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Show us your numbers: India challenges countries opposing UNSC expansion

Source: PTI
September 03, 2009 13:44 IST
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Hitting hard at countries that have been blocking the expansion of United Nations Security Council in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, India on Thursday dared such nations to schedule a straw poll in the UN General Assembly to prove that they had the numbers.

"If there is genuine doubt about the basic premise that most delegations support expansion in both categories, then my knowledge of mathematics tells me that we should test the hypothesis scientifically,' said Indian's permanent envoy to the United Nations Hardeep Singh Puri.

"So why do they not want us to schedule a straw poll to ask who really objects to an expansion in both categories? I suspect the results would clearly demonstrate that this is a small minority. Perhaps this is already evident to them, hence their desire to avoid further highlighting their isolation," Puri said, as the General Assembly resumed closed-door talks on reforming the 15-nation body.

India along with Brazil, Japan and Germany, known as G-4, have proposed expansion in both permanent (six) and non-permanent (four) category of membership of the Security Council to give the most powerful wing of the UN a more realistic look on the realities of the 21st Century and not a globe of post-World War II.

A small group of countries lead by Pakistan, Italy and Argentina have been opposing to this proposal.

Without identifying any particular country that has been strongly opposing the proposal, Puri said: "The issue is simple: only 12, or at best 15, delegations have ever objected to an expansion in the permanent membership. The rest, even the P-5, have not objected -- not once -- in repeated rounds of open negotiations, or even in the OEWG process (Open-ended Working Group on Security Council Reform) that preceded it."

Puri added: "Yet, using specious and wordy arguments, this tiny minority would have us believe that most delegations are not in favour of expanding the UNSC in both categories.

"Unfortunately, even today, there are some amongst us whose principal objective in attending these meetings sometimes seems solely to ensure that there be no progress whatsoever, either today or in any meeting that substantively discusses expansion, in both categories of membership of the Security Council," he argued.

"Therefore, to these distinguished colleagues of mine, the naysayers, I would say: do not remain on the wrong side of history. We are at a juncture where the prospects of substantive reform of the Security Council are visible. To remain in this negative mould only defers the inevitable; it does not change it," he said.

Asserting that the G-4 proposal had overwhelming support, Puri said it is only a handful of countries that persist in their opposition to this model.

"If we are to have a serious negotiation aimed at reaching substantive conclusions in the near future, we should focus our attention ahead, and not revisit old and discredited arguments," he said.

Reiterating the G-4 formula, Puri said it sought the increase in membership of the UN Security Council by six permanent and four non-permanent members. Two each of the new permanent members would be from Asia and Africa, and one each from Latin America and Europe. The four new non-permanent seats would be equally filled between Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

"Indeed, as various rounds of discussions demonstrate, this remains the most comprehensive proposal. No other option comes remotely close to satisfying the varying concerns of the membership in this important issue," Puri argued.

"The way forward is clear: we must begin work by identifying the various proposals made by delegations regarding ways of expanding membership of the Council in both categories. Thereafter, detailed negotiations can commence urgently," he said.

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