Justice’s 1964 decision affirmed the supremacy of EU law over national laws, validating the EU’s pooled sovereignty. This modern interpretation of sovereignty underscores the EU’s legal identity. Due to its legal identity and pooled sovereignty, the EU received the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for its contributions to peace, democracy, and human rights. Admitting the EU to UN membership aligns with this modern sovereignty framework, as validated by the European Court of Justice.

Principle of Regional Representation

Extending the principle of regional representation to permanent members is in line with the UNSC’s existing practice of selecting non-permanent members on the basis of regional representation. Including regional organizations like the EU as permanent members would enhance the legitimacy, fairness, and effectiveness of the UNSC.

The Path Forward

As global conflicts escalate, from the Russia-Ukraine war to the ongoing crisis in Gaza, the time for decisive action is now. The reformation of the UNSC, as proposed by the Noble World Foundation, offers a pathway to a more peaceful and cooperative international order. 

Imagine a world where the UNSC truly represents the diverse voices and interests of humanity. This vision, though ambitious, is within reach. Embracing this reform can transform the UNSC into a beacon of hope and a powerful force for global harmony.

Conclusion

Franklin Roosevelt, the chief architect of the UN Charter, foresaw the need for continuous evolution. He remarked, “No plan is perfect. Whatever is adopted will have to be amended over the years.” This perspective underlines the importance of adaptability and foresight in the governance of global affairs.

NWF urges political leaders and international bodies to recognize the potential of regional unions in conflict prevention. Yogananda Paramhansa (1892–1952), a famous spiritual master from India, envisioned a future characterized by unity and peace: “Wars are bound to go on until the United States of Europe and the United States of Asia are evolved, to prepare the way for the United States of the World, with God guiding all nations.” This foresight aligns with NWF’s conviction that united regions and a world united by a higher purpose can put an end to wars.

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About the Author

Shiv R. Jhawar, an author and tax expert, supports this proposal. With credentials as a Master of Accounting Science (MAS), an Enrolled Agent (EA), and a Chartered Accountant (CA), he is also the author of Building a Noble World and founder of the Noble World Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to promoting global peace and understanding.

About Noble World Foundation

Founded in 2004, the Noble World Foundation (NWF) in Chicago is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. NWF’s mission is to inspire individuals to change themselves through meditation, believing that personal transformation leads to global change. NWF emphasizes that the individual is the “world,” and as individuals evolve, so does the world. Join us at nobleworld.org.

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