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I have been watching the recent 75th General Debate and I have seen some presidents (Ghanaian President...) urging and proclaiming for UN Reforms to boost UN efficiency on dealing with problems but also UN Reforms to modernize the old UN system. My Question would be what's wrong with the UN, why is there a need for reform and what reforms are needed and what is the plans of reforming UN? Additionally, why is the system not compatible with today's world as many are speaking of modernization?

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    Reforms? What reforms are they asking for?
    – Joe W
    Oct 9, 2020 at 15:10
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    That's part of the Question.
    – Gregory
    Oct 9, 2020 at 15:14
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    I see you mention reforms but nothing about what types of reforms.
    – Joe W
    Oct 9, 2020 at 15:16
  • Are the reforms something that will allow them to respond to a crisis sooner?
    – Joe W
    Oct 9, 2020 at 15:19

2 Answers 2

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The most prominent point of critique is the Security Council. As outlined in the answer above, its setup resembles the power balance after WWII. Therefore, key issues, nowadays are:

  1. Enlargement, possibly based on regional representation (meaning a number of countries per continent);
  2. Abolition of, or extension of veto power, and its use;
  3. Changing the system of permanent and non-permanent categories of membership;
  4. Generally the wokring process. Source: https://www.un.org/pga/74/2020/02/13/security-council-reform-2/

Japan, Brazil, Germany and India are especially hard on pushing for SC reform as they aspire to become permanent members of it https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/09/ffa7443a9ab5-japan-brazil-germany-india-call-for-un-security-council-reform.html

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  • Abolition of veto power sounds a little bit unreasonable. None of the 5 permanent security council members would approve it. It might be useful, but it’s most likely never going to happen. Unless somebody manages to pull some legal jumbo. Mar 19, 2021 at 16:07
  • Abolition of veto powers is rather unrealistic, that is correct. Reforming the concept in the direction of extending it to other UN member states (e.g. more permanent members or replace the seat of France with a common EU seat), or changing the rules about their use are is more likely
    – chris
    Mar 21, 2021 at 19:35
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The UN was designed to prevent another World War.

It represented the post-war order, with the US, UK and USSR (the major victors) getting permanent Security Council seats and France and China (the minor victors) getting two more. When the five veto powers agreed on something, and they got a few of the non-permanent members to go along, that was pretty much the consensus world opinion. The General Assembly, by contrast, was allowed to meet and debate and pass powerless resolutions.

So the superpowers had a forum to meet and debate. Sometimes it helped.

A more powerful UN is not in the interest of powerful nations.

And arguably a more democratic UN isn't in their interests, either. Why should the five permanent members agree to a dilution of their powers? And why should autocracies want any oversight? I can see four kinds of complaints:

  • Powerful nations complaining that things are not going as they wish all the time. That's mostly along the lines of "we use our veto responsibly, they are obstructive." Yeah, sure.
  • Idealists complaining that the UN isn't organized on a democratic principle of "one person, one vote."
  • Moderately powerful nations complaining that they pay relatively high contributions for relatively little power.
  • Various nations complaining that the checks and balances create gridlock and inefficiency.

Few people want a world government at this time, not even a democratic one.

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  • I don't think that this applies to just the more powerful countries as I don't think it is a stretch to say that many authoritarian countries also don't want the UN to have more power and be able to interfere with them
    – Joe W
    Oct 9, 2020 at 16:37
  • @JoeW, wouldn't those nations want the UN as it is now? The OP asked about reforms.
    – o.m.
    Oct 9, 2020 at 16:43
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    I mentioned that in response to the remarks about powerful nations not wanting the UN to have more power. There are weaker countries that also don't want it to have more power so that it can't interfere with them.
    – Joe W
    Oct 9, 2020 at 17:01
  • @JoeW, I added a sentence to that effect.
    – o.m.
    Oct 9, 2020 at 17:07
  • I don't think the call for reform is to make the UN a "world government" but a more open, leveled, platform for everybody to meet and discuss. Also, by itself alone, does the UN has the execution power?
    – r13
    Jan 17 at 18:33

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