It’s a pity for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
not to show up this year in New York at the United Nations and to deprive world leaders of the new magic formula he has developed to overcome the problem of the U.N.’s inaction on serious global issues. If he represented Turkey at the General Assembly instead of President Abdullah Gül, world leaders would obviously be informed about his proposals on the new structure of the U.N. Security Council.
According to Erdoğan, if the Security Council is to consist of 15 countries, these countries should rotate on the permanent council and decisions should be taken by majority vote, meaning that they should not be canceled by the veto of a single country. His statement is part of his long campaign against the current structure of the U.N. Security Council, the world’s most important body, in particular against its failure to avoid the deepening of the Syrian crisis, which has claimed lives of more than 100,000 people since March 2011.
The Turkish prime minister is right in voicing the need to restructure the U.N. Security Council, although a debate around this has been a major topic among world leaders since the 1990s.
With the collapse of the Cold War and the moving of the center of political and economic gravity from West to East - which paved the way for countries like Turkey, India, Brazil, Japan, etc., to appear as new emerging powers, restructuring the Security Council has turned into be a more immediate issue for the world. The said countries, along with Argentina, Mexico, Egypt, South Africa, etc., have all claimed a seat at this body to underscore their future role in the global scene. However, for many analysts, undertaking such a change at the U.N. will not be easy and current veto-holder countries will not voluntarily abandon their advantageous positions.
The problem with regard to Erdoğan’s proposal is the motives behind it. His complaint is mainly on the Russian
and Chinese veto that hinders the international community engaging in military action against the Syrian regime. To put it more directly, Erdoğan wants the U.N. to turn into a body that easily adopts decisions on the use of force against any country violating universal norms and the U.N. charter.
The U.N. is still the world’s top body, embracing more than 190 countries. Its primary objective is to create conditions for the people of this world to live in a peaceful environment. Unlike what Erdoğan has in mind, the U.N. is not the world’s gendarmerie or war machine. To turn the U.N. Security Council into a form proposed by Erdoğan would obviously mark the end of diplomacy for resolving problems, as a majority vote at the Security Council would be sufficient to impose sanctions, including the use of force, against any country believed to be violating U.N. charter.
For sure, restructuring the Security Council will remain one of the most delicate issues for the international community in the coming years. It’s only natural for Turkey and the Turkish authorities to express their opinions and suggestions with regard to the new composition of the Security Council, but these should not only be sound, responsible and wise, but also pro-peace. The idea behind re-designing the Security Council should be about how this body can further contribute to peace, and obviously not how it can be the punisher.