Wed, Jul 20, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Africa presses for a permanent seat on UN Security Council

AP , UN

African countries presented their draft resolution to expand the UN Security Council, saying the time has come to give a voice to people in the developing world and end the historic injustice that left the continent without a permanent seat on the UN's most powerful body.

Nigeria, which currently heads the 53-nation African Union, formally introduced the resolution Monday at the 191-member UN General Assembly which must approve any council expansion plan by a two-thirds vote.

There is widespread support for enlarging the Security Council to reflect the world in the 21st century rather than the global power after World War II when the UN was formed. But all previous attempts have failed because of national and regional rivalries.

The Security Council currently has 15 members, 10 elected for two-year terms to represent different regions and five permanent members with veto power -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US. The African draft resolution is the second to be introduced in a week. Brazil, Germany, India and Japan, the so-called Group of Four, circulated their resolution first. But the four countries admitted Sunday that their proposal still doesn't have enough support and put off seeking a vote until the end of this month, leaving time for negotiations with the Africans.

The US and China oppose the Group of Four proposal and say the time isn't right for council reform because the disagreements among nations are too great.

Washington and Beijing can't block an initial resolution before the General Assembly, but council expansion ultimately requires a change to the UN Charter which needs approval from all five permanent members.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has invited world leaders to a summit in September to reform the UN and take action to meet UN development goals, including cutting extreme poverty by half by 2015. Security Council reform is the most contentious issue, and Annan said he wanted it out of the way before the summit.

The African proposal would expand the council to 26 members, adding six permanent seats with veto power and five non-permanent seats. Africa would get two permanent seats -- with South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt the frontrunners -- and two non-permanent seats.

The Group of Four's proposal would expand the council to 25 seats, adding six permanent seats but without veto power.

Brazil, Germany, India and Japan would hopefully get four of the permanent seats with the other two reserved for Africa.

The group would add four non-permanent seats, with just one for Africa. The two sides said they would negotiate over the next week and then meet again in Geneva on July 25 to discuss progress.

South African envoy Xolisa Mabhongo said member nations have a rare opportunity to make the Security Council more representative and responsive.

This story has been viewed 2412 times.
TOP top