German FM Heiko Maas calls for UN Security Council reform | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 28.09.2018
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German FM Heiko Maas calls for UN Security Council reform

Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas, has called on the United Nations to "stop beating around the bush" and start talks on reforming the Security Council. A push for change has been ongoing since the early 1990s.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged the UN General Assembly on Friday to finally start serious negotiations on reforms to the world body's Security Council. The foreign minister said the Council has barely changed since its founding in 1945, despite a tripling of the global population since then, and a quadrupling in the number of UN members during the same period. 

A seat at the top table

Germany has long pushed for UN reforms with the ultimate goal of achieving a permanent seat on the Security Council. China, France, Russia, the UK and the United States are permanent members with a special veto right on the Council decisions.

Germany has been elected one to of the 10 non-permanent Council seats by the UN General Assembly for a two-year term starting in January 2019. Germany has been a non-permanent member of the Security Council five times, most recently in 2011-12.  

Read more: Will the UN Security Council ever be reformed? 

Germany pledges $135 million for refugees

Maas told the assembly during his speech it was "shameful" that the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) was running short of funds to help the millions of Syrians who have fled the country's civil war. He called on other wealthy countries to step up to the plate.

Maas said Germany would provide the refugee agency with an extra $135 million (€116 million) to help cope with the outpouring of Syrians into neighboring Arab countries.

"As the second-largest humanitarian donor, Germany is willing to provide the UNHCR with a further €116 million euros — that is half of the amount currently needed — to help Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon," Maas said.

"But others also need to step up," he said — a nod to the UN Charter which refers to the peoples of the UN being determined "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind."

The United Nations "thrives on our common pledge of 'together first,'" said Maas. 

Solving multilateral diplomacy

Maas also told the UN General Assembly that the crisis in multilateral diplomacy can be resolved, citing German's history following the defeat of Nazism.

He said that "our European neighbors' courage in seeking reconciliation" and the help of the United States had put a scarred continent on a path to freedom, security and prosperity after World War II.

The foreign minister added that "in a world faced with immense global problems, we can only safeguard sovereignty if we work together" on issues such as climate change and the conflict in Syria.

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kw/sms (AP, AFP, dpa) 

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