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UN Security Council reform effort gets broad backing; China, Pakistan oppose
Friday March 27, 2015 11:56 AM, Arul Louis, IANS

The top diplomat heading the efforts for Security Council reforms has unveiled a framework document to pave the way for text-based negotiations amid broad support for his effort to spur the long-stalled process and vehement opposition from China and Pakistan.

Jamaica's Permanent Representative Ambassador Courtenay Rattray, who is the
chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council Reform, presented the framework document at a closed informal meeting of the General Assembly Thursday and asked member nations to share their views on it so he can produce a negotiating text based on their inputs.

According to sources familiar with Thursday's proceedings, a broad spectrum of nations as diverse as Security Council permanent members Britain and France and the 42-member pro-reform group known as L69 said they would go along with the process leading to text-based negotiations. The United States also supported the text-based process while opposing a timeline.

Welcoming Rattray's initiative, India's Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar
Mukerji, told the meeting, "For many developing countries, it is simply untenable that out of 137 developing country members of the United Nations, only one has so far been accommodated as a permanent member of the Council."

He added, "We need to urgently broaden the Council to make it more representative, more effective and more democratic, reflecting the diversity of our United Nations."

India, which is heavily invested in the reform process, is widely regarded as a front-runner for a permanent seat on an expanded Security Council. Along with Brazil, Germany and Japan, India constitutes the group G4, whose members mutually support each other's candidacy for permanent Security Council seats and lobby for reform.

A negotiating text is basic to conducting discussions on Security Council reforms but in a bizarre diplomatic drama the very task of producing one has been held hostage for over a decade by nations opposing the trend towards Security Council expansion. They claim that there has to be a consensus before a negotiating text can be drawn up, even though in practical terms there can't be discussions to reach a consensus without a document setting out what is being negotiated.

General Assembly President Sam Kutesa and Rattray, whom he appointed as the chair of the IGN, have been trying to break this impasse. Kutesa called on all the member states to support Rattray's efforts and move towards text-based negotiations.

Besides L69, Rattray received the backing of the 52-member Small Island Developing States group that includes Singapore and the 15-member Caribbean Community, CARICOM.

China led the charge against Rattray's push for text-based negotiations. The sources said that China's Permanent Representative Liu Jieyi expressed strong opposition to the effort to move the negotiations forward with a negotiating text and said that Beijing had reservations against the IGN chair.

China was backed by Pakistan and Italy, which are members of the 13-member Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group. They reiterated their position that there should be a consensus first and opposed any timeline for the reform process.

Russia took an ambivalent stance saying it was willing to engage in the move to text-based negotiations although it did not think it was appropriate right now because of the differences among the members.

Mukerji told the meeting that there was nothing controversial about pressing ahead with the reform process because all the world leaders at the 2005 UN 60th anniversary summit had unanimously agreed on early Security Council reform.

Speaking on behalf of G4, Japan's Permanent Representative Motohide Yoshikawa said the 70th anniversary summit in September would be the occasion to carry out the reform of the Security Council and urged Rattray to keep this occasion in mind as he pushes ahead with the reform process.

India's candidacy for a permanent seat in the Council is backed by four of the five permanent members, Britain, France, Russia and the United States. China, which has not backed India, softened its position by agreeing in a joint communique with Russia and India in February that it supported New Delhi's "aspiration to play a greater role in the United Nations."

When it was founded in 1945 with 51 members, the veto-wielding permanent Security Council seats came as spoils of war to the victors of World War II, Britain, China, France, Russia and the US. There were in addition six elected non-permanent members. In 1965, the number of non-permanent members was raised to 10. There have been no changes even though UN's membership has risen to 193.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in)


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