Biden calls on UN to expand permanent members of Security Council

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President Biden on Wednesday called on the United Nations to expand the number of permanent members that sit it the Security Council as Russia expands its war effort in Ukraine. 

“The U.S. supports increasing the number of permanent and non-permanent representatives in the council. This includes permanent seats for those nations we long supported,” he told nation leaders at the 77th UN General Assembly in New York City.

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The call comes as Russia – one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – again further distanced itself from not only Western nations opposed to the war in Ukraine but all UN nations that have condemned the illegal invasion. 

Russia’s war in Ukraine has split the council for the first time since the Cold War and has driven a global response not seen since World War II.

“I reject the use of violence and ward to conquer nations or expand borders through bloodshed, to stand against global politics and fear and coercion, to defend the sovereign rights of smaller nations as equal to those of larger ones,” Biden said referencing the UN Charter. “That is the common ground upon which we must stand. If you’re still committed to a strong foundation for the good of every nation around the world then United States wants to work with you.”

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China and Russia have found themselves at odds with not only the other three permanent council members, the U.S., France and the U.K., but with the majority of the 10 non-permanent members

India and China were the only Security Council members to abstain from voting on a resolution in March that called on Russia to immediately end its invasion. 

Biden also argued members need to exercise restraint when employing veto powers. 

“Members of the UN Security Council, including the United States, should consistently uphold and defend the UN Charter and refrain from the use of the veto, except in rare, extraordinary situations to ensure the council remains credible and effective,” Biden said. 

Permanent members on the chief council hold the right to block any resolution through veto powers no matter what the majority opinion of the 15-member council is. 

Biden argued adding seats to the council would ensure a broader response to chief issues facing the world like global hunger and the climate crisis. 

“The time has come for this institution to become more inclusive, so that we can better respond to the needs of today’s world,” he said.

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