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Majority wants UNSC permanent membership expanded

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India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin. (Photo: Indian Mission/IANS) by .
India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin.

A majority of UN members support the expansion of the permanent membership of the Security Council, which is being blocked by a vocal minority, India pointed out at a meeting on reforms…writes Arul Louis

India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin. (Photo: Indian Mission/IANS) by .
India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin.

“Will those who are speaking of democracy be ready to accept this democratic expression?” India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin asked in a challenge to the obstructionists to the reform process while speaking at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Council reforms.

He said that a total of 129 countries of the 193-member UN had expressed support for expanding both the permanent and the non-permanent categories of Council membership and this had been codified in the framework document for negotiations circulated by Sam Kutesa, the then President of the General Assembly in 2015.

They constituted 85 per cent of those who responded either in the framework document’s format or through letters to requests for inputs on reform, he said.

Speaking at the meeting on behalf of the 13-member group that includes Pakistan and known as United for Consensus (UfC), Italy’s Permanent Representative Mariangela Zappia reiterated its opposition to adding more permanent members to the Council.

The UfC has been the main source of obstruction in the reform process because of its opposition to adding permanent seats and it uses the tactic of opposing the adoption of a negotiating text to block the reform process from moving ahead.

Japan’s Permanent Representive Yasuhisa Kawamura, who spoke on behalf of his country as well India, Brazil and Germany, emphasised the need to adopt a negotiating text if there was to be progress in the long-delayed reform process.

“Without negotiating based on a document, we fear that this session of the IGN will resemble those of the previous 10 years,” he said.

The four countries, known as Group of Four or G-4, lobby jointly for expanding the permanent membership of the Council and mutually support each other for it.

To highlight the stalemate, Kawamura said that he brought along the copy of a 2017 speech by Akbaruddin and “I could in fact read much of the same statement again today”.

Akbaruddin said that the non-representation and under-representation of some regions in the Council called for remedies.

He pointed out that while 25 members of the Western European and Other Group (WEOG)have two non-permanent seats, 52 countries of the Asia-Pacific Group with a population of three billion also have the same number of non-permanent seats.

WEOG has two permanent seats – and three, if its observer, the US, is counted – while Asia Pacific has only one.

India supported the unified African demand for increasing its representation in the Council, Akabaruddin said.

In consensus statements, the African nations have asked for two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats on the Council.

On the question of veto power that is wielded by the five permanent members, Akbaruddin said that some nations have called for abolishing it given the history of its use for narrow national objectives, such as the 59 vetoes that were cast to block countries from UN membership or the 18 to support the apartheid regimes in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Conceding that the veto is a “complex” matter, he said that if it is not possible to end it, there should be limits on its use.

Some nations have suggested that the countries with veto power should volunteer to refrain from using it in matters involving genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and gross human rights violations, Akbaruddin added.

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