Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 04:50 | SYDNEY
Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 04:50 | SYDNEY

UNSC: Going once, going twice...


Sam Roggeveen


6 November 2009 13:21

Mark Thirlwell's suggestion that the UK ought to sell or lease its UN Security Council seat appeals to me, if only as a mental exercise to improve our understanding of exactly what price the UNSC's permanent members place on their seat.

It is often said that the only thing really justifying the UK's permanent place on that body is the fact that it has nuclear weapons — without them, the UK would be just another middle power, like Germany or Brazil. So given the annual budget for Britain's nuclear-armed Trident submarine fleet is in the order of £2.2 billion, a yearly lease ought to cost at least that much.

A few thoughts on the practical elements. A quick glance at the UN Charter suggests Mark's scheme might fall at the first hurdle, given that Article 23 refers specifically to 'the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland' as a permanent member. That seems to rule out a one-off sale of the membership unless you change the charter, a notoriously difficult exercise.

However, Article 28 says each member of the Security Council 'may, if it so desires, be represented by a member of the government or by some other specially designated representative.' Sounds like a lease is a definite possibility.

Photo by Flickr user riacale, used under a Creative Commons license.