Letter: Change in the Security Council

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The Independent Online
Sir: As one of the drafters of the Charter of the United Nations, I should like to say how much I agree with your excellent leading article 'An anachronism that works' (28 January).

The fact is that the Security Council can only be changed with the consent of all five Permanent Members and a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly. It is just possible that such majorities might be found to favour the election of Japan and conceivably of Germany (though this would mean three vetoes for Europe). But this is extremely unlikely, given the fact that similar claims for membership would at once be made by (at least) India, Nigeria and Brazil.

Since there is no doubt whatever that, rightly or wrongly and things being as they are, neither France nor the United Kingdom would be prepared to surrender their present membership of the Security Council, the prospect of a Council of 20, with no fewer than 10 with a veto, is barely conceivable. Certainly it would involve paralysis in any peace-keeping activities. The only way out would be if the British and the French agreed that Europe should have only one representative on the Council. But that would depend on European political union, which has not yet come about.

No; change in the membership of the Security Council is, unfortunately, impossible at present. Of course, if President Clinton feels that the system is really unworkable, he can always change it if he wishes. He has merely to get the United States to resign from the UN and summon a conference to consider a New World Organisation. Whether that would result in a valid new 'world order' is open to considerable doubt.

Yours truly,


House of Lords

London, SW1

1 February