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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs