Essay Example on The UN Security Council has the responsibility of maintaining global peace and security

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The UN Security Council has the responsibility of maintaining global peace and security as described in the UN Charter. In its formation, the member states had a primary goal of achieving global diplomacy and averting the horrors witnessed in World War II Cannizzaro 192 2006. However, various states and political scholars have criticized the effectiveness of the UNSC in handling global challenges contemporary security issues and International threats. Most scholars point out that the UNSC's Veto power for its permanent members affects its decision making hence undermining its legitimacy as an international organization. This has been a lead to some scholars who argue that the UN Security Council is merely a concert of great powers that have never been representative of the International community. Other critics argue that the Security Council only serves the interest of the Super Power countries while the other around two hundred and seventy member states act as mere signatories Cannizzaro 200 2006. As evidenced in recent occurrences of International threats such as transnational terrorism and illicit arms trade the UNSC has hit a deadlock and is unable to respond to international challenges. As will be outlined below the Security Council's demonstration in solving various global conflicts brings to light the effectiveness and limitations of delegating the responsibility of maintenance of global peace to a small group of powers.

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Brief History of UNSC. The UNSC owes its existence to the Congress of Vienna and the peacemaking process of the Napoleonic wars. Following the Napoleonic Wars of 1799 1815 peacemaking processes were prioritized to end the horrors of war. The aftermath of the Napoleonic war defined what it meant to be a superpower Malone 968 2004. Some authors term it as a great power which defines the countries that had an interest, that was general to the entire European System and hence the actions had an implication on the stake of the European System as a whole. In contrast, lesser powers were defined as the countries which had an interest in regional or local blocks. The distinction was an influential factor that the founders of the League of Nations found to be critical in its administrative structure Malone 1065 2004. The greater power vs lesser power distinction was later duplicated in the UN Charter that delegated Veto Powers to the permanent members. The five states United States France UK China and Russia have the permanent veto to date. The member states of the League of Nations were in Union to counter a common enemy France. However, as scholars note the idea of a unity of common allies to defeat a former common enemy does not hold. The League of Nations was critical in defining international diplomacy at a time when the effects of World War I were still fresh in the minds of political decision-makers. Although the League later collapsed, Franklin Roosevelt was keen to identify the critical role the superpower nations played leading to its collapse. Franklin Roosevelt one of the founders of the UN was motivated to form the Security Council whilst incorporating defined responsibilities for the superpower nations in the post-1945 system that focused on maintaining diplomatic relations between the US and the Soviet Union. Unlike the League of Nations the Security Council incorporated improved powers for the greater powers nations Malone 1208 2004; Through the period of the Cold War up to date, the Security Council has played the role of being a great power concert and a force for global governance.

Effectiveness. An Exclusive Club or Representative Organ. As many scholars have indicated the UNSC's administrative structure has always attracted criticism from different policymakers. The vet power has been utilized by the five permanent members to either block or force an action that favors one or all of the P 5 while undermining the Security Council's duty to maintain global peace. Although the agreements of the San Francisco Conference were endorsed by the participants the rules of the new Organization were solely left to only two players of that time the US and the Soviet Union. The year that followed from 1945 saw major reforms in the UN Security Council as many countries attained their independence. In the period running from 1956 1992, there were agitations for the further democratization of the UNSC. The member states needed a wide representation in the Council's decision making. In 1991 the Security Council saw a successful resolution of the Iran, Iraq crisis a landmark achievement in its peacemaking agenda. Later in 1999, the UNSC oversaw the implementation of the Independence agreement between Portugal and Indonesia. In these peacekeeping operations, the UNSC depended on resources and ammunition from the Permanent members to deliver humanitarian assistance to McDonald 59 2010.

Therefore, the Security Council was under much criticism on the Issue of representation. For instance, developing countries argue that the UNSC breeds. Neocolonialism with the aim of forming a global government. Furthermore, the Council has been criticized for usurpation by the permanent members, the P 5 hence questioning its legitimacy. This was the case because the UNSC depends on the Western Powers for material help and Political leadership. Therefore, the Council has been undermined by the superpowers in its decision making hence as some critics put it serves the interest of the P 5 rendering it, an exclusive club rather than a platform for international representation. 

Veto Power. The veto power from one of the five permanent countries can overrule any action taken by the Security Council. Utilizing their exclusive. Veto Permanent Powers the US and the Soviet Union could veto any resolution that the UN did not approve. Therefore the veto power has been condemned since a single country's vote can overturn the opinion of many other member countries or even cripple the UN's diplomatic or armed solution to a problem. For example in 2014 Russia's veto overruled thirteen other votes that were condemning its action in the annexation of Crimea McDonald 59 2010. From 1982 United States has been able to successfully veto UNSC's resolutions that regard actions against Israel.


Thus Israel has been cushioned against the UNSC's interventional actions, hence breeding favoritism. In another scenario in 1983 Russia under the Soviet Union was able to veto the UN's action to condemn USSR s massive shooting at the Korean Air Lines. This particular case has been a pointer to the threat that the world's human rights face as a consequence of the veto power. Human Rights activists agitate that the veto power has been utilized to service selfish geopolitical and political interests of the permanent members and in the process majority of innocent civilians have lost their lives. Furthermore, as Morris eludes the veto power has proved anti-democratic and anachronistic hence undermining sovereign equality of the member states. Enlargement and Relevance to 21st Century Politics. As many scholars suggest it is of paramount importance that the Security Council be enlarged to accommodate changes in power and promote equality in its representation. Different countries have advanced varying enlargement mechanism. Some argue that the enlargement should take the shape that represents the regional organization. Indeed one Union the African Union suggested that it acquires at least two permanent seats and five nonpermanent seats. The Council's Commission on Global Governance advanced the idea of creating standing members who will serve the role of permanent members but with no right to veto Morris 267 200.

Further, the Commission presented a better solution to the deficiencies of the veto vote. It was suggested that the permanent members should exercise the veto vote only in circumstances they deem exceptional. NAM's suggestion of creating regional slots for Asia, Africa, and Latin America in the permanent membership would usher a new face in the UNSC Morris 2682 2000. Furthermore, it would be prudent that Europe could rally behind the European Common and Foreign Security Policy to have a regional voice in the Council. The issue of enlargement may never come into play due to the difficulties of rotation of the seats and the aspect of achieving a regional consensus on sovereign matters. Over the years there has been a revolution in the state of global geopolitics and shift of power among the member states. However, the UNSC has proved unresponsive to the naturally evolved state of matters. Due to the Council's restrictive administrative structure, the UN has been at fault due to cases of interfering with internal affairs of member states in carrying out peacekeeping and collective security duties. For instance, the period after the Cold war has seen quite a number of civil wars and collapsing states. For example, in the 1990s the UN's mission at Rwanda Bosnia and Somalia hit a dead end, hence the peacekeeping missions were taken over by NATO. Also, the UN failed in its peacekeeping missions to end civil wars in Syria and Lybia. These scenarios are proof of the UNSCs weakness since it is difficult to counter internal conflicts Morris 292 2000.

 This far the UNSC has failed to curb government killings in the internal conflicts of Syria and Libya. Therefore these cases show how the UN's administrative structure and politics have failed to evolve hence respond to changes in power and geopolitics.

Limitations. Lack of an International Army. Many observers note that the UN security council's major weakness accrues from its inability to undertake security mission with an independent army In the formation of the Council the founders had intended to come up with a military structure that could run independent operations under the direct control of the Security Council as mentioned in article 43 and 45 of the UN Charter. However, the member states have been reluctant to provide financial support to build the common army. Some scholars argue that member countries fear that if the Council had a powerful army at its command then it would overpower the national armies of the sovereign countries hence posing a risk of creating a global government. Therefore this has hindered a majority of UNSC's peacekeeping and security operations. For example in the peacekeeping missions in Bosnia Rwanda and Somalia, the UN failed to achieve its determined end and this resulted in a takeover by NATO Cronin Hurd 998 2008. Similarly in Libya UNSC failed to counter the civil wars hence calling for NATO to complete the mission.


In many of UNSC's mission, they are either abandoned or NATO takes over. The Security Council either lacks financial resources or enough soldiers and ammunition in conducting peacekeeping operations. For instance, in 1992 93 s Cambodia mission the operation's expenses were estimated at 1 3 billion which was double of the total costs of the previous 46 years. Some scholars point out that the possibility of the UNSC acquiring a standing army is hindered by structural barriers in its permanent membership and unresponsiveness to the changing targets of International intervention Inefficiency of the ICJ. Experts of International law argue that the ICJ's statutes and jurisdiction policy have been a constant deterrence to delivering justice in the ICJ. In many of the cases presented in the ICJ there lacks a mechanism to empower the Courts judgment in most cases the implementation of judgment lies on the will of member states. In its formation the ICJ was declared the UN's principal judicial organ with core responsibility of solving international disputes between states and presides on cases involving mass killings, hence promoting international peace security and justice. Its major weakness lies in article 59 which declares that the court's judgment has no binding force except between the conflicting parties and the particular case Cannizzaro 214 2006;

This statute is a primary breach of the principle of pacta sunt servanda, hence it provides a leeway for some states to escape International justice Cronin Hurd 995 2008. Furthermore, article 36 2 provides exclusive freedom to quit at any time from the Rome statute hence stop to collaborate with the ICJ. This statute has worked against the court in its quest to implement justice. For example in Nicaragua vs USA case the USA exercised the powers of article 36 2 hence withdrew consent to compulsory jurisdiction, thereby deterring justice for Nicaragua Oberg 889 2005. Also some critics argue that the Security Council has had some instances of violating the principle of ultra vires and operating under a lack of binding and oversight mechanism. In addition to the inefficiency in the ICJ's statutes, the lack of jurisdiction on non-member states poses a limitation to the Council in dealing with security threats from such nations Oberg 904 2005; Therefore, the ICJ's inefficient statutes have hindered the UNSC's operations to promote justice and global peace. Conclusion. As discussed above the UN Security Council has had achievements and limitations weaknesses in equal measure. The UNSC was formed as a better version of the failed League of Nations, but as illustrated in its peacekeeping operations in Syria, Libya, Rwanda, and Bosnia the Security Council has exhibited inefficiencies and limitations. The permanent members' veto power has always sufficed as a critical problem towards maintaining international peace and security. Therefore the rigidity of the administrative structure and membership representation in the Council has hindered decision making and bringing far-reaching consequences such as the lack of a standing army. Therefore, the UN Security Council has ended up dependent on the US or the Soviet Union thus posing a challenge in making independent decisions to solve security and political crisis hence losing its legitimacy in performing its primary duty of maintaining global peace and security.

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