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Should the UN be reformed? By Sezen ÖZKALP

Fellow readers, the aim of this content is to inform you about the reform needed by the United Nations. I wish you a wonderful time reading this article and I hope it will be a beneficial one for all of you.


The word “reform” itself means making changes in something, particularly an institution or practice, in order to improve it. Reform of the United Nations is a constantly debated agenda within the UN. There have been reform efforts for the United Nations before, many of which are being discussed since the late 1990s, but there is a disagreement upon what reforms are needed and how they shall be implemented. Both those who call for the United Nations to play a bigger role in world affairs and those who desire to limit the responsibilities of the UN as humanitarian work asks for reform within the United Nations. There is a wide range of reform ideas differing from people who actually wish to entirely eliminate the UN to the opposing group wishing the UN to be a world government.


The primary and basic argument in favor of reform within the UN is that the world has changed throughout history. Novel issues such as climate change, lack of natural resources, overpopulation, new political disputes, and more problems have arisen since the establishment of the United Nations. Basically, the world in 1945 and the 21st century is not the same at all. Thus, the structure of the UN shaped in 1945 cannot and should not stay the same but be reformed considering current conditions.

In addition, the main aim of the UN is maintaining global peace and security, however, the organization has been more successful in different areas such as human rights rather than peace and security. This fact eventually supports the idea of reform in order to change the UN to make it more efficient and suitable for its primary purpose.

Furthermore, the most discussed reform idea is about the United Nations Security Council. Because of the veto power of five permanent members -PR China, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Russian Federation, and France- the council fails to take action despite being the most powerful organ of the UN. When these countries use their veto power in accordance with their own benefits, the council becomes useless and unable to solve disputes. In addition to this, the power balance in the world has changed a lot since 1945. For example, new powerful countries like Germany and Japan are not permanent members in the SC and do not have a veto right. For making the UN more efficient, the veto power should be removed but to be realistic, it is not very possible since the permanent five would most probably decelerate the process and wouldn’t want their power to be undercut. A different option rather than eliminating the veto power as a whole is increasing the number of permanent countries with veto power.

Another related reform idea is about the General Assembly. The UNGA is deprived of forcing its decisions to be implemented as it can only make recommendations. And when the UNGA authority is limited and the UNSC is unable to take action even though it is the only organ that can force its decisions, the United Nations remains ineffective.
Nevertheless, there are more lacking parts within the UN structure such as peacekeeping, financial and constitutional crises, the situation of the Economic and Social Council, secretariat, and democracy. Starting with the peacekeeping problem, the UN has affected conflicts in a bad way rather than providing stability and security with its peacekeeping missions. Second of all, the financial crisis in the United Nations is based on the unwillingness of some member states to pay their contributions. As long as the UN budget remains limited, it cannot be fully effective. Next, the position of the Economic and Social Council has been criticized since it has been overshadowed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB). On the other hand, the IMF and WB are institutions lacking democracy, transparency, and accountability. Last but not least, a more transparent secretariat is a crucial reform topic and is also within the democracy reform within the UN.


To conclude this article, it is a matter of fact that the United Nations is desperately in need of reform because of both financial and constitutional reasons. At least because we are in the 21st century, not 1945. As a firm believer that the UN must be more effective in world affairs and an organization working for its main purpose, maintaining peace and security, I personally strongly support reform within the UN.

What do you think?

Written by Sezen Özkalp

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