US rejects G4 proposal for new permanent seats

13th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

13 July 2005, NEW YORK - The fight over U.N. Security Council permanent seats heated up Tuesday with the United States urging U.N. members to vote against a draft resolution supported by Germany, Brazil, India and Japan, the four contenders for those seats.

13 July 2005

NEW YORK - The fight over U.N. Security Council permanent seats heated up Tuesday with the United States urging U.N. members to vote against a draft resolution supported by Germany, Brazil, India and Japan, the four contenders for those seats.

"We will work with you to achieve enlargement of the Security Council, but only in the right way and at the right time," said Shirin Tahir-Kheli, a senior adviser on U.N. reform for U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who travelled to New York to address the U.N. General Assembly.

"We urge you, therefore, to oppose this resolution and, should it come to a vote, to vote against it," she said in the clearest indication of the U.S. position against the G4.

The G4 includes Japan, the only country the U.S. supports as a new permanent member. Ironically, Tokyo said that U.S. unilateral support for it would hurt its chance to gain prominence in the Security Council.

Tahir-Kheli strongly criticized the draft resolution and the G4's demands for a vote, saying it was dividing the U.N. membership even though Security Council reform can wait. Washington supports overhauling the U.N.'s management and bureaucracy before the Security Council.

The U.S. official cited several reasons for Washington's opposition, including the difficulty of getting the U.S. Senate to ratify changes to the U.N. Charter that will be necessary to alter the composition of the currently 15-nation Security Council.

Tahir-Kheli said that criteria for permanent membership in the Security Council should include the capability to provide financial support for U.N. peacekeeping operations, along with good records on human rights, non-proliferation and anti-terrorism.

German Ambassador to the U.N. Gunter Pleuger, who took up the podium after Tahir-Kheli, replied that the G4 draft resolution would be the lynchpin for comprehensive reform of the U.N. system.

"The G4 proposal is not directed against anybody but offers something to everybody," Pleuger said.

"If this resolution is adopted, it will give a strong political impulse to achieving substantive results in the September summit on important other issues like development, human rights, security and institutional reform."

The G4 proposal was presented to the 191-nation assembly on Monday, when the assembly opened its first debate on Security Council reform after 12 years of fruitless closed-door negotiations. The committee that was responsible for the reform was the so-called Open- ended Working Group.

The assembly debate allowed U.N. members to make their views known on U.N. reforms. The G4 draft resolution prompted strong reaction from groups opposed to it. The most vocal anti-G4 group is 'Uniting for Consensus', headed by Pakistan, Italy and China.

The United States is not part of any groups. While it opposed the G4, the U.S. has not offered any resolution to reform the Security Council.

The African Union planned to present its own draft resolution this week on the same issue of Security Council reform. The heated debate prompted U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to call on governments to "calm down".

"We are at an early stage of discussion, and one day of discussion will not make a General Assembly session," Annan told reporters. "We should calm down and not get excited about it. These are mature men and women."

The debate pitted the G4 group against two other groups with different ideas: the Uniting for Consensus group, which says the G4 plan would set up an unfairly elitist group, and the African Union.

Any structural change would need a two-thirds supermajority of General Assembly members for passage.

The Security Council currently has five permanent members - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, all World War II victors - and 10 members elected for two-year terms.

The G4 wants to enlarge the council to 25 with the addition of six new permanent seats without veto power and four on rotating terms. The new permanent members would also include two African countries alongside the G4 countries.

The G4 urged the General Assembly to approve the draft by the week's end and to elect new permanent members within 12 weeks. Countries wanting to become permanent members should submit their candidacies after the assembly has approved the change, the group said.

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 that they would challenge some of the prospective permanent members.

The African Union has called for enlarging the Security Council to 26 members, with six new permanent members and five on short terms.

Uniting for Consensus is opposed to new permanent members, calling only for the addition of 10 new members elected for limited terms.


Subject: German news

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