UNITED NATIONS The proposed expansion of the 15-member UN
Security Council has been thrown into disarray once again this time
by a spirited political campaign to block the permanent membership of Japan,
Germany, India, and Brazil.
The campaign is being led by a group of about 40 "like-minded" countries
headed by Italy, South Korea, Pakistan, Argentina, and Mexico.
All five countries publicly oppose any increase in permanent members and instead
back an alternative proposal to increase the number of non-permanent members
in the Security Council.
At present, the Council has five veto-wielding permanent members the
United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia and 10 non-permanent
members elected every two years on the principle of rotating geographical representation.
Italy is livid that it is being shut out of the Security Council despite the
fact that it has an equal, or even a better, claim for permanent membership
As a result, Italy has expressed strong reservations about Germany's candidacy
and is determined to scuttle Berlin's chances of joining the Security Council
On Monday, Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini was quoted as saying: "We
don't think it would be useful to admit new permanent members unless it could
be done with the widest possible consensus, which doesn't exist right now."
Argentina and Mexico are peeved that their claims to represent Latin America
have been overtaken by Brazil, the front-runner from that region.
Pakistan, a longtime rival of neighboring India, does not want see New Delhi
elevated to the ranks of a permanent member. Although it is not publicly opposing
India, Pakistan is against the expansion of permanent membership.
South Korea is critical of Japan's wartime past, and is currently in a dispute
with Tokyo over a historically symbolic island midway between the two nations.
"A country that does not repent for its historical wrongdoings and that
does not have the trust of its neighbors cannot play a leadership role in international
society," South Korea's ambassador to the United Nations Kim Sam-hoon said
All these countries, vehemently opposed to permanent membership, have formed
a group called Uniting for Consensus, which held a meeting in New York Monday.
Jim Paul, executive director of the New York-based Global
Policy Forum, told IPS that the grouping of countries opposing permanent
membership is reminiscent of the "Coffee Club" led by Italy at the
United Nations in the early 1990s.
"It's quite a powerful lobby," said Paul, who has been monitoring
developments relating to the Security Council since 1994.
Equally important but less noted is the very determined opposition of the existing
five permanent members (P-5) to expansion of any permanent membership, he added.
"We have seen this, particularly with respect to China. The anti-Japanese
riots in China last week was a bigger statement."
Paul also said there was a "write-in campaign" in China where millions
of signatures were gathered against Japan. In other words, the Chinese are able
to say: "Look, our people just don't want this," he added.
In China, this sort of campaign doesn't easily occur without the blessings
of the government. "So that's important," he noted.
Last month, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan released a landmark 62-page report,
"In Larger Freedom," described as a blueprint for restructuring the
world body. The report backs a proposal made by a high-level panel on UN reform,
which early this year called for two alternative models for a revamped Security
Model A provides for six new permanent seats, none with veto powers, and three
new two-year term non-permanent seats, divided among Africa, Asia and Pacific,
Europe, and the Americas.
Model B provides for no new permanent seats but creates a new category of eight
four-year renewable-term seats and one new two-year non-permanent (and nonrenewable)
seat, divided among the four regional groups.
But last week, both the United States and China were critical of Annan's proposals.
The secretary-general also decided to force the issue by setting a September
deadline to coincide with a summit meeting of world leaders in New York
for a radical transformation of the United Nations, and more specifically the
But both the United States and China have opposed any "artificial deadlines,"
thereby undermining plans to revamp the Security Council.
The reservations were a disappointment to Japan, Germany, Brazil, and India,
which had hopes of finding a permanent seat on the Council table at least by
the end of this year.
China also rejected a proposal to force through any proposals that lacked "consensus."
Paul said "consensus" is a code word which means: "Unless everyone
agrees, we don't do it." This, he said, has "infuriated" both
the Germans and the Japanese, who were apparently confident of getting support
from two-thirds of the 191 member states.
He said the two countries may have lined up a two-thirds majority for a "framework
resolution" calling for the expansion of the Security Council.
"But there was no way in hell they would have got a two-thirds majority
once they get down to specific names as permanent members," Paul added.
This has always been the stumbling block and will remain a stumbling block,
Paul said his own observation was that there may be strong support for "a
slight increase in non permanent members," as was done in 1965 when three
new non-permanent members were added to the Council a sort of Model C, far
different from Model B, he said.
This may be the lowest common denominator that everyone could eventually agree
on, Paul added. "It would be noncontroversial, and it would not weaken
the domination of the P-5."
(Inter Press Service)