By Yoshikazu Shirakawa and Osamu KawakamiYomiuri
June 10, 2005
The so-called Group of Four nations seeking permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council faces three major obstacles--China's opposition, the United State's favoritism of Japan and disagreements among the four nations--that must be overcome to realize their pledges.After they presented a revised draft resolution on expansion of the U.N. Security Council to member states of the United Nations, Japan, Brazil, Germany and India have started focusing their energy on increasing the number of their supporters and calculating the timing of the submission of the resolution to the U.N. General Assembly.
China, however, is strongly opposed to the draft, while the United States is negative toward its early adoption. On Wednesday, the G-4 countries explained the revised draft resolution at U.N. headquarters. Although many countries dispatched their ambassadors to the United Nations, a young secretary of the Chinese Embassy was sent, who left the venue after telling reporters, "Our position has already been clarified." China has already stated that it will oppose the draft resolution and has been staging diplomatic wars at the United Nations and in capitals of U.N. member countries.Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Wang Guanga said Tuesday, "Most of the permanent members at the U.N. Security Council feel they [the G-4] is overhasty."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Thursday, "Because a small number of countries forcefully proceeded with a half-baked plan, the reform of the U.N. Security Council has derailed and they're seriously affecting the development of U.N. reform as a whole." "We're concerned about this and resolutely oppose it [the plan]," he added. Italy, Pakistan and South Korea, which also are against Security Council expansion, support China's stance. About a dozen countries are the main opposition to the expansion of the Security Council. As China has pressured developing countries in Asia and Africa, there is a possibility the size of the opposition group could grow.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States wanted to discuss various plans, and said Japan was the only country that the United States supported for a permanent seat on the council. She made the comment after meeting with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Washington. Although the press asked Rice about the draft resolution, she did not say much about it. German Ambassador to the United Nations Gunter Pleuger complained to reporters about the United States' stance on the matter. "If only Japan gains a permanent seat at the council, it will be difficult to get the two-third vote [required for the resolution to be adopted]," Pleuger said. "I cannot understand it."
The United States is still discussing its official stance on the reform of the council. Sources close to U.S. representatives to the United Nations said the reform needed agreement from a wide variety of countries, adding it appeared difficult to reach the agreements soon amid heated arguments on the matter. For G-4 countries, the United States' statements about the need for "discussion of various plans" and "agreement of a wide variety of countries" appear similar to the stance of China and other opponents. If the G-4 waits for the United States' conclusion, the momentum of council reform could come to a halt.
Incorporating a waiver from exercising veto rights by new permanent members in the resolution is a scenario that Japan and Germany had already considered. However, India, which has insisted on rights equal to the current permanent members of the council, expressed disapproval of the draft. This in turn delayed presentation of the revised draft by several days. Sources close to India said, "India, which is still developing, believes there will be other chances to become a permanent member of the council." "India's stance is different from Japan, which has its back against the wall," the sources said.
There also are subtle differences between how Germany and Japan view the resolution. "We've already secured 128 votes from U.N. members," Pleuger said. "And we'll increase the number of votes and manage to have the draft resolution adopted within this month." However, sources in the Japanese government said, "Adoption in June is just a target and so far we don't know how many votes we'll obtain at this time." As the revised draft resolution has been compiled, the Japanese government will seek a wider range of support to the resolution and agreement of more countries with which the G-4 will submit the resolution.
If Japan fails to gain support, the government will consider making another revision to the draft. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi positively evaluated the revised draft resolution. "Looking at reality, the four countries have compiled a resolution that can be supported by many countries," he said. About the freeze on exercising veto rights, Koizumi told reporters that it could not be helped. "The current permanent members will resist any attempt to infringe on their vested interests," he said.
The Japanese government considers it indispensable for the country to gain support from the United States, which has strong influence on the international community. The Japanese government also managed to persuade India, which had stood by keeping veto rights, and created a framework in which new permanent members of the council should have veto rights, but refrain from exercising them for at least 15 years in consideration of the United States.
More Information on Reform of Security Council Membership
More Information on Security Council Reform
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