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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

General Assembly debates Security Council reform

21 July 2006 After two days of discussion at the General Assembly on proposals to reform the Security Council, broad consensus began to emerge that despite recent significant reform of the world body as a whole, without changes to the composition and operation of the Council, there could be no genuine United Nations reform.

Numerous participants noted that the current structure of the 15-member body does not reflect the realities prevailing today. They generally urged enlarging the membership but differed on the specifics that would entail, including whether or not to grant veto power to new members. Currently, there are five veto-wielding permanent Council members: China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The subject of Security Council reform is a perennial item debated by the General Assembly, but despite widespread agreement on the need for change, momentum for action has been stymied by the complicated political issues at stake.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for the General Assembly acknowledged that the meetings would not yield an agreed text. “No action is expected to be taken during this debate on any of the existing resolutions on Security Council expansion or reform of its working methods,” Pragati Pascale told journalists.

But she added that, “several delegations are suggesting various ways of moving forward on this important issue, in a constructive spirit.”

Almost half of the 192 members of the General Assembly spoke during the two days of discussions, outlining the various approaches that have been put forward, including among other suggestions, increasing the Council’s membership from 15 to 25 and granting Africa seven seats on a reformed body.

For example, Pakistan’s representative co-sponsored the so called “Uniting for Consensus” text of July 2005, which would enlarge the Council to 25 members, with the current permanent five remaining the only permanent members, with 20 more elected as non-permanent members.

In March last year, Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a report entitled In Larger Freedom, in which he endorsed the two models for reforming the Security Council that were first presented by his High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.

The first model provides for six new permanent seats – two each from Africa and Asia, and one each from Europe and the Americas, with no veto being created, while the second model provides for no new permanent seats, but creates a new category of eight four-year renewable-term seats, and one new two-year non-permanent (and non-renewable) seat, divided among the major regional areas.

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