Security Council Reform
One of the most discussed issues in the U.N. reform debate is the possibility of modifying the composition and size of the Security Council so that it more adequately reflects present-day political and economic realities. The Administration is generally open to Security Council reform but stresses that the Council should be changed only if it will increase the Council’s overall effectiveness.81 It supports Japan as a permanent Security Council member given its democratic and human rights record, and its role as the second largest contributor to the United Nations.82 The Administration believes that developing countries deserve increased representation in the Council, and maintains that any new potential permanent members should meet specific criteria, including the “size of economy and population; militarycapacity; contributions to peacekeeping operations; commitment to democracy and human rights; financial contributions to the United Nations; non- proliferation and counter-terrorism records; and equitable geographic balance.”83 The Administration states it will remain engaged in the Security Council reform debate, and will continue to be an active participant in the U.N. Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council. It has not supported any of the Security Council reform proposals that were submitted for consideration by U.N. member states or former Secretary- General Annan.
Reform Perspectives and Priorities
A significant challenge for advocates of U.N. reform is finding common ground among the disparate definitions of reform held by various stakeholders. The global community has no common definition of U.N. reform and, as a result, there is often debate among some over the scope, appropriateness, and effectiveness of past and current reform initiatives. One method for determining how a stakeholder defines “U.N. reform” may be to identify policy priorities in the U.N. reform debate. In some cases, common objectives among stakeholders have translated into substantive reform policy, though shared goals do not always guarantee successful outcomes.
Recent reform debates in the U.N. General Assembly and its committees drew attention to fundamental differences that exist among some member states, particularly developing countries (represented primarily by the Group of 77 and China), and developed countries (including the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom). Developed countries, which account for the majority of assessed
81 Statement by then-Ambassador John Bolton on Security Council reform and expansion, to the General Assembly, U.S. Mission to the United Nations press release, July 21, 2006.
82 In 2006, Japan contributed 19.46% (approximately $332.2 million) of the U.N. regular budget. For more information on individual member state contributions to the United Nations, see CRS Report RL30605, United Nations Regular Budget Contributions: Members Compared, 1989-2006, by Marjorie Ann Browne and Luisa Blanchfield.
83 Statement by Ambassador Mark Wallace, December 11, 2006, available at [http://www.un.int/usa/06_393.htm].