New seats adds pressure for UN reform

India, South Africa, Germany, Portugal and Colombia on Tuesday won seats on the UN Security Council in a move that could increase pressure for change on the main global peace and security body.


Many of them renewed calls for change as they celebrated winning a two year stay on the Council from January 1.

India, South Africa and Colombia secured two-year terms in uncontested votes.

Germany was part of a three country battle with Portugal and Canada for two seats from a West European dominated regional group. It secured 128 votes in the first round, one more than the two thirds majority required. Canada withdrew after an inconclusive second round, leaving victory to Portugal.

Two-year terms

Five of the 15 Security Council nations are elected to two year terms each year. Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are permanent members of the council who can veto any resolution.

The new countries will take the places of Japan, Austria, Turkey, Mexico and Uganda and give the Security Council a completely new political profile.

Germany, India and South Africa have all been pressing for a permanent role in a reformed Security Council. Brazil is also part of the campaign for change and it will go into a second year on the council as a non permanent member.

“We will discuss a reform of the UN, but not now, not today. It’s necessary to change the structures to make the UN more effective,” said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

“The vote is a success for Germany. It shows that the world has trust in us. We will do everything to justify that trust,” he added, setting out Germany’s priorities as peace, security, climate protection, development, disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.

“Germany is reliable — not only when it comes to its products but also when it comes to its foreign policy. The world knows it can rely on Germany,” he told reporters.

India receives 187 votes

India secured 187 votes, the highest number of any country. It’s Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said his country would be a voice of “moderation and constructive engagement” while reaffirming “the need for a permanent presence for India” on the Security Council.

“We live in a troubled neighbourhood,” Krishna told reporters in New Delhi in a reference to India’s fraught ties with rival Pakistan and concerns over Afghanistan.

India’s UN ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri acknowledged that many of the new council faces wanted “permanent membership.”

“Naturally all of us will try to use the time that we have during this two year tenure to also give our partners a sense of confidence, build trust, so that they are comfortable with our membership of the Security Council on an extended basis,” the envoy told reporters.

South Africa’s Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane highlighted that “the majority of issues that go to the agenda before the Security Council are about the challenges of peace and security in Africa.”

She said South Africa would “synchronize” its agenda with the African Union and the Security Council.

Britain’s UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the 2011 council could be a taste of world politics to come.

“All of them will bring their own unique advantages and make this a very strong Security Council,” he said after the vote.

Lyall Grant highlighted that Britain supported India, Japan, Germany and Brazil becoming permanent members of a changed council and increased African representation.

“It will be a mini-reflection of the sort of reformed Security Council that the UK would like to see,” he told reporters.

Canada, meanwhile, was left to rue its first failure in an attempt to get a Security Council seat.

Its Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said some votes may have gone against Canada because of its defence of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

He added though that “Canada was not united in its bid,” in a reference to criticism from the main opposition party.

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