FMs of India, Brazil, Germany and Japan in New York to push for UNSC reform

Foreign Ministers of India, Brazil,Germany and Japan, known as the Group of Four, Friday began a new campaign for permanent seats in an expanded UN Security Council, the world body’s power centre.They are in New York to attend a high-level meeting taking place at UN Headquarters on the linkages between international security and development in the 15-member Council, which is hosted by Brazil, the Council president for February.The meeting is being chaired by Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota. But the G-4 foreign ministers—S. M. Krishna of India, Patriota of Brazil, Guido Westerwelle of Germany and Seiji Maehara of Japan—are using the opportunity to make their case for permanent membership of the Security Council and to put the reform process of Council’s expansion on a fast track.

Not only the G-4 foreign ministers are holding discussions among themselves, they are also contacting other regional groups and are scheduled to meet the president of UN General Assembly, Joseph Deiss, this evening. At a press briefing Thursday evening, Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s permanent representative to the UN, told reporters here that “issues of Security Council reform are not going to come from within the Council, but from traction within the General Assembly.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will join them at a working luncheon hosted by the Brazilian foreign minister. Following their meetings, the G4 countries are expected to produce an outcome document on their discussions,diplomats said. Since 1979, the the United Nations has been holding discussions on expanding the Security Council. But every proposal has failed, primarily because of rivalries between countries and regions more concerned about their own self-interests than the improved functioning of the United Nations.

The Security Council has five veto-wielding permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, India and other G-4 members have pressed their case for an elevated status on the Council since 2005, while the Uniting for Consensus group of countries, led by Pakistan and Italy, maintained their opposition to any new permanent seats and their strong support for an expansion of non-permanent members.

On its part, the African Union’s has called for the Council to be  enlarged to 26 seats, one more permanent seat than the G-4 proposal for 25. Its proposal for six new permanent seats was the same as the G-4’s, except that it would give the new members veto power. Being in the Security Council as a non-permanent member gives India some advantage, but the process for expansion of the Council is long and complicated.

The first step is to get a framework resolution through the General Assembly by a two-thirds vote, without specifying candidates. The second would be to name candidates for permanent seats. The last step is to amend the U.N. Charter through ratification by national legislatures of the members, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, that could take years. Article 108 of the UN Charter reads, “Amendments to the present Charter shall come into force for all Members of the United Nations when they have been adopted by a vote of two thirds of the members of the General Assembly and ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two thirds of the Members of the United Nations, including all the permanent members of the Security Council.” – App