After rejection by the US of a draft resolution by Germany and three other countries for permanent UN Security Council seats, Berlin and its allies are going on the offensive to drum up support for their plan.
Intense diplomatic maneuvering at the UN over the next week
The four nations making up the so-called G-4 -- Germany, Japan, Brazil and India -- will take their case to representatives of the 53 states of the African Union (AU) in the hopes of getting their support despite the fact that the United States and a number of countries have slammed their UN reform model.
The US, along with Pakistan, Algeria, Argentina, Canada and New Zealand, said the G-4 text, which calls for expanding the 15-member Security Council to 25, does not enjoy broad-based support. The US urged the General Assembly to vote against it.
The G-4 plan would create six new permanent seats without veto power, including two from Africa, and four non-permanent seats. The group says this would make the body, created after World War II, more representative of today's geo-political situation.
United Nations Security Council at UN Headquarters in New York
At present, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the only permanent and veto-wielding members of the Security Council, which also has 10 rotating non-permanent members without veto power.
Diplomats said in New York on Wednesday that foreign ministers from G-4 counties hoped to meet with their counterparts from Nigeria and Ghana on Sunday or Monday. "We are ready for consultations on the ministerial level," one diplomat told Reuters. The G-4 argues that the Africans would be the big winner by gaining two permanent council seats if the G-4 proposal was adopted.
On Sunday, G-4 representatives will meet with the president of the General Assembly, Jean Ping.
Should the diplomatic efforts bear no fruit, the four countries have another strategy ready. They will call for a general vote on a draft resolution put forward by the AU for council reform. If the General Assembly rejects the resolution, the G-4 will present its plan as a compromise option.
AU submits draft text
The AU formally submitted a draft resolution calling for six new permanent seats with veto power on the UN Security Council, including two for Africa, to the General Assembly Wednesday, African diplomats said. But the draft was introduced on an individual basis by some African countries rather than on behalf of the entire African bloc, one diplomat said.
Earlier a negotiating team, mandated by the African Union and led by Nigerian Foreign Minister Olu Adeniji, told reporters that although Africans would introduce their draft, they remained open to negotiations with other groups on rival proposals.
"Africa has a position which it wants to place on the record but the African Union does not exclude negotiations with other groups," said Adeniji who came here to promote the African draft.
The Africans want a 26-member Security Council, with six new permanent seats with veto power, including two for Africa, and five non-permanent seats, also including two for Africa.
A so-called "United for Consensus" group led by Pakistan, Argentina, Canada, Italy and Mexico is circulating a third draft asking for 10 new non-permanent council members who would be elected for two years as is the case at present, but with the possibility of immediate re-election.
Washington favors adding only two new permanent seats with no veto power, including one for Japan.
Now or never
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer hit back Wednesday at US opposition to the G-4 proposal saying Washington must decide now if it wants UN reform.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, right, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon prior to their meeting at Sharon's Jerusalem office on Wednesday
"I am very familiar with their arguments but ultimately it is a question of whether you want reform or not. And delaying things will only lead to there being no reform," Fischer told reporters on a visit to Jerusalem.
Fischer argued the G-4 resolution was the only proposal put forward that would bring all the underrepresented regions of the world to the table. "Only the G-4 proposal takes into account regional balance, which is an essential point," he said, urging "calm" in the debate.
But in Berlin, the tone was more conciliatory. Government spokesman Bela Anda told a regular press briefing on Wednesday that Berlin remained hopeful that the G-4 resolution would be adopted.
"Germany remains convinced the G-4 model is fair and balanced," government spokesperson Anda told reporters. "It's no surprise that some nations are going to take such a strong stand," he said when asked about Washington's position.