05-GG204-Bosco.pdf - 05-GG204-Bosco_GG 10:40 AM Page 545 Global Governance 20(2014 545\u2013561 Assessing the UN Security Council A Concert Perspective

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Assessing the UN Security Council: A Concert Perspective David Bosco This article distinguishes between the UN Security Council’s “governance” and “concert” functions and argues that the latter is important in assessing the body’s diplomatic value. It presents data suggesting that serving to- gether on the Council deepens diplomatic linkages between permanent members. It also argues that Council membership may offer several bene- fits for managing relations between the permanent members. Specifically, the Council provides a mechanism through which permanent members have slowed the pace of crises that might threaten their relations, used am- biguity to produce exits from potentially dangerous situations, and miti- gated diplomatic humiliation. The article contends that many proposals for Council reform pay little attention to this concert function and, if adopted, may unwittingly diminish a key benefit of the institution. K EYWORDS : United Nations, diplomacy, Security Council. T HE UN S ECURITY C OUNCIL HAS BEEN MORE ACTIVE IN THE PAST TWENTY years than during any other phase of its existence. The Council has met more frequently, authorized more peacekeeping and observation missions, and enacted more sanctions regimes and arms embargos than in its first four decades. The Council’s move toward the center of international politics has intensified efforts to assess its role. Yet the metrics for doing so are not always clear, and a central challenge in analyzing the performance of inter- national organizations is clarity about what is being evaluated. 1 Most scholarly attempts to assess the Council have focused on its broad external impact or judged the effectiveness of certain Council “products,” including peacekeeping operations and sanctions regimes. 2 In this article, I seek to shift the focus to intra-Council dynamics and, in particular, to comity between the Council’s Permanent Five (P5) members. Specifically, I distin- guish between two methods of assessing the Council. I briefly define gover- nance and concert approaches , with the former focused on the maintenance of international peace and security and the latter on fostering major-power comity. I argue that the P5 in key respects represents a concert of major pow- ers and that assessing its impact accordingly is appropriate. I then present data suggesting that serving together on the Council deepens high-level diplomatic contacts between P5 members. Through illustrative historical examples, I outline some benefits that the Council structure offers to its per- 545 Global Governance 20 (2014), 545–561 05-GG204-Bosco_GG 9/24/14 10:40 AM Page 545
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manent members in managing their own relations. By providing an alterna- tive approach to assessing the impact of the Security Council, this article offers a new perspective on how the Council should be used and reformed.
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