Editor’s Note: The headline has been updated.
Earlier Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe of Japan, and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia all called for a reform of the United Nations Security Council.
The Security Council has five permanent members (The U.S., the U.K., France, the Russian Federation and China) and ten non-permanent members (currently Angola, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal, Spain, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela) that make decisions on threats to world security.
The four leaders have all called for a reform of the Security Council’s policies to better combat the crisis in Syria.
Prime Minister Key stated, “New Zealand is working for a Security Council that shows more leadership on the toughest political issues… and that is better at responding to political crises before they spiral out of control.”
President Zuma commented, “[The Security Council] is supposed to act in our collective interest without being bogged down by the domestic narrow interests of a few states.”
Each of the permanent members have a veto power they can exercise and it effectively blocks action on that resolution. The United States, Russia, China, and the former Soviet Union have frequently used the veto to block actions that could hurt themselves or their allies.
Crown Prince Al-Saud stated, “The type and scale of the challenges we confront require us to work hard toward the reform of the United Nations system, increase the effectiveness of the Security Council, and revitalize the role of the General Assembly and all the relevant bodies of the United Nations.”
Prime Minister Abe wrote an op-ed for CNN where he discussed his opinion on the topic at length. He wrote, “The [UN] must live up to its full potential even as it faces finite resources in trying to do so. That will require making the United Nations a more unified organization — ‘One UN’ — where UN bodies coordinate more closely. This process is unavoidable, even though it might require bold and painful organizational reforms. One of the most urgent of those is reform of the UN Security Council.”
Abe also called for an African permanent member to represent that continent.
All four leaders called for a more coordinated effort to combat the Syrian refugee crisis, and harshly criticized the Security Council’s weak response to the situation.