Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's appeal to the United Nations to grant the power of veto to any new permanent security council member could have done Berlin's bid more harm than good.
The structure of the UN Security Council could soon get a facelift
The chancellor joined forces with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in calling on the council to reconsider current reform recommendations, under which any new permanent members would not receive the power of veto held by the existing five seat-holders, China, France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States.
But one UN diplomat said that Germany's chances two months ago were better than they are now, and that Berlin should play a little more carefully. Indeed it would seem that this latest demand has antagonized potential supporters of Schröder's bid for a permanent security council seat.
"We are against the veto for new members, but we recognize that in the current situation, it would be unrealistic to fight against the veto of the current permanent members," Peter Maurer, the new Swiss UN ambassador told German public broadcaster NDR.
A high-level panel appointed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has proposed two different models for reforming the council, one of which would clear the way for an additional six permanent members, but without the power of veto.
Banging the drum
Berlin and Tokyo have pledged to support one another
Germany and Japan have long argued that as major economic powers and contributors to the United Nations, they deserve permanent seats on the council, and ambassadors of Germany's great ambition have long been banging the drum in the international community. Germany, Japan, India and Brazil have already forged a four-way alliance, pledging their mutual backing for each others' candidatures.
Speaking in Tokyo on Thursday at the end of a five-day Asian tour, Schröder assured Germany's support in Japan's bid for a permanent UN security council seat.
"A reformed Security Council needs to have new steady members and has to take into account the global importance of important states of the South, but this is also true for industrial countries which continue to secure world peace and international security in a major way," Schröder said.
No decision yet
But Washington has stressed that no decision can be made about the way forward until the panel's recommendations have been studied, and until there has been a full debate within the security council general assembly.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell
"Until there is a judgment made that the Security Council should be expanded, we are not going to make any more statements about who should be eligible, who should be the members of the expanded Security Council," US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in statement in Brussels.
He added that many nations who, based on their size, economic or military power or their standing in their particular region of the world, could rightfully lay claim to a permanent seat.
In order for the reforms to go ahead, two-thirds of all United Nations states and 15 members of the security council have to vote in favor. Speaking in Tokyo, Schröder voiced his certainty that none of the permanent members would use their veto to prevent the reforms, and cited the strengthening of the UN as a key challenge in international politics.
"This is the most important task we have ahead of us at the moment," Schröder said. "Regional conflicts and international terrorism can only be tackled by a multilateral approach."