It has been more than 72 years since the United Nations (UN) came into being. Its membership has grown from 51 to 193 since then. However, the UN’s main decision-making body, the UN Security Council, has been subjected to criticisms from many quarters, questioning its ability to maintain international peace and security. This voice has been particularly magnified with the Council’s failure to prevent the Iraq war of 2003. There has also been dissatisfaction expressed by member nations regarding the veto privileges given to the five permanent members, the P5, comprising of Russia, China, France, the UK and the United States of America. It has been pointed out that the P5 operate and exercise their veto power in accordance to their respective nation’s needs, which is undemocratic and against the equal sovereignty of the nations.
On behalf of Noble World Foundation (NWF), Shiv R. Jhawar, founder of NWF and the author of the book, Building a Noble World, sent an open letter proposing the UN Security Council reform to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon on October 24th, 2010, the United Nations Day, which marked the 65th anniversary of the UN.
In the reform proposal addressed to the UN Secretary General, Shiv R. Jhawar recommends, “that the UN Charter be amended to provide for the membership of regional unions, beginning with the EU. Regional unions with the appropriate qualifications should be eligible for permanent seats in the UN Security Council. By adding permanent seats for regional unions, the UN can dilute the veto power, without downgrading the P5.”
“To promote peace and prosperity in the 21st century, a logical, step-by-step, seamless system of governance – individual nations, regional unions, and the UN – is necessary. Regional unions fill in the missing links between individual nations and the UN,” he adds.
The proposal stresses that “the UN reform is not only needed to upgrade the Security Council membership, but also, to strengthen national, regional, and global security. Just as the UN is essential for the world, regional unions are essential for the UN.”
The EU, as it turns out, is a legal entity by itself with a regional political, economic, and judicial structure that should qualify it to be a member of the UN. However, when the UN Charter was drafted in 1945, it could not be predicted that powerful regional unions like the EU would ever emerge. Hence, the current Charter does not provide for the regional union membership in the UN.
Jhawar’s recommendation recognizes the importance of having regional unions evolved, as per the EU model, for regional stability, economic prosperity, and a democratic UN Security Council. The current non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council is already based on regional groupings, which highlights the possibility of having regional unions substitute the permanent seats as well. This is only possible if the UN Charter is amended and the EU, as a regional union, be given a permanent seat in the Security Council, replacing the UK and France. This will inspire a new round of regional cooperation and peace, with regional unions evolving quickly. With individual nations’ seats eventually replaced by regional ones, an effective and well-represented UN Security is possible.