Global Policy Forum

Security Council Reform

Picture Credit: Untiedt

The Security Council's membership and working methods reflect a bygone era.  Though geopolitics have changed drastically, the Council has changed relatively little since 1945, when wartime victors crafted a Charter in their interest and awarded "permanent" veto-wielding Council seats for themselves.

Since 1993, the UN General Assembly has hotly debated Council reform but has not been able to reach agreement.  A handful of states aspire to "permanent" status for themselves, while many other countries reject such claims. This site posts information and documents about the reform process, including analysis of the state-of-play and statements by nations and negotiating blocs.  In the background section, we have posted GPF's own policy paper on the problems, dynamics and options for truly Democratic Reform of the Security Council in additional to more general information about Security Council reform.

To enrich the current information, we offer a large archive on reform discussions in previous years.  These materials are divided into four sections. The Membership section looks at the addition of both permanent members and elected members.  Such changes require amendments to the UN Charter, a lengthy and onerous process. The section on Working Methods considers the procedures of the Council and the way it conducts its work.  Unlike membership changes, these reforms do not require Charter change and the Council itself can implement them. The section on the Veto looks closely at this key issue and whether it could (and should) be eliminated or curtailed. The Regional Representation section examines the arguments for and against supranational organizations, like the EU, as potential candidates for Council membership.

There are many general documents, articles and statements throughout the respective pages. Documents produced by the UN can be found on the UN Documents page and include the documents, reports, draft resolutions and official statements from the Council reform process.

The reform of the Council is part of the broader issue of UN Reform, to build a more effective and democratic global institution.  This includes the reform of other bodies like the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, as well as improvement in the organization's management and finance.

Background on Security Council Reform

General Articles and Documents

UN Documents


Membership including Expansion and Representation

This page examines proposals for changes in the Council's membership, including additional permanent and/or additional elected members. The membership issue includes discussions about how to make the Council more representative and more legitimate. Membership change requires a difficult process of changing the UN Charter.

Regional Representation

This section specifically discusses regional representation as a method of Council reform.

Transparency including Working Methods and Decision-Making Process

The Council has taken some steps to increase its efficiency and transparency in recent years. However, reform of the Council's working methods remains a work in progress. These reforms do not require Charter amendment, so in theory they are easy to implement. But the P-5 usually oppose them. This page contains articles about proposed reforms to the Council's working methods, as well as efforts to increase its transparency and improve its relationship with other UN organs.


In the Council debates, many governments express their opposition to the veto and call for its restriction or elimination. This section presents extensive information about the veto including data, articles and analyses of veto power, including the often-used but little-known "hidden veto."

UN Reform

Also see GPF's section on UN Reform, which follows different initiatives, such as the Millennium Summit and Its Follow-Up, the work of different Panels and Working Groups, as well as the reform proposals of Secretary General Kofi Annan. The site also covers the various topics of UN Reform beyond the Security Council, including reform of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Human Rights Commission.

Conferences on Security Council Reform

This page provides links to information conferences hosted by GPF on Security Council reform and other materials associated with the conferences.

Links and Resources


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