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It seems a permanent member or two often uses their veto power to dissent from the other members. Is there any mechanism for the Security Council to remove them in order to create their desired outcome? Or, in other words, what can a permanent member do to get themselves kicked off the Security Council or even out of the UN (if anything)?

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    Russia and China have vetoed resolutions related to Syria. The USA vetos resolutions relating to Israel. While vetos in the last 5 years have come from Russia, if you look at the last 40 years, the USA has used its veto just as much.
    – James K
    Aug 30, 2017 at 20:02
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    So, you're seeking a way to make veto useless, and to make UN collapse like the League of Nations? Because, that what you get if UN starts kicking countries out for using veto.
    – user28434
    Sep 22, 2017 at 12:59
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    @user28434 Just wanting to know how it works Sep 24, 2017 at 3:26

2 Answers 2

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The membership of the Security Council is fixed in Chapter 5 of the UN Charter:

The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council.

The PRC is now a permanent member, replacing the RoC, and Russia replaces the USSR

Therefore to remove a permanent member would require an amendment to the charter, however Article 108:

Amendments to the present Charter shall come into force for all Members of the United Nations when they have been adopted by a vote of two thirds of the members of the General Assembly and ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two thirds of the Members of the United Nations, including all the permanent members of the Security Council.

Therefore, permanent members of the Security Council have a veto over their own expulsion.

However you should look to the process by which The RoC was replaced by the PRC in 1971. Essentially the process was a resolution of the General Assembly and the recognition of the PRC by the other 4 permanent members. The point of view of the other members was that the RoC was not expelled, but rather that "China" continued to be a member of the UN, and it was a matter of which delegation should be recognised. see wikipedia 1 2

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    That's really interesting. Did the RoC have a representative present and have they ever made a statement about it? If you don't have a good source on hand maybe I'll take it to history.se
    – user9389
    Aug 30, 2017 at 17:46
  • Ah. I can see Scotland getting the permanent seat for the UK. :-) Aug 30, 2017 at 21:57
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    @notstoreboughtdirt Yes, they did and they have. But since the proceedings challenged the legitimacy of RoC claim for China's seat in the UN they were not voting. Wikipedia article on the matter is quite well-sourced and even includes a reference to a recording of proceedings on YouTube. Aug 31, 2017 at 4:00
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    So since permanent members can veto their own expulsion, in effect the only way to remove a permanent member of the UNSC is to completely dissolve and re-form the UN?
    – David K
    Feb 25, 2022 at 14:49
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    Supposedly one could remove Russia by arguing that the process for them to succeed the Soviet Union's membership was never valid in the first place (i.e. that as the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist, their seat no longer exists, and the charter wasn't formally amended to state the Russian Federation).
    – gparyani
    Feb 25, 2022 at 21:09
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Is there any mechanism for the Security Council to remove them in order to create their desired outcome?

Why should they wish to?

One major purpose of the UN is to bind the most powerful nations (at least as they were in 1945) together into a diplomatic mechanism to avoid further war amongst themselves.

Although there are 5 nations who are permanent members, arguably the main potential fissure which is controlled by the current setup and which makes the veto necessary, is between the Eastern and Western blocs as a whole. In other words, the veto exists primarily to ensure that the UN is not used as a tool of conflict between these two blocs.

Forestalling the possibility of the UN being (mis-)used to conduct conflict between the powerful nations, was a key criteria for gaining consent for the establishment of the UN forum in the first place, and ensuring participation of all powerful nations in imposing a common order upon the rest of the world.

Removing a permanent UN member in order to avoid their veto, and thereby engineer a different outcome at the UN, is the same as overturning the very purpose for which the veto was devised, and simply is equivalent to the permanent members overturning the foundations of the UN itself and declaring war amongst themselves.

There's nothing to stop the permanent members declaring war on themselves anyway, so if they want war they can already declare it, without having to manipulate UN structures first. The original assumption however is that no good can come of such wars and that permanent members do not want all-out wars amongst themselves.

If that assumption still holds, that permanent members do not want war, then it likely follows that they still want to maintain the system of vetos, too.

If a particular permanent member was massively reduced in circumstances and no longer represented even part of the power of their respective bloc, then the real power may be recognised instead.

This happened for example with the Chinese seat in 1971, when the Kuomintang (by then leading only a rump state of 15 million people in Taiwan) were forsaken by the UN, and the permanent seat for China was given to the Maoists (who by then led a state of nearly a billion people on the mainland).

But it doesn't pay to fuss too much about the legal or procedural principles involved. At the level under discussion here, the laws and procedures are really whatever the powerful members continue to say they are, and whatever approach has been taken in the past does not bind them to the same approach in future. Their approach may change either when circumstances do, or whenever any of them reanalyse what is in their interests to do in those circumstances (which may be informed by past outcomes).

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