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Key elements of the international system

53 - European policy at the UN (includes UNSC, GA, HRC and UN reform)

Grade: B-
Unity 4/5
Resources 4/5
Outcome 3/10
Total 11/20
Scorecard 2010/11: C+ (9/20)
Scorecard 2012: C+ (9/20)
Scorecard 2013: C- (7/20)
Scorecard 2014: B- (12/20)

European states are frustrated by their limited impact at the UN and serious reforms appear unlikely.

Europe made limited progress on major crises at the UN in 2014. Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning the Crimean referendum, and ignored a General Assembly resolution opposing it, even though the latter had the backing of 100 states. There was only slightly more room for diplomacy over Syria.

As a temporary member of the Security Council, Luxembourg took an unusually prominent role in negotiating two resolutions on humanitarian access to Syria. Its willingness to push this initiative, working closely with Australia and Jordan, won it widespread praise. It has not, however, made a major difference to aid deliveries.

France was especially active in the Security Council early in the year, orchestrating plans for peacekeeping in CAR. The UK played a significant role in designing UN sanctions against ISIS. But the EU looked confused in late December, when its members on the Security Council split over a Palestinian resolution setting a timetable for peace talks with Israel.  France and Luxembourg backed it, while the UK and Lithuania abstained. 

The paralysis over Syria fuelled new calls for Security Council reform. Poland argued that Russia’s power in the Security Council should be curbed in light of its behaviour in Ukraine. France pushed a proposal to limit the use of the veto in mass atrocity situations. This has gained traction among the wider UN membership, but China and Russia are opposed, and the UK and US are sceptical that it can ever be made a reality.

Late in the year, Germany renewed its long-standing campaign for a permanent seat on the Council in partnership with Brazil, India, and Japan. The four powers will try to secure a deal in 2015. The chances of success remain slim.

A growing number of East European politicians launched campaigns to replace Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary-General in 2017. Candidates from other regions, such as Latin America, are also emerging.