December 12, 2017

Would reforming the UN Security Council improve its ability to respond to mass atrocities?

The conversation around UN Security Council reform had a lot of momentum in 2006, and has continued to be pushed by some states who do not have permanent seats on the council. What difference might proposed reforms make to the council’s response to situations like Darfur?

In Fighting for Darfur China often used the threat of a veto to convince other Security Council members that draft resolutions they initially proposed had no chance of success. Often Security Council members acquiesced to Chinese pressure not because they believed China would actually veto but because they wanted to come up with a resolution that China would vote in favor of, rather than abstain on. Their rationale was that a resolution with the unified support of the Security Council would show political strength and therefore would be more likely to be implemented. If no veto was allowed for situations involving mass atrocities (see: A/60/L.49 on UN Security Council Reform), what resolutions do you think the UN Security Council might have issued on Darfur? Would the absence of a veto have made the implementation of those resolutions any easier? What would have been the effect of other UN reforms sometimes discussed (see: A/60/L.41 and 46 on UN Security Council Reform), such as expanding UN Security Council membership?

 

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