The Role of the United Nations Security Council in African Peace Management: Some Porposals

The United Nations global peace management scheme is based on certain fundamental assumptions that require serious reexamination as we enter the twenty-first century. Fundamental to the 1945 vision of global peace management was the prevention of a third world war through collective action by the great powers. Structurally, this was to be achieved by a system of great power governance through the mechanism of the Security Council. While the Charter confers on the Security Council “primary responsibility” for the maintenance of international peace and security, executive decision-making is reserved for the great powers through permanent membership and the veto power. The present economic and military decline of Britain and France, the inability of Russia to play an effective role in world affairs, and uncertainties with respect to the succession in China have contributed to calls for a reexamination of the concept of great power governance through the mechanism of the Security Council. There was considerable agreement among the participants during the recent fiftieth anniversary celebrations that the Security Council will need to be restructured if it is to play an effective role in future global peace management. Its failure to play a meaningful role in the Bosnia peace process is a clear illustration of some of the inherent structural weaknesses in the existing scheme. While the Security Council needs to be restructured and democratized, this will have to be done in the context of overall reform of the United Nations itself. In the context of global peace management, the roles of the General Assembly and Secretary-General will need greater clarification during this reform process.