There should be no permanent members of the UN Security Council
Last updated: March 2, 2017
No introduction at present. Why not write one?
Failure to act poses problems more elaborated in our case have been noticed by the global community and a reform has been in the process of devising since 2005 however the biggest issue is on the permanent membership expansion. [[http://www.reformtheun.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=7]]
We believe the way to make the UNSC more focused on its actual mission and duties is to abolish permanent positions in UNSC altogether. We believe all 15 seats should be distributed in world regions and subjected to an election of the member states of that region. We do not think that this debate should be about exact regional representation, instead it should be decided on the potential to make UN Security Council more accountable and effective in solving global security problems.
With regard to veto rights, we believe it is an issue worth a debate of its own and therefore we would like to seperate this debate from it. We do not however sympathise with the current practices of 5Ps for exercising veto rights.
The need for UNSC reform is urgent as, in the word of GA President Joseph Deiss, “it was unacceptable that the international community had been unable to make substantial progress on reforming the 15-member Council, despite active debate for almost two decades.”[[ http://bit.ly/oSbb2V%5D%5D
However, how to ensure the reform cures the North-South imbalance and protect the best interest of new members? That the removal of permanent membership (PM) should necessarily be part of UNSC reform is a dubious claim. For whatever benevolent motifs prop here presented for removal of PM its unintended consequences would be devastating, first and foremost, for less powerful states on the UNSC.
From the very start proposition (prop) shows lack of knowledge of the subject. Stating that Permanent Members (PMs) single-handedly veto ANY resolution in UNSC is false for ONLY substantive matters “require nine votes, including the concurring votes of all five permanent members”, also known as “great Power Unanimity”. [[http://goo.gl/3ksvH]]
Notably, prop fails to articulate a clear & definite position, which makes this very debate weak and poor. Thus, first, they propose having 15 UNSC members representing different regions, then they state that this is not what they want to have our debate on. They also set veto power outside the scope of this debate, but, at the same time, base all their arguments explicitly on veto i
It would increase the legitimacy of the UNSC
While in the West the UNSC is seen as force for peace, many developing countries perceive it as an instrument of western dominance. While the US, the UK, and France talk about human rights, other 5P members such as Russia and China regularly abuse them (Chechnya, Tibet [[http://www.hrw.org/asia/china]]). The permanent seat is a symbol of unwillingness to be accountable and furthermore, share the power of making decisions. There is no equal playing field although it would be very important for better acceptance of the resolutions passed by the Security Council. Developing and also developed (Germany) nations with ability to vote for their representative would be more supportive of UNSC peace missions and decisions, because they would have potential to influence those decisions. There has to be room for flexibilty when deciding who is the agressor which currently is not present due to the constant ideological issues of some 5P members.
If UNSC Security really wants to be legitimate body it should be accountable for its decisions to other nations. A situation when the executive body is also the controlling body does not create legitimacy in the eyes of other nation
Prop stresses that legitimacy of UNSC has been endangered & it should be increased. Prop claims that at creation of UNSC, it had some legitimacy, but now it does not. But how Prop determined the degrees of legitimacy & what is the required level of legitimacy has been left unclear.
Citing Brazil, South Africa and India as examples of how PM disadvantages regional powers is totally misleading. In fact, under most of the reform proposals these countries are considered the most natural and legitimate contenders for new permanent seats on the reformed UNSC. [[http://bit.ly/orcFBU]] By opposing the expansion of PM to include these regional powers, prop kicks itself in the foot and contradicts its own stated aim of more equitable geographical representation.
Prop states that countries that are stable & proved regional leadership should be able to make ‘responsible decisions’. Next they state that P5 enjoy making decisions with an effect on the collective security. But prop failed to explain what ‘responsible decisions’ are. We are left with no choice but to infer that responsible decisions mean those affecting collective security. It means that Prop unknowingly asserts new regional powers become PMs, thus supporting our case.
The claim that P5 enjoy unrivalled ability to make decisions affecting collective security is false. Under the UN Charter it takes 9 votes not only those of P5 to make a decision!
It is clear that removing PM will cause the UN to fail just like the League of Nations. The main lesson to learn from LoN failure had been that an international organization cannot work unless all major powers are not members (US decision not to join and exclusion of the USSR). [[http://goo.gl/SyTBh]]
It would make the UNSC more effective and efficient
Existence of permanent seats creates a situation when the UNSC is dominated by national interest not collective security. It perpetuates geopolitical games and does not allow the UNSC to step up to the higher and more important role it was created for in the first place. When no permanent seats are possible, even if a country exercises veto, it can no longer take only its own interest into account; it has to be to some extent aligned with the interest of the majority of the region. Although it might not work perfectly in the real setting, just enabling this tool would allow focusing more on the actual duties: international peace, sanctions and other means to stop aggressors, and maintain operation of the UNSC. [[http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_functions.html]]
Even if there would still be dead-end in negotiation over resolutions, vetoes would be backed by region, thus more justified and there would be a possibility to start over after election for decisions such as membership and judges of International Court of Justice.
As UNSC membership is much coveted there is much infighting within regional groups as to which countries qualify for membership.[[ A.J.I.C.L. 288-292 (2006)]] With the removal of PM and elections of all UNSC members this fight would intensify resulting in protracted stalemates. Failure to timely compose the UNSC would paralyze the operation of UNSC and undermine its credibility. For example, failure of Guatemala and Venezuela to secure a majority in the General Assembly after 48 (!) rounds of voting in 2006 led to the election of a compromise candidate. [[http://bit.ly/pKekGL]] Removal of PM would heighten the risk of such stalemates as all members would have to face such election hurdles at frequent intervals.
To be effective UNSC needs compliance and capacity to enforce its decisions. However, prop fails to demonstrate how removal of PM would ensure compliance with UNSC decisions of powerful states which would no longer be present on the UNSC, i.e. with no impetus or interest in having its decisions enforced.
Equally, prop fails to show how UNSC operations could be supported without stable funding from powerful nations, e.g. for peace-keeping and enforcement actions.
Contrary to prop’s unfounded assertion, both collective and national interests will equally be served as PM will incentivize states to provide funding which is absolutely instrumental to the effective discharge of UNSC’s mission. Thus UN peacekeeping operations alone cost $7.60 billion in the current fiscal year with 10 top financial contributors including 4 permanent members of UNSC (46.77% of the budget) and 2 aspiring permanent members Japan and Germany (20.55% of the budget). [[http://bit.ly/hY7qcF]]
It will provide more accountability
The notion that some countries can frivolously decide to which crisis the common force should react and get away with wrong decisions just because at some point in history they were awarded with luxury is outdated in the 21st century. Abolishing permanent positions and subjecting every member state holding a position to the necessity to be re-elected to maintain the ability to contribute to decision-making would provide a serious incentive to respond to any critical situation in the world. This means the responses would be more timely and adequate to the threat. Moreover, there would be more responses altogether regardless of the countries involved. Although there are some limitations to popular vote which underlies election, when it takes ensuring peace in the world to win that vote we deem it to be a worthy trade-off which ultimately benefits all parties involved.
Prop fails to see the real issues at play PM is not the reason for UNSC’s lack of accountability. There are other means to improve transparency and accountability, e.g., by improving the working methods of the Council, institutionalizing UNSC co-operation with other principal UN organs and strengthening consultation with all relevant stakeholders.[[ http://bit.ly/ob0R5F, p. 135]]
Granting formal decision-making power to non-permanent will not automatically shift the balance of power in the world. Political power and strategies such as threats or side-payments are used to gain the support of other members. [[Rev Int Organ (2011) 6:163–187, p. 172]]
Abolishing PM would encourage regional powers to use informal ways to get their interests served, e.g. back-door deals and side payments to win votes. It’d be naïve to expect them to step back, watch decisions of import to their strategic interests being made for them and follow orders of less powerful states. PM serves as an accountability mechanism putting major international players under the spotlight and requiring them to make decisions in the open as opposed to back-door dealing.
It will lead to fair regional representation, as well as make it more legitimate and flexible
First, we have to understand that emerging world is varied in itself, and merely picking some countries that seem powerful and legitimate enough and then giving them PM is a failed strategy that will necessarily lead to tensions similar to those we already have between permanent and non-permanent memebers. For example, it is reasonable to assume that Pakistan won't be content if India is elected as PM in UNSC, further destabilising this region and hampering the global security achievements. In contrast, gathering mandate through votes will be seen much more legitimate among developing countries themselves. That is how democratic system works: if bad decisions are made, voters won't vote next time.
Thus, prop first suggests that “stable states (ex. Brazil, South Africa, India) & proved regional leaders” be part of ‘responsible-decision process’, but then state that “merely picking some countries that seem powerful and legitimate enough…is a failed strategy.” This is a clear self-contradiction on Prop’s part, showing once again lack of clearly defined position.
In sum, prop failed to prove why PM should be removed, how equitable geographical representation and voting are exclusive of PM. Actually voting is already in place in UNSC with resolutions accepted by a certain number of votes. We acknowledge the need for UNSC reform, but no reform proposal has seriously suggested abortion of PM. [[http://on.cfr.org/qmdpvy]]
Prop’s attempt to refute our argument by point at our own reference is another self-contradiction. Stating “their own reference #3 argues for having permanent seats” does not help prop’s case because this is exactly the thrust of our position to preserve PM irrespective of form of representation, be it regional or country. Prop failed to notice that we have promoted PM based on fair geographical representation throughout our case.
It is naïve of prop to think that most developing countries can be as convincing as powerful states. Prosperity of developing countries largely depends on their relations with more powerful states. This holds especially true on the regional basis, e.g. Russia is the main export market for neighbouring countries. Developing countries understand this well. So this ‘fair’ representation through regular elections will ensure nothing but that powerful states retain their influence in the UNSC. The international community understands this well thus preserving PM
Summary - Team Latvia
The first crucial problem with status quo is that current structure of UNSC is illegitimate. 5Ps are predominantly Western liberal democracies and include no single country from South America and Africa, whose global security interests are severely underrepresented. Our plan improves the UNSC's legitimacy by a) reducing North-South representation disparity; b) giving more political leverage (via elections) to countries that originate from the same region as current 5Ps do (because now they may not be reelected the next time). The opposition responded to this by proposing simply including more countries from various regions as permanent members; although improving representativeness as well, this idea falls for two important reasons: lack of accountability and inefficiencies.
As regards accountability, while UNSC's goals are to ensure collective security, its outlook and resolutions are unavoidably biased because permanent members (both current and suggested by Opposition) can always insert their own political agenda in the decision-making process, knowing that whatever they do they remain at power. Our plan makes each member place subject to election by its regional neighbors; this basic democratic mechanism involves more countries in the global security process, which is more objective and accountable. The opposition engaged very weakly on this point, talking about risk of not including major powers in UNSC but failing to show why is it different from SQ and could be disastrous. They also said that voting may lead to backdoor deals, providing no explanation on why these deals can't take place now or with more permanent members, and failing to disprove that increased competition through elections will limit such activities.
Speaking of effectiveness, under our plan countries will feel they have more leverage over UNSC decisions because of increased accountability of its members. When there are no permanent seats, even if a country exercises veto, it can no longer take only its own interest into account; it has to be to some extent aligned with the interest of the majority of the region. Thus, countries will be more motivated to take part in the decision-making process, which will make it more objective and efficient. Even if stalemates occur, now vetoes would be backed regionally, i.e. more justified; plus, it'd be possible to solve conflicts more efficiently via elections.
All in all, any country that is granted permanent membership in UNSC has a moral hazard to abuse it and pursue its own interests, disregarding collective security. Moreover, being permanently represented is not legitimate and does not match the ever-changing nature of power balances in the world. Thus, there should be no permanent member states of the UNSC.
Argument 1: PM serves interests of developing countries
As Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa noted, no serious suggestions to abolish permanent membership have been discussed by various UNSC reform initiatives, thus requiring that Africa be represented by Permanent Members.[[http://bit.ly/nzwXms]]
Absolutely all UN members with the single exception of Bolivia have recognized that PM is critical to the effective functioning of UNSC whatever shape the UNSC reform eventually takes. [[http://bit.ly/rnku7m, p.6]] As the push for reform comes from developing countries, absence of any serious proposals and support for abolition of the permanent category of UNSC membership goes to show that developing countries see benefits in preserving PM as a viable mechanism for consistent and visible presence of developing countries in international law-making and enforcement.
Prop is siding with the P5 by opposing the expansion of PM as the five Great Powers will have ensured their dominant influence in the UNSC under any reform option, e.g. by buying UNSC rotating members’ votes with aid as is already the case.[[ http://bit.ly/qmVIXL%5D%5D Without PM it is the developing countries that will lose by missing an excellent opportunity to finally gain a visible, well-deserved presence on the international arena.
The clash here is whether having PMs for any single country has any advantages other than representation of this country. The opposition has failed to indicate any, as well as show what would be the "devastating consequences" if PMs are removed. Our arguments against PMs, e.g. lack of accountability and incentive to push one's own political agenda, were never refuted. They talked about increased opportunity of stalemate - we say that expanding the PM will lead exactly to this because there will be more unaccountable members. They also blamed us for siding with P5 and talked about possible mechanisms to influence the power balance. We note that the developed countries can buy votes under any mechanism as what matters is money. However, under our model, there is competition between states because no one's place is guaranteed, which pushes them to more accountable decisions. Finally, they said that UNSC will not be able to work without funding and participation of powerful countries. This is naive because under Status Quo there are many powerful nations that are not in UNSC. Plus, being powerful doesn't justify being unaccountable. We cannot expand PM to include everyone - then the system truly fails.
Argument 2: UNSC sanctions become powerless without PM
Current P5 membership is represented by main victorious powers of World War II. Vast contribution of P5 ended the WWII & has, for the next 56 years, been keeping peace worldwide. These countries have since assumed responsibility for maintaining peace in the world. Notably, P5 members are the only countries recognized as nuclear-weapon states (NWS) under Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.[[http://goo.gl/LH8vt]]
So traditionally PMs have been nations that are able to exert its influence on a global scale and thus fulfill UNSC’s mission best by ensuring peace and security in the world. Their economic, military, diplomatic & cultural strengths enabled UN to maintain peace for more than 50 yrs and avoid disgraceful failure like that of League of Nation’s to prevent the WWII. These strengths ensure UNSC sanctions & resolutions are enforced properly. Sanctions against Liberia, Libya and the former Yugoslavia are examples of UNSC success. [[http://on.cfr.org/qmdpvy]]
2) PM benefits world economy
Both existing and aspiring Permanent Members (PMs) are strong economies with major influence on the rest of the world. Ensuring stability of P5 members ensures relative stability of the rest of the world. Economic meltdown in US severely affecting millions of people’s livelihoods throughout the world is an example of PMs’ influential position. The world, in the face of UN, must try to eliminate any threat of turbulences, especially as regards peace & security in PM states, in order to maintain economic stability in the world. For example, Canada whose main export market is US (75% of all exports)[[www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cis-sic/nsf]] anything affecting stability of US would have fatal consequences for Canada. Same holds true for other PMs. In addition, world statistics on external trade for 2009 show that the EU, US & China are major players in global import & export markets.[[http://goo.gl/zZbs5]]
2) It is unclear what opposition was trying to deliver with this point. Common knowledge facts about economic strengths of 5Ps in no way relate to the issues of legitimacy, accountability, and supra-nation organizations' effectiveness raised in this debate; nor, for that matter, they prove the assertion in the argument's title - "UNSC sanctions become powerless without PM". Even if we assume the statement is true, the opp has never proved why having powerful nations blackmail others via economic mechanisms and push forward their own interests is a legitimate and effective system of global security control.
Argument 3: PM ensures continuity essential to resolving issues of international peace and security
Preserving PM is essential to ensuring UNSC has the institutional memory and experience necessary to deal with issues of international peace and security. Only PMs have a continuous record and memory of the UNSC’s work over the years. As UNSC often relies on precedents in its work, non-PMs have either no knowledge of or background on these precedents and need PMs’ help. [[http://bit.ly/paBZ1o, p. 260]]
Thus, to abolish PM would be undermine the work done by UNSC throughout its history because of lack of institutional memory and experience among non-PMs.
Moreover, we do not see the problem with not re-elected countries helping to broker the deals they have been mediating as members of UNSC. Cooperation should not stop at transfering the money to UNSC. Goodwill will also benefit them by increaing the probaility of being elected in the next term, so the incentives are present to correct for that.
Even if there would be cases when countries should seek compromise in their decisions, taking into account what the rest of the world feels towards the situation makes it a more legitimate decision in the end, since the process of achieveing the outcome involves everyone.
It is also rather curious Opposition speak of "consistency and decisive force". We have already shown that if anything currently UNSC has consistently been decisive in situations when interests of 5Ps are at stake while sparing their decisiveness in other cases leading to only make decisions on how to restore countries like Rwanda. And although it was mentioned that it was the closed door discussion that lead to it, we see that having more people behind those door doesn't solve anthing. Having no closed door is the best way out
In particular, prop failed as to the following:
1) Scope of debate
Prop went outside the scope of debate it had itself initially set. Thus, prop first stated that issues of veto power and regional representation would not be discussed, but later based all its arguments on examples relating to those two issues. Conversely, as opp we focused our case entirely on harms of removal of PM and benefits of preserving & expanding PM.
2) Lack of understanding of the subject
Prop throughout the debate exhibited superficial knowledge of the subject, e.g. by assuming P5 could single-handedly veto ANY resolution (which is true only for substantive ones) and enjoy unrivalled ability to make decisions (while it still requires 9 votes to pass any UNSC decision).
3) Lack of evidence
Prop’s case mainly consisted of unsupported claims and opinions of their own. Despite opp’s highlighting this issue, prop continued with the practice. We believe this debate is not about making unfounded assertions but about proving one’s case based on reliable sources and realities on the ground. In their fourth point prop summarized and repeated all the same ideas as in their previous 3 points, which again proves prop has no new ideas and evidence to support their case. As opp we still provided a clear response to that argument.
4) No reaction to counterarguments
Prop failed to react to counterarguments containing evidence negating their points. Thus, for example, prop failed to show how removal of PM would prevent regional leaders from using informal methods to influence UNSC decision-making. Prop has clearly shown lack of evidence to support their case, such as their failed attempt to use our reference against us contradicting themselves.
5) Prop’s self-contradictions
Prop presented many self-contradictions, which we have identified throughout our case. For example, stating that regional leaders like India and Brazil wish to join ‘responsible decision process’ while asserting that “merely picking some countries that seem powerful and legitimate enough…is a failed strategy” is both self-contradictory and shows lack of clarity of prop’s position.
As opp we have shown how removal of PM would harm the interests of developing countries, undermine the work done by UNSC throughout its history and worsen global economic conditions. Prop in turn has failed to prove their case as shown above.