News

Candidate to Head UN Gen. Assembly to Push for Security Council Expansion

Jan Eliasson, Swedish Ambassador to the United States and the only candidate running for president of the United Nations General Assembly, says the U.N. is in need of serious reform. He urged the international community to push forward with widespread reform of the global body.

The past year the United Nations has suffered through a series of scandals over corruption in the U.N.-run oil-for-food program in Iraq and sex abuse by U.N. peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere. Now, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has vowed to make the world body more efficient and transparent.

Swedish Ambassador Jan Eliasson says if he is elected president of the U.N. General Assembly, UNGA, he will work closely with Mr. Annan to ensure the world body takes steps toward long overdue reform.

One reform Mr. Eliasson strongly supports is the effort to enlarge and expand the U.N. Security Council. "It is legitimate to have an enlargement of the Security Council. It was constituted in its present form a long time ago. The membership has now almost tripled since then and we need to have a security council which represents some actors which have played and are playing a very important role - not only on the world scene but also for the United Nations," he said.

Mr. Eliasson spoke Saturday at the annual meeting of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area in Washington. He said the difficulty in expanding the Security Council is that everybody involved realizes that an enlargement could influence the efficiency and effectiveness of the Security Council.

Additionally, he said expansion is an extremely sensitive matter because there is much debate about which countries will be given representation on the enlarged body. Brazil, Germany, India and Japan are just some of the countries lobbying for an additional permanent seat on the Security Council.

China, a veto member of the U.N. Security Council has indicated that it would not support the idea. It's Ambassador to the United Nations Wang Guangya was quoted recently as saying the measure would divide the U.N. membership and ruin any chance for adoption of a broader reform program.

Mr. Eliasson addressed the United Nations Association one day after the man he is to replace -- current U-N-G-A President Jean Ping of Gabon - issued a draft version of a reform package intended to strengthen the United Nations.

In March, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan issued his own series of recommendations for reforming the world body. The proposed reforms will be considered for adoption at a U.N. summit set for September.

Other areas of reform include the reform of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which has long faced criticism for allowing the worst offending countries, such as Sudan, Zimbabwe and Cuba, to use their membership to protect each other from condemnation.

Mr. Eliasson also spoke of the need to streamline the U.N. bureaucracy and the importance of conflict prevention.

He said the major challenge to U.N. reform is whether the political will to enact serious change exists. "Certainly we have, I think, the awareness that there is a need to do something and I think there is also an acceptance that there is a unique opportunity," he said. "Whatever you think about the reform proposals they are taken seriously by practically all member states and also different political parts of the spectrum. So that is fine, but I'm still not sure whether we have enough of that political will to make sure we can take these courageous and important steps ahead."

Ambassador Eliasson urged the United Nations supporters gathered in Washington to speak honestly about the world body's flaws, while touting its successes.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs