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UN Security Council reform high on the agenda

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Russia’s acting Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made it clear once again recently that it is high time the United Nations Security Council had among permanent members representatives of India, Brazil and the African continent. Speaking at the “Raisina Dialogue” International Conference in New Delhi, Mr.Lavrov reminded the participants in the event about Moscow’s consistent appeals for the UN Security Council to clear the current uncertainty and invite representatives  from developing countries as permanent members.

The UN Security Council plays a crucial role in the United Nations Organization – the world’s most authoritative forum for countries to coordinate their positions and secure their interests in nearly all spheres of human activity. Under the UN Charter, the Security Council answers for «maintaining peace and global security». Thus, revamping the United Nations and modernizing the entire architecture of global governance are hardly possible without an overhaul of this highly important international institution. One of the major issues to be addressed in the course of the UN reform «is to search for ways to ensure the interests of all regions and guarantee the appropriate representation of all countries»[i]. Given the situation, many UN member countries call for the enlargement of the UN Security Council.

At present, the UN Security Council consists of 15 member countries, five of which are permanent members – Britain, China, Russia, the United States and France. Each of the five permanent members enjoys the right of veto which blocks the adoption of a resolution if necessary. The other ten non-permanent members are elected for 2 years, so half of non-permanent members are replaced every year. The year 1992 marked the beginning of talks on the reform of the UN Security Council at the government level. The issue of Security Council enlargement has been under discussion since 1994. In the spring of 2005 UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggested increasing the composition of the Security Council to 24 members, including by extending the number of permanent members to embrace India, Brazil, Germany and Japan. Intergovernmental negotiations on the reform of the UN Security Council have been on since 2009,  «in the format of an unofficial plenary session of the UN General Assembly». According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the parties involved still demonstrate «substantial differences ….on all key issues».

The only time the number of  UN Security Council members changed was in 1963, when the number of non-permanent members rose from six to ten, while the total number of member countries increased from 11 to 15. The law makes it possible to «radically reconsider» the UN Charter and revise the powers of the Security Council. Article 109 of the UN Charter allows for introducingchanges to the UN Charter through convening  «a general conference of UN members with the support of two thirds of members of the General Assembly and nine members of the Security Council». In this case none of the permanent members of the Security Council has the right of veto.. However, no precedents of this have been reported in UN history so far. Sceptics fear that the attempt to change the Charter in such a manner may result in the elimination of the United Nations.

Sergei Lavrov has repeatedly dwelled in detail on Russia’s position on the issue of expanding the make-up of the UN Security Council. Russia is in favor of  increasing the number of members of the Security Council. Meanwhile, the reform should not have a negative impact on the governance and effectiveness of the Security Council. “Efficiency in operation” is one of the key principles. Another principle is that all regions, all centers of world development should be represented. The most reasonable number of members is “a bit over 20” [ii]. In January this year, Sergei Lavrov emphasized yet again Moscow’s commitment to the principle of fair representation of all the leading regions of the world, with the mandatory participation of developing countries. In this context, the head of Russian diplomacy said, “we maintain that India and Brazil fully deserve a seat on the UN Security Council, along with a representative of Africa. We believe that the goal of the UN Security Council reform should be to ensure a better attitude to developing countries from the main body of the Organization ”[iii].

The absence of India among permanent members of the Security Council seems particularly illogical in the past few years, if not decades. At present, India is the world’s second in the number of people residing there. And by 2025, according to UN experts, it will become the most densely populated country in the world [iv]. India has nuclear weapons. Since coming to power in May 2014, India’s incumbent leadership has been pursuing a course to strengthen the country’s international standing and its status as a regional leader and “a global player to be reckoned with”. The economy of India by nominal GDP, according to the IMF, is the world’s 5th.

All major states of Greater Asia, which is steadily turning into a global political and economic hub, as well as all external powers, signal interest in close cooperation with New Delhi while pursuing both tactical and strategic, long-term agendas. However, there are grounds to believe that in the foreseeable future, India will try to maintain its commitment to yet more pragmatic than before strategy of “non-alignment”. This would mean that New Delhi will be able to play not only an increasingly prominent role in Asia, but will also become one of the main candidates to speak for a considerable number of developing countries. India will thus be among those who seek to avoid being squeezed into the rigid quasi-block structures of the new configuration of international system.

Unlike Asia, Latin America and Africa are “nowhere” among permanent members. However, the two regions cannot come to consensus on nominating a single candidate. Among the most promising candidates from Latin America experts name Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Brazil, according to the IMF, is currently the number one economy in Latin America, the second in the Western Hemisphere and 8th in the world. Its economic and industrial sectors, unlike most of its neighbors’, are well diversified. The country has succeeded in avoiding the “resource trap”. In terms of population, Brazil is sixth in the world. The potential of the Brazilian army among the states of the Western hemisphere is considered to be the second after America

[v]

. However, a number of Russian experts say that some of the current leadership of Brazil came to power under the slogan of criticizing “Brazil’s participation in multilateral international forums.” [vi]

In the past ten to fifteen years, Africa has been attracting ever more attention of international community. The rapid growth of the continent’s population along with an increase in the share of the working population can, under certain conditions, contribute to economic growth, Republic.ru says. A number of experts believe that the African economy is capable of as impressive an economic breakthrough as Southeast Asia made in the second half of the 20th century. This is a fact acknowledged by all the leading powers. According to the Economist, between 2010 and 2016, more than three hundred new foreign diplomatic missions opened in African countries.

At present, Africa unofficially has three seats of non-permanent members ofthe Security Councils. South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria are competing for the right to represent Africa in the Security Council on a permanent basis. In the context of the transformation of the system of international relations, the development of ties between 54 African countries promises a lot in terms of boosting geopolitical influence. The opinions of African countries will play an increasingly prominent role in many international forums and in international institutions. However, given the current situation, Africans no longer need to “take   sides.” They can work effectively with different competing powers at a time. Pragmatists in the African leadership know only too well how important it is to maintain a constructive balance of interests amid competition between global powers.

Overall, it appears that a possible strengthening of the positions of India and Brazil in the UN would give a new impetus to their potential in terms of their ability to offset the influence of other powers, both regionally and globally. India and Brazil, together with Russia, China, and Africa’s second economy, South Africa, are already successfully promoting the principles of a multipolar and fair world order within BRICS. They are also developing cooperation with other leading powers in the G20. In the economic sphere, Brasilia and New Delhi are expanding cooperation with other developing countries, providing them with significant assistance in developing modern sectors of the economy, increasing their competitiveness and developing their entrepreneurship. As for Africa, as Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Hommes d’Afrique in 2018, the appearance of an African representative in the UN Security Council alone can add “more value” to its work [vii].

Skeptics fear that any enlargement of the Security Council, quantitative or geographical, “with the preservation of the right of veto and the apparent differences among permanent members on fundamental international issues … will make the process of reaching agreements more complicated” [viii]. Indeed, as  new centers of international influence become stronger, the risks of collisions and clashes of interests between parties involved are bound to increase. Under these conditions, all proposals coming from Moscow are aimed at adjusting the work of the UN Security Council so as this key United Nations body will be able to not only preserve, but also to cement its role as a top platform for resolving the inevitable world controversies.

In particular, it is necessary to overcome the dangerous trend that has emerged in recent decades. We mean that a number of states tend to bypass the Security Council, at times even trying to circumvent the entire system of international law. Sergei Lavrov pointed this out in the course of discussions under the auspices of the “Raisina Dialogue”. “If you have noticed, our Western partners are making less and less use of the language of international law. Instead, they have coined a new term, which they refer to as the “rule-based order.” “One-sided methods and the attempts to impose one’s selfish ideas on others are  moving us more and more away from solving global challenges of transnational nature.” In this regard, a number of Russian observers make it clear that Brazil and India  “call for a comprehensive strengthening of the system of international law” [ix].

The need for restructuring the UN Security Council, despite certain difficulties, is beyond doubt. What is also clear is the fact that there are new candidate countries worthy of taking the place of permanent members of the key United Nations body. However, an occasional feeling that the UN Security Council has chosen to “retreat” or that it has been “paralyzed”, without any doubt, does nothing to improve the reputation of either the Security Council or the United Nations as a whole. In these conditions, the international community needs to find solutions that will make the UN mechanisms better and more efficient without jeopardizing all the positive experience gained over the past decades. It is necessary to walk along the fine line that separates the continuation of constructive work in the absence of unanimity and the attempts to reach agreement at any cost.

From our partner International Affairs

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International Law

Human Rights violation in Palestine: A serious concern

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Palestinians had long been victim of brutal Israeli assailant forces. The innocent Palestinians civilians and children are not only victim of discrimination but are maltreated, battered and are forced to displace from their ancestral land.  As a matter of fact these Israeli were the people who came to settle in Palestine under the Balfour declaration which announce the support for establishing national home for Jewish people in Palestine.  Hence according to Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics initially under the British mandate Israel occupied 6.2% land in Palestine but now they control 27,000 m3 land which accounts for 85% of historical Palestinian land. Recent 11 days destruction was another episode of human rights violations as in the violence nearly 243 people were killed in Gaza including more than 100 women and children. During this deadly conflict Israeli brutal forces even flounced the Al Aqsa masjid and even shelled worshippers resultantly several were wounded as tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades were used by callous Israeli police. Besides these coercive actions the Israel even launched air strikes causing demolition of residential buildings. According to BBC news even on 16 May Sunday the airstrike hit busy street in Gaza as result causing numbers of deaths and three buildings to collapse. In addition to all this viciousness the Israeli forces even demolished media buildings of Al Jazeera and Associated Press (AP) which also housed residential apartments and they were warned only an hour before air raids.

All this barbarity makes ones ponder where human rights are and where are human rights regimes? This makes one ponder if same insanity was being done otherwise or in any other region of world will still UN had been aphonic and voiceless. Is UN champion of peace and justice is playing its role and performing its responsibility faithfully? This makes us realize that these regimes and international organizations would not play their effective and just role and would not even grant basic human rights unless they themselves are strong and economically robust. This is high time that we should contemplate how as an individual, state and regional level Muslims should play their role before it too late as the Turkish president uttered “if Jerusalem falls today, Israel could run over Mecca, Medina, Istanbul and Islamabad.” The divided Muslim world should understand they will tumbledown and dilapidate if they do not join hands together.

OIC which is the second largest international organization after UN comprising of 57 states which only offer rhetorical statements without taking any pragmatic measures should work to eliminate its structural flaws. Efforts should be done in order to restructure OIC and strengthen its role if OIC wants to play an effective role in international arena, combat the oncoming challenges and secure its stance in front of international community. One of its inadequacies is that it possesses limited number of staff as compare to similar world organizations in international arena and even the qualifications of many members are below required standards. The OIC even lack the proper means to implement its resolutions as even though OIC has announce the economic boycott of Israel according to 1981 OIC resolution  even then certain states possess economic ties with Israel. Hence this discloses that even the Muslims states are not even on one page due to their personal motives. We have to make one thing clear in our mind we would not be able to counter the challenges posed by western world and resolve the deadly violent Palestine Israel conflict lest we stand together and put an end to personal political and economic interest.

Secondly we should we should cogitate what role we can play as an individual because little drops of water make the mighty ocean. One of the best ways to counter the Israel is that each and every individual in Pakistan should boycott the Israeli products because these products generate the revenue and capital for the Israel. We should keep one thing in mind there are dozens of Israeli products in Pakistan and these are manufactured in Pakistan which means that the Pakistani labor is employed in industries while manufacturing these items and if we boycott the products it means that our labor will get unemployed resultantly creating consequences for Pakistan economy. This means that we should generate long term solution if we want to play an effective role. We should create awareness in our industrialist that we should try to launch our own products as a result create an alternative for each and every foreign product which is being sold in Pakistan. Suppose if there is any carbonated drink they should try launch same product with their unique formula against that product but their should be no compromise on taste and quality because consumers will always go for better quality hence when we will have alternative for each and every manufactured product  we can shift then shift our labor to the company which is making Pakistani product and when that Pakistani product will be launch that means the generated profit will totally belong to Pakistan and as a result give boost to our economy.

Lastly each and every individual should raise their voice against the inhumane acts of Israeli forces in Palestine and this will be only possible by making effective use of social media platforms. As the platform like YouTube, twitter, Facebook act as megaphone and allow propagating message to large audience hence we should make this human right issue as a trend because Palestinian lives matter. We should create awareness in our people they should keep on writing via blog or article writing and speak on this issue in any practical way because making this issue as an international trend would be one of the ways to put pressure on international community because the airstrikes by assailant Israel Defence forces are even still being carried out after ceasefire.

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International Law

Carl Schmitt for the XXI Century

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For decades, the scholars of international relations have confused the term “New World order” in the social, political, or economic spheres. Even today, few scholars confuse the term with the information age, internet, universalism, globalization, and  American imperialism. Unlike the complex categorization of the New World Order, the concept of the Old World Order was purely a juridical phenomenon. However, from standpoint of modernity, the term New World order is a purely ideological and political phenomenon, which embodies various displays such as liberal democracy, financial capitalism, and technological imperialism.

In his Magnus Opus “The concept of the Political”, Carl Schmitt lauded a harsh criticism on liberal ideology and favored competitive decisionism over it. This is why according to Schmitt’s critics; the whole text in “The concept of the political” is filled with authoritarian overtones. Nonetheless, the fact cannot be denied that it was the radical political philosophy of Carl Schmitt that paved the way for the conservative revolution in Europe. Even today, his writings are being regarded as one of the major contributions to the field of political philosophy from the 20th century.

Throughout his major works such as “Nomos of the earth”, “the Crisis of Parliamentary democracy”, “The concept of the Political” and “Dictatorship”, Carl Schmitt frequently employs unadorned terms such as ‘actual’, ‘concrete’, ‘real’, and ‘specific’ to apprize his political ideas. However, he advances most of the core political ideas by using the metaphysical framework. For instance, in the broader political domain, Carl Schmitt anticipated the existential dimension of the ‘actual politics’ in the world today.

On the contrary, in his famous work “The Concept of the Political” readers most encounter the interplay between the abstract and ideal and, the concrete and real aspects of politics. Perhaps, understanding of Schmitt’s discursive distinctions is necessary when it comes to the deconstruction of the liberal promoted intellectual discourse. However, the point should be kept in mind that for Schmitt the concept of the political does not necessarily refer to any concrete subject matter such as “state” or “sovereignty”. In this respect, his concept of the political simply refers to the friend-enemy dialectics or distinction. To be more precise, the categorization of the term “Political” defines the degree of intensity of an association and dissociation.

In addition, the famous friend-enemy dialectics is also the central theme of his famous book “The Concept of the Political”. Likewise, the famous friend-enemy distinction in Schmitt’s famous work has both concrete and existential meaning. Here, the word “enemy” refers to the fight against ‘human totality”, which depends upon the circumstances. In this respect, throughout his work, one of the major focuses of Carl Schmitt was on the subject of  “real Politics”. According to Schmitt, friend, enemy, and battle have real meaning. This is why, throughout his several works; Carl Schmitt remained much concerned with the theory of state and sovereignty. As Schmitt writes;

I do not say the general theory of the state; for the category, the general theory of the state…is a typical concern of the liberal nineteenth century. This category arises from the normative effort to dissolve the concrete state and the concrete Volk in generalities (general education, general theory of the law, and finally general theory of the knowledge; and in this way to destroy their political order”.[1]

As a matter of the fact, for Schmitt, the real politics ends up in battle, as he says, “The normal proves nothing, but the exception proves everything”. Here, Schmitt uses the concept of “exceptionality” to overcome the pragmatism of Liberalism. Although, in his later writings, Carl Schmitt attempted to dissociate the concept of “Political” from the controlling and the limiting spheres but he deliberately failed. One of the major reasons behind Schmitt’s isolation of the concept of the political is that he wanted to limit the categorization of friend-enemy distinction. Another major purpose of Schmitt was to purify the concept of the “Political” was by dissociating it from the subject-object duality. According to Schmitt, the concept of the political was not a subject matter and has no limit at all. Perhaps, this is why Schmitt advocated looking beyond the ordinary conception and definition of politics in textbooks.

For Schmitt, it was Liberalism, which introduced the absolutist conception of politics by destroying its actual meaning. In this respect, he developed his very idea of the “Political” against the backdrop of the “human totality” (Gesamtheit Von Menschen). Today’s Europe should remember the bloody revolutionary year of 1848 because the so-called economic prosperity, technological progress, and the self-assured positivism of the last century have come together to produce long and deep amnesia. Nonetheless, the fact cannot be denied that the revolutionary events of1848 had brought deep anxiety and fear for the ordinary Europeans. For instance, the famous sentence from the year 1848 reads;

For this reason, fear grabs hold of the genius at a different time than it does normal people. the latter recognizes the danger at the time of danger; up to that, they are not secure, and if the danger has passed, then they are secure. The genius is the strongest precisely at the time of danger”.

Unfortunately, it was the intellectual predicament at the European stage in the year 1848 that caused revolutionary anxiety and distress among ordinary Europeans. Today, ordinary Europeans face similar situations in the social, political, and ideological spheres. The growing anxieties of the European public consciousness cannot be grasped without taking into account Carl Schmitt’s critique of liberal democracy. A century and a half ago, by embracing liberal democracy under the auspices of free-market capitalism, the Europeans played a pivotal role in the self-destruction of the European spirit.

The vicious technological drive under liberal capitalism led the European civilization towards crony centralism, industrialism, mechanization, and above all singularity. Today, neoliberal capitalism has transformed the world into a consumer-hyped mechanized factory in which humanity appears as the by-product of its own artificial creation. The unstructured mechanization of humanity in the last century has brought human civilization to technological crossroads. Hence, the technological drive under liberal democratic capitalism is presenting a huge threat to human civilizational identity.


[1] Wolin, Richard, Carl Schmitt, Political Existentialism, and the Total State, Theory and Society, volume no. 19, no. 4, 1990 (pp. 389-416). Schmitt deemed the friend-enemy dialectics as the cornerstone of his critique on liberalism and universalism.

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International Law

Democratic Backsliding: A Framework for Understanding and Combatting it

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Democracy is suffering setbacks around the world. Over the past decade, the number of liberal democracies has shrunk from 41 to 32. Today, 34 percent of the global population lives in 25 countries moving in the direction of autocracy. By contrast, only 16 countries are undergoing a process of democratization, representing just 4 percent of the global population. Reflecting these troubling trends, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, during her confirmation hearing, highlighted democratic backsliding – along with climate change, conflict and state collapse, and COVID-19 – as among the “four interconnected and gargantuan challenges” that will guide the Biden Administration’s development priorities.

However, defining “democratic backsliding” is far from straightforward. Practitioners and policymakers too often refer to “democratic backsliding” broadly, but there is a high degree of variation in how backsliding manifests in different contexts. This imprecise approach is problematic because it can lead to an inaccurate analysis of events in a country and thereby inappropriate or ineffective solutions.

To prevent or mitigate democratic backsliding, policymakers need a definition of the concept that captures its multi-dimensional nature. It must include the actors responsible for the democratic erosion, the groups imperiled by it, as well as the allies who can help reverse the worst effects of backsliding. 

To address this gap, the International Republican Institute developed a conceptual framework to help practitioners and policymakers more precisely define and analyze how democratic backsliding (or “closing democratic space”) is transpiring and then devise foreign assistance programs to combat it.  Shifting away from broad generalizations that a country is moving forward or backward vis-à-vis democracy—which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to derive specific solutions—the framework breaks closing democratic space into six distinct, and sometimes interrelated, subsectors or “spaces.”

Political/Electoral: Encompasses the arena for political competition and the ability of citizens to hold their government accountable through elections. Examples of closing political or electoral space range from fraudulent election processes and the arrest or harassment of political leaders to burdensome administrative barriers to political party registration or campaigning.

Economic: Refers to the relationship between a country’s economic market structure, including access and regulation, and political competition. Examples of closing economic space include selective or politically motivated audits or distribution of government licenses, contracts, or tax benefits.

Civic/Associational: Describes the space where citizens meet to discuss and/or advocate for issues, needs, and priorities outside the purview of the government. Examples of closing civic or associational space include harassment or co-optation of civic actors or civil society organizations and administrative barriers designed to hamper civil society organizations’ goals including limiting or making it arduous to access resources.

Informational: Captures the venues that afford citizens the opportunity to learn about government performance or hold elected leaders to account, including the media environment and the digital realm. h. Examples of closing informational space consist of laws criminalizing online speech or activity, restrictions on accessing the internet or applications, censorship (including self-censorship), and editorial pressure or harassment of journalists.  

Individual: Encapsulates the space where individuals, including public intellectuals, academics, artists, and cultural leaders– including those traditionally marginalized based on religious, ethnicity, language, or sexual orientation–can exercise basic freedoms related to speech, property, movement, and equality under the law. Common tactics of closing individual space include formal and informal restrictions on basic rights to assemble, protest, or otherwise exercise free speech; censorship, surveillance, or harassment of cultural figures or those critical of government actions; and scapegoating or harassing identity groups.

Governing: Comprises the role of state institutions, at all levels, within political processes. Typical instances of closing the governing space include partisan control of government entities such as courts, election commissions, security services, regulatory bodies; informal control of such governing bodies through nepotism or patronage networks; and legal changes that weaken the balance of powers in favor of the executive branch.

Examining democratic backsliding through this framework forces practitioners and policymakers to more precisely identify how and where democratic space is closing and who is affected. This enhanced understanding enables officials to craft more targeted interventions.

For example, analysts were quick to note Myanmar’s swift about-face toward autocracy.  This might be true, but how does this high-level generalization help craft an effective policy and foreign aid response, beyond emphasizing a need to target funds on strengthening democracy to reverse the trend? In short, it does not.  If practitioners and policymakers had dissected Myanmar’s backsliding using the six-part framework, it would have highlighted specific opportunities for intervention.  This systematic analysis reveals the regime has closed civic space, via forbidding large gatherings, as well as the information space, by outlawing online exchanges and unsanctioned news, even suspending most television broadcasts.  One could easily populate the other four spaces with recent examples, as well. 

Immediately, we see how this exercise leads to more targeted interventions—support to keep news outlets operating, for example, via software the government cannot hack—that, collectively, can help slow backsliding.  Using the framework also compels practitioners and policymakers to consider where there might be spillover—closing in one space that might bleed into another space—and what should be done to mitigate further closing.

Finally, using this framework to examine the strength of Myanmar’s democratic institutions and norms prior to the February coup d’etat may have revealed shortcomings that, if addressed, could have slowed or lessened the impact of the sudden democratic decline. For example, the high-profile arrest of journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in December 2017 was a significant signal that Myanmar’s information space was closing. Laws or actions to increase protections for journalists and media outlets, could have strengthened the media environment prior to the coup, making it more difficult for the military to close the information space.

A more precise diagnosis of the problem of democratic backsliding is the first step in crafting more effective and efficient solutions. This framework provides practitioners and policymakers a practical way to more thoroughly examine closing space situations and design holistic policies and interventions that address both the immediate challenge and longer-term issue of maintaining and growing democratic gains globally.

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