There is a lot of talk about Russia's veto power this week
Russians are 1.87% of people in the world. Yet they are permitted by the United Nations to invade another country just because their leader has convinced his population through state run media (he has killed independent journalists) that the people in that other country are evil. How can this happen in 2022? And how can we as a global population prevent this from happening again? There are five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, each of whom have a right of veto. That is, a right to prevent the implementation of any action of the UN that they consider adverse to their interests. Those countries are: Russia USA France China UK They are 5 out of the 196 countries in the world. They represent less than one third of the global population. According to Article 108 of the Charter, any change to this UN structure must be adopted by two thirds of the members of the General Assembly and ratified by two thirds of the members of the United Nations, "including all the permanent members of the Security Council". So, the beneficiaries of the current status quo have absolute power to maintain the status quo. Meaning, the United Nations is blocked from becoming a fair and just political institution. Any suggestion of structural change to the UN will potentially diminish the power of these five countries , and so, it is a given that at least one of them (probably all of them) will vote it down. So, naturally, the proposition is never raised. And so we end up where we are now. And so the United Nations can never be an institution for global governance, nor a vehicle to usher in any other form of global governance. Because everybody knows that any proposal to change the current structure will be vetoed down every time. The problem is that without structural change, the United Nations will continue on as a goliath and usually benevolent NGO, with some special powers. It can never be a forum for the kind of global governance that is needed today. How Did This Happen? The UN was set up in 1945. Its purpose was to promote world security post World War II. Special privileges (the power to veto any decision) were given to themselves by the winners of the war. Fair enough. Back then security, not governance, was paramount. There were 2.3 billion people in the world (there were 14 cities in the world with over a million people). Interconnectedness between peoples was limited. International conflicts were represented by border wars. Resources were plentiful . Now it is 2022. The global population is over 7 billion (there are 1,400 cities with over a million people). People have the ability to affect the interests of one another from afar – on purpose (eg cyber), or by accident (eg pollution). Resources are not plentiful. Common sense global regulation of actions people take to pollute, shoot and commute across borders is needed. It is true that the UN has expanded its functions since 1945. But not nearly enough. One of its functions is not (and has never been) global governance. So, what to do? Sit here, and watch it all unfold? After all, no matter how real and urgent the need for global governance, it can’t happen, right? For a start, we can assume the five veto members of the Security Council will not be the ones to raise the issue of structural reform. Why would they? It is up to the other two thirds of us to say something. So, when the US, for example, sets about negotiating a framework for India to become the sixth permanent member of the Security Council, as it did in January 2015, people across the world need to take notice. To object. To say out loud: “Is it in the world’s interest for the veto system to become even further entrenched!?” But governments don't bother with the topic at all, to our ongoing detriment. This is basically because is not the job of your head of government to watch your back in your capacity as a global citizen. it is their job to whip you as a constituent of your country into a jingoistic frenzy so they may be loved by you as your national leader. They have no business complaining on the world stage , yelling into the wind: ‘Who won the Second World War’ should no longer be a relevant factor in the structure of global politics'. Not because it is incorrect. But because it is not their job, and, such conversations distract from and compromise their day job. What To Do People in their capacity as global citizens have access to the internet. All people really need to do is down tools (cat memes) for just a microsecond, and communicate with each other on actual global governance. Until now there has been no platform for us to do this. Of course, there is no expectation it will happen, but, with a platform like this, it is at least plausible. Proper global governance has now become necessary for the security of all of our families into the future. (Otherwise, I would not be making this noise.) The first step on the way to global governance is that people more widely understand the existence of the current predicament and the reason for it. Back to the veto power. Why do our leaders not talk about this roadblock to global governance? Talking about this will not help them win their next election. And this is precisely where the interests of national governments and their constituents diverge. It is not their business to care about global politics. It is a thing that is not important to them, albeit it is important to you. Just as your family business is not theirs, and your local council business is not theirs, and your state or province governance is not their business, your national leaders are not in the business of global politics. Not only that, a government’s survival agenda is different to that of a person. Your national government's survival interest is in getting over the line at the next election. Our survival interest is whatever it takes to benefit the future of our children So, we need to look beyond our governments on this one. We need to look to ourselves, as global citizens. Political scientists and journalists need to start the conversation. Ultimately, we all as global citizens will need to engage; to petition, pressure and cajole through our leaders or otherwise the UN veto powers to let go of their privileges and make way for a new, more democratic and more powerful United Nations or equivalent body. It is asking for a lot. But what is the alternative? Sit here and watch as seawaters rise? Let self appointed tyrants do as they please? If structural reform to the UN is needed to best protect the personal security that we all strive to keep and maintain, then this is what must happen. This is the conversation that we need to have. Not as countries, it is a talk we need to have as global citizens.