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Diplomatic Showdown Looms Over UN Security Council Reform

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200504/200504130035.html Diplomatic Showdown Looms Over UN Security Council Reform Plans for reforming the U.N.
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 13, 2005
      http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200504/200504130035.html

      Diplomatic Showdown Looms Over UN Security Council
      Reform

      Plans for reforming the U.N. Security Council have
      touched off a furious debate in world capitals, and
      inflamed long-simmering regional rivalries. Battle
      lines are forming, as countries lobbying for permanent
      Council seats push for prompt action.

      A grouping of nations calling itself "Uniting for
      Consensus" met in New York this week to promote what
      is known as "Plan B" for Security Council expansion.
      The plan calls for creation of a new category of
      semi-permanent Council members that would be chosen
      through regional elections to four-year renewable
      terms.

      "Uniting for Consensus" is an unlikely coalition of
      countries brought together by their common opposition
      to a competing proposal known as Plan A. That proposal
      that would create six new permanent seats.

      Germany, Japan, India and Brazil have put in a joint
      claim for four of the seats. The other two would go to
      African countries, probably South Africa and either
      Egypt or Nigeria.

      The glue holding the so-called "Consensus group"
      together is opposition to one or another of the four
      main candidate countries. Italy, the main organizer,
      opposes Germany, Pakistan is opposed to arch-rival
      India, and Mexico opposes Brazil.

      China is not among the group, but Chinese leaders -and
      street protestors in several Chinese cities -- have
      made no secret of their opposition to Japan's
      membership.

      When asked for his views on expanding the Council,
      China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya used the word
      "consensus" repeatedly. "I think it is essential,
      because we believe on important issues such as this,
      if there is no consensus, then the U.N. membership
      might be divided," he said.

      But in a speech to the General Assembly last week,
      Germany's U.N. Ambassador Gunter Pleuger ridiculed the
      idea of consensus, suggesting it was a code word for
      inaction. "Let us not fool ourselves. Everybody knows
      that consensus on this complex issue is not possible,"
      he said.

      Ambassador Pleuger served notice that Germany would
      push for speedy approval of Plan A. "Our position is
      clear. We are working on a reform resolution that
      should be put to a vote in May or June," he said.

      The German announcement surprised many who had assumed
      that a vote on Council expansion would not come before
      September, at a U.N. summit of world leaders.

      The Consensus Group sprung into action. Italian
      Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini and senior Pakistani
      and Mexican officials flew to New York to rally
      opposition. They were joined at a public event by top
      ministers from like-minded countries South Korea,
      Argentina, Spain and a few others.

      Speaking to reporters, Pakistani special envoy Inam ul
      Haque suggested that all countries should have equal
      access to Council membership. "What we have decided is
      to convince those that are still unconvinced that the
      Security Council should become more responsive to the
      needs of the international community. But our efforts
      will continue to achieve a consensus," he said.

      Speaking through an interpreter, Italian Foreign
      Minister Fini rejected a reporter's suggestion that
      consensus was a code word for doing nothing on the
      critical issue of reform. "I don't think seeking
      widest possible consensus is a way of expressing
      opposition, nor is it a way of simply trying to delay
      the process. I think it is the main way to invigorate
      the United Nations system," he said.

      South Korea's U.N. ambassador Kim Sam-hoon went a step
      further. In a General Assembly speech last week, he
      warned that any push for more permanent Security
      Council seats could damage prospects for much-needed
      U.N. reform. "The process is not likely to meet
      success, but will create serious divisions among the
      general membership, thereby casting a shadow on the
      prospects of the summit in September," he said.

      The United States has not ruled out Security Council
      enlargement, but has set a high benchmark.

      A U.S. State Department official told the General
      Assembly last week Washington would support a proposal
      for reform only if it enhances the Council's
      effectiveness. In an apparent reference to the Plan
      A/Plan B controversy, U.S. Ambassador Shirin
      Tahir-Kheli called for a "broad consensus", and
      rejected calls for what she termed "artificial
      deadlines" for the reforms.
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