Calling for a more representative UN Security Council that will be able to reflect today's world, and pertinently address the overwhelming aspirations for Humanism, Democracy, Freedom, Justice, and respect of the Human Rights. One shot UN reform: replace France and England by India and Japan.
The representativity problem within the UN Security Council would be immediately solved by a single shot: replacing France and England by India and Japan as veto powers – permanent member states of the Security Council. The new situation would not be ideal, but it would be far more appropriate and acceptable than the current status quo.
BERLIN (IDN) - “Security Council reform is sometimes dismissed as a cocktail party pastime for ambassadors, but I think, if it was the case before, those days are definitely over.”
This upbeat statement by Zahir Tanin, Afghanistan's Ambassador to the United Nations, in his capacity as chair of the intergovernmental working group referred to protracted negotiations dealing with restructuring and making the vital organ of the world body more democratic.
Tanin told journalists at UN Headquarters in New York that the competition over different reform proposals had ended and intergovernmental negotiations towards compromises are on the agenda of the General Assembly, which comprises of all 192 member states.
The ambassador's optimism was highlighted during the annual debate at the UN headquarters in New York in September. Several government leaders pleaded for revamping the Security Council.
But considering the divergent views among member states, “decisive progress” in restructuring and making the world body's vital organ more democratic still seemed far off as the debate concluded on Sept. 30.
And yet, several reasons set apart the current round of negotiations from previous efforts over the last two decades, says a policy analyst at the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung’s New York office.
The first two rounds of the intergovernmental negotiations took place between March and June this year. Moving the discussions out of the deadlocked working group was a step forward as member states for the first time agreed on a document (Resolution 62/557) as a basis for negotiations.
"This achievement," notes Alischa Kugel, "contributed toward at least initial enthusiasm amongst the UN membership, and although delegates complained about the repetitive nature of the different discussions more than two-third of the membership participated in the negotiations, signalling interest and engagement."
"In some instances member states even demonstrated flexibility in their opposing positions, creating room for negotiations," writes Kugel in the briefing paper titled 'Reform of the Security Council – A New Approach?' published end of September.
Of the five main country groups that have come together over time to advocate for reforms they see most pertinent, the following three groups take a particularly strong stance on enlargement of the Security Council that is responsible for maintaining international peace and security.
Seeking permanent representation on the Council are the Africa Group representing the African Union at the UN and the Group of Four (G4) composed of Germany, Japan, India and Brazil.
On the other hand, most vocal members of the group 'Uniting for Consensus' (UFC) -- Italy, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, South Korea and Pakistan -- that are regional counterweights or rivals to the G4 countries, have long supported expansion in only the non-permanent category, arguing that additional permanent seats would create new regional seats of power.
The five permanent members (P5) generally support a modest expansion of the Council. Apart from France and UK that are outspoken supporters of the G4 and African Group to join as new permanent members, however, remain tight-lipped about details of an enlargement, notes the FES paper.
The country groups' opposing positions on enlargement have for years created an impasse in negotiations. "It is therefore surprising that it is in this area that the negotiations actually saw some movement as members of the G4 and the UFC faction moved closer to a possible agreement on Council enlargement by considering the so-called intermediate approach or transitional solution, which exists in various forms," states the paper.
The intermediate approach generally proposes that implemented reforms, such as new permanent members and their privileges, would be reviewed after an agreed time period and reassessed upon performance and feasibility.
Some models of the intermediate approach in addition propose the option of a third membership category of extended seats. Extended seats would serve longer time on the Council than the current two-year term of non-permanent members (with proposals ranging from 3-15 years), and could be extended once the tenure runs out.
Toward the end of the first round, UFC members Colombia and Italy issued a proposal presenting the extended seat with a 3-5 year validity as an option for an extension in Council membership.3 In turn, Germany, member of the G4, indicated their principle interest and support for an intermediate model in the membership category.
The apparent success of the intermediate model prompted some delegates to describe it as a possible solution to break the stalemate in the reform negotiations. But the intermediate approach also has its limitations, writes Kugel.
Other members of the G4, most strongly India that in 2008 called the transitional solution “not a solution but a problem,” reportedly do not show support for a possible intermediate model of extended seats.
The African Group also opposes the intermediate approach in saying that it would create second-class permanent members with fewer privileges than the P5.
Major progress of the intermediate model is further hindered by its many variations resulting in a lack of clarity for member states when they are deliberating on the approach. Indeed, in the extended seat category alone, options range from a 3-year term that is re-negotiable to one that is not extendable at all to the long-term option of 15 years and everything in between.
The FES paper envisages that the African Union and the G4, excluding Germany, may remain a major stumbling block for the intermediate approach as these groups have not indicated interest in moving toward an intermediate solution. However, more clarification on what the model would entail, as well as a narrowing down options might entice the groups to actually consider the approach.
The rationale behind the newfound momentum in the negotiations is also a renewed sense of urgency to reform UN structures thrust into the arena by the economic and financial crisis but also by the shortcomings of UN peacekeeping missions, calling into question the Security Council’s ability to effectively maintain peace and security.
While the financial and economic crisis provides increased attention on global governance issues in general, the Security Council stands at the centre of the debate around failing peacekeeping missions.
The Council’s permanent members seem open to some reforms, such as enlargement and some working method reforms, partly to legitimise their own seats, argues the paper. The vast majority of decisions made by the Council affect African countries that have no permanent representation on the Council.
In order to increase legitimacy for its decisions, the Council recognises that it has to give African countries a stronger voice. Representation by African countries also becomes important as the UN peacekeeping system, including the Council, increasingly acknowledges the role and importance of regional organizations, such as the African Union, in peacekeeping missions.
In a recent Presidential Statement co-sponsored by UK and France, the Council also acknowledged the importance of “ensuring coherence between peacemaking, peacekeeping, peace-building and development,” striving for an integrated approach to these issues which implies among other things closer cooperation with non-Council members -- an important aspect of working method reform.
Providing for better geographical representation and improved cooperation with other actors might also help the P5 to avert attention from their disputed use of the veto, which has actually increased over the last decade, notes Kugel.
Between 1990 and 2000 the veto was cast eight times. Between 2000 and 2008, however, the veto has already been used 15 times, most frequently by the U.S. with 10 such votes.
The U.S. plays a key role in Council reforms, and has already made an important step in de-linking Council reform from other reform processes, like for example, management reform. Thus many delegates put hope into the Obama administration, which promises to be a cooperative partner with more interest in effective multilateral institutions than its predecessor.
At least rhetorically this seems to be the case -- in action the U.S. is so far holding back. In a speech at New York University in August, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice spoke about her country's new approach to the world body but generally stayed rather vague and did not mention Security Council reform.
Some UN delegates have spoken of a need to bring pressure to bear on the current negotiations by outlining a timeframe by which the deliberations will have to come to a conclusion and suggested 2010 as a possible setting.
Others, however, were deeply concerned about pressuring member states into any kind of timetable, warning of a repetition of the frantic discussions that closed the last session of the General Assembly. In the previous months there were rumours of the president of the General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann wanting to include a timetable in the last round of negotiations. These aggravated concerns about a timetable.
Mistrust runs deep among the different country groups, and pushing for a timetable might be seen by some as trying to get a quick fix to Council reform, fortifying the mistrust, avers the FES paper.
Successful continuation of negotiations will also depend on the ability and commitment of the new General Assembly president Ali Abdessalam Treki of Libya. Accordong to Kugel, some see his African background as a possible advantage, as he may be able to move the African Group toward a more flexible position on reform. (IDN-InDepthNews/03.10.09)
Copyright © 2009 IDN-InDepthNews Service
Security Council membership
The UN Security Council's membership has remained virtually unchanged since it first met in 1946.
Great Britain, the United States, the then Soviet Union, China and France were designated permanent members of the UN's most powerful body.
Initially, six other countries were elected to serve two-year spells on the council – in 1946 they were Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, the Netherlands and Poland.
Australia had last had a seat on the Council in 1985–86, and that it was among the first six non-permanent members to serve on the Security Council in 1946–47. In subsequent years, Australia served on the Council every ten or eleven years. Australia won seats on the Security Council in 1946–47, 1956–57, 1973–74, and 1985–86.
The number of elected members, who are chosen to cover all parts of the globe, was increased to 10 in 1965. They are currently Belgium, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Indonesia, Italy, Libya, Panama, South Africa and Vietnam.
Decisions made by the council require nine "yes" votes out of 15. Each permanent member has a veto over resolutions.
The issue of UN reform has long been on the agenda. One suggestion is that permanent membership could be expanded to 10 with India, Japan, Germany, Brazil and South Africa taking places. Any reform requires 128 nations, two-thirds, to support it in the assembly.
April 15 2003Australian Prime Minister wants to kick out France from the UN Security Council.http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/ ... 36432.html
12 July, 2005UN debates new Security Council http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4673977.stm
2008-09-19China: UN Security Council reform should be broadened.http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2008 ... 042902.htm
BEIJING -- China supports the necessary and appropriate reform to the UN Security Council (UNSC), however, all plans should undergo broad and democratic discussions, said the Foreign Ministry.
Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei made the remarks Friday morning when briefing the reporters on Premier Wen Jiabao's attendance at the UN meetings.
Wen will attend the UN high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) scheduled for September 25 in New York, as invited by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and attend the general debate of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly.
The minister said China supported the necessary and appropriate reform to the Security Council, which aims to enhance its authority and efficiency. The reform should give priority to the African countries, which are under-represented on the Council. The reform should also tackle the easy problems first, before moving on to the hard ones, he added.
"Since the Security Council is an important organ for maintaining international security and world peace, any reform plans should go through broad and democratic discussions, and get the consensus of as many countries as possible," He said.
As for the permanent membership of Japan, He said China positively valued the path of peaceful development taken by Japan after World War II, and was willing to see that Japan played a bigger and a constructive role in international affairs.
"The Security Council reform needs a decision of all UN member countries after patient and in-depth discussions. China is willing to have dialogues with all sides including Japan on this issue, and find a plan acceptable to all sides," He said.
He also spoke highly of the recent development in Sino-Japanese ties, saying this development of bilateral relations is not only in the interests of the two peoples, but also conducive to peace and development in Asia and the world.