The UN Security Council and the UK


Sir, – In 1980-82, when I was an organiser for Ireland’s election to the UN Security Council and then a member of our team on the council, there were complaints about the number and distribution of the five permanent member seats which did not reflect real power and influence in the world. The number and distribution of non-permanent seats had increased and changed but not that of the permanent five. There were then two EU permanent members and two more among the overall 15, ourselves and Spain.

Some 40 years later, the figures remain the same, although world geo-politics, security and economics have changed enormously and UN membership has grown considerably. In 1981, there were four EU members of the Security Council, next month there will just two, France and Ireland; the UK’s permanent seat will be in greater question, and the EU will have no reason to protect it.

A reader commenting in the Financial Times this week, in a striking metaphor, likens Brexit UK to a lion suddenly expected to go hunting on its own in the wilds of a very competitive world after half a century in a zoo.

We have seen a great deal of comment in the media and in academic studies on how long it will take the UK to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and relationships to thrive in geo-economics. We have seen much less comment on geo-politics and geo-security (where US unhappiness with Nato is of much longer standing than the Trump presidency). And no comment that I have seen about the permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

There will be increased designs upon it now, more so if the enfeebled lion is shorn of Scotland as it makes its way in the jungle.

The Johnson government tries to compensate with a massive increase in defence spending at the expense, however, of spending on development aid which affects world standing too, certainly so at the UN.

The permanent seat on the security council will be in play and maybe sooner than expected.

Quite possibly an awkward, testing issue for Ireland as it takes up its elected seat on the council for the next two years. – Yours, etc,


(Former representative

at the UN and ambassador

to Japan, Spain, Poland

and Portugal),

Dalkey, Co Dublin.