The General debates of the 59th UN General Assembly session are under way. The reform of UN, including the enlargement of the Security Council, naturally becomes one of the topics for discussion. The moves of Japan and some other countries hoping to become permanent Security Council members have attracted people's attention and aroused much controversy.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi devoted his speech almost all to propagating Japan's "contributions" to the United Nations and the international community. He said, "Japan is doing its best to cooperate with other countries in counter-terrorism", "Japan has been advancing in the van in the field of preventing proliferation", etc. While talking about the reform of the Security Council, he stated, "countries which have the wishes and resources to play a major role in international peace and security should participate in the Security Council decision-making process". At the end of his speech he simply made it clear, "Japan is playing an increasingly crucial role in international peace and security", "The role Japan plays has laid a solid foundation for it to win the status as a permanent Security Council member". Then he raised the demand for cancellation of the "provisions on enemy countries" as set in the "United Nations Charter".
Representatives of some other countries hoping to become permanent Security Council members also expressed their wishes in their speeches. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in his speech mentioned the Security Council reform as well as the reform of the UN General Assembly and its Economic and Social Council. While speaking of enlargement of the Security Council he said, "Composition of the Security Council should reflect the current geo-political reality, at the same time consideration should be given to those countries which have wishes and capabilities to safeguard international peace and security and have made significant contributions in this regard". He indicated, "Germany is prepared to undertake the responsibility of a permanent Security Council member". He also emphasized, "It's particularly important for the African continent to have representatives among permanent Security Council member countries".Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his speech, did not say much about the reform of the Security Council, but he mentioned that the overwhelming majority of the world population could not be barred outside the institution that is making decisions on more issues and is exerting ever more extensive influence. He claimed, enlargement of the Security Council includes permanent Security Council members and non-permanent Security Council members, if country like India is allowed to become a permanent Security Council member, it will constitutes a first step toward making the United Nations become genuinely representative. Brazilian President Lula da Silva's speech is more implicit, he did not directly mention that Brazil should become a permanent Security Council member, he only said, "The composition of the Security Council must reflect the reality of today, rather than continuing the post-WWII state. It is not enough if the proposal on reform of the Security Council does not include increase in the number of permanent Security Council member countries. Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, made a loud appeal for seats for African countries in the Security Council, he said in his speech that in the 1997 Harare Declaration African countries stated that Africa should have two permanent Security Council seats and three non-permanent Security Council seats. Because of its core role played in African and Arab countries and in the Islamic world, Egypt is qualified to undertake the responsibility of a permanent Security Council member.
Representatives of Japan, Germany, India and Brazil, in their speeches at the UN General Assembly session, besides voicing their wishes to be permanent Security Council members, also held special meetings for the matter in the United Nations, jointly held press conference and issued joint statement, indicating that they would support each other and strive to become permanent Security Council members.
Countries reacted differently to the moves of Japan and other nations that actively strive to become permanent Security Council members. Britain and France both expressed their support for the aforementioned four countries to become permanent Security Council members. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said in his speech, "We propose that the UN Security Council carry out double expansion of its permanent and non-permanent member states. We support Germany, Brazil, Japan and India in their efforts to become permanent UN Security Council members."Meanwhile, he pointed out, "We also support an African country winning the seat as a permanent Security Council member". British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in his speech expressed the same stance as Barnier, but he did not mention that an African country should become a permanent Security Council member. The United States and Russia did not explicitly express their attitudes toward the demands of the above-mentioned four countries. George W. Bush focused his speech at the UN General Assembly session on his anti-terror war and did not talk much about the reform of the Security Council. US Secretary of State Colin Powell, in answering reporters'questions at the New York Information Center, only indicated, "We feel the current best way is to wait for the report to be presented by the group composed of high-ranking celebrities who are researching matters concerning reform of the United Nations. When the time comes, we will carefully study the report, so as to get to know how the Security Council and other UN agencies will be most appropriately reformed." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated in his speech, "The reform of the UN Security Council agency must have the extensive consensus of various UN member countries, the reform cannot arouse resentment from some countries toward the United Nations".
Italy expressed distinctly different opinion toward the enlargement of the Security Council, it proposed that permanent Security Council membership should not be expanded, only non-permanent Security Council membership be enlarged, and rotation of countries with greater contributions to the United Nations should be speeded up or their tenure should be extended. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Fraltini said in his speech at the UN General Assembly session, "We don't think that permanent appointment of several new Security Council members prompted by their national interests would solve the predicament facing the UN Security Council. Because that could only create difference and dissatisfaction in the United Nations and could lead some countries to abandoning the United Nations". Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, speaking about the Security Council reform, indicated, "The Security Council should not expand its existing privilege and should not give birth to a new type of members, instead, it should become more transparent. It must be realized that there is no better choice than multilateralism". Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf emphasized in his speech, "The Security Council reform should guarantee the expansion of medium and small countries' representative in the Security Council".
Among countries demanding to become permanent Security Council members, Japan is the most disputable country. Although the foreign and commercial minister of the Republic of Korea (ROK) did not express his country's stand toward Japan, ROK media published a slew of articles expressing opposition to Japan to become a permanent Security Council member and urged their government to take a clear-cut stand on this issue. ROK public opinion pointed out, "There exist moral obstacles to Japan becoming a permanent Security Council member. Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi , ignoring opposition from neighboring countries, insists on visit to the Yasukuni Shrine enshrined with class-A war criminals, which serves as a typical example for judgment".
The reform and enlargement of the Security Council is a major question involving the interests of various countries, it is only normal that there are divergent opinions. The crux of the matter lies in whether or not various countries can reach a consensus on the reform that is favorable to the future work of the Security Council through full discussion. The Security Council reform will enter a critical period after the group composed of celebrities put forward a proposal for the reform by the end of this year.
The above roundup by PD journalists He Hongze and Zou Dehao stationed in the United Nations was carried on page 3 of this official newspaper September 30, 2004 and translated by People's Daily Online