Sarkozy urges early reform of UN Security Council
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday challenged the United Nations to reform its powerful Security Council this year to include one or more permanent African members.
"I have long been convinced that Africa does not have the place it deserves in world governance," the French leader said in an address to African Union leaders here.
"Carry out the reform of the (UN) Security Council as early as this year," Sarkozy told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Joseph Deiss, the president of the UN General Assembly who were both attending the AU summit.
The UN Security Council has five veto-wielding members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- and 10 non-permanent members.
"Do not wait. Do not make a speech. Make decisions.... Give the billion Africans the place they are entitled to and France will support you," he added to loud applause from delegations of AU members.
Earlier Deiss also underscored the need for an expanded Security Council so that this body "can better reflect the new world order."
He also expressed regret that the UN has become "marginalized by the emergence of other actors", referring to the G20 group of the world's most powerful economies.
Sarkozy stressed that if the UN Security Council "represents the world in its diversity, then there won't be any need for other organisations."
The French leader has long pushed for a reform of world governance, an issue which he views as a priority during his current presidency of the G8 and G20 groupings.
He has said major emerging nations such as India, Brazil and South Africa should have permanent seats on the Security Council.
The UN Security council has been reformed once, in 1963, when the number of non-permanent seats was raised from six to 10, but subsequent attempts to broaden the top body have failed.
African countries agreed in 2005 to press demands for two veto-wielding permanent seats in an expanded Security Council as well as two non-permanent seats.
They see that structure as a holdover of the Cold War and argue that Africa needs stronger representation given that 27 percent of UN member-states are on the continent.
© 2011 AFP