G4, AU ministers to meet in London on UN reform
22 July 2005, NEW YORK - Foreign ministers of Germany, Japan, India and Brazil (G4) planned to meet Monday in London with some counterparts from the African Union to continue talks on whether they can join forces to overhaul the U.N. Security Council, a Western diplomat said Thursday.
22 July 2005
NEW YORK - Foreign ministers of Germany, Japan, India and Brazil (G4) planned to meet Monday in London with some counterparts from the African Union to continue talks on whether they can join forces to overhaul the U.N. Security Council, a Western diplomat said Thursday.
The foreign ministers started discussions on Sunday in New York on launching a coalition to reform the powerful 15-nation council. They failed to overcome an impasse because of different ideas, but agreed to launch a joint commission to try to bring the sides closer.
The joint commission, with a core group of U.N. ambassadors from both sides, had been meeting at the African Union mission to the U.N. every day this week to seek a resolution.
The United States opposes reforming the Security Council at this time because it believes a larger council would be ineffective. The U.S. prefers that the General Assembly overhaul the U.N. management and bureaucracy first.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has publicly objected to council reform, and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns was in New York on Wednesday meeting quietly with some U.N. delegates to convey again the U.S. objection.
The diplomat, who was closely following the talks in New York, said the final outcome of discussion would not be known until the Monday meeting in London.
It will be attended by foreign ministers Joschka Fischer of Germany, Nobutaka Machimura of Japan and Natwar Singh of India. Nigerian Foreign Minister Olu Adejini, whose country chairs the 53-nation African Union (A.U.), will lead the African delegation, as he did on Sunday in New York.
"We are discussing what is feasible and acceptable to the two-thirds of members of the U.N. General Assembly," the diplomat said, asking for anonymity. "We shared our experiences with our African colleagues, but in the end it will be the assembly that will decide (on the reform)."
All decisions to reform the Security Council must be approved by two-thirds - or 128 votes - in the 191-nation assembly.
The current council has five veto-wielding permanent members: the World War II victors - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain - and 10 countries elected for two-year terms.
The so-called G4 want to add six permanent seats, eventually with veto power, like the five countries have held since the organization was founded 60 years ago - an arrangement that U.N. reformers say fails to reflect changes in the world since then.
But while the G4 is willing to be patient on the sensitive matter of veto power, the African Union wants six new permanent members who have immediate veto power.
The two sides also differ on the final expanded size of the council. The G4 wants to add four short term members without veto power for a 25-member body, while the African Union wants to add five such members, for a 26-member body.
Both sides have submitted resolutions to the General Assembly on their proposals.
The diplomat said the New York talks showed that the A.U. cannot remove its demand for immediate veto right because some African countries, such as Algeria and Egypt, are insistent on the issue.
On the other hand, the G4 cannot reinsert in its draft the veto right after removing it. Originally, the G4 demanded the veto right, but deleted it following Washington's strong opposition. The G4 demands the "same responsibilities and obligations as the current permanent members" without exercising the veto right until it is reviewed in 15 years.
"We have made our case," the diplomat said, adding that the African Union should realize it cannot get the two-thirds majority vote from the General Assembly with its demand for the veto right.
But the G4 also has not received support from two-thirds of U.N. members for its draft.
In the meantime, a third U.N. group, Uniting for Consensus, which is opposed to the creation of new permanent seats, on Thursday presented its own draft resolution to the U.N. calling only for 10 new members elected for short-terms.
Leading the group are Pakistan, which opposes India, China, which opposes Japan, and Italy, which opposes Germany as permanent members.
The Uniting for Consensus draft would be taken up for discussion in the General Assembly next week.
Subject: German news