The Credibility of UN Security Council – A Scenario for 2018

Written By- -Abhivardhan


The United Nations Security Council is deemed towards a scholarly and realistic question of whether it is of any need; in fact, the United Nations as an organization is questioned by writers and diplomats for its functionaries and the jurisprudential limitations that it possesses- like the utility of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in regions such as India, Middle East, China, USA, Russian Federation and others. The persistent question on the veto of Permanent members of the Security Council makes an intent to International Law, the G4 nations and the discriminating anticipation, which in turn arises out at a better aspect. This article aims to enlighten the positive aspect that the Security Council still possesses.  Following the Middle East theme, Abhivardhan shall further on the basic aspects pertinent towards the due observance of the phenomenon.


On 25 April 1945, the UN Conference on International Organization began in San Francisco, attended by 50 governments and a number of non-governmental organizations involved in drafting the United Nations Charter.[1] At the conference, H. V. Evatt of the Australian delegation pushed to further restrict the veto power of Security Council permanent members.[2] Due to the fear that rejecting the strong veto would cause the conference’s failure, his proposal was defeated twenty votes to ten.[3] This was the overviewed aspect in the conceptual vicinities of how the United Nations Security Council would maintain per se and grow, which is an important quest.

In International Law, the relevance of the UN Security Council is limited as compared to the UN General Assembly and there are certain probable and legit reasons. The Security Council is an executive body in a decentralised system of International Law duly concerned with a mere consideration of managing affairs regarding sanctions, security, decolonization (which is even duly fixed by UNGA-SPECPOL or the Special Political and Decolonization Committee in the General Assembly) and the amendment of the Charter of the United Nations. However, according to Chesterman, it “is the most powerful multilateral political institution[4]” whether it has been the Nicaragua case, the Rwandan crisis or Iran or Syria. Denmark in a paper submitted argued that Security Council legitimacy and credibility depend on its explicit commitment to operate within the framework of the rule of law. Its paper covered four main topics: international criminal tribunals and the prevention of impunity; targeted sanctions; peacekeeping and post-conflict peace-building[5]. However, China, Nigeria and others argued during the debate that it was necessary that UN Peace-Building should respect the sovereignty of the state concerned and should avoid the imposition of external models in its work to establish the rule of law. This raises the question as to whether the UN should espouse a formal or a substantive model of the rule of law in this context: should it undertake the promotion of democracy and even of free markets?

This proposition might not be as clear to a specific answerability that is needed to be celebrated, but the credibility of a legitimate humanitarian representation of the Security Council is sometimes questioned a lot and one of the prima facie reasons is – the Article 27(3) of the Charter of the United Nations, which provides a negative or concurrent vote of a P5 member. However, even if it is considered that the political manifestation in different geopolitical issues, is rather seemed to be always polarised as we have observed in the case of the U.S. and Russian Federation, then it is completely wrong. There have been countless resolutions, where China, Russia and United States have recognized submissive considerations and voted positive to adopt the concerned draft resolutions. The best examples are the Security Council Resolutions 2254 (2015) on Geneva Communiqué and the Syrian Civil War, 2118 (2013) on the humanitarian efforts concerned with the Syrian Crisis and Da’esh, 122 (1957) concerned with the question of sovereignty between India and Pakistan, 2397 (2017) regarding the prohibition of proliferation of nuclear weapons by the DPRK or North Korea and many other resolutions due concerned. However, we cannot ignore certain important grounds that the Security Council needs to consider upon and work still.

The G4 Representation as Permanent Members: An Interest to Consider

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2003, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan cautioned Member States that the United Nations had reached a fork in the road. It could increase to the trial of facing new intimidations or it could risk attrition in the face of increasing dissonance between States and autarchic action by them. He created the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change to generate new ideas about the kinds of policies and institutions required for the UN to be effective in the 21st century. In its report, the High-level Panel sets out a bold, new vision of collective security for the 21st century. We live in a world of new and evolving threats, threats that could not have been anticipated when the UN was founded in 1945 – threats like nuclear terrorism, and State collapse from the witch’s brew of poverty, disease and civil war.[6] The concern of the United Nations founders was with State safety. When they spoke of creating a new system of collective security they meant it in the traditional military prerogative: a system in which States join together and pledge that violence against one is antagonism against all and oblige themselves in that event to react collectively. But they also understood well, long before the idea of human security gained currency, the indivisibility of security, economic development and human freedom. In the opening words of the Charter, the United Nations was created “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights” and “to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”.[7]

The United Nations was never duly envisioned to be a utopian institution. It was destined to be a cooperative security structure that worked. The Charter of the United Nations provided the most prevailing States with permanent membership on the Security Council and the veto. In exchange, they were anticipated to use their power for the common good and promote and obey international law. As Harry Truman, then President of the United States, noted in his speech to the final plenary session of the founding conference of the United Nations Organization, “we all have to recognize — no matter how great our strength — that we must deny ourselves the licence to do always as we please”.

However, even just beyond the aspect of jurisdiction matters as far as the ICC is concerned, the High -level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change asserted these important points in 2003, which actually questions the foundational strength of the UN. Here are a few of them.

  1. The General Assembly has lost vitality and often fails to focus effectively on the most compelling issues of the day.
  2. The Security Council needs greater credibility, legitimacy and representation to do all that we demand of it.
  3. There is a major institutional gap in addressing countries under stress and countries emerging from conflict. Such countries often suffer from attention, policy guidance and resource deficits.
  4. The Commission on Human Rights suffers from a legitimacy deficit that casts doubt on the overall reputation of the United Nations.

Considering this point, it is considerable that the UN responsibility must be redefined and restructured per se in the pursuance of regulation.


[1] Department of Public Information, United Nations. Milestones in United Nations History. Retrieved 20 April 2018.

[2] Schlesinger, Stephen C. (2003). Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations: A Story of Super Powers, Secret Agents, Wartime Allies and Enemies, and Their Quest for a Peaceful World. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. ISBN 978-0-8133-3324-3, p. 196.

[3] Meisler, Stanley (1995). United Nations: The First Fifty Years. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, pp. 18–19.

[4] Christine Gray. (2009). The Security Council and the Rule of Law: An Overview. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting (American Society of International Law), 103, 245-248. Retrieved from

[5] Ibid at

[6] UN General Assembly, Note [transmitting report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, entitled “A more secure world : our shared responsibility”], 2 December 2004, A/59/565, available at: [accessed 29 May 2018]

[7] Ibid, p. 11.

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