My interview with Stephen D. Krasner on International Regimes and UN Security Council Reforms (September/2007).
Stephen D. Krasner: Graham H. Stuart Professor of International Relations at Stanford University
Patricia G. Derolle: “The norms and decision-making procedures help the international regimes influence the actors of the international system.” What is your opinion about the case of the United Nations Security Council resolutions?
Stephen Krasner: Clearly Security Council resolutions matter in creating a focal point around which actor expectations converge. The Security Council does have a high degree of legitimacy at a global level. Council resolutions require buy in from all of the major powers. This does not mean that the targets of Security Council resolutions will necessarily jump to obey the resolutions, but it does mean that there will be some coordination of effort among external actors, although not always at a level necessary to successfully implement resolutions.
Patricia G. Derolle: In your opinion, should the United Nations Security Council be reformed? Why or why not?
Stephen Krasner: There is an unavoidable trade-off between increasing the size of the Security Council and getting decisions out of the Security Council. We have already seen in a number of cases the difficulty that the Council has in reaching decisions. If the Council included more countries, especially if some of those new countries had a veto, decisions would be even harder. If Security Council decisions are harder to reach, the UN itself could be weakened. For instance, if Russia blocks a resolution on Kosovo it may lead the United States, and especially the Europeans, to question the utility of the UN. So, I do not have a definitive answer to your question. What is clear, however, that regardless of what ideal one supports with regard to the Security Council change is going to be very hard to come by because of the demand for a super majority in the General Assembly and the need for ratification by member states.
Patricia G. Derolle: As a professor at one of the best International Relations institutions, and above all, as a North American citizen, could you give me an overview about the United States’ opinion on the UN reforms?
Stephen Krasner: The United States is very interested in management reform at the UN. The US has also been supportive of the new Peace Building Commission and the Democracy Fund. The US hoped that the creation of the new Human Rights Council would make the UN a more effective agency for dealing with human rights abuses. This does not appear to have been the case. The US has explicitly supported Japanese member on the Security Council and hinted more obliquely at support for India.
Patricia G. Derolle: What are the bases that stand for the North American position against the entrance of Brazil into the United Nations Security Council?
Stephen Krasner: I am not sure that the US has ever taken an explicit position against Brazilian membership in the Security Council but I may not be fully informed here.