Thursday, 22 Oct 2020

New bid but little hope to reform UN Security Council

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – A flurry of world leaders have appealed again to the United Nations to reform the Security Council, reviving a bid launched 15 years ago.

But chances of transforming the world’s body most powerful institution are seen as close to zero by most experts, who see little incentive from today’s Permanent Five to let others in.

Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States hold veto-wielding permanent seats at the Security Council, an arrangement that reflects the geopolitical dynamics at the time of the UN’s creation in the aftermath of World War II.

A coalition of four nations – Brazil, Germany, India and Japan – on Wednesday (Sept 23) renewed its campaign for inclusion.

Adding the “G4” would ensure that the Security Council incorporate Europe’s biggest economy (Germany), the world’s second largest developed economy and major UN contributor (Japan), the world’s second most populous nation (India) and the most populous nation in Latin America (Brazil).

“The world of today is very different from what it was when the United Nations was created 75 years ago,” their four foreign ministers said in a joint statement after talks by video conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, held virtually this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Only if we manage to reform the Security Council will we stop it from becoming obsolete,” they said.

But to include more nations, the Permanent Five would dilute their own status.

The chances of Security Council reform “are next to none,” said Andrew Bacevich, professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University.

“And the reason is that the reform proposal, which in many respects makes great sense, calls upon the Permanent Five countries to lose their power, he said.

“I can’t imagine why any of them would find that prospect agreeable.”

The United States has backed a seat for close ally Japan, and former president Barack Obama on a visit to India announced support for New Delhi’s bid.

But the United States is hardly pressing for an expansion, and showed hesitation in 2005 amid tensions with Germany over the Iraq invasion.

With Britain’s exit from the European Union, France is the only EU nation with a Security Council veto.

But France officially backs the bid by the four nations including Germany, as well as an expanded African presence, and unlike Russia, the United States and China seeks to limit the use of the veto to questions involving mass atrocities.

‘BEST REFLECTION’

Leaders from around the world called at the UN General Assembly for a more representative Security Council.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that Africa needed to be better represented in order “to collectively resolve some of the world’s most protracted conflicts.”

In 2005, African nations adopted a common platform to seek two permanent seats on the Security Council but discussions have failed to determine which countries those would be.

Angolan President Joao Lourenco called for a Security Council “that is the best reflection of peoples, nations and continents,” while President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo called for a body that is “more transparent, more democratic and more representative.”

President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica, a nation with no standing army, said that the top UN body should be rechristened the “Human Security Council,” deploring how the world’s major arms exporters were represented.

The (Human) Security Council must be “capable of overcoming the major internal divisions to work together with one sole voice,” he said.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera similarly said that the Security Council “is no longer responding to the needs and challenges of our time.”

“We must be the architects of our new common home,” Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said.

“We need a UN 4.0.”

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