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France backs G-4's claim for UNSC seat

France voices strong support for induction of India, Japan, Germany and Brazil into the UN Security Council.

world Updated: Nov 13, 2007 13:41 IST

France has voiced strong support for induction of India, Japan, Germany and Brazil as permanent members into the Security Council as the world body embarked on a debate on reforms in its most powerful organ including its expansion.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, French Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Jean-Pierre Lacroix said induction of India and other members of G-4 will make the Security Council more effective and reflect current realities.

<b1>"There was no time to lose in reforming the United Nations. Enlarging the Security Council must be geared to making it more effective. Both permanent and non-permanent members should be increased and include Germany, Japan, India, Brazil and a just representation for Africa," he said.

France also called for inclusion of a "just representation" from African among the permanent members and was the only country to go so far as to openly support the case of Group of Four(G-4).

Most others who participated in the opening day's debate on Monday expressed strong support for the expansion but refrained from naming any country for permanent membership except for the US which again supported the case of Japan joining the five permanent members though it did not rule out that some other states could be inducted into the group.

Pakistan, as expected, strongly opposed the expansion of the Council in the permanent category, giving its usual argument that it would increase centers of power and advocated increasing only in the number of non permanent members which, it said, would make it more democratic. India is slated to speak later in the debate.

American UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said "only a modest expansion" of the Security Council was needed. US President George w Bush had expressed support for Japan's candidacy and the "possibility for other nations to be considered as well."

Khalilzad said the expansion of the Council must ensure its ability to respond efficiently to threats to peace and security.

Qualified candidates, he said, must have a demonstrated ability to act as responsible stakeholders. Further, they must maintain a strong commitment to democracy and have provided financial contribution to the United Nations.

The United States, he told the delegates, has not made any decisions on which countries might be eligible, and did not have a specific proposal for expansion.

Despite US' openness to prospects, the Ambassador said, persistent differences among various country positions had prevented widespread support for any one proposal.

His Government looked forward to new proposals on a modest Council expansion, he added but did not elaborate. Russian Ambassador Vitalyi Churkin called for "patient and flexible" negotiations on the expansion of the Council, saying the enlargement should not create polarization and fragmentation among member States.

The Russian position, he said, is to be flexible and try to bring differing positions closer, including through intermediary approach" if it enjoys the broadest support.

The intermediary approach means deferring the final decision and in the meanwhile increasing the number of non permanent members, some whom might have much longer term than the current two year.

Thomas Matussek of Germany said the G-4 proposal reflected today's political realities and a change in balance of power. The world required a more legitimate, transparent, representative and more effective Council, not just a larger one. And in paving the way forward, the Assembly required flexibility and the willingness to get down to work.

If the UN did not achieve reform during the current session, Member States would lose momentum, the United Nations system would lose credibility and the most important body for the maintenance of peace and security, the Security Council, would lose legitimacy at a crucial time, he warned.

The "G-4" proposal suggests increasing Council membership from 15 to 25 seats by adding six permanent, who would not have the veto right but would otherwise have the same responsibilities as the current members, and four non-permanent members.

Another proposal by "Uniting for Consensus" coalition of countries, that included Italy, Mexico and Pakistan, wants an increase in the non permanent members from current 10 to 20 but wants the permanent membership to remain at five.

The 20 non-permanent members would be elected according to the following pattern: six from African States; five from Asian States; four from Latin American and Caribbean States; three from Western European and Other States; and two from Eastern European States.

A proposal has been put forward by the African Union, whose 53 members stress that Africa is the only Continent without a permanent seat on the Council.

Opposing the G-4 proposal, Pakistan Ambassador Munir Akram said equitable geographical distribution envisaged by the UN Charter would make little sense if a seat allocated to a region was to be occupied by one country.

First Published: Nov 13, 2007 12:01 IST