According to Reuters™, there is much angst and gnashing of teeth over Saudi Arabia having rejected a prestigious seat on the United Nations Security Council; albeit for a two year term. Yet, most of that agita is in the western world, not so much the Arab nations. The Saudi leaders are incensed regarding the ineffectiveness of the council: particularly in regard to Syria.
Perhaps we are, as the old saying goes, missing the forest for the trees. While the subject of the effectiveness of the United Nations itself has been the subject of debate in academic circles as well as taverns world-wide since its inception, we need to look specifically at the Security Council.
There are five countries that hold permanent seats: China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These were the “super powers” immediately following World War II. The General Assembly additionally elects ten member countries to fill two-year terms. Security Council members discuss and vote on resolutions such as military actions, sanctions, etc. When a non-member nation of the Security Council is involved in a dispute, their representative may be permitted to participate in the discussion: but not to vote on the resolution. However, they may not participate at all unless they are invited to do so by the Security Council.
It should be pointed out that democracy is not necessarily alive and well in this august body. A state holding a permanent seat can veto any resolution. Therein lays a significant factor in the growing frustration of many participants and observers. It may sound unfair, but this is not a fairytale world where everyone looks out for the common good and there are no hidden agendas. In reality, this procedural privilege is a two-edged sword. The five nations could be compared to the big kids on the block: there are those that respect, as well as fear, their strength. Others are out to destroy them and their ways of life. Permitting all the nations to vote equally could well hold the larger and wealthier nations hostage to fiscal and political mismanagement.
The permanent members are those who bankrolled the concept and architecture of the entire organization. After witnessing the horrors of war on such an all-encompassing scale and the potential for destroying the world, it was time to come up with better solutions. The United Nations started with a forum to discuss issues and conflicts. It took a great deal of compromise and negotiating to even come up with the imperfect organization we see today.
The Saudi anger is not misplaced. The west dragged their collective feet from the beginning; not wanting to get embroiled in yet another war where it is hard to tell who the enemy is; and where there is little to no native support for efforts expended on their behalf. The United Nations Security Council voted on a number of resolutions that would have hampered Syrian leadership. A move that had the potential for keeping a lid on the carnage; but the resolutions were vetoed by Russia and China (supporters and trade partners with the country). It gave time for radicals to organize and usurp the fight for defeat of tyranny into one of religious jihad. Assisting the native insurgents at the beginning by neutralizing the regime, might have aborted genocide. Going into Syria now means supporting terrorists who have vowed to destroy anyone who does not practice their particular brand of Islam.
There is one definitive conclusion to this entire quagmire which can largely be laid at the door of the United Nations Security Council: replace all the professional diplomats with the farmers and housewives of the world: who have no political agendas. Find a mother of six well-behaved children and you have your UN Secretary General.
Written By: Corie Richter