TWO years of face-to-face lobbying of world leaders, concerts, promotional videos and celebrity endorsements appear to have paid off in Ireland's bid to win a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council. The question is what do we do with it?
In its mission statement, the Security Council describes itself as having “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.” Its success has been mixed, to say the least, and efforts to reform the UN’s most powerful arm have foundered.
The problem is systemic in that the structure of the council, with five permanent members - US, UK, France, Russia and China - ensures that it retains a post-war mindset, ignoring the major geopolitical changes that have taken place since then.
The first order of business should be to persuade the five permanent members to at least limit their exercise of veto. The right of the permanent members to veto any proposals damages not just the council but the UN itself. Resolutions on the conflicts in Syria and Gaza were vetoed by Russia and the USA in 2017/18. Along with that, disagreement on major topics like Syria, Iran, Venezuela and the Middle East has all but paralysed it.
Securing a seat on the Security Council is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It is not an award or a prize but an important diplomatic tool and its worth will only be noteworthy if we use that tool wisely.