Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began to use the slogan “The world is bigger than five” (Dünya beşten büyüktür) in his international speeches in the last few years. The slogan was first used by President Erdoğan in 2013 and repeated many times in the subsequent years. Erdoğan used this phrase especially during his UN speeches in order to take support from other countries. Although Turkey so far was unable to develop a concrete foreign policy based on this slogan and its implications, expectations and plans for reforming the United Nations (UN) could become more popular in the near future. In this piece, I’ll try to analyze why this slogan is crucially important and necessary for a better future.
United Nations was established after the Second World War in accordance with the post-war conditions. Accordingly, United States of America, Soviet Union (USSR), United Kingdom, France, and Taiwan became permanent members of the UN Security Council (they are called as P5 countries). However, UN was able to reform itself in time; for instance, in the early 1970s (1971), People’s Republic of China replaced Taiwan in the Security Council. Moreover, Russian Federation succeeded Soviet Union after the dissolution of USSR in the early 1990s (1991). These two changes prove that UN could reform itself with reasonable arguments and consensus.
UN so far was unable to solve major political problems in the world including Israel-Palestine Conflict, Cyprus Dispute, Kashmir Conflict, and Nagorno-Karabakh Dispute. This was caused by P5 countries’ political preferences and their indifference towards other countries’ and nations’ sufferings. In many times, one country was able to block the UN Security Council to make a decision because of its national interests or historical rivalry towards another state. That is why, Turkish President’s slogan in fact carries a very important and politically correct message: we cannot create a peaceful world when 5 countries have right to decide over the future of other 192-193 states. I should admit that, as an academic it is very hard to explain to my students why millions of Muslims, Hindus, and Jews are not represented in the UN Security Council and only Christian nations and China were given such privilege. That is why, Turkey could actually turn this slogan into a macro reform project for the UN. In that case, it is much easier to abolish the UN Security Council and to transform UN General Assembly into a world parliament (as it was hoped by Immanuel Kant long decades ago) where all decisions could be taken by 2/3 majority in voting. If this happens, naturally, all countries will increase their diplomatic efforts and lobbying activities towards other countries. This will not only increase UN’s legitimacy, but also boost peace in global politics. Moreover, diplomacy and the study of International Relations will also develop during this process since all countries will try to improve their legitimacy and take more support from other countries by making academic studies and diplomatic activities.
For all these reasons, I think reforming the UN should be the top priority of all states in the 21st century. Otherwise, clashes of national interests and the structure of P5 will lead us towards new wars and conflicts in addition to existing ones in the following years. For many, this slogan and political ideal might be conceived too idealistic for the moment; but remember that just few decades ago male-female equality and racial equality were also unthinkable in many states. However, nowadays UN and all states work together in order to provide gender equality and prevention of racial discrimination. So, equality of states could also be a very reasonable argument in the near future in case Turkey is politically supported by other countries. Especially Russia and China, two countries trying to become more influential in global politics could support the Turkish cause; because this might lead these two countries to take more support from developing countries (especially in Africa) and diminish criticism towards their domestic regimes.
Assoc. Prof. Ozan ÖRMECİ