THE STATUS QUO IS NOT WORKING

2019 witnessed the greatest year-on-year increase in global defence spending in ten years. After decades of progress, armed conflicts are again proliferating. The UN system is unable to perform its core functions adequately. Wars rage in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Ukraine while the world looks on. Serious violations of the laws of war take place. 60 million humans are on the move worldwide.

The UN Security Council was designed in the wake of the Second World War "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind." The 15-member body, five of which are permanent (the "P5"), carries the heavy burden of maintaining international peace and security. It is the nucleus of a rules-based international order that promised "never again" to global armed conflict and widespread human suffering. With the exception of the post-Cold-War 1990s decade, and some major breakthroughs such as the development of peacekeeping, the Council has largely failed to live up to its promise. The UN Charter reflects geopolitical reality, and one of its central features is the veto the P5 wield  over the substantive decision-making of the Council. Over the past 20 years the international community has launched serious efforts to reform the Council, but even reform itself is subject to the veto. The situation has deeply frustrated the other 188 members of the UN, and the world has suffered.

 

It is time to address these holes in the international system. A potential solution exists, and it will require a major international mobilization.