The United States has rejected a draft resolution by Brazil, Germany, India and Japan seeking enlargement of the United Nations Security Council. Washington said the proposal did not enjoy broad-based support.
Germany's permanent security council seat is looking unlikely
The United States joined a number of countries, including Pakistan, Algeria, Argentina, Canada and New Zealand, in slamming the G-4 text, which calls for the enlargement of the council from 15 members to 25.
Shirin Tahir-Kheli a senior advisor to US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice assured the 191 UN members that Washington was willing to work towards enlarging the Security Council, "but only in the right way and at the right time." And as that time is not now, he urged the general assembly to "oppose this resolution and should it come to a vote, to vote against it."
Germany and the other three members of the G-4 group have been calling for the addition of six permanent seats without the power of veto, and a further four non-permanent seats. Four of the permanent six would go to Germany, Japan, India and Brazil, with the other two reserved for unspecified African countries.
Reform process delayed
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan calls for focus
Earlier UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called on members to overcome differences over the proposed council expansion and move forward on all aspects of UN reform needed to make the organization more responsive to today's challenges. "I hope the member states will sort themselves out and become very focused on the task at hand," he said.
Washington favors adding only two new permanent seats with no veto power, including one for Japan. Russian ambassador Andrei Denisov warned that making the council more representative must not be allowed to "undermine its effectiveness," adding that an expanded body "should not exceed a reasonable size."
And he reiterated Moscow's view that "any dilution of the status of the five current permanent members of the Security Council, first of all the veto right, is categorically unacceptable."
Ancient balance of power
As it is, the Security Council still represents the balance of power from 1945, hence the G-4's calls for an updated model. In order to get the ball rolling, the General Assembly would need to approve the resolution with a two-thirds majority. But that is not all. The proposals would then pass to national legislatures for final endorsement. And here, the five permanent members -- China, France, Britain, the US and Russia -- have the power of veto.
The Bush administration flatly rejects the G-4 resolution
Germany's UN envoy Gunter Pleuger dismissed fears that the G-4 text would be vetoed by some of the council's big five.
"Once our proposal is adopted by more than two-thirds of the whole UN membership, the opponents of this resolution will be faced with the question: Do one or two permanent members really want to block ... a change for the better of the whole UN organization? Do they want to be seen in worldwide public opinion as those who deny the developing countries representation in the council on an equal footing -- as permanent members?," he said.
Tokyo remains optimistic
Foreign ministers of the G-4 will travel to New York this weekend for a final meeting and, although no ballot on the resolution has been scheduled, Japan says it hopes for a vote later this month.
Is the Japanese bid just a pie in the sky dream?
Tokyo has vowed to continue pushing for the expansion to 25 seats and says it still holds out hope of success. Speaking at a press conference, chief cabinet secretary Hiroyuki Hosada said "many developments are possible, so at this time we don't believe the US way of thinking is fixed. Like other nations, we would like to have it decided soon."