In fact, the Security Council was never relevant. It was created in order to be irrelevant. When the UN was formed, the five powers that won World War II – The US, Russia, Britain, France and China – wanted to continue ruling the world. Hence, they determined that the UN’s operative arm able to impose sanctions or send forces to settle global disputes, the Security Council, will offer a veto to each one of them.
And so, no decision can be taken at the Security Council if one of the five powers objects. This week for example, a Chinese and Russian veto averted a resolution against Syria.
For years, the US protected Israel by using the veto power. We were not outraged back then, but we understood what was going on. Even if the UN boasts a decisive majority, it cannot take any decision should any of the powers object. Our first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, already dismissed the UN as worthless.
This historical veto privilege, held by the five states that won a war some 67 years ago, neutralizes the UN. The veto does not allow the organization to realize the humanistic ethos it was established to uphold following the Holocaust and World War II – safeguarding world peace and protecting human beings from crimes against humanity.
The Libya case
Over the years, the Security Council managed to take operative decisions only in cases of wall-to-wall agreement: Against apartheid in South Africa, against Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, or in favor of a ceasefire in the Second Lebanon War.
The result is that the world is starting to take action out of the UN. When powerful states reach agreement, but the Security Council cannot take a decision because one or two powers object, various states form a “coalition” out of the UN and take action on its behalf.
This is how Western states operated in Libya against the Gaddafi regime. This is how they took action in Afghanistan. This is also the way they imposed sanctions on Iran that are graver than what the UN could impose.
Should this state of affairs persist, and international forces will continue to act without the UN’s umbrella, it will become truly irrelevant.