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Merkel calls for Security Council revamp

September 26, 2015

German Chancellor Merkel has reiterated her demand for Germany to have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Despite receiving support from Japan, India, and Brazil, her call for reform might fall on deaf ears.

G4 nations at the UN General Assembly meeting
Image: Agencia Brasil

German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined leaders from Brazil, India and Japan on Saturday in a call to push for seats in a revamped UN Security Council, which they said would do a better job of addressing global crises.

"We need a new method of work to solve problems," Merkel said. "That makes reform of the Security Council necessary, reform which reflects the real power in the world better than the situation today."

During her attendance of a UN General Assembly summit focused on discussing global development, the chancellor met Brazil's Dilma Rousseff, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who agreed that a new round of talks on changes to the Security Council should yield results.

"A more representative and effective Security Council is needed more than ever to address the global conflicts and crises that (have) spiraled in recent years," said a statement by the four leaders. It added that the Security Council had to "reflect the realities of the international community in the 21st century."

Winds of change

Germany, Japan, India and Brazil, dubbed the "G4 states," say the world is very different from what it was in 1945, when the United Nations were first established, and the Security Council should reflect that. Germany and Japan, which are global financial powers and top contributors to the United Nations, argue that they deserve permanent council seats.

There have been mounting calls for changes to the powerful UN council, which has been deeply divided over how to address various contemporary issues, including the war in Syria. Now in its fifth year, the war has claimed more than 240,000 victims.

Malala Youssef and Angela Merkel
Merkel met various international dignitaries during the meeting of the UN General Assembly, including Nobel peace prize laureate Malala YoussefImage: dpa

Antiquated structures

The Security Council, the most powerful UN body, has 15 members - five of them, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, are permanent members with veto-wielding power. The 10 temporary members are elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly. Germany last occupied a seat in 2011 and 2012.

The Security Council has the ability to issue legally binding resolutions, imposing sanctions, or authorizing military action to enforce its decisions.

Under current guidelines, any structural reform to the Security Council would need to pass through and be ratified by a plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly (in two separate steps), which would have to include the support of the five permanent members of the Security Council. The UN General Assembly agreed on a negotiating text on Security Council reform earlier this month, but China, the United States and Russia refused to sign the initiative.

ss/bk (AFP, Reuters)