Reform of the UN Security Council

In cooperation with the San Francisco Eric M. Warburg Chapter of the American Council on Germany, IES welcomed German diplomat Thomas Seidel to the Berkeley campus for a lecture detailing the various reforms the United Nations’ Security Council is currently undergoing. Since its foundation after the end of World War II, the Allied Forces (US, Russia, China, UK, and France) established veto powers which allows them to block decisions that are contrary to their own interests, a system that still to this day remains largely unchanged. Seidel outlined the main areas of conflict with regard to proposed changes to the UN, including the regional rivalry between the neighbors of permanent members, as well as the yearning for permanent positions from different nations (i.e. Brazil, Germany, Japan, and India) as means of balancing influence. Currently, there are long-standing positions on the reform of the UN Security Council held by groups such as the African Union, Uniting for Consensus, and the G4. While such groups still have opposing ideas about the reform, Seidel emphasized, the UN is as powerful or powerless as its member states want it to be; therefore, member states need to be able to discuss and agree on a means of approaching reform. To conclude his talk, Seidel fielded a number of questions about the UN voiced by the twenty in attendance. These ranged from the composition of its funds and organizations, to what the future holds for the UN.