No consensus on UNSC expansion
UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan intervened on Monday to try and get consensus among supporters of rival plans over expansion of the Security Council but no meeting of the minds emerged, diplomats said.
Germany, Japan, Brazil and India are lobbying for permanent seats on the council, which rules on war and peace, sanctions and peacekeeping operations.
The 15-seat council now has five permanent members with veto power – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – and 10 non-permanent members rotating for two-year terms. Opponents of the so-called Group of Four – under the umbrella Uniting for Consensus –favour expanding the Security Council from 15 to 25 members, but oppose creating any new permanent members.
Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram said Uniting for Consensus will not introduce a rival resolution, but will issue a working paper calling for 10 additional non-permanent council seats. It will call for all 20 non-permanent seats to be open to re-election by the General Assembly rather than limiting terms to two years. Akram said that was an element of accountability not present in the Group of Four’s plan.Other countries supporting the Uniting for Consensus approach include Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Qatar, South Korea, Spain and Turkey. Speaking on behalf of the group, Akram backed Annan’s initiative to start a dialogue.
“We understand that while the process of consultations is under way, no precipitate move would be made by either side to table resolutions or to move to votes,” he said.
Akram called for flexibility in negotiations and “concrete results which will advance the interests of the entire United Nations membership.” German Ambassador Gunter Pleuger made clear after both sides met Annan that the four contenders would call for a vote in the General Assembly in mid-June unless a compromise was achieved by then “because this is the only chance after 12 years of discussion on the issue.” The initiative to expand the Security Council follows proposals earlier this year by Annan for a major overhaul of the world body. He wants the General Assembly to take a decision by the time a UN summit takes place in September, arguing that the council’s make-up reflects the balance of power at the end of World War II and must be updated. Brazil, Germany, India and Japan want the 191-member UN General Assembly to vote in mid-June on a framework for expanding the elite body. A two-thirds majority is required for approval, which will prove difficult to obtain.
Their resolution does not name candidates for the council – that would happen at a later date. It says permanent members should include two from Africa, two from Asia, one from Latin America and one from Western Europe. agencies