How does the UN Charter differ from reality?

Por Patricia Galves Derolle*

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On October 24th, 2015 the United Nations and its charter will be 70 years old. However, it was before October, more specifically on June 26th 1945 that the charter was signed by 50 of 51 original member countries. Since that year, several things have changed, including the geopolitical order of the world. Although core principles continue to be urgent global matters, others must be updated to today’s reality.

The charter has been amended five times since its constitution. In 1965 there were 2 amendments, both of them concerning the expansion of membership: one in the Security Council (11 to 15 non-permanent members) and the other in the Economic and Social Forum (from 18 to 27 members). Regarding the latter, the number of ECOSOC members was again increased in 1975 (from 27 to 54 members) through charter alteration. In 1968, article 109 was amended, changing the modus operandi of amendments processes. The amendments reflect the increasement of members in the organization. The United Nations started with 51 member States and now contemplates 193, being South Sudan the most recent country to join the UN.

In terms of discussing and promoting actions towards global issues, the United Nations is one of the most important organizations to unite countries in order to decrease inequality. It stated such principles in its Charter and it continues to do it up to now, using different strategies to attend globe’s issues thoroughly. The Millennium Development Goals are for instance useful methods to achieve milestones in the fight against poverty, hunger and other social challenges that need a chain of support to be tackled properly. On the other hand, in terms of International Peace and Security, the Security Council is still imbalanced as its membership reflects the view of the International Relations from 1945.

A reformed Security Council is a must for the international community. International conflicts are still a reality in different continents, in which vulnerable countries cannot fight alone without the help of the United Nations. It is not reasonable to leave the decision of these countries’ future in the hands of only 5 permanent members, which can veto resolutions according to their interests. The geographical representation in the United Nations Security Council should therefore be considered in the 70th UN’s anniversary.

The document written by the former Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, entitled “In Larger Freedom” should be then reconsidered by the United Nations so that it makes the charter a document that reflects today’s reality. Although there hasn’t been (thankfully) a Third World War, conflicts are escalating and the use of peacekeeping missions is becoming even more necessary.

In order to decrease costs among the most important contributors, which is mostly the reason why the permanent members remain the same, UN should cooperate even more with regional organizations and other national instances.

It is only when member States, and peoples, realize that lives go beyond national interests, that one will be able to surpass differences and work together towards a common future. The reality of the 21st century is very different from 70 years ago, so it is urgent to update the charter in terms of a fairer geographical representation in one of the most important councils of the United Nations.


Paty1* Patricia Galves Derolle é graduada e pós-graduada em Relações Internacionais. Já estagiou na Missão do Brasil junto à União Europeia, em Bruxelas, na Missão do Brasil junto à ONU, em Genebra; trabalhou no Escritório de Representação do Itamaraty em São Paulo e na Organização Internacional para Transportes Terrestres (IRU) em Genebra. Atualmente, é Advisory Board Member e Senior Editor da revista digital Modern Diplomacy e  fundadora do site e-Internacionalista. Contato: e.internacionalista@gmail.com

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