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Urgent Call for Reform in the UNSC Voting System

The recent US veto of a ceasefire resolution in Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians underscores the undeniable need for immediate reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to safeguard its credibility and pertinence. Addressing the Council’s structural deficiencies is pivotal to bolstering its efficacy and legitimacy in preserving international peace and security.

Urgent Need for Reform: During the Assembly’s annual debate on 17 November, assessing the UN’s premier peace and security forum, President of the General Assembly, Dennis Francis, emphasised that without structural reform, the Council’s performance and legitimacy will inevitably deteriorate. He highlighted the Council’s struggle to meet its mandate amid a swiftly changing world, describing it as “dangerously falling short”.

Reiterating the urgency for reform, UN Member States, including the L.69 group and the Arab Group, stressed the Council’s obsolescence. The over-representation of Western countries fails to align with the UN’s diverse composition and current geopolitical realities, emphasising the imperative for urgent reforms to ensure international peace, stability and an effective multilateral order. The Group of Four echoed the sentiment, acknowledging the Council’s ineffectiveness in addressing contemporary challenges.

Challenges of the Current System: The US veto in Israel’s genocide on Palestinians and the Council’s inability to pass a resolution for a Gaza ceasefire reveal the Council’s paralysis, undermined by geopolitical divisions. The recurring use of the veto to defend US and Israeli interests, amidst daily horrific human rights violations, exposes the urgent need for reform to prioritise humanitarian concerns over political considerations.

Urgent Need for Real Reform: UN Member States stress that the Council’s current state is a stark reality and no longer fit for purpose. Calls for real reform intensify as the use of the veto challenges the Council’s credibility and hampers conflict prevention efforts. The Council’s inability to live up to expectations in addressing serious threats to international peace and security underscores the need for immediate, substantial reforms.

Israel’s Defiance of Resolutions: Israel’s consistent defiance of UNSC resolutions regarding settlements and territorial disputes exposes the inefficacy of the current voting system. Reforms should address these challenges, curbing the ability of any nation to act with impunity in the face of international consensus.

Accountability amid Vetoes: The UNSC’s struggle to hold Israel accountable for human rights violations underscores the need for reforms. US vetoes shielding Israel from censure illuminate the inadequacy of the current system in ensuring justice for victims of Israel’s abuses. Reforms must dismantle this shield, emphasising accountability over political alliances.

Reforming the UNSC voting system: To rectify these inadequacies, a comprehensive restructuring of the UNSC voting system is imperative, with specific reforms addressing the challenges posed by US vetoes and Israel’s defiance.

  • Veto Power Elimination: Eliminating the power of veto is paramount, ensuring no single nation can obstruct resolutions addressing humanitarian crises. This reform is crucial in countering patterns of US vetoes that impede progress toward peace.
  • Supermajority Voting System: Instituting a supermajority voting system would shift decision-making away from individual interests. Requiring a two-thirds majority prevents the undue influence of any single nation, fostering collective responsibility in addressing global challenges.
  • Regional Representation Enhancement: Reforms should enhance regional representation within the UNSC to address concerns of disproportionate influence. Allocating seats based on diverse factors ensures a more inclusive decision-making process that considers the geopolitical and cultural nuances of affected regions.
  • General Assembly Empowerment: Strengthening the UN General Assembly’s role in decision-making processes would circumvent the deadlock imposed by US vetoes. A democratic approach, driven by a significant majority of member states, promotes resolutions aligned with humanitarian principles.
  • Independent Human Rights Council: Establishing an independent body focused solely on human rights issues would streamline decision-making and curb Israel’s defiance. Devoid of veto powers, this Council would actively address and prevent human rights violations, ensuring accountability for all nations.
  • Rotation of the United Nations headquarters: Exploring the possibility of rotating the United Nations headquarters among member states, similar to the practice within the European Union, would foster global inclusivity. While the UN’s headquarters in New York has served as a symbol of international diplomacy, decentralising this centre could contribute to a more equitable distribution of influence. Such a rotation system would provide member states with the opportunity to host the UN, promoting cultural exchange and a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives. Additionally, it could diminish perceptions of favouritism and enhance the UN’s effectiveness in addressing global challenges by situating its focal point in various geopolitical contexts. Embracing this innovative approach aligns with the principles of fairness and collaboration that underpin the UN’s mission, offering a chance to redefine the organisation’s physical presence on the world stage.

The proposed reforms, including veto power elimination, a supermajority voting system, enhanced regional representation, General Assembly empowerment, an independent Human Rights Council and rotating the UN headquarters, collectively strive for a more just, accountable and effective international decision-making body. It is imperative for the international community to prioritise human rights over political considerations, ensuring the UN fulfils its mandate to maintain global peace and security.

Addressing the question of Palestine requires a comprehensive approach that includes dismantling Israel’s Occupation, re-evaluating the latter’s “special” status and ending the unconditional support it receives from the United States. The international community must insist on adherence to the numerous resolutions aimed at resolving the conflict, fostering a just and lasting peace. It is crucial to acknowledge that no other state faces as many resolutions, emphasising the need for a fair and balanced approach to ensure the rights, security and dignity of all parties involved in the region. A genuine commitment to the principles of international law and human rights is paramount to fostering a sustainable resolution to the Palestinian cause.

Ending US hegemony over the United Nations requires a comprehensive reassessment of the global power dynamics that have long influenced the organisation. The United States, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council with veto power, has exerted significant influence over key decisions and resolutions. To foster a more equitable and inclusive international order, it is essential to diminish the disproportionate impact of any single nation, including the United States. This necessitates reforms that promote multilateralism, empower diverse voices and ensure the UN operates as a genuinely representative body addressing global challenges without the dominance of any single country. Reducing US hegemony would require collective efforts to enhance the UN’s effectiveness, credibility and capacity to address pressing issues on a global scale.

It is imperative for the future of humanity and global peace that the dismantling of U.S. hegemony over the United Nations occurs sooner rather than later to cultivate a more just, inclusive, and collaborative international order and finally give the Palestinians the justice they deserve.

Source : MEMO