Aletho News


Russia cannot lose its UNSC seat despite Western and Ukrainian attempts

By Ahmed Adel | April 27, 2023

The US has a strong ambition to add its allies to the United Nations Security Council to weaken Russia’s influence across the world, or if this fails, to render the organisation useless, akin to the old League of Nations. However, even more dangerous than the US seeking more allies in the UNSC are the initiatives to abolish Russia’s right of veto and take away its status as a permanent member. Kiev raises this suggestion at almost every session of the UN General Assembly.

In this sense, new challenges are being created, especially as UN Secretary General António Guterres stated that the majority of UN member states see the need for reforming the UNSC. Such suggestions must be treated with suspicion though as the US wants to take advantage and weaken not only Russian influence, but also Chinese.

Guterres and the US are clearly trying to push their closest allies, such as Germany, Australia, and Japan, where unsurprisingly American military bases are located, into the UNSC. There are also other countries, such as Turkey, which regularly raise the issue of UNSC reform and complain that the fate of humanity should not depend on five countries – China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US.

However, Turkey’s suggestion is problematic as the UNSC would be inundated with permanent membership requests from dozens of middle powers who have equal or greater power than Turkey, such as Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Realistically, at this current junction, an expanded permanent UNSC could only include Brazil and India, the former because it is the most important country in Latin America and the latter because it is on a rapid path towards Great Power status.

None-the-less, Moscow, just like Washington, is in favour of reforming the UNSC, but with significantly different views. While the US and its allies are pushing reforms as a possible way to limit Russian influence, Moscow believes that the Security Council should to be expanded, but to achieve a more equitable world and to not empower Western aggression.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained that the composition of the UNSC should be strengthened by Asian, African, and Latin American countries, which are not represented in the UNSC, with the exception of China in regards to Asia. Therefore, in Moscow’s view, the UNSC should not be expanded only so that the West and its closest allies, such as Japan, can get additional seats. Moscow wants to balance the UNSC because the West has three of five permanent seats despite comprising only a minority of humanity.

It is clear that Lavrov has strategically put the West in a difficult position because if they veto the expansion initiative, it will lead to a backlash from countries like India which believe they have earned a right to a permanent seat in the UNSC. At the same time, Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart must be cautious on expansion so that the UNSC does not transform into a political branch of NATO.

The UN Charter does not provide for a reform procedure, and this especially applies to the UNSC, which is the most important body of the organisation. By recklessly expanding the body, the contradictions and conflicts of interest, which already hinder the UNSC in its current format, would elevate.

Therefore, in the current geopolitical situation, it will be very difficult to reform the UNSC in such a way as to objectively consider the interests of all participants in the process. A permanent UNSC membership is a privilege and not something to lightly contemplate expanding upon.

There is also no legal basis to exclude Russia from the UNSC, limit its status and deprive it of veto rights. The entire architecture of the UN was originally built on the fact that the five great powers, the winners of the Second World War, assumed the role of guarding the global world order. The founding states cannot exclude each other because if one or two pillars are thrown out, the UN would collapse.

If Russia was somehow excluded, it would mark the destruction of the entire system based on international law, on the UN Charter, and would call into question the existence of the UN itself. Russia, however, is a permanent member of the Security Council and has veto power. This practically means that Russia, if the Charter is applied, can only be expelled if it does not exercise its veto power. Therefore, it is impossible to deprive Russia of that right, despite constant Ukrainian attempts.

Hypothetically, there are two scenarios in which Russia could lose its seat in the UNSC – first, if it excludes itself and second, if the UN ceases to exist as an organisation. It is recalled that the Soviet Union was foolishly excluded from the League of Nations, the forerunner of the UN, but that organisation ceased to exist. The same fate would befall the UN if Russia was expelled.

Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.

April 27, 2023 - Posted by | Aletho News | , , , ,

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