Annan extends target for Security Council expansion from September to Christmas
UNITED NATIONS – U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday backed away from his appeal for nations to resolve their bitter differences over expanding the U.N. Security Council by September, saying he now wants the issue settled by Christmas.Annan’s statement was a strong indication that, like many other observers, he sees that the 191 U.N. member states are deadlocked and unlikely to agree on a way forward before a summit of world leaders in mid-September as he had hoped.”If they are not able to resolve it before the summit, the issue is not going to die,” Annan warned. “They will have to pursue it and I hope resolve it before we all go away for Christmas.”There is widespread support for enlarging the 15-member council to reflect the world in the 21st century rather than the global power structure after World War II when the United Nations was formed. But previous attempts have failed because of national and regional rivalries.The Security Council currently has 10 members elected for two-year terms representing different regions and five permanent members with veto power – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France. Three resolutions to expand the council have been introduced in the 191-member General Assembly.After 10 years of seemingly endless debate, Annan told U.N. members in March that he wanted a decision before the September summit. But the issue remains contentious, and no proposal on the table can win the required two-thirds support.Algeria’s U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali said Tuesday he believes “the secretary-general is as embarrassed as everybody else about the way the Security Council reform negotiation has been evolving.”Asked by reporters Wednesday whether council reform was possible before world leaders arrive on Sept. 14, Annan replied the vast majority of nations want the U.N.’s most powerful body enlarged but are debating the formula.”I am still hoping that they will reform the council,” he said. “I think the reform of the council is long overdue. … So I would urge the member states to engage with each other and find a solution.”Brazil, Germany, India and Japan have proposed a 25-member council, adding six permanent seats without a veto and four nonpermanent seats. The so-called Group of Four are hoping to win four of the permanent seats with the other two earmarked for Africa. South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt are the leading African contenders.The African Union has proposed expanding the council to 26 members – adding six permanent seats with veto power and five non-permanent seats. A third resolution by a group called Uniting for Consensus would add 10 non-permanent seats.On Aug. 4, African leaders met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss a possible compromise resolution with the Group of Four, which had a chance of achieving a two-thirds vote. But the African Union decided to stick with its demand for two veto-wielding permanent council seats.General Assembly President Jean Ping, who is trying to achieve consensus on a final document for world leaders to consider, is reportedly also working on a proposal for Security Council expansion.”The ball is in Ping’s court,” said Algeria’s Baali.
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