History of UNSC Reform

The UN established

Fifty-one states ratified the Charter of the United Nations in October 1945, formally establishing the United Nations. The UN Charter had been drafted  during the two month-long United Nations Conference on International Organization based on the proposals from representatives of the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (USA) at Dumbarton Oaks from August to October 1944. The Charter provides for a veto power to five countries in the hope that it would ensure their participation in the UN and its Security Council. The UN Charter sets forth in Chapter V the composition and functions and powers of the UN Security Council (UNSC), in addition to its voting and procedures details.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM

This timeline compiled from resources provided by the Global Policy Forum, the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect,  the Center for UN Reform at  Timeline UN Security Council Reform, 1992- November 2015 and Governing & Managing Change at the United Nations and other sources

2024-02-28 China Backs UNSC Reform

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with UNSC Reform co-chairs Albanai and Marschik in Beijing. Wang affirmed China's commitment to UN principles and advocated for reform to increase representation and participation, emphasising the importance of international consensus. Albanai and Marschik expressed appreciation for China's support and pledged collaboration in advancing reform efforts.

2024-02-26 UN Chief Antonio Guterres Criticizes Security Council's Inaction

Guterres expressed deep concern over the UN Security Council's inability to address significant global security issues, such as the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Guterres lamented the lack of unity among council members, stating that it had severely undermined the council's authority. He noted the urgent need for reform in the council's composition and working methods. The United States recently vetoed a draft resolution for a ceasefire in Israel's offensive against Gaza, marking the third veto since the conflict began. Guterres warned that failure to act could lead to the council becoming "incapable of doing anything," highlighting the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

2024-02-22 Brazil Criticizes UN Inaction at G20 Meeting

Brazil's Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira criticised the UN Security Council's failure to address conflicts like those in Ukraine and Gaza during the opening of a G20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro. Vieira underlined the need for international institutions to respond effectively to global challenges, highlighting the Security Council's paralysis. As the current G20 president, Brazil aims to use the platform to advocate for UN reform and address pressing issues such as conflict resolution and multilateral cooperation.

2024-02-17 India Challenges Hegemony of P5

On February 17, 2024, Ruchira Kamboj, India's permanent ambassador to the United Nations, addressed the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council Reform in New York. She queried, "So can we allow five permanent members to eternally override the collective voice of 188 member states? Let us not forget that this is the whole purpose of this reform, to right historical injustices and ensure inclusive decision-making through expansion, we feel in the permanent and non-permanent categories of membership, including reform in the working methods of the council, which also includes the question of the veto." Asserting the urgency to address the "historical injustices" faced by the global south, she emphasized that "it is time to rectify these disparities by ensuring greater representation for regions like Asia, Latin America, and Africa on the UNSC through reform in both its...".

2024-01-21 Guterres urges G77 and China to drive momentum for global governance reform

Speaking at the third summit of the Group of 77 countries and China, in Kampala, on 21 January 2024, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said “Let us face it: those that benefit most from the present global governance system are unlikely to lead its reform. So, momentum for change must come from you. I urge you to keep driving these efforts forward.” More than 130 countries are members of the bloc – the largest grouping of the global South, representing 80 per cent of the world population.

Read the full article here

2023-11-20 African Union Commission Chairperson H.E. Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat Speaks at C-10 Summit

At the C-10 Summit on UNSC Reforms, Chairperson Mahamat stressed the urgency of advancing the Common African Position. He highlighted Africa's significant contributions to global peace and security and called for AU peace support missions to be funded through UN contributions. Mahamat underlined the importance for Africa to assume its rightful place in global decision-making and urged unity among African nations to achieve aspirations for two permanent seats on the UNSC.

2023-10-30 Brazil blasts UN Security Council for its 'inability to act' on Israel-Gaza conflict

Brazil's Foreign Minister, Mauro Vieira, criticised the UN Security Council's inaction on global crises, particularly the Israel-Gaza conflict, stating that it questions the council's raison d'être. Despite multiple meetings since October 7, the Council rejected four draft resolutions. Brazil, the US, and Russia submitted drafts, but permanent members Russia, China, and the US vetoed them. The General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution for a humanitarian truce, but the Security Council couldn't agree on any related text. Vieira emphasised the need for decisive action to end human suffering, highlighting the urgency of the situation on the ground in Israel and Gaza. This highlights the urgent need for reform within the Security Council to ensure it can effectively fulfil its mandate of maintaining international peace and security.

2023-09-19 President Biden Addresses UN General Assembly

President Biden delivered an address to the UN General Assembly in New York City, emphasising the importance of overcoming historical animosities to forge partnerships for peace and progress. Biden reiterated the United States' commitment to global leadership, advocating for a more secure, prosperous, and equitable world. He specifically addressed the need to reform international institutions, including expanding permanent and non-permanent seats at the UNSC to increase representation and effectiveness to address modern challenges.

2023-01-16 Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister urges alignment with the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, emphasising the urgency for reform

Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister, Professor David Francis, alongside H.E. Dennis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, inaugurated the 10th Foreign Minister’s meeting of the C-10. Emphasising Africa's common stance outlined in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, Professor Francis advocated for two Permanent Seats and five Non-Permanent Seats for Africa in the United Nations Security Council and proposed either the abolition or extension of the Veto power to new permanent members. The meeting centred on analysing recent developments regarding UN Security Council Reform, including outcomes from the Intergovernmental Negotiations during the 76th UN General Assembly session, reflecting on progress within the negotiation process, and strategising on the C-10's role in promoting the Common African Position.

2022-11-17 General Assembly Hears Renewed Appeals for Substantive Security Council Reform but Speakers Differ on Representation

The General Assembly convened its annual debate on Security Council reform, with speakers renewing calls for enlarging the 15-member body and updating its methods for transparency, inclusivity, and effectiveness in addressing global crises. Divergent views persisted in achieving reform, despite the appointment of co-chairs for intergovernmental negotiations. Some advocated for expanding both permanent and non-permanent membership, with specific attention to representation for small island states and Africa. Others proposed alternative models, such as Italy's suggestion for additional non-permanent seats. Permanent Council members like the United States and the United Kingdom supported varying degrees of expansion, while China cautioned against perpetuating dominance by developed nations. The debate showcased a spectrum of positions, with calls for substantive negotiations and a tangible commitment to reform.

2022-04-12 Liechtenstein et al. on the UN Security Council veto

38 Member States led by Liechtenstein and including the United States as a co-sponsor, tabled a resolution at the General Assembly that will automatically convene a meeting of the Assembly after a veto has been cast in the Security Council. The resolution, if adopted, will only apply during the remainder of the 76th session of the General Assembly.

2022-04-05 Ukraine at the UNSC

On 5 April 2022 President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, at a meeting of the UN Security Council, said: ‘Remove Russia as an aggressor and a source of war from blocking decisions about its own aggression, its own war. And then do everything that can establish peace. Or show how you can reformat and really work for peace. Or if your current format is unalterable and there is simply no way out, then the only option would be to dissolve yourself altogether.’

2022-03-03 Russia invades the Ukraine

On 24 February 2022 Russia invades Ukraine and, on 3 March 2022, Kemal Dervis and José Ocampo propose the possibility of overturning a permanent member’s veto. ‘This could be done by adding a clause to Article 27 that would allow a large double majority—representing, for example, at least two-thirds of member countries and two-thirds of the world’s population—to override a veto.’

2021-11-16 Debate continues

The sterile debate on reform continues. 16 November 2021, during the 76th meeting of the General Assembly, delegates noted that there had been 29 years of structured consideration of reform and 12 years of intergovernmental negotiations, without any progress. Every year the various groups simply reiterate their well-known positions with the P5 secure in their veto.

2018-09-27 The IBSA Dialogue Forum Ministers call for UNSC reform

‘The Ministers underscored that no reform of the United Nations will be complete without the reform of the Security Council, including through the expansion of its membership in both permanent and non-permanent categories, in order to ensure adequate representation of developing countries. They affirmed that such a reform is critical for the Council to be able to adequately respond to global challenges. They expressed full support for each other’s candidatures for permanent seats in a reformed and enlarged UN Security Council. The Ministers welcomed the reform proposals of UN Secretary General and encouraged him to address the need for reform in other areas, including ensuring adequate geographical representation in the Secretariat, especially at higher levels, reviewing the funding and backstopping arrangements for special political missions, and strengthening the role of regional commissions.’

2017-10-30 UNGA President appoints new Co-Chairs of the IGN

UNGA President H.E. Miroslav Lajčák appoints H.E. Mr. Kaha Imnadze, Permanent Representative of Georgia, and H.E. Mrs. Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates, as Co-Chairs of the IGN.

2017-06-27 Elements of Communality

The President of the General Assembly transmit a letter from the co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on UNSC reform consisting of a final version of the document entitled ‘Elements of Communality and Issues for Further Consideration on the question of equitable representation and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters.’ The six page report concludes with 22 ‘issues for further consideration’ reflecting the lack of progress.

2017-05-17 AU rejects 'Food for Thought'

The African Union Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government on UN reforms held its Fourth Consultative Summit on the Reform of the United Nations Security Council, in Malabo, Republic of Equatorial Guinea. In the subsequent communique, they decided as follows:

  1. The Common African Position as espoused in Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration is the only viable option to redress the historical injustice done to the African Continent. The reform of the UN Security Council should be comprehensive in accordance with Decision 62/557 of the UN General Assembly.
  2. Stressed the critical importance for heightened engagement with the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council.
  3. Instructed the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the C-10 to come up with a proposed DECISION on a progressive approach for advancing the Common African Position on UN reform process, to be tabled at the AU Assembly in July 2017.

Following the Malabo Consultative Summit in May 2017 the Africa Group rejected the original and revised Food for Thought and reaffirmed its support for the text circulated by the president of the UNGA in August 2015.

2017-03-31 'Food for Thought'

Ahead of the third IGN session early in April 2017 the co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform circulated a short document on elements of convergence, communalities and issues for further conversation, known as Food for Thought.

2016-07-27 UNSC reform to the General Assembly

UNGA Decision 70/559 of 27 July 2016

To “immediately continue intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform in informal plenary of the General Assembly at its seventy-first session, as mandated by Assembly decisions 62/557 of 15 September 2008, 63/565 B of 14 September 2009, 64/568 of 13 September 2010, 65/554 of 12 September 2011, 66/566 of 13 September 2012, 67/561 of 29 August 2013, 68/557 of 8 September 2014 and 69/560 of 14 September 2015, building on the informal meetings held during its seventieth session, as well as the positions of and proposals made by Member States, reflected in the text and its annex circulated on 31 July 2015, and using the elements of convergence circulated on 12 July 2016 to help to inform its future work”.

2016-07-12 Elements of convergence

Letter from the President of the General Assembly on circulating elements of convergence on two of the five key issues on Security Council reform, namely ‘the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly’, and ‘size of an enlarged Security Council and working methods of the Council’.

2015-10-23 Code of conduct launch

The Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes was officially launched. The code calls upon all members of the UNSC – elected and permanent – to not vote against any credible draft resolution intended to prevent or halt mass atrocities. As of 15 September 2017 the Code of Conduct is signed by 114 member states and two observers.

2015-09-14 Advancing UNSC reform UNGA adopts by consensus Decision 69/650 on advancing efforts to reform UNSC

On the 14th of September 2015 the General Assembly adopted, by consensus, Decision 69/650 in which Member States decided to immediately continue the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform (IGN) during the 70th session of the General Assembly, “building on the informal meetings held during its sixty-ninth session, as well as the positions of and proposals made by Member States reflected in the text and its annex circulated by the President of the General Assembly in his letter dated 31 July 2015”. Rattray’s reappointment was, however, prevented by pressure from some P5 members on the government of Jamaica and replaced by Ms Sylvie Lucas, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg as Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations.

2015-09-01 UNSC code of conduct final

Members of the ACT group submit the final text of the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes supported by 25 Members of ACT with an invitation to Member States to formally support it.

2015-08-01 Suspending veto powers

France, with the support of Mexico, launched the Political Declaration on Suspension of Veto Powers in Cases of Mass Atrocity, aimed at security voluntary restraint on the use of the veto when faced with mass atrocities. As of 27 June 2017, the Political Declaration is supported by 96 member states.

2015-07-31 The first text

The President of the General Assembly circulates a first text to form the basis for Intergovernmental Negotiations on the reform of the Security Council with the individual country and submissions of Member States and the six letters containing the positions of groups and Member States that indicated that they did not wish their proposals to be included in the body of the text attached as annexures.

2015-05-05 UNSC Reform framework

The President of the General Assembly, Sam K Kutesa, circulates a first version of the framework document populated by by Member States with a request for final input. Individual inputs received were included in annexure. In subsequent letter with the same date, Minister Kutesa forwarded the position of some Member States which were not submitted in the format of the Framework Document and, in line with the request of the six letters (from the Arab Group, Uniting for Consensus, China, the Russian Federation, the USA and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic), were not included in the framework document. This was followed, on 13 May 2015, by an updated version of the Framework Document following technical amendments as well as late submissions made by some Member States.

2015-03-19 UNSC code of conduct

Members of the ACT (Accountability, Coherence, Transparency) Group circulate a non-paper on elements for consideration as part of a Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. ACT expanded on the work of the Small Five (S5) initiative which aimed to improve the transparency of the UNSC by suggesting that the P5 should explain why the veto has been employed in each situation.

2013-09-23 'Collectively renounce veto powers'?

French President Hollande proposed, in the General Assembly, that “a code of good conduct be defined by the permanent members of the Security Council, and that in the event of a mass crime they can decide to collectively renounce their veto powers” with the detail being fleshed out by Foreign Minister Fabius in the New York Times a few days later.

2011-04-04 'Small five' resolution Small 5 present resolution on UNSC reform

Small 5 introduce resolution on reforming UNSC working methods including veto restraint. This resolution is an amended version of their 2005 resolution.

2010-05-10 Reform negotiation text

Chair of IGN Afghanistan Ambassador Zahir Tanin publishes negotiation text

The text consists of input submitted by member states.

2010-03-01 G4 gain more support – UK/French release position paper on UNSC reform

The UK and France voice support for granting permanent membership to the G4 and African representation among the permanent members, in addition to advocating for a pragmatic intermediate reform to break the deadlock, which would entail the creation of a new category of membership in which states could serve for terms longer than two years and would be eligible for permanent membership.

2009-09-10 Collating UNSC Reform

Note by the President of the General Assembly that collates the efforts made by the Chair of the Intergovernmental negotiations, the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, Ambassador Zahir Tanin since February 2009 (A/63/960) consisting of three rounds of consultations.

2009-03-04 France supports reform

France gives statement on UNSC Reform, Categories of membership

In a statement to the General Assembly by Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert:

France supports expansion of the Council in the two categories of members, permanent and non-permanent. …
Consideration should be given to the emergence of new powers who have the willingness and capacity to assume significant responsibilities.
Not creating new permanent seats would enlarge the gap between the composition of the Security Council and the reality of the contemporary world.
Those able to make a significant contribution (politically, financially, or militarily) to the United Nations’ maintenance of international peace and security should be able to fully utilize their capacities with a mandate corresponding to their size (demographically, economically and politically).

The relationship between the permanent members and the non-permanent members is an essential factor to the efficiency of the Council: the permanent members ensure continuity in the Council’s work. Imbalance between the two categories of members could have negative effects on the Council’s efficiency.
In the case of an expanded Security Council, we support the accession to permanent membership of Germany, Brazil, India, Japan, and Africa. This also raises the question of including an Arab country among the permanent members of the Security Council.

France and the UK support the option of an intermediate reform that would temporarily provide for seats with terms longer than two years and immediately renewable. At the end of this initial phase (that could last 15 to 20 years), a review conference should evaluate the impact of the reform and the necessity of completing the first phase of reform.

France supports granting the G4 and Africa permanent membership and the British-French proposal of intermediate reform, which would last 15 to 20 years, that would provide seats with immediately renewable terms longer than two years. This also raises the question of including an Arab country among the permanent members of the Security Council.

2009-01-12 Implementing the Responsibility to Protect

Building on the 2005 World Summit Outcome document, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released his report, Implementing the Responsibility to Protect, A/63/677 which called for reform of the way the P5 wielded their veto power. Citing a global attitude shift since the massacres in Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica and elsewhere, Ban Ki-moon stated that the political costs had risen domestically and internationally for “anyone seen to be blocking an effective international response to an unfolding genocide or other high-visibility crime relating to the responsibility to protect.” The report describing the P5 veto power as a privilege of tenure and that the P5 had particular responsibility “to refrain from employing or threatening to employ the veto in situations of manifest failure to meet obligations relating to the responsibility to protect” in situations of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It set out a three-pillar strategy for advancing the 2005 Summit Outcomes, consisting of the protection responsibilities of the State; international assistance and capacity-building; and timely and decisive response.

2008-09-15 Five components of UNSC reform

The UNGA adopts by consensus Decision 62/557 on the ‘Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters’ that listed the five key reform issues comprising UNSC reform.

(e) Further decided that the basis for the intergovernmental negotiations would be as follows: (i) The positions and proposals of Member States, regional groups and other groupings of Member States; (ii) The five key issues: categories of membership; the question of the veto; regional representation; size of an enlarged Security Council and working methods of the Council; and the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly;

2008-03-27 Supporting the G4 permanent seats

In a joint UK-France Summit Declaration, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reaffirm their support for the candidacy of Germany, Brazil, India and Japan (the G4) for permanent membership, as well as for permanent representation for Africa on the Council. Given the deadlock in negotiations, they proposed intermediate reform of the UNSC that would temporarily provide for a new category of seats with terms longer than two years and immediately renewable. At the end of this initial phase (that could last 15 to 20 years), a review conference should evaluate the impact of the reform and to decide if these new types of seats should be termed into permanent ones.

2007-09-10 Increasing UNSC membership?

Report of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters related to the Security Council Sixty-first Session of the UNGA, Supplement No 47 (A/61/47). The report of the facilitators is attached as Annex ll. With this report the UNGA creates an Intergovernmental Negotiation (IGN) framework in accordance with the following recommendation contained in paragraph 21:

(d) Decides that the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council should be considered during the sixty-second session of the General Assembly so that further concrete results may be achieved, including through intergovernmental negotiations, building on the progress achieved so far, particularly at the sixty-first session, as well as the positions of and proposals made by Member States;

2007-07-19 Notions on the Way Forward

UNSC adopts note authored by UNGA President

The product of months of work by the Council’s Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Matters. In its section on “Notions on the Way Forward” the facilitators noted that maintaining the status quo is not acceptable to an overwhelming majority of Member States and proposed a transitional approach that included the creation of new non-permanent seats as well as four variations of an intermediate category.

  • Extended seats that could be allocated for the full duration of the intermediary arrangement, including the possibility of recall.
  • Extended seats, which would be for a longer period than the regular two- year term, but with the possibility of re-election. The length of the terms as well as the re-election modalities should be decided in negotiations.
  • Extended seats, which would be for a longer period than the regular two-year term, but without the possibility of re-election. The length of the term should be decided in the negotiations.
  • Non-permanent two-year seats with the possibility of immediate re-election.

The note also recommended numerous measures to limit the use of the veto that included:

  • Ways of enhancing accountability for the use of the veto.
  • Limitations of the scope of application of the veto.
  • Individual or collective pledges to refrain from its use in certain instances.

Other recommendations related to regional representation, options on the expansion of the size of the UNSC and improvements in the working methods of the UNSC. The options presented on the expansion of the size of the UNSC were:

  • A limited expansion, believed to be supported by those Member States particularly concerned about the efficiency of the Council.
  • A large expansion, believed to be supported by those Member States particularly concerned about the Security Council’s representativity
  • A medium-size expansion that could reconcile the concerns of those who argue for an efficient Council with the views of those who underscore its
  • A limited expansion in a first stage and a further expansion in the framework of the review.

2007-07-19 Notions on the Way Forward

The Facilitators present report on UNSC reform

The ambassadors of Tunisia, Cyprus, Croatia, Chile and the Netherlands facilitate a UNGA report on Security Council reform proposing temporarily expanding UNSC membership.

2007-02-08 Appointing facilitators

The President of the General Assembly appointed five facilitators in their individual capacity to assist her during the consultation process.

2007-01-24 UNGA president invites consultations

The President of the General Assembly invites the membership to start consultations around five key issues, namely: categories of membership; the question of the veto; the question of regional representation; the size of an enlarged Security Council; and, the working methods of the Security Council and the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly.

2006-07-19 UNSC President notes

Note by the President of the Security Council (S/2006/507)

Consisting of a letter and annex to enhance the efficiency and transparency of the Council’s work, as well as interaction and dialogue with non-Council members, the note contained a “list of the recent practices and newly agreed measures, which will serve as guidance for the Council’s work.”

2005-11-10 The 'small five'

Small five table resolution on UNSC reform

The Small Five (Switzerland, Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein and Singapore) advocate for reform of UNSC working methods.

2005-11-10 US Statements - John Bolton

US Statement on Security Council Reform to UNGA by Ambassador John Bolton

Excerpts:

  • We believe that, as clearly stated in the Charter, the Security Council alone will determine its own working methods and procedures…
  • The United States supports an expansion of the Security Council that can contribute to its strength and effectiveness, and is open to various options to realize such a reform. Earlier this year, the U.S. made a specific proposal for a modest expansion of the Council by adding a combination of permanent and non-permanent members. We stand by that proposal and are open to suggestions of other countries.
  • We have long supported a permanent seat for Japan. We hope very much that Japan will be able to take a permanent seat at the earliest possible opportunity. And we believe that developing countries deserve greater representation on this body. As I have already noted, particular emphasis should be placed on criteria for membership.
  • We will not, however, support a return to any of the three proposals introduced in the 59th General Assembly.

2005-10-24 Responsibility to Protect agreement

The UNGA World Summit Outcome Meeting Document UNGA resolution A/RES/60/1 2005 agreed to the following text on the Responsibility to Protect:

  1. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.
  2. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.
  3. We fully support the mission of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.”

The outcome document therefore did not address any measures that would limit the P5’s veto powers in relation to situations of mass atrocities due in large part to due to P5 pressure.

Language on UNSC reform agreed to by consensus in Section V: Strengthening the United Nations:

Security Council

  1. We reaffirm that Member States have conferred on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, acting on their behalf, as provided for by the Charter.
  2. We support early reform of the Security Council – an essential element of our overall effort to reform the United Nations – in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and transparent and thus to further enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions. We commit ourselves to continuing our efforts to achieve a decision to this end and request the General Assembly to review progress on the reform set out above by the end of 2005.
  3. We recommend that the Security Council continue to adapt its working methods so as to increase the involvement of States not members of the Council in its work, as appropriate, enhance its accountability to the membership and increase the transparency of its work.

2005-09-16 Presenting resolutions

Follow-up summit meeting to UN 2000 Millennium Summit

  • African Group put forth resolution A/59/L.67, proposing to increase UNSC permanent membership from 5 to 11 and non-permanent membership from 10 to 15. While in principle opposed to the veto it proposes that while it exists, the veto be expanded to all permanent members
  • The G4 presented resolution A/59/L.64 expanding UNSC membership from 15 to 26 by adding six permanent members and four non-permanent members, with the objective of the G4 obtaining permanent membership.
  • Uniting for Consensus A/59/L.68
    • “preferred only adding 10 non-permanent seats.”[10]

2005-07-21 The 'Coffee Club' proposal

Uniting for Consensus presents draft resolution on UNSC Reform

The Uniting for Consensus group of 12 countries, also referred to as the Coffee Club, proposes expanding UNSC non-permanent membership from 10 to 20 members, and various changes to the workings of the Council. (A/59/L.68)

  1. The Security Council shall consist of twenty-five Members of the United Nations. France, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly shall elect twenty other Members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council, due regard being specially paid, in the first instance to the contribution of Members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization, and also to equitable geographical distribution.
  2. The non-permanent members of the Security Council shall be elected for a term of two years. In the first election of the non-permanent members after the increase of the membership of the Security Council from fifteen to twentyfive, five of the retiring members shall continue for one more year. Non-permanent members may be eligible for immediate re-election, subject to the decision of their respective geographical groups.

2005-07-21 Adding 10 non-permanent?

Uniting for Consensus tables draft resolution on UNSC reform

Uniting for Consensus proposes adding 10 non-permanent members immediately eligible for re-election.

2005-07-14 AU proposes expansion

African Union tables draft on UNSC reform

The African Union proposes expanding UNSC membership from 15 to 26, with Africa gaining two permanent and five non-permanent seats, and all permanent members with the right to the veto.

2005-07-12 US rejects UNSC reform

US Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli gives statement on UNSC reform to UNGA:

US rejects UNSC reform at this stage, but continues to support permanent membership for Japan.

2005-06-20 US letter on reform

U.S. State Department releases letter on UN reform: U.S. Priorities for a Stronger, More Effective United Nations

“The United States is open to UN Security Council reform and expansion, as one element of an overall agenda for UN reform. We advocate a criteria-based approach under which potential members must be supremely well qualified, based on factors such as: economic size, population, military capacity, commitment to democracy and human rights, financial contributions to the UN, contributions to UN peacekeeping, and record on counterterrorism and nonproliferation. We have to look, of course, at the overall geographic balance of the Council, but effectiveness remains the benchmark for any reform.”

2005-06-11 The G4 resolution

G4 present resolution on UNSC reform

The G4 (Brazil, India, Japan and Germany) proposes expanding UNSC membership from 15 to 25 by adding six permanent members and four non-permanent members, with the objective of the G4 obtaining permanent membership. The G-4 agree to forego their right to the veto for at least 15 years.

2005-06-07 China's position on reform

China publishes position paper on UN reform

China advocates for prioritizing the representation of developing countries in the UNSC; giving small and medium-sized countries more opportunities to enter the UNSC on a rotating basis; and considering the principle of regional rotation.

2005-03-21 Kofi Annan calls for consensus

Ahead of the summit in New York in September 2005 to review progress since the Millennium Declaration, UNSG Kofi Annan releases, In Larger Freedom: towards development, security, and human rights for all” (A/59/2005) where he calls for consensus on expanding the UNSC to 24 members.

“Security Council: The Security Council should be broadly representative of the realities of power in today’s world. The Secretary-General supports the principles for reform set out in the report of the High-level Panel, and urges Member States to consider the two options, Models A and B, presented in that report, or any other viable proposals in terms of size and balance that have emerged on the basis of either Model. Member States should agree to take a decision on this important issue before the Summit in September 2005.”

2005-03-07 AU Ezulwini Consensus

The African Union adopt the Common African Position entitled the Ezulwini Consensus

In response to the report of the High-Level Panel, the African Union releases its report that demands at least two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats to be allocated by the AU. In addition, the AU set forth that either all permanent members–including the new permanent members–must have the right to the veto; if not, then no permanent members may have the right to the veto.

2005-01-05 The US 'fact sheet'

U.S. releases “Fact Sheet” on UNSC reform

The US supports expansion of UNSC to a maximum of 20 or 21 members; supports the granting of permanent seats for Japan and Germany; and is prepared to accept 3 additional permanent seats for developing nations from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

2004-12-02 Our shared responsibility

The High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change chaired by Anand Panyarachun releases A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, A/59/565. The report referred to the institution of the veto as having an “anachronistic character” and recommended that any proposal for Council reform refrain from expanding the veto power. The High-Level Panel called for the permanent members, “in their individual capacities, to pledge themselves to refrain from the use of the veto in cases of genocide and large-scale human rights abuses.” In addition to a proposed Peacebuilding Commission, changes to the Human Rights Commission and other recommendations, the panel proposes two formulas for reform of the UNSC, namely Model A or B.

  • Model A calls for creating six new permanent members, plus three new non-permanent members for a total of 24 seats in the council.
  • Model B calls for creating eight new seats in a new class of members, who would serve for four years, subject to renewal, plus one non-permanent seat, also for a total of 24.
  • Under both models, Africa, Asia and Pacific, Europe, and the Americas each have 6 seats in UNSC.

2002-06-06 UNSC transparency

UNSC publishes report on UNSC procedural developments

The report documents developments in the procedure and working methods of the Security Council, which aimed to promote transparency, openness and efficiency.

2001-12-01 Responsibility to Protect

The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) release their report the Responsibility to Protect. According to the Commission, “external military intervention for humanitarian protection purposes has been controversial both when it has happened — as in Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo — and when it has failed to happen, as in Rwanda”. The Commission identified a responsibility to prevent, a responsibility to react and a responsibility to rebuild, posing a continuum of graduated policy instruments across that spectrum.

The release of the report was overshadowed by the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 on New York and Washington DC, in response to which the Commission wrote that the Report “has not been framed to guide the policy of states when faced with attack on their own nationals, or the nationals of other states residing within their borders” The Report found that: “Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect. … The foundations of the responsibility to protect, as a guiding principle for the international community of states, lie in:

  • Obligations inherent in the concept of sovereignty;
  • The responsibility of the Security Council, under Article 24 of the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security….”

The Report went on to list a set of recommendations to improve the workings of the UNSC including calling on the P5 to agree not to apply their veto power in matters where their vital state interests are not involved, to obstruct the passage of resolutions authorizing military intervention for human protection purposes for which there is otherwise majority support. It also set out alternative options such as use of the Uniting for Peace procedure and action by regional or sub-regional organizations with subsequent authorization from the UNSC.

2001-07-20 Equitable UNSC representation

Report of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters related to the Security Council, General Assembly, 55th Session, Supplement No 47 (A/55/47)

After recommending continuation at the 56th session of the UNGA, the Working Group admitted that although provisional agreement has been recorded on a large number of issues dealing with the working methods of the Security Council, “substantial differences of view remain on other issues”.

2000-09-08 Resolving to do more on reform

The United Nations Millennium Declaration (A/55/L.2) resolved, in paragraph 30, to intensify efforts to achieve a comprehensive reform of the Security Council in all its aspects.

1999-06-22 Russian support for UNSC expansion

Russian Deputy Granovsky supports UNSC expansion

While proceeding firmly from the point that the enlarged Security Council should not exceed 20-21 members, we confirm our principal position that the major precondition for a just fulfillment of this task is to ensure adequate representation of the Latin America, Africa and Asia in the enlarged Security Council being endowed with status equal to that of other new members of the Security Council….the Russian Federation considers India a strong and worthy candidate for a Permanent membership seat in the Security Council should it be decided to enlarge the Council in both categories.

1998-11-23 UNGA requirements

The UNGA passes Resolution A/RES/53/30, reaffirming that resolutions to expand the membership of the UNSC require at least a two-thirds majority to pass.

1997-07-17 U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson gives statement on UNSC reform

The US agrees in principle to grant permanent membership to developing countries, either named or rotational; supports Razali Ismael’s goal to approve a draft framework resolution in UNGA in fall of 1997; opposes expansion of UNSC membership to more than 20-21 members.

1997-03-20 Razali Proposal

Razali Proposal

Razali Ismael of Malaysia, Chairman of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters Related to the Security Council unsuccessfully proposes a three-stage plan to reform the UNSC by increasing membership from 15 to 24 states by adding five new permanent members (without veto power) and four new non-permanent members. The proposal took the form of a draft resolution of the General Assembly.

1996-05 Defending the Veto

21 May 1996

UK Ambassador Sir John Weston gives statement on UNSC reform

The UK defends the utility and necessity of the veto.

22 May 1996

Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov on the Veto

Russia defends the necessity of and opposes any change to the veto.

23 May 1996

US Minister Counselor Cameron Hume gives statement on UNSC reform

US opposes any change to the veto.

1996-04-25 US State Department joins the reform call

US State Department releases a statement that:

  • Germany and Japan should be added to the Council as permanent members;
  • up to three more seats should be added to allow representation from various regions;
  • consideration should be given to allowing non-permanent members to serve more than one consecutive term;
  • the size of the Council should not exceed twenty members;
  • Council procedures should be reviewed to ensure greater transparency and a flow of information to the overall UN Membership; and
  • the powers of the current permanent members of the Council must be preserved.

1993-12-03 Establishment of the Working Group

UNGA passes Resolution A/RES/48/26, establishing an “Open-ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters related to the Security Council,” and:

  1. Decides to establish an Open-ended Working Group to consider all aspects of the question of increase in the membership of the Security Council, and other matters related to the Security Council;
  2. Requests the Open-ended Working Group to submit a report on the progress of its work to the General Assembly before the end of its forty-eighth session;
  3. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its forty-ninth session an item entitled Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters.

1992-12-11 A question of 'equitable representation' on the UNSC

At its 84th plenary meeting, the UNGA adopts Resolution A/RES/47/62 on the “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council”, which calls for Member States to submit UNSC reform proposals by 30 June 1993 and a subsequent report containing comments made by Member States on the subject.

1973-12-18 UN Secretary-General's UNSC report

At its twenty-eighth session, the UNGA drew the attention of the UNSC to the views and suggestions submitted by Member States to enhance the effectiveness of the UNSC as contained in the Secretary-General’s reports on the matter (A/8447 and Add.1 and A/9243) (resolution 3186 (XXVIII)).

1971-12-20 UNSC calls on the UNGA

At its twenty-sixth session, the UNGA, decided to seek the views of Member States on ways and means of enhancing the effectiveness of the UNSC in accordance with the principles and provisions of the Charter (resolutions 2864 (XXVI)) and reiterated that call the following year (resolution 2991 (XXVII)). Previously the UNGA had generally only taken note of the reports from the UNSC.

1971-10-25 China replaces Taiwan in the UNSC

The UNGA passes Resolution 2758, “Restoration of the lawful rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations,” is passed, replacing the People’s Republic of China (PRC/China) with the Republic of China (ROC/Taiwan) on the UNSC.

1963-12-17 UNSC non-permanent membership increases from 6 to 10

The UNGA adopts Resolution 1991,“Question of equitable representation on the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council,” which provides for the increase of non-permanent membership of UNSC from 6 to 10 states. The amendment came into force 31 August 1965.

The Resolution:

Further decides that the ten non-permanent members of the Security Council shall be elected according to the following pattern:

  1. Five from African and Asian States;
  2. One from Eastern European States;
  3. Two from Latin American States;
  4. Two from Western European and other States.

The permanent 5 UNSC members remain unchanged.

1950-11-03 Uniting for Peace

The Uniting for Peace resolution UNGA resolution A/RES377 (pioneered by US Secretary of State Dean Acheson to avoid a veto on Korea from the Soviet Union) sought to find a way around obstruction by one or more members of the P5:

“Resolves that if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security. If not in session at the time, the General Assembly may meet in emergency special session within twenty-four hours of the request therefor. Such emergency special session shall be called if requested by the Security Council on the vote of any seven members, or by a majority of the Members of the United Nations.”

An emergency special session is requested by a majority of UN Member States to the Secretary-General. Since the transfer of an issue from the Security Council to the General Assembly is considered a procedural matter it is therefore not subject to the P5 veto. The Uniting for Peace procedure has been used on ten occasions to facilitate UN action short of the use of force but its use has been rare in recent decades with the last use being in 1997. Other matters considered in separate sessions were the Suez Crisis, the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the crisis in Lebanon, crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Middle East (Six-Day War), the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestine conflict, South African occupation of Namibia (South-West Africa), the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights and Occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian Territory. The latter session reconvened 18 times, most recently in 2009.

1945-10-24 The UN is established

Fifty-one states ratify the Charter of the United Nations, formally establishing the United Nations. The UN Charter had been drafted during the two month-long United Nations Conference on International Organization based on the proposals from representatives of the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (USA) at Dumbarton Oaks from August to October 1944. The Charter provides for a veto power to five countries in the hope that it would ensure their participation in the UN and its Security Council.

The UN Charter sets forth in Chapter V the composition and functions and powers of the UN Security Council (UNSC), in addition to its voting and procedures details.

COMPOSITION

Article 23

  1. The Security Council shall consist of eleven Members of the United Nations. The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly shall elect six other Members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council, due regard being specially paid, in the first instance to the contribution of Members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization, and also to equitable geographical distribution.
  2. The non-permanent members of the Security Council shall be elected for a term of two years. In the first election of the non-permanent members, however, three shall be chosen for a term of one year. A retiring member shall not be eligible for immediate re-election.
  3. Each member of the Security Council shall have one representative.

FUNCTIONS and POWERS

Article 24

  1. In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations, its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf.
  2. In discharging these duties the Security Council shall act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations. The specific powers granted to the Security Council for the discharge of these duties are laid down in Chapters VI, VII, VIII, and XII.
  3. The Security Council shall submit annual and, when necessary, special reports to the General Assembly for its consideration.

Article 25

The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter.

Article 26

In order to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources, the Security Council shall be responsible for formulating, with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee referred to in Article 47, plans to be submitted to the Members of the United Nations for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments.

The UN Charter in Chapter XVIII sets forth the rules for amending the Charter:

  1. A General Conference of the Members of the United Nations for the purpose of reviewing the present Charter may be held at a date and place to be fixed by a two-thirds vote of the members of the General Assembly and by a vote of any seven members of the Security Council. Each Member of the United Nations shall have one vote in the conference.
  2. Any alteration of the present Charter recommended by a two-thirds vote of the conference shall take effect when ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two-thirds of the Members of the United Nations including all the permanent members of the Security Council.
  3. If such a conference has not been held before the tenth annual session of the General Assembly following the coming into force of the present Charter, the proposal to call such a conference shall be placed on the agenda of that session of the General Assembly, and the conference shall be held if so decided by a majority vote of the members of the General Assembly and by a vote of any seven members of the Security Council.”

The UNSC submits an annual report to the General Assembly under Article 24, paragraph 3, of the Charter and the Assembly considers the report in accordance with Article 15, paragraph 1. The Council’s report is included in the provisional agenda of the Assembly pursuant to rule 13 (b) of the rules of procedure.

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