July 12, 2005

U.S. firmly rejects resolution to expand UN Council

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday
firmly rejected a resolution by Brazil, Germany, Japan and
India to expand the 15-member U.N. Security Council by 10 seats
and warned the U.S. Senate could veto the measure.

"We will work with you to achieve enlargement of the
Security Council, but only in the right way and at the right
time," said Tahir-Kheli, adviser to Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice. "We urge you, therefore, to oppose this
resolution and, should it come to a vote, to vote against it."

Brazil, Germany, Japan and India have introduced a
resolution to add six permanent seats to the council, four for
themselves and two for Africa, and four nonpermanent seats.

After a dozen years of discussion, the debate on the
resolution is the first radical step to increase council
membership, which all agree still reflects the balance of power
in 1945. But the contentious General Assembly debate, which
began on Monday, indicated a majority, but not necessarily the
required two-thirds of the 191-member General Assembly, favored
the resolution.

A vote has not yet been scheduled on the proposal. If it is
passed by the U.N. General Assembly, national legislatures must
approve the change. If the legislatures from one of the five
permanent members of the Security Council do not approve the
resolution, the proposal will fail.

Tahir-Kheli warned nations the U.S. Senate could veto the

"Whether Democrats or Republicans, American Senators --
like officials of our executive branch -- will be looking to
see if Security Council enlargement is part of a broader
package of needed reforms and whether it makes the council more
or less effective in discharging its important duties," she

Of the council's current members, five are veto-wielding
permanent members -- the United States, France, Britain, Russia
and China. Ten other nations rotate in two-year terms.

Germany's U.N. ambassador, Guenter Pleuger, said the five
Security Council powers would have a hard time opposing a
resolution if 128 General Assembly members approve it.

"Do one or two permanent members really want to block the
development and a change for the better of the whole U.N.
organization? Do they want to be seen in worldwide public
opinion as those who deny the developing countries
representation in the council on an equal footing as permanent
members?" Pleuger asked.

"Some of those who oppose enlarging the council to 25 did
not oppose the enlargement of NATO and would certainly
contradict the notion that the NATO Council of 26 has become
less effective since then," Pleuger said. "In the U.N., as in
all democratic parliaments, decisions are taken by vote and the
minority agrees to accept the result."

China objects to Japan and the entire process and Britain
and France support the resolution by the four aspirants.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador, Andrei Denisov, gave his first
strong statement against the resolution, agreeing with the
United States that 25 new members was too many. He said Moscow
rejected "any dilution of the power of the five and their veto

The 53-member African Union has a similar proposal to the
four aspirants. It has not yet introduced it but wants one more
permanent seat, which would bring the total seats on the
Security Council to 26.

But the Africa Union has insisted on veto rights for new
permanent members, while the four aspirants say a decision on
the veto should be made in 15 years. Without a compromise with
the African Union, the resolution from the four nations seeking
permanent seats has no chance to reach the two-thirds vote.

A third proposal by some 20 nations would add 10
nonpermanent seats for varying terms. Canada, a proponent of
this concept, argued that there was not much one could do about
the five permanent members, but adding more permanent seats
"would lock into place forevermore a rigid regime unsuited to a
dynamic world."