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In 1945, with the ending of World War II, a pattern of winners and losers occurred. That same year, the United Nations was founded, and the founders aimed for the organization to play a central role as the leading forum for managing threats to international order (Bourantonis 2005: 4). To do this they needed the victorious countries of the war to play an active part in the organization. The Security Council was therefore established, as the organ with primary responsibility for international peace and security. In the Council, the five great powers in the aftermath of the war, The United States, The Republic of China, The Soviet Union, France and The United Kingdom were given permanent seats and the right to veto any Council decision in which they disagreed. In addition to the permanent five, known as the P5, there were six non-permanent members, distributed among the other members of the United Nations according to a certain pattern. The non-permanent members did not have the right to veto decisions. It soon became clear that the ones that mattered in the Security Council were the P5. Through their permanent seats and their veto power, they were able to control the Council.

The quest for reform started already about ten years after the United Nations was founded. In 1965, after years of efforts, four non-permanent seats were added to the Security Council. The membership now counted 15 members, including the P5. The P5 in the Security Council agreed to a reform in 1965, even though this reform to some extent diminished the power of the P5 (Leigh-Phippard 1998: 428). Although the quest for reform had been met and the geographical representation to some extent had improved, it did not take long before the debate flared up


again. However, apart from small adjustments in working methods and membership, the Security Council has largely remained unchanged since 1965. The process of reforming it has been in a deadlock for decades, despite years of debate and several demands for reform. Although the reform debate might be in a deadlock, it is certainly not dead.

After World War II, the United Nations was set up to end all wars, enhance respect for international law and promote human rights and peoples' well-being. The U.N was established as an association of nations which accepted the values of civilized life and agreed to co-operate together for the good of all. According to Tomuschart (2002:45), the U.N was founded as it is enshrined in the Charter, to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

As stipulated in its Charter, the principal function of the U.N is to maintain international peace and security. Other roles include international cooperation, coordinating social, economic and cultural covenants as well as international conventions and other humanitarian problems, notably, in areas of promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms. The U.N mainly comprises of the Security Council (UNSC), General Assembly UNGA, the Secretariat and specialized agencies. As Sydney (2001:40) argues, The United Nations General Assembly consists of all the small and large, greedy and generous, allied and neutral, democratic and tyrannical, arrogant and diffident member states of the United Nation. When the U.N was established, the core responsibility for maintaining international peace and security was entrusted to the UNSC. This organ is made up of five veto power wielding permanent member countries, the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and China, requiring it to act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the U.N.

According to Rourke (1995:363), in the U.N Security Council, any of the permanent members can, by its single vote, veto a policy statement or action favoured by the other 14 members.


Between 1946 and 1990, the veto was cast 246 times, with each of the members using its special prerogative to protect its interests. The use of veto by permanent members has led to some questioning whether or not the UNSC can still be the custodian of international peace and security. As Young (2003:56) puts it, the UNSC operates, by and large, according to the golden rule - those who have the gold make the rules.

In the century prior to the UN's creation, several international treaty organizations and conferences had been formed to regulate conflicts between nations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. Following the catastrophic loss of lives in World War I, the Paris Peace Conference established the League of Nations to maintain harmony between the nations. This organization successfully resolved some territorial disputes and created international structures for areas such as postal mail, aviation, and opium control, some of which would later be absorbed into the UN. However, the League lacked representation for colonial peoples (than half the world's population) and significant participation from several major powers, including the US, USSR, Germany, and Japan, failed to act against the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in 1935, the 1937 Japanese invasion of China, and German expansions under Adolf Hitler that culminated in World War II, Berlie (1986).

The earliest concrete plan for a new world organization was begun under the aegis of the US State Department in 1939. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt first coined the term 'United Nations' as a term to describe the Allied countries. The term was first officially used on 1 January 1942, when 26 governments signed the Atlantic Charter. (Ganghof, 2003: 7-8)

In mid-1944, the Allied powers met for the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in Washington, D.C. to negotiate the UN's structure, and the composition of the UN Security Council quickly became


the dominant issue. France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the UK, and US were selected as permanent members of the Security Council; the US attempted to add Brazil as a sixth member, but was opposed by the heads of the Russian and British delegations. The most contentious issue at Dumbarton and in successive talks proved to be the veto rights of permanent members. The Soviet delegation argued that each nation should have an absolute veto that could block matters from even being discussed, while the British argued that nations should not be able to veto resolutions on disputes to which they were a party. At the Yalta Conference of February 1945, the American, British, and Russian delegations agreed that each of the "Big Five" could veto any action by the council, but not procedural resolutions, meaning that the permanent members could not prevent debate on a resolution.

On 25 April 1945, the UN Conference on International Organization began in San Francisco, attended by 50 governments and a number of non-governmental organizations involved in drafting the United Nations Charter. At the conference, H. V

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