Why does the UNSC need reform?

After the war in Ukraine, the unsuccessful role of the United Nations Security Council in international crises began to be discussed again.

The United Nations (UN), which brought all countries together to solve global problems, was born from the ashes of the Second World War. The UN Security Council, first convened in 1946, is an organ tasked with maintaining global peace and security.

The 15-member UN Security Council, consisting of 5 permanent (US, UK, France, Russia and China), 10 temporary members, has the power to impose sanctions or authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.

However, decisive decisions are often not made, as permanent members with conflicting views on global issues can veto incoming proposals. This leads to discussion of the organization's role in maintaining international peace.

The United Nations is on Tuesday set to debate a provision that would require the five permanent members of the body’s Security Council to justify invoking their veto powers. The reform to the Security Council has been floated for years at the UN but has regained new traction following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We are particularly concerned by Russia’s shameful pattern of abusing its veto privilege over the past two decades,” said the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, in a statement.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski also criticized the UNSC's failure to take adequate actions.

In his address to the United Nations Security Council, Zelenski said, "Where is the Security Council? It is obvious that the key institution responsible for maintaining world peace is not functioning effectively. Russia's veto power needs to be abolished. From Syria to Somalia, the world needs to be represented equally. If the time for the rule of international law is over then let's shut down the UN. Are you ready to shut down the UN? We should have been able to stop the massacres taking place in many parts of the world long ago. Only in this way can we achieve peace. Maybe then the war will be over.”

Criticizing the structure of the UN and voicing that a new reform should be made in this organization, Zelenski said, "I demand a global conference. We can talk about what kind of reform we will make, how we will change the security system of the world. This agreement made in 1945 needs reform. We need a new UN. No one should be privileged, everyone should be represented equally. The power of peace and justice should be victorious. Peace should be established not with power, but with human values. Ukraine is ready to take the lead in the new security system.”

Zelenski was applauded by members of the Security Council after his address. However, as before, no steps were taken towards establishing peace.


Speaking at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan touched upon the economic, social and political crises in the world.

Expressing that the lasting peace, tranquility and stability that are dreamed of in such a world cannot be established, President Erdoğan said:

"No one can feel safe in an equation where even the conflicts that have been going on for 10 years cannot be resolved. In today's world, where the world has turned into a huge village, no matter where we live, none of us says, 'What does anyone else do to me?' We must know that every judgment we can't put out, every conflict we can't stop, every oppression we can't prevent, every problem we don't address will eventually affect us and burn us as well. We have witnessed this grave truth many times in many regions such as Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Arakan. Millions of civilians, most of whom were women and children, lost their lives in these conflict areas. Civil values ​​and human qualities were severely injured. Trust in international organizations has hit rock bottom. Terrorist organizations and extremism have gained ground all over the world. Ancient cities, which are the common cultural heritage of humanity, have turned to rubble."

Emphasizing the inadequacy of the UNSC in the Ukraine crisis, Erdoğan said, “When one of the conflicting parties became a permanent member with the right of veto, the obligatory role of the Security Council was wasted and the system went bankrupt. Since the resolutions taken at the United Nations General Assembly are not binding, no steps have been taken to end the conflicts."

Reiterating the rhetoric "The world is bigger than five", Erdogan once again called for reforms to the UNSC.


The UNSC has been criticized for failing to act until disaster struck, as was the case with the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Due to the slowness of the decision-making process and veto power, sometimes individual countries or alliances take action without UN authorization for military action, which they claim is legitimate.

NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 was carried out without council approval.

NATO countries (particularly the United States under Bill Clinton) had argued that the unilateral action was justified in response to accusations of genocide by Yugoslav forces against Kosovo's Albanian population.

Russia, on the other hand, argued that the bombing, without the consent of the Security Council, increased the crisis.

The US-British invasion of Iraq in 2003 also took place without the express approval of the Security Council.

Resolution 1441, adopted by the Council, demanded that Iraq disarm and cooperate with weapons inspectors. Some permanent members, including France and Russia, disagreed with the US-England claim that 1441 authorized military action.

In other cases, the Security Council has taken more decisive action.

Between 2006 and 2015, it imposed a series of arms and weapons-related nuclear technology embargoes on Iran because of its nuclear program.

Since 2006, it has taken more than 10 resolutions against North Korea on its nuclear weapons program. Scientific cooperation with the sale of weapons and military equipment to this country is restricted, and sanctions are imposed on people involved in the North Korean nuclear program.

In 2001, the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya was allowed, and this decision indirectly helped to overthrow the Gaddafi administration.

But Cold War fault lines still exist. In 2012, Russia and China vetoed a series of Security Council resolutions aimed at putting pressure on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a key Russian ally in the Middle East.

Today, however, any resolution submitted to the Security Council against Russia regarding the invasion of Ukraine is vetoed by Russia.