Germany Starts UN Reform Resolution | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 17.05.2005
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Germany Starts UN Reform Resolution

Germany, together with India, Japan and Brazil, has started circulating a draft UN motion calling for an enlargement of the UN Security Council. The US and China are showing signs of resistance.

Germany is determined to get a permanent seat at the security table

Germany is determined to get a permanent seat at the security table

Germany, Brazil, India and Japan have sent a new UN motion into circulation in which they propose an enlargement of the UN Security Council from the current 15 members to 25. The so-called Group of Four (G4) are asking that six of those ten new seats be permanent, of which they would be included, said a diplomat of the four nations.

The G4 is planning to introduce the resolution at the UN General Assembly in June but are starting off cautiously in gaining momentum for the vote. The draft resolution was being shown to countries that might co-sponsor it at the General Assembly and to a second group that supports reform of the United Nations, according to the diplomat.

The necessary 128 countries in favor of the motion is anything but certain and finding a consensus on the issue of the rights of the permanent members will not be easy to reach.

The right of veto is a sticking point

UN Logo Glastür Symbolbild Reform

The G4 wants the door to be opened to permanent status on the Council

The motion does not mention who would be amongst the 11 permanent members but the current permanent Security Council members, the US, Russia, China, France and Britain would certainly retain their seats. The text also does not say who amongst the six new permanent members would get a seat, but recommends two for Asia, two for Africa, one for Latin America and one for Western Europe, which Germany would naturally have its eye on.

A two-thirds majority of the 191 members is needed for passage in which one hotly-contested point will be which rights permanent members should receive.

"All permanent members should have the same responsibilities and the same rights," says the text.

Capitol Hill in Washington

The US Senate, among other legislative bodies, may show great resistance to an expansion of the Security Council

That would also mean the right of veto, a matter that most UN observers don't see Washington, Moscow or Beijing passing onto others very soon.

"Even if a two-thirds majority would be reached, the current five members would have to be among these (permanent members). The final model would have to be ratified by the parliaments of the five permanent members, including the US Senate and the Duma in Moscow, and that is a very high hurdle," Andreas Zumach, a UN commentator from Germany, told DW-Radio.

The G4 has publicly said that it does not want to the veto issue to become a cause to block the reform. This may be necessary because the New York Times said Sunday that Washington would not support the G4's demand unless they agreed to give up the veto right.

Ongoing dispute

For over ten years, there have been discussions to reform the UN Security Council. The G4 launched the latest campaign last September. Secretary General Kofi Annan (photo) has also proposed his own ideas in reforming the Security Council, one with 24 members, ten of which would be permanent.

Kofi Annan in der Schweiz

"I urge to make the Security Council more broadly representative of the International Community as a whole, and I suggest that the renewed Security Council should make clear the principles by which it intends to be guided and decide whether or not to authorize the use of force," said Annan when he presented his proposals.

While the veto right appears to be the biggest hurdle for the US to accept an expansion, China is principally opposed to Japan's candidacy. Nevertheless, after the US, Germany and Japan are the largest donors to the UN, something that may carry some weight when it comes to a vote this summer.

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