13 December 2006 After two days of the General Assembly’s annual debate on reforming the 15-member Security Council, the Assembly President has outlined three possible options on how to proceed, noting that while consensus appears to exist on the need to expand its membership, a “divergence of views” continues on how best to do this.
“There does… appear to be consensus on the need to expand the Security Council to better reflect our world in the twenty-first century. However, there remains a divergence of views on whether enlargement should occur in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, or, only in the latter,” Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa said late on Tuesday after more than 70 delegations had spoken on the issue.
“There appear to be three possible options that have been presented: first, the process could continue within the framework of the Open Ended Working Group; second, the onus could be on Member States themselves to find a way forward. And third, the President could lead an open and inclusive process of consultations and negotiations to reach the broadest possible agreement.”
Sheikha Haya said that she would get back to the Member States on how best to move ahead with reform, an issue that has been locked in stalemate for 15 years because of the difficult political issues at stake. A working group started formulating proposals on the subject in 1994.
The number of non-permanent members on the Council was increased from six to 10 by an amendment of the UN Charter which came into force in 1965. The five veto-wielding permanent members are China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In September, as part of his efforts to speed up the process of overall UN reform, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the Council must change to reflect the new reality of international relations, warning that as long the status quo remains, “the whole process of transforming governance in other parts of the system is handicapped by the perception of an inequitable distribution of power.”
In March last year, Mr. Annan also issued a report entitled In Larger Freedom, in which he endorsed two models for reforming the 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.