2011 will be a fascinating year of challenge for the UN Security Council and may prove once and for all whether it can adapt or is doomed to fade back into obscurity. The Council seems likely to have
at the table almost all of the key stakeholders pushing for reform. India, Brazil, South Africa and
Nigeria are all assured election. Germany and Canada may also be elected. All of a sudden the
Council starts to look very like the G20. This seems likely to precipitate a real test of its capacity to
adapt and be an effective 21st Century institution.But although this new Council configuration may in
one sense be the "dream team", caution abounds. There is uncertainty whether real change is
possible at this point in history.
The political and economic factors that made sense in 1945, when the UN Security Council was
conceived, have changed dramatically. Today there are few conflicts between states. Most are
conflicts are within states. But the Council has not found it easy to adapt its working methods to
address this. Most conflicts today have deep seated economic and social causes. But the Council
has not got serious about the fact that peacebuilding is just as important as peacekeeping. In 1945
five major stakeholders were given a special role at the table. If we were starting with a clean slate
today the list would need to be much larger and much more geographically diverse. New realities
include the dramatic rise of the Asian economies, the new power of China, the resurgence of
Russia, the assertiveness of other major economies of the South including Brazil, South Africa and
Nigeria and the changed power equations arising from the spread of nuclear weapons.
The role of the Security Council has come under serious challenge. It remains far from clear that it
will be able adapt to all these new demands. This is therefore a very good time to look at some of
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