Over recent years and especially over the last year, due to the unilateral actions and illegal demands of the US government, as a permanent member of the council, the credit and prestige of the Security Council has been seriously challenged. This is quite an unprecedented phenomenon. The Security Council has been grossly damaged by a bid to overcome and abuse this international institute, and to advance the foreign policy goals of some of members. Multilaterism, as one of the pillars of the current international order, has been weakened and threatened. These events make the work difficult for the members of the international community, especially the UNSC members, to return the affairs onto the right path and empower the council in carrying out its main duty, i.e. keeping international peace and security.
The Security Council is the most powerful body of the UN, whose main responsibility being keeping international peace and security. The authors of the UN charter looked for a mechanism to avert another world war; thus, a wide range of powers were granted to the security council when formulating the UNSC documents which were of paramount importance to keep international peace and security. Issuing punitive measures in an international crisis or conflict including use of political, economic punishment and even military force was assigned to the Security Council. There is the assumption that war and use of military force against a country or a number of countries are legitimate as long as authorized under chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Sole exception to this is foreseen in Art.51 of the charter which stresses the inherent self-defense right, “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” Meanwhile, “Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council”, and, the self-defense act,” shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
Article 25 of the UN charter requires the Members of the United Nations to agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter. There is an important point in the commitment that the council in carrying out its responsibilities must comply with the international laws and the principles of the UN charter. Looking at the background and performance of the Security Council, there is much criticism as regards the decision-making process of the council in terms of compliance with the international law and the charter’s principles. In addition, the undemocratic and closed structure of the council has been constantly disparaged by many countries. The fact that only five permanent members of the council enjoy veto power is among other things that have fed criticisms, though, the advocates of veto power contend the power, despite being discriminatory, in practice has served a befitting function and whose existence is more conducive to keeping international peace and security than its not being.
In many cases, there is an objection that the council in it decisions has acted in such a way that has exceeded the international laws and the principle of the charter. At present, there are numerous measures underway among the UN members to reform the Security Council. Also the countries which pursue the reforms in Security Council have various viewpoints. The main actors who are after reforming the Security Council’s structure are more seeking a higher status for themselves in the Security Council than worrying about the flaws of the council and in case the reforms do not meet their demands, they will not be welcomed by those countries.
Over recent years and especially over the last year, due to the unilateral actions and illegal demands of the US government, as a permanent member of the council, the credit and prestige of the Security Council have been seriously challenged. This is quite an unprecedented phenomenon. The US withdrawal from the JCPOA, in addition to the breach of that country’s commitments under the agreement, violated resolution 2231, (July 20, 2015). For the first time in the history of the Security Council there comes a permanent member that defies all the fundamental principles of the council, violates a binding resolution, and in addition, punishes other countries for fulfilling their commitments as per the resolution. The US behavior has constantly put the Security Council, its members and from a wider perspective the entirety of the world community in a critical situation. In August of this year, the US proposed a resolution to make Iran’s arms embargo permanent while there is no substantiated evidence to show Iran is a threat to the international peace and security. The resolution’s draft was rejected by responsible action by other members of the Security Council. Only two countries, that is the US itself and the Dominican Republic, voted for the draft. Short after the failure and in continuation of its dangerous and provocative actions, the US embarked on the illegal snapback measure to ostensibly bring back the previous UNSC resolutions with the punitive measures therein inserted against Iran. This time too, the negative response by the UNSC members to the US provocative actions was clear and categorical. Two heads of the Security Council that is Indonesia and Niger refuted the US arguments one after another. These US actions are clear examples of a security council permanent member’s bid to abuse this important body of the UN, which of course, failed owing to other members’ not supporting it.
It is obvious that the Security Council has been grossly damaged by a bid to overcome and abuse this international institute, and to advance the foreign policy goal of some of members. Multilaterism, as one of the pillars of the current international order, has been weakened and threatened. These events make the work difficult for the members of the international community, especially the UNSC members, to return the affairs to the right path and empower the council in carrying out its main duty, i.e. keeping international peace and security. The world community needs to prevent the Security Council from becoming a tool inside the toolbox of certain countries’ foreign policy. Monopolizing approaches and abusing the Security Council, before anything, will have devastating impacts first for international peace and security.
During the four year term of Trump in the White House, not only were the international organizations, norms and mechanisms damaged, but the regional crises intensified. In this between, the Middle East is faced with crises more than any other region. To find a fair and just solution for these crises, the Security Council need take serious action. The prolonged, meaningless, and deadly war in Yemen has pushed this impoverished state to the brink of collapse. The war must be immediately halted in a bid to pave the way for a fair solution based on the free will and demands of the Yemeni people. Iran has proposed its plan to end the crisis, which has been registered in the Security Council. The elements of this plan are based on immediate ceasefire, providing international humanitarian aids, Yemeni- Yemeni talks and forming a broad national government. The Iranian plan is still the most plausible plan to end the deadly war.
Continuation of the Palestinian crisis still poses a permanent threat to our region. Despite all efforts to sideline the subject, the Palestinian issue is still the most crucial regional crisis. This issue cannot be solved without a just approach towards the inalienable rights of and respect to sovereignty of the Palestinian people who are the residents of this land. Excessive use of force and violence by the occupying Israeli regime and the US partisan policy and its denying of the basic rights of the Palestinians have exacerbated the situation. Recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and transferring the American embassy to this city , recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan heights and the Deal of the Century have made more than ever the Palestinians frustrated and angry. Normalizing relations between Israel and some Arab states which most are remotely tied to this crisis is meant to sideline the Palestinian cause. This can be considered only as a short time measure. As long as the Palestinians who are the main party to this issue are ignored, and deprived of their right of sovereignty, these efforts will go nowhere. The security council bears a wide responsibility for ending the long-lasting displacement and misery of the Palestinian people, but so far has failed to play an effective role in this regard.
- In addition to the previous discussions and rifts as regards the performance of the Security Council, in recent years, the council has suffered greater damages, which have challenged its credit and function. The damages incurred by the reckless and feckless Trump administration have to be immediately repaired and the current trend must be changed. At present, first and foremost, the Security Council’s credit need be reconstructed.
- During Trump and his team’s office in the White House, multilaterism has come seriously under attack. To halt this trend and return things onto the right path, it is urgent that multilaterism be revived and common solutions be found for solving the regional and global problems.
- Addressing emerging problems, which are the result of Trump’s performance in America, by the Security Council should not lead to forgetting the previous issues of the Security Council. The reforms process of the Security Council must be seriously pursued according to today’s realities that the international community is facing and based on more inclusion and favorability of the UNSC structure. In the third decade of the 21st century, for the Security Council to respond to the needs of the time, it needs fundamental changes.
- In case the Security Council represents the international community better than the past and undertakes more responsibilities, it can be more efficient in keeping regional and international peace.
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)