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States Call for Security Council Reform
Nonpermanent members push for change in first meeting under Ban Ki-moon
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2007-01-10 18:22 (KST)   
At the first U.N. Security Council meeting in 2007, held on Monday, Jan. 8, several of the nonpermanent members spoke out about the need to reform the council itself.

U.N. Security Council Meeting
©2007 UN/Ryan Brown
The topic for the session was "Threats to International Peace and Security." The view of several of the members is that the institutional form of the Security Council was created 60 years ago when the world was very different. The new conditions of the world in 2007 require changes in the institutional form and procedural methods of the Security Council. A number of the issues raised in the opening presentations by members of the Security Council reflect criticisms recently presented in a two-day discussion about the need for Security Council reform held by the General Assembly in early December.

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This was the first Security Council meeting for Ban Ki-moon in his newly appointed role as Secretary General of the United Nations. It was also the first meeting for five new non-permanent members. The new member nations for 2007 and 2008 are Italy, South Africa, Panama, Indonesia and Belgium. They join the other five non-permanent members -- Slovakia, Peru, Ghana, Qatar, and Congo -- and the five permanent members -- China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.

The Italian representative, Aldo Mantovani, stressed the importance of close cooperation between the U.N. in its peacekeeping role with regional and sub-regional groups, in accord with chapter 8 of the U.N. charter. He emphasized Italy's commitment to inclusive multilateralism as a strategy for dealing with threats in the international sphere. He explained that was why Italy is a proponent of comprehensive reform of the Security Council to increase its representation, transparency, and efficiency.

Even if there is a stalemate regarding changing its composition, he explained that should not be taken as an excuse to prevent changing the working methods.

Peter Burian, the U.N. Ambassador from Slovakia, also spoke about the need for "comprehensive reform of the council." This reform, he explained, had to include both expanding "the Council's membership and improving its working methods."

In his statement to the Security Council, Ambazlan Ishar Jenie, the Ambassador to the U.N. from Indonesia, thanked the chairperson for calling the meeting which made it possible "to reflect on what the Council has been achieving thus far, and to envisage what the future will hold and how it will affect the Council and its work in the maintenance of international peace and security."

Jenie spoke about the need to give priority to solving the Israeli-Palestine conflict in a "just and peaceful way" in order to prevent the further deterioration of the situation in the Middle East. He particularly referred with concern to recent Israeli action to approve the building of a settlement in the West Bank and recent raids and incursions by the Israeli Defense Forces into West Bank cities and towns.

Jenie also emphasized the importance of finding a diplomatic solution to the nuclear situations with North Korea and Iran. He expressed his delegation's support for the 쐇nalienable right of every country to develop and undertake research, production, and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as stipulated under Article 4 of the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT)." This right, however, should not be used as a pretext to develop nuclear technology for military ends. He advocated the establishment of a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East.

Objecting to the imposition of sanctions in a dispute without first exhausting all other means, he stressed his nation's support for "peaceful settlement of disputes, inclusive dialogue, constructive collaboration, and preventative diplomacy" as the priorities. Jenie said, "sanctions should be used as the last resort with clear, transparent, and measurable time-table and provide an escape road for reinstating peaceful settlements."

Dumisani Kumalo, the Ambassador to the U.N. from South Africa, said, "Today, we are challenged by complex, multifaceted and interconnected threats that go beyond the mandate of this Council." He urged that "the Security Council should not encroach on the jurisdiction and responsibility of other principal organs of the United Nations." He specifically referred to actions taken by the Security Council which "do not fall within its mandate." Such actions included resorting to Chapter 7 resolutions "as an umbrella for addressing issues that may not necessarily pose a threat to international peace and security when the council could have opted for alternative provisions to respond more appropriately, utilizing other provisions of the Charter." He noted that "Chapter 7 should be invoked, but as a measure of last resort." He also referred to the Council's failure to act in issues that are a "legitimate agenda item for this Council." He referred specifically to the "Palestinian-Israeli issue."

He urged the "importance of a closer and effective cooperation between the Security Council and regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security." He referred to cooperative efforts that were being institutionalized between the African Union and the United Nations on "collective efforts aimed at solving African conflicts."

The Ambassador from Panama, Ricardo Alberto Arias, also expressed concern that the Security Council not rush to impose sanctions. He urged the Security Council to "exhaust all options of prevention and mediation contemplated in Chapter 6 as well as making use of the regional organizations referred to in Chapter 8, before we can consider sanctions or the use of force contemplated in Chapter 7." He urged the Security Council to make use of the great capacity for diplomacy of the Secretary General and the U.N. Secretariat to contribute to the resolution of problems. Also Arias encouraged the Security Council to utilize other bodies of the U.N., such as the General Assembly, since all member states belong to this body.

Arias also urged utilizing the capabilities when relevant of the Human Rights Council and the Economic and Social Council.

Ban was warmly greeted by the Security Council members, and he in turn listened intently to the presentations of the members. Also, he presented an opening and a closing statement.

At the noon press briefing with Ban's spokeswoman, Michele Montas, the question was asked if there was any reason that Ban had not raised the issue of Security Council reform in his opening or closing statements to the Security Council. Montas responded that the omission was not deliberate as the Secretary General is interested in the issue of the reform of the Security Council. She added "that a proposal on reforming the Security Council is currently in the hands of the Member States."

The issue of reform of the Security Council has been been frustrating many nations, as the five permanent members who possess a veto over changing the U.N.'s charter's mandate on this issue have been unwilling to give up the power they currently hold. Many nations, however, feel that changing the composition and working procedures of the Security Council is vitally important if the U.N. is to become a more relevant and representative institution.

This issue of U.N. reform is thus considered a particularly important but also a particularly difficult issue. It is perhaps a harbinger of future change that serious attention was given to the issue during the first session of 2007 of the Security Council itself.
About the U.N. charter.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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