Editorial: Inherent institutional flaws hollow U.N. Security Council agenda

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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On Friday, Saudi Arabia denied its newly acquired seat on the U.N. Security Council, adding to its increased opposition to the international organization.

Coupled with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal’s declination to address the U.N. General Assembly meeting last month, Saudi Arabia’s refusal to be one of the 10 nonpermanent members of the Security Council exemplifies the institutional problems the council has faced since its establishment.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes that the manner, the mechanisms of action, and double standards, existing in the Security Council prevent it from performing its duties and assuming its responsibilities towards preserving international peace and security as required, leading to the continued disruption of peace and security … and the spread of conflicts and war around the world,” noted the Saudi Foreign Ministry.

In a sense, Saudi Arabia is correct: The Security Council embodies the world’s greatest and most powerful countries and little of that power and influence is enforced in the decisions and policies the council as a whole sets forth.

Take Syria, for instance. After killing his own people through the use of chemical weapons, President Bashar al-Assad has yet to be seriously reprimanded, seeming to be virtually unscathed by the entire situation.

Saudi Arabia, who backed Syrian rebels in an attempt to topple Assad’s regime, criticized the global community, particularly the Security Council, for not taking action to stop Syria’s civil war — now in the midst of its third year.

In commenting on the weakness of the Security Council — citing double standards and corruption to be debilitating to its effectiveness — Saudi Arabia is failing to consider its own internal corruption and slew of historical double standards within the kingdom.

Nonetheless, they raised concerns the Security Council has continuously faced. Institutional changes need to be implemented to significantly increase the effectiveness of the Security Council’s decisions.

Shifting the voting structure is a possible solution. Instead of mandating that the five permanent members vote unanimously to pass initiatives, a system should be implemented to strengthen the votes of the nonpermanent members. One way to do so would be to create a voting structure where initiatives can be implemented  without all five permanent members’ endorsements. 

Saudi Arabia may not be perfect, but it’s move to turn down a seat on the Security Council should serve as an impetus for necessary alterations to the U.N.

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