`Real negotiations’ may begin on UN Security Council reform: UN

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NEW YORK - Negotiations among governments to reform the UN Security Council may enter a new phase this year with serious talks to meet demands to enlarge the body to include countries like India, Germany and Japan as permanent members, the UN said Monday.

Germany, Japan, India and Brazil - known as the G4 - have been demanding permanent seats if the council is to be expanded from the current 15 members to at least 21 or 26 members.

The current 15-nation council has 10 countries elected for two-year terms and five veto-wielding permanent members: the US, Russia, China, France and Britain.

African nations like Nigeria and South Africa also want permanent seats on the council on a par with the current five permanent members’ power status, including veto over UN resolutions.

Joseph Deiss, the UN General Assembly president, said “real negotiations” may at last begin this year to reflect the demands of the organization’s 192 members.

Since the council was created in 1945, it has been enlarged only once, in 1965, from 11 members to 15 members to reflect the growth in membership from 50 to 118 members from 1945 to 1965.

“The situation for the moment is quite complex still and I hope that during this year we will at least be able to bring the negotiations, real negotiations under way,” Deiss, a former Swiss president, told a news conference at UN headquarters in New York.

Talks to reform the council began in the early 1980s. The council has over the years revised its working methods and adopted measures to make itself more transparent and to include non-council members in its deliberations. But the issue of how many new members should be included and whether the veto power should be given to new permanent members remain unsettled.

Another issue is that council resolutions are considered binding on members, while resolutions adopted by the 192 General Assembly members are not. The assembly has in recent years demanded that its resolutions receive the same attention given to those adopted by the council. The council has authority over global issues of peace and security while the assembly is considered more like a parliament made up of all UN members.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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