Accepting Russia’s presidency of the UN Security Council is the worst thing the international community can do. This situation should be treated as an opportunity to start a serious discussion on the reform of this institution, which apparently no longer fulfills its role. To put it bluntly, it’s time to kick Russia out of the UN Security Council.
This step, however, requires a paradigm shift in thinking, realizing that history never ends, and everything – even the painstakingly created architecture of international security – can change. The turning point seems to have arrived.
From April 1, Russia heads the UN Security Council. The Western powers have their hands tied in this matter, because there are no legal mechanisms to block the presidency of a permanent member of the UN Security Council. We, therefore, face a situation in which a country that is supposed to guard international security poses the greatest threat to this security, conducts an unjustified war of aggression, its troops commit (at least) war crimes, its authorities use nuclear blackmail, and its president is prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.
Moreover, one of the most important justifications for this criminal war is the denial of the existence of the Ukrainian nation, the annihilation of its distinct culture and language, and, as a result, attempting to erase it from the map of Europe and the world. Russia is actually implementing its promises, as evidenced by the abduction of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children and attempts to denationalize them with the help of Russian families, or in specially prepared re-education institutions.
It is worth recalling here that the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide recognizes as such a crime “the forcible transfer of children of members of a group to another group”. So we, as the international community, have one of the strongest pieces of evidence in our hands to bring Russia to justice for the crimes of genocide. This is an indictment of the highest level.
This genocidal regime has just taken over the presidency of the world’s most important institution, which is supposed to guard international security. Ukrainians considered this situation to be the worst April Fool’s joke in history. Even earlier, the situation was bizarre, because at the time of the attack on Ukraine in February 2022, Russia also chaired the UN Security Council. It’s unbelievable, but there’s really nothing you can do about it.
The world is, therefore, frozen in legal paralysis and remains deaf to the calls of e.g. President Volodymyr Zelensky to expel Russia from the group of permanent members of the Security Council once and for all (apart from Russia, the permanent members of the Security Council are the USA, Great Britain, France, and China), and to “reform or dissolve the Council”.
And yet, this appeal is the most rational and there are arguments behind it that cannot be questioned. A horse is a horse, everyone can see it. The UN Security Council does not work, it does not protect anyone, it does not guarantee any security, it is a relic of a bygone era, in which it also continuously was failing the test. It didn’t pass it, because it couldn’t – that’s how it was designed. At present, it is merely a prestigious social club whose permanent members may consider themselves and the world to be great powers. It’s time to put an end to this fiction.
Albert Einstein once said, “Everyone knew it was impossible, until a fool who didn’t know came along and did it.” We are now facing such a situation. Everyone fears that the reconstruction of the international security architecture, identified with decades of peace, is treading on thin ice. However, we must realize that these decades of peace are a myth after all, and we as human beings just like something permanent in the world that organizes our lives, that we can refer to, that makes us feel reasonably safe. But that kind of thinking is infantile.
The arguments often used by the defenders of the status quo boil down to emphasizing the role of Russia as a nuclear power whose exclusion from the international security system would threaten a nuclear war. But now many more countries (not only permanent members of the Security Council) have nuclear arsenals, and somehow no one cares that they do not have veto power on inflammatory issues.
Isn’t North Korea just as (or perhaps even more) erratic as Russia? Could the smoldering conflict between India and Pakistan not get out of control and end the life on our planet? Perpetually threatened by its neighbors and ruled by the extreme right (everyone knows it has a nuclear arsenal), is Israel so trustworthy today?
All these countries have nuclear weapons, and others (such as Iran) are still striving to acquire them. This is the terrifying reality. Meanwhile, only Russia is considered the pillar of nuclear security, without which the whole intricately built puzzle will collapse like a house of cards.
However, if, for example, we treat permanent membership of the UN Security Council as what it really is, i.e. as the entry to a prestigious social club mentioned here, it may turn out that the expulsion of a state that broke unwritten customs and has betrayed fundamental principles, it will no longer be so improbable. Just imagine that, in place of Russia, we invite, for example, India and Pakistan, two regional powers with nuclear weapons, to join the UNSC.
Let’s not delude ourselves that such a new Security Council would be more efficient than the current one, that’s not the point – it seems that no system will fully ensure international security. It is about a symbolic gesture, about sending Russia to a corner, demonstrating a firm disagreement with its criminal activities. To put an end to this hypocrisy that poisons international relations.
The affront to Russia would then be enormous, and let us remember that the image of this country – both external and internal – is based almost exclusively on its alleged superpower, strength, and importance on the international arena. Such humiliation in front of almost the entire world could shake the Putin regime.
Of course, it is easy to propose such a solution, but it is difficult to implement it. There would be countless problems when trying to implement it – China’s reaction would be one of the first. However, it can be assumed that participation in the new configuration, which would appear after the old Security Council, would not be so easy for China to renounce. Anyway, China sets a good precedent here – it became a member of the Security Council only in 1971, replacing Taiwan (the Republic of China). Nothing happened then – the facts were simply sanctioned.
Therefore, it is necessary to break again the stagnant paradigm and way of thinking that does not allow us to take this – it seems – necessary step. It is worth realizing that history never ends, it always lasts, and all the announcements of its subsequent endings have been compromised and constitute history themselves. This applies both to great narratives – such as the alleged end of the historical path of humanity related to Marxist determinism through the advent of a system of social justice, or even the “end of history” promoted by Francis Fukuyama, as the final and ultimate reign of the liberal democratic system and the free market associated with it – as well as allegedly targeted institutional solutions. The UN Security Council seems to be such a final and permanent institutional solution.
It is worth realizing that these are mere appearances. Maybe a modern Cato is needed to start with, who will end each of his speeches with the sentence: “Besides, I believe that Russia should be expelled from the UN Security Council.”
The article was originally published in Polish: https://liberte.pl/wyrzucic-rosje-z-rady-bezpieczenstwa-onz/
Translated by Olga Łabendowicz