Reasons why Brazil, China, India, and South Africa should not get seats on the UN Security Council

So says Jorge Castaneda, Mexico’s former foreign Minister:

The argument for admitting Brazil, China, India, and South Africa to the helm rests on the general principle that the world’s leadership councils should be broadened to include emerging powers. But unlike the case for Germany and Japan, this one raises some delicate questions…

Brazil, China, India, and South Africa are not just weak supporters of the notion that a strong international regime should govern human rights, democracy, nonproliferation, trade liberalization, the environment, international criminal justice, and global health. They oppose it more or less explicitly, and more or less actively — even though at one time most of them joined the struggle for these values

I don’t dispute the point. These nations joining the security council may very well undermine important international agendas.

Nevertheless, I’m not sure that “four countries representing half the world’s population can’t co-govern with us because they don’t share our values” is a valid argument if you do believe in human rights, democracy, and international justice. A paradox, no?

What happened to “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”?

12 thoughts on “Reasons why Brazil, China, India, and South Africa should not get seats on the UN Security Council

  1. Defending someone’s right to say something and defending their right to actively trample on human rights (as does China) is quite another.
    But then again I think the UN is almost always a joke anyway.

  2. Wait isn’t China in the security council already? Also,
    “weak supporters of the notion that a strong international regime should govern human rights, democracy, nonproliferation, trade liberalization, the environment, international criminal justice, and global health”.
    Do we really need to get into the track record of the US on supporting dictatorships in Latin America and its stands on international environmental regulation to see how completely hypocritical this statement is?

    Do please explain the undermining of international agendas with a more inclusive council. You want to promote democracy using a non-democratic council?

  3. Thank you. And let’s not forget the U.S.’s amazing human right support shown by Abu Gharib, Gitmo and Blackwater’s raid in Middle East and South Asia. Really, the truth is that, if we were to actually be fair and apply the same logic to every country currently in the security council, there’s no country that can stay in.

  4. I think what I find most aggravating about this is grouping China with the three other countries – China is a dictatorship with an abysmal Human Rights record – the three other countries are democracies (in the case of RSA and Brazil relatively recent ones – no thanks to the US) that act, just like all other major powers, in sometimes flawed ways based on national interest and domestic constituents. (and some of his examples are quite odd, too – Honduras as an example for Brazil’s failure to follow int’l norms is quite odd).
    Also – grouping “trade liberalization” with the other goals seems quite odd.

  5. Castaneda’s argument is terrible.

    For example, in face of US record in issues such as trade libaralization, human rights and the environment we should expell this country from the security council!

    Brazil and RSA are leading advocates of trade liberalization, India pharmaceutical industry is giving a key contribution to the fight of tropical diseases and HIV/AIDS in Africa, Brazil has a leadership role in environmental issues etc. Sure they have their problems and overall theis records regarding the mentioned issues is mixed. But which country does not have a mixed record in these issues? It is unfair to label these countries contrary to the notion of the UN and its role in promoting freedom and development.

  6. Um, kb is right. China is *already* a permanent veto-wielding member of the Security Council.

    This is strange.

  7. about China – Castaneda talks about global “clubs” in general – with respect to China that’s mainly about the G8 and a bigger role in IFIs – he knows (and writes) that China is already P5

  8. Hmm Brazil has a pretty good record on about half the issues mentioned. It played a leading role on promoting affordable health care through negotiating exemptions in the WTO. It is also a strong supporter of the ICC and was on the right side at Copenhagen. I just finished editing a report for the UK and Brazilian government on climate change and biodiversity.

    http://ukinbrazil.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/working-with-brazil/everything-connected1

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/may/08/abitterpill

    Brazil has made questionable alliances on non-proliferation and human rights (Iran) but its pulls its weight on peace-keeping in Haiti.

    Ditto the other comments above, but I would say that Castaneda is just playing regional rivalry power politics.

  9. Technically China is not a dictatorship. It is a republic that is communist. It is a growing power in the world. As the United States declines, China rises, and all the evidence proves that China will be the next super power, wether the US likes it or not. I am not ignoring that China has some terrible “abysmal” human right issues (which is true), however, the United States should acknowledge its own human rights issues instead of blaming other countries, when the United States IS equally as guilty in their own Human Right’s Issues. Examples of Human Right Issues:
    – Racial Equality
    – Gender Equality
    – Labor Rights
    – Justice System: Death Penalty
    – Health Care Systems
    -War on Terrorism: Inhumane treatment and torture of captured non-citizens
    And I can assure you many more.

    Also, @Chris Blatman, I respectfully disagree with your statement. You say: “These nations joining the security council may very well undermine important international agendas.

    Nevertheless, I’m not sure that “four countries representing half the world’s population can’t co-govern with us because they don’t share our values” is a valid argument if you do believe in human rights, democracy, and international justice.”

    These nations probably will NOT undermine the UN Security Council. WHY? Well its because, once again, they are rising super powers and therefore there input will be most gladly taken. We can’t simply depend only on the US, France, United Kingdom, China, and Russia anymore, because they are declining powers that all have their Human Right Issues…. Some more than others.

  10. by excluding countries not in your taste makes the ‘international’ institute , eh, less international. Surely the author can make up some ‘invitation only’ clubs behind closed doors.

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