A Security Council for the Twenty-First Century

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro addresses one of the fundamental issues facing the United Nations: “Is the UN a democratic organization?” Pinheiro’s answer highlights the need to think anew about state and non-state actors in the UN.

This seems particularly relevant given today’s news. President Barack Obama has just endorsed a permanent place on the Security Council for India. The suggested change has implications beyond the question of representation, and affects the reach and effectiveness of the UN.

After all, shouldn’t the Security Council accurately reflect the political situation in the world today—not 1945? Clearly, the world’s largest democracy fully “buying-in” to the UN system could sharply influence the course of international diplomacy. It was smart politics by Obama at many, many levels.

Should India become a permanent member of the Security Council? Any other nominations for permanent members?

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro is a Cogut visiting professor at Brown University and has collaborated many times with the Choices Program curriculum resources for high school students including: Competing Visions of Human Rights: Questions for U.S. Policy, The United Nations: Challenges and Change, and Brazil: From Colony to Democracy. Pinheiro has a series of videos that covering these topics as well.