Speaking at the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform held in New York, Pakistan reiterated its firm opposition to expanding the United Nations Security Council’s permanent members. While the arguments of Pakistan’s representative to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi, were grounded in principal objections, it is easy to see the real opposition is to the much mooted plan for India’s induction as a permanent member. This, however, does not mean that the principal arguments presented by Ms Lodhi lack any substance – in fact there is a multitude of nations who believe that more permanent seats would make the UN “undemocratic” and dilute the equality of nations guaranteed in the charter.

The opposition to expansion has often been brushed aside as defensive response by regional rivals but it has to be understood that real questions about the efficacy of this action are ignored by this summary dismissal. Especially when we consider that not only Pakistan has these concerns, but nations like Italy, Argentina, Canada, Colombia and Mexico actively lobby to prevent expansion by the addition of permanent members.

There is almost unanimous opposition to the veto powers of the Security Council; and there should be, the veto, or even the threat of it has undermined countless resolutions on key conflicts during the Cold War and more recently during the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We can’t expect vested interests to go away with the induction of new members – in fact we are hampering the ability of the Security Council to act by giving even more nations the ability to stop resolutions based on their own motives.

Even if the veto power isn’t extended to new inductees, permanent members will still wield more power than non-permanent members – undermining the “one nation – one vote” maxim enshrined in the charter.

Here is where the concerns of Ms Lodhi become even more pertinent; no cogent answer has ever been given to how the move would make the Security Council more representative or effective. Apart from military prowess and economic success, what separates the P5 and G4 from the rest of the world when it comes to the application of the UN charter? Put another way – should a exclusive club composed of the richest nations make key decisions about the rest of the world?

The plain answer is no, and the consensus in the General Assembly matches that; the UN needs to be more democratic, not autocratic.