G4 push for Security Councilreform, meet with opposition

12th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

12 July 2005, NEW YORK - The U.N. Security Council is "glaringly outdated" and needs an overhaul to reflect new realities, four hopefuls for permanent seats in that body said Monday.

12 July 2005

NEW YORK - The U.N. Security Council is "glaringly outdated" and needs an overhaul to reflect new realities, four hopefuls for permanent seats in that body said Monday.

Brazil, on behalf of Germany, India and Japan - the so-called G4 - presented a draft resolution to the U.N. General Assembly seeking to reform the current 15-nation council and enlarge it to 25 members with the addition of six new permanent members and four members on two-year terms.

But the proposal is running into stiff opposition from two other groups - the United for Consensus group, which says it would set up an elite group, and from the African Union, which has its own ideas.

Any structural change would need a two-thirds General Assembly vote to pass.

The 191-nation assembly held its first round of debate on council reform on Monday, with more debate to follow this week. Negotiations aimed at reforming that body began 12 years ago.

The G4 said its demand is a "historical step in international diplomacy" to change the working and composition of the council, which was created in 1945 by victors of World War II with the primary responsibility of maintaining peace and security around the world.

"In the eyes of our people, the council established in 1949 is long superseded," said Brazilian Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg on behalf of the G4. "It is glaringly outdated."

The G4 urged the 191-nation assembly to approve the draft by the week's end. Countries wanting to become permanent members should submit in writing their candidacy after the assembly has approved the change. The draft called on the assembly to elect by two-thirds majority votes new permanent members within 12 weeks.

The six new permanent members should include two African countries, but all of them would not have veto power now exercised by the current permanent members, the G4 proposal says. The privilege would be reviewed in 15 years under the draft resolution.

The G4's bid for permanent membership is supported by Britain and France, two of the current five permanent members. But the other three - the United States, Russia and China - have made clear they would challenge one or the other of the countries.

The current U.N. council has also 10 members elected on two-year terms.

The G4 is strongly opposed by a group called 'United for Consensus' whose representatives, Pakistan Ambassador Munir Akram, denounced the G4 draft resolution as contrary to the U.N. charter and one that would increase division among U.N. members.

"We will not choose to anoint six states with special privileges and stamp ourselves as second-class members of this organization," Akram said. "Let us remember, we all entered the U.N. as sovereign and equal states."

The United for Consensus group called for enlarging the council with the addition of only short-term memberships, but no new permanent members beside the current five.

With ill feelings still simmering 60 years after World War II, China opposes the G4 bid, particularly Japan's membership. China charges that Japan, where officers were punished for war crimes committed during its occupation of China and Korea before and during World War II, has whitewashed its history in textbooks and in memorials that honour its past military officers.

The African Union, which has proposed six new permanent members, but with veto power, is also at odds with the G4 proposal.

The A.U. representative, Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali, said the A.U. would not endorse the G4 resolution. The A.U. has 53 countries and as many votes in the General Assembly.

The A.U. proposed a new council with a total of 26 members - six new permanent members and five new short-term members in addition to the current 15 members.


Subject: German news

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