Security Council out of date, out of touch: top official

November 19th, 2008 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

United Nations, Nov 19 (IANS) Observing that the UN Security Council is both out of date and out of touch, the General Assembly president, Miguel d’Escoto of Nicaragua, urged countries to hammer out their differences as soon as possible to make the body more representative and reflective of the realities.”Peace and security cannot be maintained by a Security Council that is out of date and out of touch,” d’Escoto said Tuesday in a speech read in his absence by the Afghan Ambassador to the UN, Zahir Tanin, who is also vice president of the General Assembly .

Referring to the seating arrangement of the Security Council, d’Escoto urged the member nations to move swiftly in its efforts to “rebuild the horseshoe table (into) a circle-shaped one with room for extra seats”.

Intergovernmental negotiations on the Security Council’s expansion and equitable representation are slated to begin early next year.

However, the debate that followed reflected the sharp differences among members of the General Assembly on the Security Council reforms, with each group sticking to its viewpoint.

The Group of Four or G-4, which comprises India, Germany, Brazil and Japan, insisted that the strength of the council be increased from 15 to 25 by adding six permanent and four non-permanent seats.

Thomas Matussek of Germany said that the G-4 proposal would be the successful approach to guarantee the substance of efforts towards reform.

According to G-4 proposal, the six new permanent members would be elected as follows: two from African states; two from Asian states; one from Latin American and Caribbean states; and one from Western European and other states.

The four new non-permanent members would be elected as follows: one from Africa; one from Asia; one from Eastern Europe; and one from Latin American and Caribbean. New permanent members would not exercise the right of veto until the question of extending that right to them is decided.

However, the G-4 proposal was opposed by “United for Consensus” group which includes countries like Italy, Pakistan and Argentina. As per the proposal put forward by this group, the Security Council would expand to 25 members, including the five permanent members.

The 20 non-permanent members would be elected as follows: six from African states; five from Asian states; four from Latin American and Caribbean states; three from Western European and other states and two from Eastern European states.

The Pakistani ambassador to the UN, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, said while Africa was united in its position, the G-4 had created “serious rifts” in Asian, West European and Others Group, and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

“The African model of regional representation, if applied to all other regions, could garner reciprocal support and thus promote a feasible compromise,” he said.

Favouring expansion of the Security Council in both categories of membership, Jean-Pierre Lacroix of France supported new permanent membership for Germany, Brazil, India and Japan as well as permanent representation for Africa.

British ambassador Sir John Sawers said any reform should lead to a body that is more representative of today’s global realities but no less effective or capable of taking tough decisions to tackle threats to international peace and security.

Representing India, Vijay Bahuguna, MP, said that without expansion of the permanent membership of the Security Council, the real problems could not begin to be addressed, nor could the political culture of the UN begin to be transformed.

Attempts to portray an “interim model” as a solution are inherently flawed and would increase the numbers without addressing the real issues, he said.

“It would be the worst of both worlds,” he said, reiterating India’s demands for council reform, including equitable geographical distribution, expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories, and greater representation for developing countries.

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