The UNSC’s P-5: Not So Permanent?
By admin August 28, 2015


Change is good, in fact, the world is changing at an incredible speed. Change, however, may at times be deemed a necessary evil when it comes to thinking about the Permanent Five (P-5) – the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) which are briefly, the USA, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom. The P-5 have been in existence since at least the inception of the League of Nations. In earnest, the members that lead the UNSC have not changed, this has led some countries from the developing world to question the “permanency” of the P-5.

The UNSC is embedded with the function, in terms of the Charter of the UN, to maintain international peace and security. It consists of five permanent members with veto power and ten non-permanent members without veto power, who are elected by the UN General Assembly for a two-year term.

Recently, there has been an Institute for Security Studies (ISS) driven initiative that aims to see the augmentation of the UNSC that would see a more fair geographic representation over 15 years with the P-5 still maintaining their position, albeit with augmented veto powers. “Progress in New York is only possible if two-thirds of the member states of UN General Assembly (UNGA) confront the five permanent members (P5) with a set of specific proposals on reform”.

Change would seem like a nearby hope when and if two-thirds of the UNGA member states present a lucid set of reform proposals to the P-5. Suffice it to say that, this venture has over the years proven near impossible. Executive Director and Head of African Futures and Innovation Programme, Jakkie Cilliers informs stated that“The competing interests of the 193 UN member states have created a situation where the current chairperson of the intergovernmental process on UNSC reform, Jamaican Ambassador Courtenay Rattray, encounters substantial disagreement on literally any aspect of reform. The national interests of aspiring big powers such as India and Brazil; the pursuit of a permanent seat by other large contributors to the UN system, such as Germany and Japan; and numerous competing and overlapping groupings (such as the African Group, the L69 and others) leads states to block any efforts at reform that don’t take their interests into account”.

By the look of things, the UNSC continues to be divided amongst itself, with countries holding different pathologies when it comes to issues of international peace and security. The ISS led initiative portends to the fact that not all hope may be lost, in fact this may be the beginning of something to look forward to. Indeed, a reform of the UNSC P-5 is crucial, especially in a world where the global dynamic is changing more rapidly than the P-5 reform itself.


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