The United Nations Stagnation Council

BY RASHI NARAYAN

During the extreme global violence and terror that has occurred over the past few years, the United Nations Security Council has repeatedly proved itself to be impotent at worst, and dysfunctional at worst. The international community is so fed up with the Council’s inaction that Saudi Arabia even refused its seat and the Council has garnered much global critique.

The Council is granted the “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” so as “to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations.” However, the UNSC has recently achieved nothing prompt, and certainly nothing effective. This international power vacuum has since been filled by the United States, who is as a result repeatedly criticized for sticking its nose in international affairs. Yet, in the current global landscape, the US has no choice, since the rules and regulations of the UNSC prevent the council from fulfilling its charter. The main culprit of this inaction is the infamous veto power. Russia, China, the US, France, and the UK are given unfettered power to veto any proposed resolution. Thus, the actions of the world and the “maintenance of international peace and security” are dependent on the concerns and interests of the Permanent 5. Obviously the 5 members have vastly different ideologies and interests. The US, UK, and France usually end up on the side advocating for prompt intervention, while China and Russia vehemently protest anything that would infringe upon state sovereignty. These two clashing viewpoints all but make resolution and action grind to a disappointing halt even before the UNSC adjourns.

The Syrian crisis presents a clear example of Council dysfunction and how harmful the veto power has become. Russia and China vetoed the initial resolution that would have allowed for the international community to intervene in Syria. This weakened the international community and led the Syrian rebel groups to fracture and radicalize. It also left 170,000 victims and refugees without any sort of local assistance. Moreover, the veto created a giant power vacuum, now happily filled by the Islamic State.

Recently, the US began air strikes in Syria so as to “degrade and destroy” ISIL. Allied countries have since followed in the wake of these strikes. People may critique the US for policing the world, but in the absence of action by the international community writ large, someone has to take the reins.

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Rashi Narayan is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at rashi.narayan@wustl.edu

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