The recent crisis in Gaza has highlighted the urgent need for a more democratic and inclusive UN Security Council. While the initial allocation of permanent seats and veto powers to five nations made sense during the UN’s founding, the current concentration of the world’s population in Asia and Africa, along with the emergence of new regional economic powers, calls for an expansion of the Council. It is crucial to include countries genuinely committed to peace and stability.
The existing composition of the UN Security Council primarily reflects the interests of post-World War II winners, despite significant changes in geopolitics, demographics, and economic influence. Rising economies such as India, Brazil, South Africa and Nigeria, not only boast substantial populations but also growing economic importance and nuclear capabilities, deserve a say in Council decisions. Furthermore, as contemporary conflicts are often instigated by transnational insurgencies and terrorist groups, novel forms of international cooperation are imperative.
Countries from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, representing the majority of the global population, should advocate for permanent membership in the Security Council. Despite many resolutions concerning African conflicts, these nations lack significant influence in decision-making processes, whether involving sanctions, peacekeeping missions, or decisions on military interventions.
For instance, most recently conflict in Ethiopia was brought before the UNSC a record 13 times, with no African or global south country able to temper what amounted to a witch hunt by the U.S, U.K and other European members of the council.
A key criterion for permanent membership should be a demonstrated commitment to peace, and a history of refraining from waging wars of invasion since the Council’s establishment. Additionally, to mitigate the threat of nuclear war, only countries without nuclear capabilities should be considered for permanent membership. The current reluctance for such reforms, largely due to potential vetoes from the existing P-5 members, prompts consideration of the dissolution of the Council itself.
The ineffectiveness of the UN Security Council, especially evident in its response to Israel’s assault on Gaza, underscores the futility of pretending the Council is genuinely committed to preventing wars and human rights violations. The Council’s inability to protect the human rights of all people and prevent conflicts, coupled with the potential for the Gaza crisis to escalate into a broader conflict in the Middle East, emphasizes the urgent need for accountability. If a wider war ensues, the United States, as a prominent member of the Security Council, should be held responsible for supporting an unjustified war that exacerbates the regional conflict, resulting in substantial casualties and human rights violations.