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Veto dropped in draft for new UN Council members
Updated: 2005-06-09 08:25

Germany, Japan, Brazil and India on Wednesday dropped the right to a veto for new permanent U.N. Security Council members in their revised draft resolution to expand the 15-member prestigious body.

The four nations, contenders for permanent council seats, want the U.N. General Assembly to adopt a framework resolution as early as this month that would add 10 new members to the council, six permanent members and four nonpermanent ones.

The council currently has five permanent members, which would keep their veto power, and 10 nonpermanent members rotating for two-year terms.

"On the veto, it has become clear that the question of its extension to the new permanent members is best dealt with by the general membership" in a review 15 years after the proposed changes come into force, said a covering letter to the new draft resolution by the four nations who want permanent seats in a new expanded Security Council.

Consideration of the veto is now postponed until a review in 15 years. France, one of the current five Security Council permanent members, on Wednesday announced it would co-sponsor the resolution.


The new draft resolution was circulated to 191 General Assembly members, who must vote by a two-thirds majority to expand the council after 12 years of debate. The effort was given new momentum this year by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as part of his overall reform of the world body.

Annan argued that the Security Council, which rules on war and peace, sanctions and peacekeeping operations, still reflects the balance of power at the end of World War II.

The second step, which needs another resolution and also a two-thirds majority in the Assembly, is to fill in the names of the contenders for permanent seats, which will include two nations from Africa.

And the third step involves a change in the U.N. Charter, which must be approved by two-thirds of the legislatures around the world, including the current five veto-wielding Security Council powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. Should two-thirds of the world's nations approve the changes, a veto by the five would prove embarrassing.

Japan, diplomats said, was considering delaying a vote on the framework resolution from June to July, to make sure enough countries were supporting it. But German envoys said Berlin opposed this.

Diplomats speculate the four contenders have about 100 votes and needed another 30 or so for the initial resolution. Should a second vote take place on who should fill the seats, the envoys said Germany faces the least opposition while Muslim nations are expected to organize against India.


Among the current five council powers, France and Britain support the candidacies of Germany, Japan, India and Brazil as new permanent members. China opposes any seat for Japan and Russia's position is unclear.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has been organizing teleconferences with her counterparts among the five, has said Washington supports Japan. But adding only Japan in the council would be defeated easily in the General Assembly, which wants seats for developing nations.

"We have no position. We support Japan but it needs to be handled judiciously," Anne Patterson, the acting U.S. ambassador, told Reuters on Tuesday.

A second plan is favored by Italy, Algeria, Mexico, Canada, Pakistan, South Korea, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, Turkey and others.

This group has not put down a resolution and also calls for expanding the council from 15 to 25 members. This proposal has no permanent seats but longer terms for some nonpermanent members.

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