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My notes - UNSC reforms 17-09-2015

17 Sep, 2015




Why UNSC reform is necessary?

  • The Institution formed to meet the challenges of post-world war 2 scenario.  It failed to cope up with the dynamics of post-soviet era world order. As for the UN itself, reform of the Security Council is an existential requirement for the organization. If it resists all proposals for change in the years to come, there is a real risk of the UN being sidelined or rival organisations taking over its agenda.
  • Geo political rivalry among the P5 has prevented the UNSC to come up with effective solutions for dealing with global crisis. EX - Syria. Ban Ki Moon, has said that UNSC has failed Syria.
  • UNSC failed to play decisively to stop many of the conflicts. Its delayed actions and consequences had worsened Rwandan crisis. It is also been criticized for not taking a forceful action until a catastrophe unfolds.
  • No African nation is represented in UNSC where most of its work is focused.


What is the procedure for Reform?

  • It shall involve an Amendment to UN charter. This can only passed if 2/3 of UNGA members agree to it and none of the permanent members opposes to it.


How any substantive resolution can be taken up at UNSC?

  • Draft resolutions are drawn up by one or more members of the council and circulated privately to the others.


  • The drafts can be negotiated or changed in a process called "consultations". If agreed to by all members, the resolution is formally proposed to the council.
  • Each member has one vote. Decisions on what the council calls "substantive" issues need a majority of nine votes before they can be passed, including either votes or abstentions from all five permanent members.

Not surprisingly, the question of whether an issue is substantive or not is itself the subject of lively debate.

Then comes veto. If one of them votes against a resolution, it cannot be passed. But a resolution can be passed if a permanent member abstains from the vote.

 Source - BBC


What are the components under discussion for reform?

  • categories of membership,
  • the question of the veto,
  • regional representation,
  • the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods
  •  Security Council-General Assembly relationship.


What is the present structure of UNSC?

  • It has five permanent and 10 non-permanent members.
  • Each year the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of 10 in total) for a two-year term.
  • The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis as follows: five for African and Asian States; one for Eastern European States; two for the Latin American and Caribbean States; and two for Western European and other States.


What is kofi Annan plan?



  • Plan A calls for creating six new permanent members, plus three new nonpermanent members for a total of 24 seats in the council.
  • Plan B calls for creating eight new seats in a new class of members, who would serve for four years, subject to renewal, plus one nonpermanent seat, also for a total of 24.


What are the recent developments?

  • UNGA adopted a consensus resolution for beginning discussions at the intergovernmental negotiations group on the basis of a framework document.
  • It helped the world to understand the official stand of various nations on UNSC reform.


What is the stand of P5 nations?

  • USA - favors the modest expansion without supporting any formula under consideration. It did not support any alteration or expansion of veto.
  • China - I declared that time had not come for any serious negotiations, but it would support necessary and reasonable reform with greater representation for developing countries.
  • Russia - It has supported any reasonable of option of expanding the council without change in veto.
  • France - France was the closest to the Indian position. It favours the inclusion of India, Brazil, Japan and Germany (G-4) and an African representative as permanent members and expansion of the non-permanent category of members. France even expressed no objection to the veto power being extended to the new permanent members.
  • UK - It supported G-4 as new permanent members without veto


Inference - other than UK and France, the text of all the other three permanent members is vague ans non conclusive.


What are the groups favouring and opposing them?  What are the issues?


  • G 4 consists of aspiring members to UNSC reform. It consists of India, Brazil, Germany and Japan
  • It suggested that two African nations, in addition to themselves, be included in the enlarged UNSC.


Opposition - Uniting for consensus -

It aims to counter the bids for permanent seats proposed by G4. It is calling for a consensus before any decision is reached on the form and size of the Security Council.



  • G-4 has so far maintained a façade of unity, but each of them may be amenable to bilateral deals if any one of them becomes a liability for the other three. Germany has already toned down its demand for permanent membership because of over representation of Europe.
  • Japan is clearly a liability because of the open opposition by China. India and Brazil too have opposition from their regions, but nothing serious to block their entry in the event of a settlement.



On what basis India is asking for a permanent membership? What are the objections?


  • World’s second populated country actively supporting all UN missions.
  • A stable Democracy
  • Nuclear status
  • Changing economic scenario of the nation


On the other side

  • India’s position on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its border “disputes” with Pakistan and China might be impediments to its permanent membership.
  • The India-U.S. nuclear deal was expected to give de facto recognition to India’s nuclear status, but its non-NPT status is a problem.



Dear all, I have collected this information from different sources. I followed Majorly BBC, The Hindu.




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