For more on President Biden’s support for Africa’s pursuit to have a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, and reforms of the global security body, VOA’s James Butty spoke to Ambassador James Jonas, a former UN official, under the Secretary General for Political Affairs.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: Tell us more about the U.S. position on the expansion of the United Nations Security Council
Jonas: The United States has never been opposed the expansion of the security council. The opposer was the system permanent members who said granting permanent seats to Africans, Asians or Latin Americans will require that they not use their seats to veto and there are some members who were prepared to accept that condition.
Based on my knowledge of UN law, my argument has always been that there is no reference in the charter to the word veto. All the charter says is that passing a binding resolution on the security council would require the concurrence of all permanent members.
According to proposals made, the extra members would not use their vote to block, which has not been accepted by African states, however there are other members who were prepared to accept it.
VOA: Would abolishing veto powers and changing it to a majority vote rules be the best way to reform the security council?
Jonas: Practically speaking, it is going to be very difficult for some permanent members to accept majority rules on the security council.
For example, it is doubtful that the U.S. senate would rectify any change which would remove the veto from the charter.
What one can accept is that if you are going to grant permanent seats to for example African states, all those seats should have all the rights and the responsibilities of the current permanent states, that would be the fairest way to implement this.