Vienna, 5 April 1997/P/K/15517c-is

The President of the International Progress Organization, Dr. Hans Koechler, Says Reform Proposal of President of Security Council Does Not Go Far Enough -- Veto to be Abolished

The President of the I.P.O. commented on the reform proposal presented on 20 March by Razali Ismail, President of the U.N. General Assembly, in his capacity as Chairman of the open-ended working group on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Secutity Council. Dr. Koechler welcomed the idea of enlarging the membership of the Security Council and providing better regional representation particularly for the developing countries. He also welcomed Mr. Razali Ismail's proposals for the improvement of the working methods of the Security Council and for better co-operation with the General Assembly and the International Court of Justice. In his evaluation of the reform proposals, Dr. Koechler referred to the following problematic aspects:

(1) Enlarging the membership from 15 to 24 by adding 5 permanent and 4 non-permanent members does not change the actual balance of power as long as the veto privilege exists.
(2) A new category of permanent membership - without the power of veto - is more or less like a placebo that will not work in the case of the emerging powers - such as Germany or India - that are supposed to accept this "honorary position."
(3) The eventual limitation of the use of the veto to Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter (apart from being dependent on a mere appeal vis-à-vis the privileged countries) does not solve the problem of superpower hegemony in the Security Council. It is exactly the decisions about war and peace - as regulated in Chapter VII - where the power of veto is most effective. Restricting it in less important areas but preserving it in the most sensitive area of power politics would only be a sedative for the frustrations of the international community.
(4) The terminology in the statement of the President of the General Assembly is problematic when he says that the five permanent members "inherited their powers ... as a result of 1945" while eventual new permanent members would just be "elected." In a democratic organization, powers can only be conferred upon certain members by the majority of member states, they are never inherited. Inherited powers are not legitimate in the framework of modern international law.

The President of the I.P.O. stated that only the abolition of the power of veto will make the enlargement of the membership of the Security Council a genuine democratic undertaking. The victorious powers of 1945 have to accept that their privileges cannot be eternalized in the Charter of a world organization that is truly representative of the peoples of the world and that meets the democratic aspirations of mankind. If Art. 108 of the U.N. Charter - granting the five permanent members a special veto right over any Charter amendment - effectively prevents a democratic reform of the United Nations (a problem the President of the General Assembly rightly refers to in his statement), the people of the world will have to consider the re-founding of the world organization on the basis of truly democratic premises justifying the Preamble's slogan of "WE, THE PEOPLES."

The specific reform proposals for the Security Council and the United Nations Organization in general are laid down in the following publications by the President of the I.P.O.:
- The Voting Procedure in the United Nations Security Council. Examining a Normative Contradiction in the UN Charter and its Consequences on International Relations. Studies in International Relations, XVII. Vienna, 1991.
- The United Nations and International Democracy. Studies in International Relations, XXII. Vienna, 1997.

END/SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM/1997-05-05/P/K/15517c-is