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World Government Answers/Discussion
1. The five permanent members of the Security Council are: Great Britain, France, the United States, Russia, and China (the Allied forces, victors of WW II). The remainder of the security council (10 additional members) rotates among other members of the U.N.
2. Resolutions on policies of substance need to be approved by NINE nations of the Security Council.
3. Most people are apt to find, upon reflection, that there is something deeply troubling about the structure of the United Nations. As you can see from the U.N. web site, resolutions on policies of substance need to be approved by NINE nations of the Security Council. This, perhaps, is a good thing. But any major resolution can also defeated by a negative vote from any ONE of the five permanent members. This gives the permanent members enormous power, far out of proportion with other members of the U.N.
In the current system of U.N. governance, it is possible for the overwhelming majority of nations to favor a policy that is blocked by a very few nations, or even just one nation. It is therefore possible for U.N. policies to have absolutely no connection to international consensus.
As for the five permanent members, what is current rationale for maintaining the special status of these nations? At one time, the "great powers" argument might have been used to defend the existence of the Security Council. Today, the Security Council does not include Japan, the second largest economy in the world. With the Cold War over, why should there be a Security Council at all?
Despite these structural problems, many see the U.N. as a stabilizing influence overall, our only hope for permanent world peace, and as a possible foundation for a world government of the future. If you see a role for the U.N., it should be obvious that its present structure would have to be changed.
For a good review of the purpose and the promise of the U.N. see the documentary film Broken Promises: http://www.brokenpromisesmovie.com. This film is suitable for classroom use.