An EU seat in the security council as first step towards a democratic organisation of world security

2nd part

, by Joan Marc Simon

An EU seat in the security council as first step towards a democratic organisation of world security
UN flag

Rise of world regionalism

In a more long term and sustainable vision for the SC (Security Council) we should note a growing tendency to regional integration around the world. Oddly, it is in times in which the European integration project finds itself in its lowest popularity levels when one can find progress in supranational integration and/or coordination elsewhere.

In Latin-America the last decade has brought an unprecedented rapprochement between countries and leaders which has been materialized in an ever-increasing cooperation. For instance the Mercosur, a free-trade area between southern-American countries founded in 1991, saw a big push in 2005 when it decided to start electing its members starting from 2011 and organise a simultaneous elections in 2014. In the African continent the African Union, founded only in 2002 and composed of all African countries except Morocco, has also made unexpected progress and in less than a decade and following a different a new path is advancing towards a political union without having built on the economic free-trade leg first. In Asia what started as club for South-Eastern Asian countries (Asean) in 1967, has seen an increasing interest from the rest of the continent and although it is mainly an economic organization without foreign policy ambitions it is a fact that it has been instrumental for the advance in the regionalization in the area.

These are just three examples that mark a tendency; that of a growing regionalisation in the world. They are in different stages of development, follow different models, and they are still very far from achieving the degree of integration of the European Union. However, the tendency matters and justifies exploring the option of a future regionalisation of the world which could be useful to envisage a new kind of global governance, particularly in the future of the SC.

A SC composed of World Regions

The advantages of having a SC composed of international organisations are significant. Firstly , this would allow for a better and bigger representation of the world community which increases the legitimacy of the body. Secondly, even in the case where veto prevailed the limited number of members –world regions would not be more than 10- would make the organization more workable than the current options of enlarging the SC. Finally such a structure fits the –so far unbeaten- traditional logic of state organization in which the SC could become an upper chamber representing the states via the international organisations and allow for the development of another chamber representing the people –a world parliament in the way proposed by the UNPA campaign-. The distribution of voting rights and composition of both chambers in order to be representative is a technical matter that falls out of the scope of this article. However, the EU is a good example of how to distribute power in order to accommodate states of different populations and GDPs.

Advancing in the path of world regionalism

The idea of having a SC composed solely of international organisations following the EU model is still far but considering the rise in world regionalization it should not be considered anymore as too visionary. In fact, it is necessary to set a goal of this kind in order to orientate the UNSC reform in a way that allows progress to be measurable and defines a final destination that can be acceptable and desirable by the international community.

Two requisites have to be met for a SC composed of international organisations to be feasible; first, these international organisations should have the capacity to speak with one voice and second, they have to be able to implement the decisions taken in the SC. Currently the EU has the power to implement the decisions , such as sanctions. When it comes to speaking with one voice, the EU also fulfils this condition in most of the cases, although it is also true that the EU tends to be split in most important decisions-. However neither of these two conditions are yet met by any other regional international organisations. It is therefore necessary to wait until organisations such as the African Union, Mercosur, Asean and others can reach the minimum level of integration that would make such a SC acceptable and functional.

The role of the EU in changing the UNSC reform

Advancing towards a SC composed of world regions will be slow and cumbersome. Changing the status quo is never easy. However the EU has an important role to play in this transition. Being the most developed world region in terms of political and economic integration, the EU could start by asking for a permanent observer seat in the SC with the condition that other world regions who want and can be represented would also be allowed to join the SC as observers when they fulfil at least one of the two conditions mentioned above (capacity to speak with one voice and to implement decisions). This last condition consisting in opening the door to other world regions is a must; first because most countries oppose the EU seat in the SC because of the current over-representation of Europeans and they could only support this option if the door is open for their region too. Second, because the participation of the world regions as observers would have an effect in developing procedures and mechanisms to organise common positions and the implementation of the decisions among world regions. The learning by doing would be important to pave a future in which the SC could be composed solely of world regions.

This change consisting in inviting world regions to participate as observers would not require amending the UN charter in the short term, as long as the regions are only observers. And only when the world regions have evolved sufficiently would be time to consider amending the charter to replace the current SC with a new one composed of world regions –and eventually a big state such as the US, China or Russia.

A forum for world regions outside the UN system

The other option is to create a forum outside the UN setting where the world regions can start to interact and negotiate as well as exchange best practices. In the beginning, and because of the different levels of integration it need not take binding decisions but in a not too distant future it could be possible to envisage developing commonly agreed legislation and taking decisions applicable in those countries bound to the regions represented. It could be the embryo of a world upper chamber that could one day replace the SC. In this case the leadership of the EU in setting up this forum would be welcomed and recommendable. By inviting other world regions to sit down as equals around the same table, it would help combat the negative perception from the rest of the world of what some call the “European moral superiority”.

The difficulty of both options –besides the still insufficient integration of world regions- are the opposition from the current members of the SC who undoubtedly will be suspicious of any initiative that can hinder their privileged position. However, there are more countries outside the SC than inside it and with the emerging economies there can be a good consensus to push in the direction of a reform that is acceptable for the majority.

Europe’s last chance

The times are changing, we find ourselves in an age of multipolarism in world relations. Some European states refuse to accept that the world has changed and their weight in the world has been considerably reduced. The current financial and economic crisis combined with the developments in the rest of the world are shaping a new global order in which European countries will no longer be superpowers. Only under the umbrella of the EU they can continue to influence world politics and hence it is crucially strategic that the member states and the EU itself change their approach to world politics.

We might be facing the last chance for Europe to enter the history as a generous player rather than a loser. In situations like these, in which power is shifting, it is always better to give away power than to have it taken away. The EU had a first taste of how it feels to be pushed aside during the Climate Change negotiations in Copenhagen in which the final deal was stricken without the EU inside the room. Hence there is certain urgency for the EU to act while it can still do it. If the EU waits too long it might see how the opportunity to get a decent compromise is gone forever.

The EU needs to change its policy in world politics and stop angering other countries by pushing forward with more European over-representation. Instead, the EU should think long term and help the articulation of its natural partners; that is other world regions. No doubt building world regions will take time and patience but this long-term goal would be the most stable, legitimate and democratic alternative to current world governance, especially as far as UNSC is concerned. The EU should encourage and assist the development of these world regions and lay the ground for a new and more democratic level of world governance.

The 1st part of this article was published on the 21st of June.

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