Berlin steps up campaign for UN seat

10th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

The plans for far-reaching changes to the United Nations have raised Germany's hopes of a seat on a new expanded Security Council. But coming in the wake of the deep divisions over the US-led war in Iraq, Andrew McCathie asks, what are Berlin's chances of fulfilling its long-held ambitions of a place on the UN's key decision-making body?

Germany has stepped up its campaign for a permanent seat on an enlarged UN Security Council in the wake of the sweeping plans for reforming the UN.

Berlin's UN hopes coincide with an interest in a larger role in world affairs

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has already won the support of China (a permanent Security Council member) and joined Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi in calling for the right of veto to be granted to the new members of the proposed expanded UN Security Council.

"China supports Germany playing a proper role in the UN Security Council," the officials quoted Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as telling Schroeder during the chancellor's visit to Beijing.

Speaking a few days later at an economic forum in Japan, Schroeder said "double standards shouldn't be applied" if the Security Council were enlarged.

The UN reforms come in the wake of the deep divisions that emerged last year over the US-led war in Iraq and which raised doubts about whether the organisation was able to face up to the demands and pressures of the modern world.

In recognition of this, the high-level panel which drew up the reform plans have called for an expansion of the Security Council to 24 members, up from its current 15 (of which 10 are rotating temporary members).

The 93-page blueprint for changing the 59-year-old organisation was submitted by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who created the panel to mark the organisations 60th birthday in 2005, and preparing for the challenges of the 21st century.

But instead of putting forward one proposal to expand the council, it has set out two alternatives to extend the Security Council's membership so as to bring it more into line with developments such as rogue states, nuclear proliferation and terrorism. Neither option, however, would add any new veto-wielding members.

The Council now has five veto-bearing permanent members who were also the victors of World War II - United Kingdom, China, France, Russia and the United States. It also has 10 members elected to two-year terms.

The first option would add six new permanent members - two from Asia, two from Africa, one from the Americas and one from Europe - as well as three non-permanent members elected for two-year terms.

Germany and Japan have lined up with Brazil, India, Egypt and either Nigeria or South Africa as likely candidates.

*quote1*The other proposal would create a new tier of eight semi-permanent members chosen for four-year terms - two each from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. It would also add one non-permanent seat.

Germany has an agreement with Japan, Brazil and India to mutually support one another in their attempts to gain a seat on the new council.

Having shied away from a role on the international stage after the humiliation of the Second World War, Germany has placed considerable emphasis on the UN as a way of helping it to influence world affairs.

Berlin's hopes for a permanent seat on the Security Council also coincide with a renewed interest within Germany to forge a more prominent role in international affairs that is commensurate with the nation's position as the world's third biggest economy.       

But Iraq is also hanging over Berlin's UN hopes. Indeed, with Schroeder having largely spearheaded European opposition to the US-led military action in the Gulf, Germany is unlikely to high up on the Bush White House's list of preferred candidates for an expanded Security Council.

Moreover, Japan's support for the war in Iraq appears to have already helped Tokyo to secure Washington's endorsement for its quest for a Security Council seat. Both Germany and Japan are major UN donors.

However, in the light of Japanese aggression in China during the Second World War, Beijing is not so enthusiastic about Tokyo joining the Security Council as a permanent member.
But the panel also called for amending the UN Charter, the organisation's constitution since 1945, and its outdated references to Germany and Japan as "enemies". 
Under the leadership of former General Anand Panyarachun of Thailand, the year-long effort by the reform panel received added impetus from the bruising battle within the UN over the US push to invade Iraq and oust former leader Saddam Hussein.

Annan has called the US action "illegal" because it did not have Security Council backing. But Washington has argued that approval was implicit in prior council resolutions.

While the reform plan did not mention the Iraq conflict specifically, the panel pointed out that "no state, no matter how powerful, can by its own efforts alone make itself invulnerable to today's threats.

"It cannot be assumed that every state will always be able, or willing, to meet its responsibility to protect its own peoples and not to harm its neighbours."

The panel's hundred-some proposals would uphold the authority of the UN Security Council to decide the use of force in the interest of collective security, and would expand the international Human Rights Commission to include all 191 UN members instead of the current 53.
The panel called for a comprehensive strategy, under leadership of the UN and the secretary-general, to fight terrorism by promoting social and political rights, the rule of law and democratic reform, in addition to the military aspects of the battle.

But many governments still have not signed the 12 existing UN anti-terrorist conventions, which include ways to control nuclear, chemical and biological materials and to block the funding and harbouring of terrorism.

Negotiations on an international convention against terrorism are stalled, and governments still disagree on the definition of terrorism.

December 2004

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: German news

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