New York Times article by Kofi Annan and Gro Harlem Brundtland
Seventy years ago, the United Nations was founded “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” Looking around the world today, the least one can say is that it is not fully succeeding in this mission. From Nigeria through the Middle East to Afghanistan and Ukraine, millions are suffering and dying from that scourge, or are imminently threatened by it, and the United Nations seems powerless to save them.
We have four ideas for making the organization stronger and more effective.
A big part of the problem is that the Security Council, which is supposed to maintain world peace and security on behalf of all member states, no longer commands respect — certainly not from armed insurgents operating across borders, and often not from the United Nations’ own members.
Throughout the world, and especially in the Global South, people struggle to understand why, in 2015, the Council is still dominated by the five powers that won World War II. They are more and more inclined to question its authority, and the legitimacy of its decisions.
We ignore this threat at our peril. Times have changed since 1945, and the Security Council must adapt.
Almost everyone claims to favor expanding the Council to include new permanent members, but for decades now states have been unable to agree who these should be, or whether, like the existing ones, they should have the power to veto agreements reached by their fellow members.
Our first idea aims to break this stalemate. Instead of new permanent members, let us have a new category of members, serving a much longer term than the nonpermanent ones and eligible for immediate re-election. In other words they would be permanent, provided they retained the confidence of other member states. Surely that is more democratic?