Reforms boost Berlin's hopesfor UN Security Council seat

1st December 2004, Comments 0 comments

1 December 2004 , NEW YORK - The plans for sweeping changes to the United Nations could pave the way for Germany to fulfil its long-held ambitions for a seat on the UN's key decision-making Security Council.

1 December 2004

NEW YORK - The plans for sweeping changes to the United Nations could pave the way for Germany to fulfil its long-held ambitions for a seat on the UN's key decision-making Security Council.

The 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 panel drawing up the reform plans have called for an expansion of the Security Council to 24 members from its current 15.

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

But instead of putting forward one proposal to expand the council it has set out two alternations 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.

The Council now has five veto-bearing permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - and 10 members elected to two-year terms.

The first option would add six new permanent members with Germany lining up with Brazil, India, Japan, Egypt and either Nigeria or South Africa as likely candidates.

But Iraq is also overhanging Berlin's UN hopes. Indeed, with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder having largely spearheaded European opposition to the US-led military action in the Gulf, Germany is certainly not on the Bush White House's list of preferred candidates for the proposed 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.

This also leaves Tokyo as a major rival in Berlin's ambitions for a permanent seat on an expanded UN Security Council.

The other reform option would establish a new tier of eight semi-permanent members chosen for renewable four-year terms and one additional two-year term seat to the existing 10.

However, the right to cast vetoes would continue only to be the right of the five original permanent members and World War II victors - the United States, Russia, China, France and England.

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 deep divisions 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 funding and harbouring of terrorism.

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

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: German news

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