The United Nations Security Council is frequently vilified for the paralysis which it suffers, owing to the use of the right of veto by its permanent members (these being the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom). Belgium, which is a candidate for one non-permanent member seat for the period 2019 to 2020, is very much in favour of reform of the institution.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders, mentioned the point on Tuesday. However, he stressed that it would be difficult to implement, and that a preferable course for now is to focus upon the other means of action at the UN’s disposal.
The agreement made under the Belgian federal government of Verhofstadt I in 1999 had already called for this reform. Reynders explained, “We favour a better representation of the various global regions, and a less frequent use of the right of veto.”
However, the vague impulses for changing the Security Council are quashed by the vetoes of the five permanent members, who do not appear ready to simply abandon their privileges inherited following the Second World War. Amongst other issues, in the Syrian or Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, the UN is subject to frequent diatribes on account of its inaction.
Mr Reynders says, “There are too many criticisms sweeping down upon the organisation, whilst it is ultimately the actual responsibility of the individual states which is at issue.” He adds that the IMF was ultimately able to undergo reform and the G20 composition was brought to a halt, when the will to achieve a given geographical equilibrium was achieved.
In this sense, the minister can see a new argument for Belgium’s presence on the UN Security Council. He stresses that as a country with no national agenda, which has been committed to the foundation of international organisations from when they came into being, it is Belgium’s ambition for the institution to move more towards multilateralism.