Accessibility links

Breaking News

US Rejects UN Security Council Enlargement Proposal

The United States has rejected a bid by four countries to add more permanent members to the U.N. Security Council, and urged postponement of any vote on council expansion. The General Assembly heard a second day of heated debate on the expansion issue.

The top U.S. adviser on United Nations reform, Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, told the world body Tuesday that Washington favors the principle of enlarging the Security Council.

But in a rebuke to the so-called G-four aspiring permanent council members Japan, Germany, Brazil and India, Ambassador Tahir-Kheli called the issue of council expansion "divisive", and urged the issue be put aside for the time being.

"Let me be as clear as possible: the U.S. does not think any proposal to expand the Security Council, including one based on our own ideas, should be voted upon at this stage," Ambassador Tahir-Kheli says.

Ambassador Tahir-Kheli called on countries to join the United States in rejecting the expansion proposal.

Several other countries criticized the G-four plan, which would expand the Security Council from 15 to 25 members, including six new permanent seats.

Canada's U.N. Ambassador, Allen Rock, said creating new permanent council seats would be against the interests of the overwhelming majority of member states.

"It would betray the values that member states have developed over time. It would deny a fair and flexible allocation of seats," Mr. Rock says. "It would diminish the accountability of the Council at a time when that virtue is most needed."

But Germany's U.N. representative Gunter Pleuger, fiercely rejected the criticisms. Ambassador Pleuger, possibly the most outspoken defender of the G-four proposal, warned that failure to agree on Security Council enlargement could wreck all chances for greater U.N. reform when world leaders meet at U.N. headquarters in September.

"If we fail to make progress on this issue before September, the success of the summit may be compromised and the repercussions of failed Security Council reform may hamper the implementation of the development goals for years to come. Let us not take that risk," Mr. Pleuger says.

On the sidelines of the General Assembly debate, an obviously concerned Secretary-General Kofi

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
urged calm in the debate, and said he is still hopeful that his reform effort would succeed.

"I think we should calm down and better not get all excited about it. These are mature men and women who are dealing with a very serious issue," Mr. Annan says. "And they all know what is at stake. And I hope no one is going to want to play a spoiler, to be blamed for lack of progress."

As debate ended on the G-four proposal Tuesday, U.N. diplomats said the future of Security Council reform was possibly murkier than before. African envoys said they plan to introduce a competing resolution Wednesday.

A third proposal, backed by Pakistan, Italy and Mexico, calling for the addition of only non-permanent seats, has also been circulated.

Meanwhile, despite predictions it would fail, G-four countries vowed to push ahead with a vote on their proposal as early as next week. Passage would require approval by two-thirds of the 191 member states, or 128 countries.