"Coffee Club" holding back UNSC reforms
An informal "coffee club", comprising 40-odd members states, has been instrumental in holding back reforms to the United Nations Security Council over the past six years. Most members of the club are middle-sized states who oppose bigger regional powers grabbing permanent seats in the UN Security Council.
The prime movers of the club include Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Argentina and Pakistan. While Italy and Spain are opposed to Germany's bid for Security Council's permanent membership, Pakistan is opposed to India's bid.
Similarly, Argentina is against Brazil's bid and Australia opposes Japan's. Canada and South Korea are opposed to developing countries, often dependent on their aid, wielding more power than them at the UN.
Razali Reform Plan
Independent concerns first brought these nations together in 1997 to oppose the Razali plan, proposed by the then General Assembly president and co-chairman of the Open-Ended Working Group on Security Council Reform, Malaysia's Ismail Razali.
Under the plan,the UNSC would have five new permanent members without veto powers, besides four more non-permanent members taking the council's strength to 24.
Previous plans for UNSC's reform had failed because they were opposed by the five permanent members: United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China who were guarding the exclusivity of their veto. However, the Razali plan was generally expected to succeed as it denied the veto power to new permanent members, and gained P5's approval.
Fulci's Cappucino Club
However, some 16 "middle sized" states came together to lobby against the Razali plan, fearing that their regional rivals would be selected to the new permanent seats. A loose alliance was mobilised, chiefly through the efforts of Italy's ambassador to the UN, Francesco Paolo Fulci, and was named "Fulci's coffee club". It has since become the "coffee club", and some detractors have even called it the "cappuccino club", given Italy's central role in it.
Since 1997, the club has been very effective in undermining efforts for new permanent seats, and has added to its membership. Club members "meet regularly to consider and counter clever tactics of the aspirants", in the words of the Chairman of Pakistan's Institute of International Affairs Fatahyab Ali Khan (Dawn, Feb 26, 2002).
But the club is not against the idea of the Security Council reform itself. Most club members want non-permanent seats of the Council increased, as this will raise their own chances of sitting on the Council regularly.
Italy has suggested that five or six new non-permanent members be added to the Council, mostly from the developing world, selected on the basis of a higher than average contribution to UN activities.
Italy has also proposed that UK and France's permanent seats be replaced by a seat for the European Union to strengthen European efforts to develop a common foreign and security policy. Needless to say, the proposal has been vehemently resisted by both France and the United Kingdom.