Corresponding to Contemporary Power Realities

Despite long wait for suitable reforms in the UN especially in the composition of the Security Council, the momentum seems to be generated. The recent diplomatic moves suggest that the General Assembly of the United Nations may be asked in the current 65th session to approve a resolution that will have enlarged the Security Council. When such a resolution will be tabled depends on how confident the so-called G4 countries become to muster the required 128 votes, which is two/thirds of 192 UN members. Any amendment of the UN Charter necessitates the approval of two/thirds majority of the total membership.

Among the G4 are Brazil, Germany, India and Japan of whom Japan and Germany had received earlier endorsement from the previous U.S. administrations. Even India has been publicly supported by the Obama administration though Brazil, no less a stronger candidate for permanent membership, has yet to obtain explicit approval from the U.S.

Against such backdrop comes the report from the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force entitled “Global Brazil and U.S.-Brazil Relations”. Chaired by former World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn and former Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman, the Task Force report justifies U.S. approval for Brazil’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council. The report chronicles Brazil’s spectacular rise in the past decade and its potentiality to be an influential player of global affairs. Considering the fact that president Obama had even shied away to endorse Brazil’s bid for a permanent seat during his trip to that country in February 2011, the above report is doubly significant as debate on UN reform gathers pace.

Stewart M. Patrick opines that in winning the permanent seats of the UN Security Council for four frontrunners, the position of the African Union will be crucial. This is because the AU has been demanding 2 permanent and 3 additional non-permanent seats. It insists on “Ezulwini Consensus”, which was endorsed by the regional group in 2005.

This consensus, among other things, features the common AU position on the proposed reform of the UN. The most striking recommendation of Ezulwini Consensus is that African Union should be responsible for the selection of Africa’s representatives in the Security Council. The regional group’s stand is hardened by the position of China, which looking uncomfortable to see her traditional enemy Japan and economic and strategic rival India at par with it wielding veto, quietly supports the African Union.

Suffice it to say that all current five permanent members of the UN Security Council like China, France, Russia, UK and the U.S. need to ratify any reform proposal related to the United Nations. If any one of them exercises veto to the expansion resolution, the chapter of reform is closed. In the changed context of the urgency to lend credibility and accountability to the work of the Security Council, which still represents the 1945 geopolitics, the P5 are expected to behave rationally. The expanded Security Council will incorporate the emerging economic powers who can be asked to meet weighty obligations commensurate with the privileges of permanent membership.

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