Is It Time to Amend the U.N.'s Charter to Give it More Power to Intervene in Conflicts like the One in Syria? - 2012

Abstract: The United Nations' website states that one of its key functions is to "keep peace throughout the world." However, as the conflict in Syria demonstrates, the U.N.'s current structure often prevents it from achieving this goal. Can we fix this problem?

The United Nations headquarters (1).
The crisis in Syria, which began about a year ago, made the news again today when the head of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, demanded that the country's authoritarian regime, led by dictator Bashar al-Assad, adhere to the terms of the cease-fire agreement. Unfortunately, per a BBC article, Annan and the U.N. have little power to end the conflict, as fighting continues to rage in the Middle Eastern country. Should the U.N.'s charter be changed to provide it with more power to intervene in conflicts like the one in Syria?

Per its website, the United Nations was created in 1945 to provide a voice for the world's countries and to serve as a focus for collaborative action on a number of issues. One of its key mandates is to "keep peace throughout the world." However, its ability to ameliorate bloody conflicts like the one currently going on in Syria is limited. The U.N. Security Council oversees the international body's peacekeeping functions. It is unable to intervene in a conflict if just one of its five permanent members, which include Russia, the U.S., China, France, and Britain, veto the proposal. For instance, even though most of countries of the world are appalled by what is going on in Syria, the U.N. is powerless to send troops to stop the fighting in that country because Russia and China would veto any such proposal.

According to a presentation at the 2011 Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, the current Security Council setup, allowing for the permanent members to veto any legislation, may be a necessary evil. It is certainly possible that Russia, China, or the U.S. (and to a lesser extent Great Britain and France) might opt out of the U.N. if they were denied veto power. In that case, it may be better to give these nations an outsized voice in the U.N.'s affairs in exchange for their tacit agreement to abide by the rules and protocols set by the international body.

However, it is also true that the U.N. Security Council's current structure demonstrates a lack of respect for the views of other countries. Nigeria, Brazil, and Germany are all larger (population-wise) than Great Britain, yet they do not have any real control over the U.N. Security Council's actions. Worse, the current U.N. structure often prohibits it from following through on one of its chief aims-to act as world peacekeeper.

Given these flaws, perhaps it is time that the United Nations' 193 member countries seriously discuss eliminating the veto power of the big five, or, as DebatePedia suggests, they could implement procedures which would allow a supermajority of nations to override the veto of one of the permanent members. Either way, something needs to be done; the conflict in Syria has proven that much.

1. Photographer: Stefano Corso (Pensiero)
    Date: February 23, 2005
    Title/Description: The United Nations headquarters in New York.
    Location/Permission: Wikimedia Commons - Photographer's notes (click on the title/link to see
    the photo, credits, and permissions).

-- Anthony Hopper

#UN #Syria #MiddleEast #US #war #legal #international #UnitedNations

No comments:

Post a Comment