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Can there be a United Nations (UN) resolution to remove a country from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)?

I am wondering if we can vote a country like France or China out of the UNSC. Is there any rule that forbid such a resolution to be drafted, or is anything possible?

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    Did you not know about the history of the PRC's seat? – Obie 2.0 Jun 19 at 2:53
  • Note that you might want to distinguish between permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK, USA) and non-permanent members (the other ten). – David Richerby Jun 19 at 21:17
  • China is going to be hard, since they have veto power. – Mast Jun 20 at 19:08
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Yes

The first and most obvious method is based on the UN charter, Article VI, which says in its entirety:

A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

Obviously, if expelled from the UN, a country could no longer be a member of the Security Council.

Now, normally members of the Security Council have effective veto power, but Article 27 lists exceptions:

Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.

The definition of disputes under Chapter VI is quite broad, so it seems likely that a country could bring a dispute to the UN focusing on a country's membership, and that country would have to abstain from voting on the issue. It could also be argued that the "recommendation of the Security Council," unlike "the affirmative vote of nine members," makes no mention of unanimity, and thus that a simple majority would suffice. Obviously this is subject to international jurisprudence, but since I doubt a case specifically dealing with this has come up, it's a viable interpretation.

Further, since this site deals with politics, not law, we must consider that in reality a country practically can be removed from the UN security council regardless of the legitimacy of the legal justifications, assuming the countries that oppose its membership and especially, the other members of the Security Council, want to remove it and are sufficiently economically or militarily powerful. If the legal methods were invalid or insufficient, they would come up with some justification to declare the nation's membership invalid in the first place.

The obvious historical precedent is Taiwan, the Republic of China, which the questioner may already be aware of. It used to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council as the successor state to the unified China that existed before 1949, until China, the People's Republic of China, became wealthy enough, and its control over the mainland obvious enough, that it made more sense for them to be a member of the Security Council. Then the PRC was recognized as the legitimate government of China, and they received Taiwan's seat on the Security Council, which they retain to this day. This was the General Assembly Resolution 2758. Not only did Taiwan lose its seat on the Security Council, but its UN membership generally. While this transition was undoubtedly made easier by Taiwan's claims to be the government of all of China, which clearly were not practically true, I think an equivalent form of reasoning could be used for any other country.

For instance, the General Assembly might decide that their membership is a priori invalid due to not being a "peace-loving state," a justification that could theoretically be applied to any country, or due to not actually being a legitimate nation at all.

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    @jww - The US is unlikely to be removed from its permanent seat on the UN security council until at least several other countries overtake it economically, which takes some time. Were it removed from the UN altogether, it is unlikely that it would be labeled as a "terrorist state" in any meaningful sense. In fact, to my understanding the term "terrorist state" doesn't exist in international law. States might "sponsor" terrorism. Even US president Donald Trump's unprecedented move of labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization didn't declare Iran a "terrorist state." – Obie 2.0 Jun 19 at 7:19
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    In fact, I believe the term "state sponsor of terrorism" is itself a term of art of the US government, and that the UN security council or even the General Assembly aren't in the business of declaring nations to be sponsors of terrorism. The UN can impose sanctions, of course, but although sanctions against the US would be more likely if it didn't have a seat on the Security Council, they wouldn't be unprecedented. For instance, the United States has been sanctioned by Brazil (2010) and various Middle Eastern countries (1973-74). – Obie 2.0 Jun 19 at 7:22
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    @jww if you want the US to improve, it may help to be aware of precisely what it is and is not guilty of doing. – Andrew Grimm Jun 19 at 8:39
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    Really the heart of the problem was deciding which of the two entities was China. The seat was awarded to China in 1945. That was the ROC in 1945. In 1949 it became the PRC. It's the Cold War, the US sides with the ROC, the USSR with the PRC. Eventually, in 1971, everybody agrees the PRC is the legitimate representative for China. That means kicking the ROC's delegation from the seat. The US proposed to give Taiwan representation of its own, ultimately that was rejected. The ROC prefered to leave before they could be kicked out unceremoniously. – AmiralPatate Jun 19 at 12:54
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    I think this answer is misleading about Taiwan. You make it sound like Taiwan was included as a permanent member and then they said, "Whoops, the PRC is way bigger." Actually it's that "China" was included, but they had a civil war and split in two. Taiwan was originally considered to be the successor state and that's why it's relevant that the PRC was bigger and consolidated power. – David Richerby Jun 19 at 21:33
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The UN Charter does not provide for any way for a country to be removed from the UNSC. This is the case for both the permanent members (of which France and China are two, as well as the US, UK and Russia) and the non-permanent members (who serve two-year terms).

The only way that a non-permanent member can be removed mid-term, or a permanent member can be removed at all, is if an amendment is made to the UN Charter under Chapter XVIII. This would require a 2/3 vote of the General Assembly, and all permanent members of the Security Council would have to agree with it as well.

Effectively, what this means is that a permanent member of the UNSC cannot be removed from the UNSC without its consent.

  • 13
    It might be easier to start a new UN without permanent members. – Martin Schröder Jun 18 at 23:27
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    There's of course a trick to this, which is how Taiwan was removed. – Obie 2.0 Jun 19 at 2:44
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    This answer is contradicted by the other answer. They can't both be correct. – gerrit Jun 19 at 7:46
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    If UK ends up balkanising itself after brexit, would England inherit the seat automatically? – mega_creamery Jun 19 at 14:49
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    @Obie2.0 That was different. China broke in two and there was a dispute about which "half" was the legitimate successor. Originally, that was declared to be Taiwan; subsequently, it became the PRC. – David Richerby Jun 19 at 21:30
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Not without removing the member from the UN itself, which would still require a Security Council vote.

Disagreeing with another answer, the voting procedure quoted there does require "the concurring votes of the permanent members", so the 10 non-permanent members by themselves could not pass the resolution if any permanent member vetoed it. Given there are two electoral pacts generally (NATO and China+Russia), there will always be a veto.

The "China exception" where the PRC was recognized in place of the RoC was a change in which government was recognized, not the removal of a member. So it's of little precedental value where the goal is to remove a state altogether.

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    But any country can effectively be removed by recognising a different government for its territory. They could withdraw recognition of US independence and subsume it in the UK’s membership. They could recognise the old French claim to England, or vice versa. They could recognise the Russian Tsars’ closest living relatives as the legitimate rulers of Russia. – Mike Scott Jun 19 at 12:30
  • Well, maybe they could. I'm of the opinion that the recognition of the PRC was completely illegal. But even accepting its legality, what benefit derives from paying to be a member of an organization willing to do that? It's not something that can be weaponized without destroying the UN. – zeroone Jun 19 at 13:22
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    That voting procedure requires the country involved in a dispute to abstain from the vote. I think it's probable that a dispute involving a country's membership would count. – Obie 2.0 Jun 19 at 18:15
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    @MikeScott that's manifestly silly. The reason the PRC was recognized as the true ruler of China is because they're the ones sitting in Peking, and have guns all over the country. IOW, while might might not make Right, it certainly does make you In Control. – RonJohn Jun 20 at 15:27

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