Posted by: bklunk | November 15, 2006

Better Late Than Never

From mdimont

Panama wins final Security Council Seat

Ok, i know i’m a little late on this one and i apologize.  Last week the deadlock between Venezuela and US backed Guatemala over the Latin American seat on the United Nation’s security council came to an end when a third candidate, Panama, emgerged and recieved 164 voted from the General Assembly, well over the 120 needed to win. 

After the vote, Panama joins 5 permanent and 9 other nonpermanent members on the council which acts as the most powerful organ of the UN, making resolutions which must be carried out by all member states.  I find it somewhat surprising that such a powerful position would be given to a state with relativly little power in the scheme of International Relations.  One would think Brazil or Mexico would be more likely candidates for the seat.  The same can be said for other seats on the concil which are held by members such as Slovakia, Ghana, and Qatar. 

 Panama breaks deadlock, wins seat on U.N. council

This might not be as surprising as mdimont suggests.  First, the nonpermanent seats have to rotate among the member states in a given region.  The Latin America seat can’t always go to Brazil or Mexico.  Also, Brazil agrees with mdimont about its (potential) stature.  But what Brazil would really like is a revision of the UN Charter that would allow Brazil to have a permanent seat.  It’s case would be weaker if it were regularly voted to the UNSC on the basis of its regional stature.  On the other hand, I can’t imagine that Argentina, Chile and some others would be thrilled to have Brazil (or Mexico for that matter) identified as the Latin American great power worthy of a permanent seat.

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  1. I agree, it is not surprising at all because like Professor Klunk said the nonpermanent seats have to rotate. In order tomake it somewhat fair every country has to get a chance to have a seat on the security council no matter how big or small the country is. What is significant about the security council is the 5 permanent seats. The 5 permanent seats are occupied by the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom. They also have the power of veto which basically defeats the purpose that the United Nations is supposed to serve as an anarchic structure. The most powerful countries have the ability to make everything go their way!

  2. I agree with PKlunk. Although states like Brazil or Mexico do have more power than the other states I don’t think it is wise to give them that position. Isn’t it the purpose of the UN is to give all states in the international system a voice. So if states like Brazil or Mexico get that posistion they wouldn’t represent these other countries in Latin America well. Mexico and Brazil are unique. Brazil is a key trader and Mexico has the ability to trade freely with the US according to NAFTA. What I am trying to say is that just because these states are all in the same region, does not mean that they have the same interests. Brazil is far more developed than other countries so what they needed is a state like Panama to make decisions that will help it’s neighbors in the global south, and thats what they got.

  3. I agree with what both Jenna and Mina said in response to this post and I really like the different points that each brought up. I think this is one part of the UN that definitely is in need of reform; that maybe there shouldn’t be five permanent seats so that there’s more equality between states/regions and the job they’re trying to accomplish at the UN. It’s hard to say though if the UN will ever make a reform such as getting rid of the five permanent seats, because clearly the five states that have permanent seat status (and veto power) are five of the strongest states in the world, economically speaking and otherwise. It would be quite a difficult task, I think, to either get rid of the permanent seats altogether or to add another permanent seat to the mix.

  4. The non-permanent seats have to rotate in order to not show favoritism towards anyone country. If Brazil were to just have it over and over again it might make countries such as Columbia and Chile very upset. I think the more interesting point is that although the UN has over 190 countries in it, only 15 of them can be on the Security Council at a time, and 5 of those seats are for permanent members. Which is why the Security Council needs to be reformed, but the problem with this is that not all the countries can agree as it on issues. And since all the countries need to agree in order for something to get down, making that group even bigger would appear to hurt any chances of getting just about anything done, which is one of the main reasons that the US does not want the group to grow larger than 20 members, while other resolutions are asking for a minimum of like 26. I agree that the non-permanent positions need to rotate even to countries such as Panama or Qatar, otherwise some countries might feel that favoritism is taking place and they are just being ignored and they might even just leave the UN if that happens, which no one wants.

  5. Qatar, Paul? Wow, you really are in favor of avoiding favoritism. While that may not be the country that comes to mind for me, I do agree with you that non-permanent positions need to rotate in order to avoid certain countries with all the power. Yet, I only think that would work if there was not veto power. If the non-perm members rotated and veto power stayed, it would be difficult for any small unrepresented country to get into a position of power. This is where I agree with Meghan that the permanent seats need to be eliminated.

  6. There are a number of different countries vying for permanent seats on the Security Council. If you look at the whole scheme of things some restructuring is in need. This mainly due to the fact that not every region of the world is fairly represented in the branch of the UN that has the most power. Especially in the areas of Africa where many of the problems that the UN addresses are happening. I would seem hard to get a clear point of view out of the UN Security Council when no country from Africa has a permanent seat. The problem with restructuring is that a few of the countries don’t have the best relationship with the countries who want permanent seats. For example China’s stance on Japan getting a permanent seat on the council. The other part of this is veto power and whether or not these new countries should be given veto power along with the other permanent members.

  7. This power split within the Security Council is certainly a concern across all developing nations seeking to have their interests heard. I think for many developing nations, a non-permanent seat on the council is a great benefit, as it allows them to at least get a taste of functioning at the top of the international community. This can bring stability and promise to a country, so I’m not really suprised by the decision to award one to Panama. As far as reforming the Security Council is concerned, it seems too difficult to come to any real decisions on new permanent members given some of the idealogical differences between existing permanent members with veto power.

  8. I agree with Mdimot that it is fairly surprising that such an influential position such as a position on the UN Security Council would be filled by such a non-influential state as Panama is. On the other hand, Samm makes a good point that the position that Panama is a rotating one, therefore it allows for such flexibility as a non-influential state like Panama to “get a run” at this position, and hopefully many other countries will eventually recieve such an opportunity, thereby increasing the diversity of the entire Security Council.

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