Wednesday, September 22, 2004
On this day:

Around the World

Germany, Japan, India, and Brazil are lobbying to be permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

The Security Council is currently composed of 5 permanent members, the victorious powers of World War II - the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and France. The General Assembly elects 10 other member nations as non-permanent members. The five permanent members hold veto power over all Security Council decisions.

The structure of the Security Council is reflective of the geopolitical situation as it existed when the U.N. was created in 1945, and a good argument can be made that it should be brought up to date with current realities. However, the current reality is that the United Nations is largely disfunctional. The purposes of the U.N., as stated in its charter are:
    1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take
      effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the
      peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the
      peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the
      principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of
      international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;
    2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the
      principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other
      appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
    3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems
      of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting
      and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all
      without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
    4. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

Can anyone argue that the U.N. has lived up to these purposes? From Bosnia, to Iraq, to Sudan, the U.N. has added failure upon failure in "maintaining international peace and security". So, at the center of any discussion of U.N. reform must be its continuing relevance as an institution. I am not in favor of giving up on the U.N. just yet, but as with many other Americans, patience is wearing thin.