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India's bid for permanent UNSC seat just got stronger

Last updated on: November 14, 2007 13:30 IST

Britain and Uruguay have strongly backed the case of India, Japan, Germany and Brazil joining the expanded Security Council as permanent members to ensure that it reflects the current realities even as New Delhi firmly rejected Islamabad's contention that only the number of non-permanent members should be increased.

Mauritius singled out India for being the fit candidate to become a permanent member while calling for expansion of the 15-member Council which currently has five permanent members -- the US, Britain, Russia, France and China -- and ten non-permanent ones who are elected by the 192-member General Assembly for a two-year term.

The backing from the three came a day after France had equally strongly called for the four, known as Group of Four (G-4), joining the expanded Council as permanent members.

The Pakistani proposal, explained in depth by its Ambassador Munir Akram, did not find much resonance with the member States as most of them expressed strong support for expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories.

Among the countries supporting increase in the membership of both categories were South Africa, Sweden, Maldives, Libya Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, Barbados, Jamaica and several African nations who are demanding two permanent seats for themselves.

Rejecting the Pakistani suggestion, Indian UN Ambassador Nirupam Sen said the proposal of the 'Uniting for Consensus' group for increase only in the non-permanent category will not achieve the real aim -- to check the power of the current permanent members.

Besides, only expansion of permanent membership ensure that the concerns of wide spectrum of member States are taken care of, he said, pointing out that the new members will be elected by the General Assembly and thus would be responsible to it.

Stressing that radical steps are needed to make the Council effective, Sen said the only way to have widest possible support for the reform process to go forward is to immediately start inter-governmental negotiations on concrete proposals, a point that was stressed by several speakers.

Sen called for promoting a fair, transparent and objective process to arrive at a comprehensive 'package of agreed elements.'

India believes that negotiations should commence, 'even though some might be nervous about the prospect,' he added, without naming any country but obviously referring to members of the Uniting for Consensus Group which includes Pakistan.      

British Ambassador Sir John Sawers said international institutions should reflect the world today, rather than the world as it was at the end of the Second World War.

Reform of the UN in general and of the Security Council in particular is pivotal to progress, he said and stressed on the need for intergovernmental negotiations on the issue.

The Security Council, he said, must be more representative, but no less effective or capable of taking difficult decisions. He supported permanent membership for India, Germany, Japan and Brazil as also for African nations. Member States must be flexible and seek as much common ground as possible in reforming the Council, he added.

Uruguay's Gustavo Alverez said his country supported expanding the permanent membership to include India, Brazil, Germany and Japan. But he opposed granting the right to veto to new permanent members.

His country, he said, is opposed to veto as a matter of principle as it would like all members to serve on the Council.

Dharam Shourie in United Nations
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