Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov called for the expansion of the U.N security council on Friday, in order to ensure more representation from Asian, Latin American, and African countries. The Security Council today is composed of five permanent members: The United States, France, United Kingdom, The Russian Federation, and China. Currently, three out of five of the permanent members on the security council are western powers, and the other two are strong hegemonic powers in Asia. The council also consists of 10 non-permanent members, elected by the General Assembly every two years.
However, according to Sergie Lavrov, he claims that “Of the 15 members (permanent and non-permanent), the so-called ‘golden billion’ occupies six seats; this is unfair, unjust. Therefore, we will seek to expand the membership of the Security Council as soon as possible by including the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America”. Lavrov also expressed his desire to break what he calls western domination of the world, stating that “A majority of the world does not want to live according to Western rules”. From Lavrovs perspective, the minimal representation of the permanent Security Council has daunting implications for his nation. According to Reuters, he has accused the west of using the U.N to prevent Russia and China from acting independently in a multipolar world.
Lavrov’s position is evident of a growing shift in international relations, where the western hegemonic order of post-WWII has shifted into a multipolar world, with the recent developments and influence of other nations around the world not being reflected in our intergovernmental institutions. For instance, Brazil has been elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council regularly since 1946, and has recently begun a bid for a permanent seat. Brazil has the 7th largest population and the 5th strongest economy in the world, and would be a perfect candidate for a sixth permanent member of the Security Council, to deepen and diversify trade relationships and pursue mutual diplomatic endeavors as a representative from the global south. India has also launched a bid for the Security Council. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, India is now the largest population in the world. Due to this statistic, India’s international interests should be considered with some weight, making a slot on the Security Council very desirable. Russian Foreign Ministers have backed these efforts from both Brazil and India, believing that the international order can only benefit if these large and powerful countries are represented on the Security Council.
Demands of countries in the global south often fall on deaf ears with the western dominated Security Council in the U.N. It is not only Russia calling for these reforms. The UK foreign secretary also advocated for the expansion of the Council, stating that power has been shifting into Latin America and the Indo-Pacific, creating a multipolar power that is not reflected in the current international system. According to The Guardian, he wrote that “The voice of the poorest and most vulnerable countries must be heard strongly in the multilateral system. The voice of the poor is not always being heard. Even on matters that concern them”. It is an uphill battle, with its last and only expansion being in 1965. However, popular support for these reforms have been growing, and have the potential to be achieved. If done, the U.N would wield considerably more influence at keeping peace around the world if more voices from the global south are heard and listened to, instead of only the wills of the elite five nations already on the Security Council.