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Berlin to Push for UN Security Council Seat

DW Staff (mry)/AFPSeptember 20, 2004

German Foreign Minster Joschka Fischer headed to New York on Monday to attend this week's meeting of the UN General Assembly. While there he will try to make case for a permanent German seat on the UN Security Council.

Germany says it's ready for more responsibilityImage: AP

World leaders will gather at the United Nations for their annual debate on Tuesday with the aftershocks of the Iraq war, Sudan's Darfur region, AIDS and world poverty at the top of the international agenda.

Also to be discussed is the issue of reform of the UN itself. During his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, Fischer is expected to push for a permanent seat for Germany in any revamp of the UN Security Council.

While in New York, Fischer will meet with the representatives of three other nations to discuss making a joint effort for an expansion of the Security Council. Germany, Japan, Brazil and India, dubbed the G4, all hope to become permanent members of the important world body.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has made it a matter of urgency to reform the UN Security Council, and has appointed a high-level panel to come up with proposals by December that he would like to present at next year's session.

"Quite honestly, I do not believe that anyone will consider the UN reform complete without Security Council reform bringing it into line with today's realities," he said earlier this month.

Among the industrialized nations, both Japan and Germany, the world's second and third largest economies, are both natural contenders since they pay a large chunk of the UN's membership dues. Brazil and India are large and important developing nations that would expand the regional coverage of the Security Council.

"We have to assume that every decision made by the Security Council has not only political, but also economic implications," UN expert Klaus Hüfner told DW-WORLD. "Therefore it's very important to Germany that decisions taken there are not to its disadvantage."

Unified push

Brazil, Germany, India and Japan are planning to use their time in New York to make a unified push for all four nations to join an expanded council when or if any reform of the current structure can be agreed. But Egypt has already indicated it will fight for a permanent Muslim seat on the council and the reform issue, which has already been talked about in UN corridors for years without concrete action, looks to remain as tricky as ever.

Meanwhile even supporters of the United Nations have been tempted to point to its handling of another crisis besides Iraq -- the catastrophe in Darfur -- as proof that the world body is too ineffective.

An estimated 50,000 people have died in Sudan's Darfur region since February 2003 in what even UN officials have termed a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing, if not the genocide that Washington has called it.

The Security Council passed a resolution on Saturday threatening sanctions on Sudan if it did not bring an end to the bloodshed, but four council nations abstained in the vote after days of laborious debate. One of the key passages in the resolution pointed out that Sudan had failed to heed a similar resolution adopted almost two months before.