MOSCOW, 21 Oct 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.
The fact that the effectiveness of the United Nations has fallen today has become indisputable. For more than three decades, it has not been able to prevent a single international conflict or resolve a serious geopolitical problem. This does not mean that the UN mechanism is completely outdated, but it is difficult to argue with the fact that it needs serious modernisation.
A loud attempt to “storm” the UN has now been made by Turkish President Recep Erdogan. “The world is changing”, he said, “the fate of humanity cannot and should not be left at the mercy of a handful of victorious countries in World War II. The new architecture of political and economic relations has undergone great changes, it is unthinkable that the global security system remains the same.”
The Turkish leader also strongly complained about the inadmissibility of the absence of countries representing the Muslim world in the UN Security Council. In his opinion, Turkey should get a permanent member of the Security Council with the right of veto.
The speech of the President of the Republic of Turkey caused a violent reaction, both in international diplomacy and in the media. But it, for the most part, came down to criticism of the Turkish initiative in the style of “look what he wanted”. While two extremely serious moments remained behind the scenes.
Firstly, why did Erdogan deliver such a strong speech not at the UN or at an international meeting of, say, the “Big Seven”, but during a visit to Angola? Secondly, why was his resonant statement, in general, supported by the head of Russian diplomacy Sergey Lavrov?
The fact is that the Turkish leader’s speech is really not so much about “give Turkey a place in the Security Council” as about the need to reform the decision-making mechanism in the UN itself. In particular, by increasing the importance of the “voice of Africa”.
The essence of the problem was clearly described by the Russian Foreign Minister. Noting the outstanding eloquence of the Turkish President, Sergey Lavrov said that the situation is somewhat different.
The problem is not that the permanent composition of the Security Council consists of five countries. Today, in addition to them, there are 10 other non-permanent members who are elected there for a two-year term. Currently, this list includes Vietnam, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Niger, Norway, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Estonia.
The problem is that within the Security Council itself, their voice is only advisory, and the composition of the permanent members is quite clearly divided into “three Western countries” against Russia and China. Thus, even in an ideal case, the United States has the opportunity to block any initiatives that do not suit them with “three votes against”, even without resorting to the right of veto.
This is the main drawback of the Yalta mechanism today, which critically reduces its practical effectiveness in ensuring international security. In this sense, the Turkish initiative is, of course, somewhat overly emotional, but it offers movement in the right direction. According to Lavrov, it makes sense to expand the permanent membership of the UN at the expense of the countries of Africa and South America.
To be fair, the above-mentioned problem has been discussed on the international sidelines since 2009. The European Union is trying to get itself a place in the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Also, G4 (Brazil, Germany, India, Japan) and “Uniting for Consensus” (Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Spain, Argentina, South Korea, Canada, etc., insisting on the principle of “equal representation of key territories” and limiting the right of veto) put forward claims for the allocation of a permanent place.
The Union of African Countries, on the basis of the “Ezulwini Consensus” and the Sirte Declaration, demands two permanent seats with the right of veto for African countries. South Africa and Nigeria are seeking a place personally for themselves on their own. And then there is the “Swiss group” (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Singapore, Jordan and Costa Rica) and many others.
In other words, the UN mechanism really needs to be reformed. But there is still work to be done on the details of the process.