‘Real’ talks on Council reform may begin this year, Assembly President says

General Assembly President Joseph Deiss

17 January 2011 – General Assembly President Joseph Deiss said today he hopes “real negotiations” may at last get under way this year in the almost two-decades-long process to enlarge the Security Council, bringing the United Nations body whose decisions are binding into line with the Organization’s current membership.

The Council was last enlarged in 1965 when its membership was increased from 11, including the five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States – to 15, at a time when the UN only had 118 Members States.

Today the UN has 192 members, but attempts over the past 18 years to enlarge the Council have become bogged down in how many additional seats should be created, whether some should be permanent, and whether these should have veto powers. At present the 10 non-permanent members are elected for two-year terms and have no veto powers.

“The situation for the moment is quite complex still and I hope that during this year we will at least be able to bring the negotiations, real negotiations under way,” Mr. Deiss told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

He noted that Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan, who has been overseeing the negotiations on Council reform, last month presented a paper giving an overview of the positions of all Member States, received further input and is expected to produce a new paper by March.

The so-called G4 (Group of Four) – Germany, Brazil, India and Japan – have been considered potential new permanent members, while Africa is also seeking two permanent members.

While decisions of the current 15-member Council are binding, those of the 192–member General Assembly are not, and many members have called for further empowering the Assembly.

Outlining the Assembly’s programme in the coming months, Mr. Deiss cited a High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS from 8 to 10 June, a review of the work of key UN organs and revitalization of the Assembly, and high-level meetings in September on curbing non-communicable diseases, desertification and the follow-up to the 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa.


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