Should new members be admitted to the UN's Security Council?
The UN General Assembly is deciding whether to extend the 15-member Security Council.
Currently the US, UK, France, Russia and China are the only permanent members of the body with the power of veto. Ten other nations rotate in two-year terms.
However, Brazil, Germany, Japan and India want to add 10 more seats, six of them permanent, which would go to the four states and Africa.
Should the UN Security Council more closely reflect the world structure of the 21st Century? Send us your comments.
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
It's a big talking shop as it is. Having more permanent members will mean that each is only looking after their own needs and interests.
Manjit Kaur, Coventry, West Midlands
I cannot imagine why such an anti-democratic institution as a Security Council with permanent members can still remain.
Patrice, Paris, France
There is already enough bias in the UN Security Council with the US veto power. The big five can achieve or reject whatever they like. Any additions in member countries would only add to the disparity and clash of interests in the world. Then again, what good is the UN now? Would it make a difference?
Hashim, Islamabad, Pakistan
The UN is an obsolete, impotent and useless organisation - for the exclusive use of the five permanent members - time to abolish this expensive white elephant!
Bodh, Springfield, USA
The very claim for India's permanent seat on the Security Council - that we are the biggest democracy merely because of our population - should be the one that disqualifies us. Simply put, the nation's obesity in terms of unrestrained population growth and increasing burden on the world ecosystem, is a sign of irresponsibility and cannot be used as justification for a seat on the Council.
Warner D'Cunha, Moira, Goa, India
Just an observation that countries with populations representative of all the world's religions except Islam are cited as potential new Security Council members. Is this wise given that so many have pointed the finger at Muslims as harbingers of 'insecurity'? Perhaps if a predominantly Islamic country were given a Security Council seat (after all Muslims represent 1/5 of the world's population) it may provide an alternative course to violence and help marginalise the extremists that benefit from the perceived isolation and disenfranchisement of Muslims.
Reading all these comments, and realizing that even the best ideas would never work, it's starting to sound like the UN cannot be reformed and is about to go the way of the League of Nations.
Wes, San Diego, CA
The Security Council should remain small, and should exclude countries that do not pay their UN dues (such as the USA). It is hypocritical to complain the UN is ineffective when you do your best to undermine it, underfund it and veto all you can.
David Singer, San Francisco USA
Absolutely, it should be extended. This is supposed to be the United Nations, not a few powerful nations holding sway.
The reality of the countries comprising the SC is that they would never relinquish the power they currently have, and since they can veto any change, I don't think the situation is likely to change.
Felipe Meneguzzi, Porto Alegre, Brazil
It's hard enough as it is for anything to get done with the current members. Adding more will make it even worse.
Jonathan Bensley, Melbourne, Australia
With reference to Guy Hammond's statements, India is listed as the third largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions worldwide, with 2,735 Indian troops deployed in peacekeeping missions mandated by the Security Council. India may not be able to match the US or Europe in terms of financial inputs, but those two thousand troops aren't just cannon fodder.
Rahul Nayar, Chennai, India
A review needs to be made on which of existing P5 countries should be still entitled to their seats. For instance, Russia, which is 15th in the GDP league, has shrunk in size and strength.
L Manners, Mumbai, India
The UN should be eliminated as soon as possible. It is obviously a failed attempt at aiding a world that is both ungrateful and greedy.
Daniel , USA
A larger UNSC is in everyone's best interests, turning the otherwise exclusive club into something more global in representation. However, any plan must come with the blessing of the P5. The more audacious the plan, the more likely it will be vetoed. Small steps are likely going to win the day, and irritate many in the process.
Christopher D Magee, Fairfax, VA USA
Adding 10 new Security Council members will only add ten times more trouble to this world. How can a few powerful nations decide the fate of the world? Where is the voice of all the other nations who are not the part of Security Council?
Although I can't imagine the present permanent members of the Security Council going along with it, besides adding the new seats it should also require some number greater than 1 (say maybe 3) of the permanent members to sustain a veto.
George, Philadelphia, Pa, USA
You cannot let every country on the planet have an equal vote. Is New Zealand an equal to Russia or China? No. Perhaps allowing seats in the Assembly proportional to a country's population would be fair, but in the end, the Security Council is needed.
Nate Haralson, Colorado Springs, CO USA
As a German citizen I am against a permanent German seat at the UN Security Council. Britain, France and Russia are already 3 European nations who can act for all opinions. Sixty years after WW2 and 15 years after reunification it's far too early for Germany to carry such a responsibility.
Juergen, near Stuttgart, Germany
The UN Security Council was created based on a geo-political landscape that has changed drastically during the past several decades. The P5 with their veto are not in the same positions of power, be it economic, military, or political. Expanding the UNSC will allow a greater number of rising powers, such as India and Brazil, and other more established powers such as Japan and Germany, greater importance in the global arena.
Christopher D Magee, Fairfax, VA USA
This was long due, I personally didn't see why only 5 countries should be there when the world has 5 continents that need to be represented, maybe not equally, but at least fairly.
Thierry, Winnipeg, Canada
Surely the reason why these are the permanent members is that they are the only countries that have fully funded armies. If a country does not want to pay for defence that is fine, but why should they have an influence in world affairs where other countries' armies are involved?
Alex MacAskill, London, UK
I agree with most here on ditching the veto. Something nobody has suggested yet are semi-permanent seats with longer terms that rotate between major contributors. This could recognise the imbalance of contribution without granting permanent seats that may be outdated one day - and more importantly people might even agree to it.
Elizabeth, LA, CA, USA
The Security Council should be expanded and some members expelled. It should only represent the largest democracies on Earth from the different continents. It should not include dictator led nations since they have no mandate from their people and represent only their own narrow interest of holding individual power. The UN should then set about demanding democratic reform as a prerequisite for anyone wanting to be part of the Security Council. When the whole world is democratic then voting in the UN will truly represent the will of the entire world's people and we can do away with the Security Council altogether.
Frank Spennati, Pittsburgh, USA
I am glad the UN is finally talking seriously about reforms but the proposed measures do not go far enough. To be effective, the UN should conform to Kant's vision of a league of nations between republics whose peoples enjoy the rights and duties of citizenship.
Inna Tysoe, Sacramento, CA USA
I am in support of reforming the UN. Rather than increasing the number of permanent members based on individual countries, I think it should be done on a regional basis. For instance, the United States, European Union, African Union, ASEAN, etc. This will reflect regional strength in the current era of globalization and will be more truly representative of large populations in critical decision making.
Sigismond Wilson, Michigan, USA
Germany and Japan more than match US and European foreign aid budget and Brazil and India already contribute as many troops for peacekeeping as US and EU! The issue of veto is independent of the issue of permanent members. Permanent members are permanent because they alone have the tactical capacity to 'police' world events both from an economic as well as a strategic perspective. To those who say take away the veto - I say yes please do. I also say dream on.
PJ, Palo Alto, CA, USA
Why should the minority impose their rule on the majority? Many are concerned about the effect on decision making - but look at the Security Council's performance to date - would it really do that much harm to introduce new members, and therefore new perspectives on the world's problems? The UN must change or it will continue to fail.
GM, Hartlepool, UK
The veto power will bring the UN down one day. That should be eliminated. India being the largest democracy, Brazil the largest in South America and Egypt representing both Africa and the Middle East need to be permanent. France and Britain should step down in favour of the EU which takes care of Germany's bid. Japan has no reason to be there - economic power is already represented in the SC by USA. Another 4 non permanent members should be added to make the total 21. 14 votes for 2/3 majority or 11 for simple majority.
Rahul Narang, New York, USA
If the Security Council was made to reflect the 21st century Russia and France would not be on it. I think keeping the vetoes are important, and if I had my way then France would be off the UNSC and I would add Brazil, Japan, India, South Africa and Nigeria as permanent members.
Zach Smith, Bloomington, IN USA
All permanent seats should be replaced by the following: The largest Country, the richest country, the most populous country, the largest democracy, and the country with the highest standard of living, the largest foreign aid giver and other such criteria. This way countries are encouraged to donate more, improve their standard of living etc giving even tiny nations a chance at a Council position and also taking into account global realities 50 years from now. Non secular countries should be barred from a position on the Council.
Brian Adams, Edmonton, Canada
Rather than add new nations to the Security Council perhaps it's time to eliminate it altogether and take another approach. Adding more nations will only increase the bureaucracy and make it more difficult to accomplish anything. Those seeking a larger voice in the organization, however, should be prepared to pay a larger portion of its upkeep (money, peacekeeping troops, logistical support, foodstuffs, etc).
Rob G, Kansas City, USA
I am in favour for change in UNSC. The current structure represents the world of 1945 and not 2005. The Council should be expanded to include Brazil, India, and one African country to help be more representative of the world.
Sukhprit, Ottawa, Canada
The relevance of the UN and its Security Council is diminishing day by day with all the actions that were imposed on it by the US and the UK. A new Security Council without these two countries would be the best world forum to maintain peace in this world.
C. Sachidananda Narayanan, Tirunelveli, India
To closely reflect the world structure of the 21st structure, it is important to admit the new members as proposed and abolish the veto power.
Venkat, Bristol, UK
The UN is losing its importance gradually and becoming irreverent because of its unbalanced nature. The main problem is due to the existence of five permanent members. As we cannot remove any permanent member there is only one option i.e. to add more permanent members to democratize the setup. The UN will become even more irrelevant if we don't reform.
Krishna Yeddanapudi, Pune, India
Granting additional Security Council seats to nations that do not have the capability to act on anything will make the UN more useless than it already is. We will be buried under a mountain of no-weight resolutions and the UN will amount to little more than a well-proportioned debate club.
Nicholas, Washington, D.C, USA
It's time to end the World War II structure of the Security Council. The UN must represent the world, not just the main powers. Each of the continents must be represented by one or two countries without veto rights.
Rafael Villa, Federal District, Mexico
Changing the Security Council is not enough of a change for the UN. People continue to suffer and die while the UN bickers and plays politics. Adding more members to the council will only cause more of a quagmire. The UN needs to be re-invented completely.
Dwayne Chastain, West Jefferson, Ohio
Retain the current five permanent members as, over the 60 years existence of the UN, these nations have been in the front line in many UN sanctioned actions. The next ten should be admitted on the basis of UN contributions per national capita. However, do away with the veto as it is often used as a political tool and not as a realistic objection to UN policy.
Kev, Bushey UK
Adding more permanent seats will mean more vetoes available to cause even more inaction on the UN's part. Are the applicant countries strategically and tactically capable of providing security in the 21st Century?
Rolf Birch, Borders, Scotland
The reform of the Security Council is an essential tool for the reform of the UN, and would, if adopted, represent a more realistic composition of the world today. The structure of the UN was established to reflect the world in 1945, especially the Security Council with its permanent members who carry the right to veto. The world has changed and the additional member states would represent a more realistic view today's geo-political distribution.
Chiara Legnani, Trieste, Italy
When countries like Germany and Japan deploy as many peacekeeping troops worldwide as the permanent five, and when Brazil and India match the US and European foreign aid budgets, then we'll talk.
Guy Hammond, London, England
Why should the US, UK, France, Russia and China effectively have control of the UN? Do away with the veto altogether, and let a democratic vote by the General Assembly decide the issues. That way, every country has a voice, and they all count the same.
Andreas Wax, Brighton, UK
I disagree with the concept of permanent members on the Security Council. They should all be temporary, with periodic rearrangements to reflect the world's needs. If they keep the permanent members, at the least they should rid themselves of the curse of veto. Between Russia and America, the Security Council's history has been ridden with a ridiculous amount of vetoes. It is the loud shout of a petulant child in the ear of pliant parents.
Jordan Peacock, Adan, Kuwait
I strongly feel that UN must be made stronger than ever before, but introducing permanent members with veto will create further hostility and divide among world leaders! I say take the veto away from all and increase both the permanent and non permanent members, and then every resolution be passed by majority of 2/3 votes.
Kazim Ali, Islamabad, Pakistan
You wouldn't give California, New York and Texas individual seats on the Security Council, and rightly so. For the same reasons Germany should not be given its own seat. Until the fate of the European Constitution is decided it is impossible to decide exactly what to do, but eventually France's place on the Council should be transferred to the European Union and used to represent all European powers. If Britain ratifies the constitution and joins in the Union, its seat should be dissolved as they would be represented by the Union chair too.
Steve Mac, Boston MA, USA
Replacing France with India would align the Security Council with the major nations of the 21st Century. The Security Council would then represent the strongest nations - that is the point, isn't it? As we say, talk is cheap.
John B, Windermere, Florida
Certainly not. If the current Council finds it difficult today, what would happen if they add further members who would jeopardize even more so the difficult issues to be treated, especially in times of terrorism as we are now living.
George Handley, Lausanne, Switzerland
It's already too big - cut it down to 2 European, 2 American (North and South), 2 Middle Eastern, 2 African and 2 Asian - all elected on a regular basis.
Megan, Cheshire, UK
Absolutely not. This would make it even more difficult for them to reach any kind of useful agreement or to do anything effective.
Paul F, Houston TX, USA
These reforms will do nothing to make the UN anymore effective as the big powers such as US,UK and the new ones such as Germany will just carry on looking after their own interests and veto anything that does not suit them.
Adrian Cannon, Edinburgh, Scotland
Now is the time to change. The UN is still structured in the post-war situation and now that structure is getting irrelevant in today's world. It's time that members from Africa are given the two seats and additional seats are given to the developing world. Reform the Security Council or we will see another League of Nations in the future.