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Like his short-sighted call to get rid of the Senate filibuster for being inconvenient for his legislative agenda, President Joe Biden said in his address to the UN General Assembly that his administration has proposed reforms to expel the UN Security Council. and add more veto power. with permanent members to make the Council more ‘inclusive’.
Biden administration officials have been talking about these reforms for weeks, apparently because Russia and China have used their veto powers to block US-backed Security Council resolutions on Ukraine, the Middle East and North Korea. While this proposal has long been supported by most UN members and foreign policy, it will certainly lead nowhere.
The UN Security Council has 15 members. The US, UK, France, China and Russia are the five permanent members with veto power. Regional blocs elect the other 10 members for a two-year term. US Ambassador to UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield recently called this arrangement “an unsustainable and outdated status quo.”
BIDEN CALLS ON UN TO EXPAND PERMANENT SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
Thomas-Greenfield has proposed not only an extension of the council and the addition of members, but also informal restrictions on when the veto can be used and a voluntary requirement for permanent members to explain their veto to the UN General Assembly. If implemented, these proposals could evolve into formal restrictions on the use of the Security Council veto and potentially a way for the General Assembly to override vetoes.
Sadly, the Biden administration refuses to admit how important the US Security Council veto has been in protecting our interests and those of our allies on the council. Of the 266 vetoes issued so far, 122 were by the USSR and Russia. The US threw 82, often on anti-Israel resolutions.
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Given the continued hostility of many UN members against the US and Israel, the US will exercise more vetoes from the Security Council in the future. The Security Council veto also continues to serve an important purpose: to prevent the five permanent members — all nuclear states — from passing resolutions against each other and foster consensus.
It’s not the first time a presidential government has attempted to undermine the UN Security Council’s veto. As a CIA analyst at the UN in the 1990s, I worked with Clinton administration officials who had their own proposals for doing this. However, they didn’t go anywhere because the other permanent members were willing to use their veto power to stop any changes to the council.
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While Biden’s proposal to reform the UN Security Council is dangerous and radical, it is dead on arrival as it will be vetoed by China and Russia, who like the council as it is. His reform proposal to the Security Council will further reinforce the global perception of the incompetence of the Biden administration’s leadership and foreign policy.
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