Science Essay

1624 Words Aug 31st, 2015 7 Pages
THE ROLE OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
Remarks by Alyson JK Bailes, Dept of Political Science, University of Iceland

The UN Security Council seems to be one of the most admired and envied institutional bodies in the world – except perhaps by those who actually have to work on it.

Even the nations like India, Japan and Brazil who are criticizing the Council for lack of representativity are doing so because they want to get on to it: they think the idea as such of having a limited group of nations with such special powers is great. Outside the UN, I have often heard debates in other institutions about why they can’t have something like the Security Council to ensure stronger leadership and faster action. This
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Secondly they were the world’s only nuclear powers at that time and it is no accident that another article in the charter asks the UNSC to take special responsibility for the restraint of armaments and for reducing them as soon as possible to the necessary minimum.

The question, of course, is how far this original mission, shape, and powers of the UNSC correspond to the different security challenges and to the tasks of not just saving but improving the world in the twenty-first century. We have much less risk today, thank goodness, of nuclear war or any other war between the world’s great powers but we do have many more very cruel local conflicts and several more possessors of nuclear arms. Perhaps most crucially, our idea of security and welfare today goes far beyond simple notions of war and peace to include the need for economic development, individual human rights and the rule of law, proper management of the environment, and defence against non-state and non-traditional threats like those from terrorists and from international crime and smuggling, to name just a few. How does the UNSC match up to this new set of tasks?

One obvious point - but one that I don’t often hear discussed - is that the Security Council can only work within the limited competence of the UN itself, and that competence has never extended to running the world’s

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