Global Policy Forum

Membership including Expansion and Representation

For many years, some member-states have been advocating expansion of the Security Council, arguing that adding new members will remedy the democratic and representative deficit from which the Council suffers. Disagreement on whether new members should be permanent or have veto power has become a major obstacle to Security Council reform. Brazil, India, Japan and Germany want a permanent seat in the Council, and have threatened to reduce their financial or military troop contributions to the UN if they are not rewarded with permanent member status. African countries have also expressed the need for permanent African representation in the Council to bring an end to the hegemony of northern industrialized nations in the powerful UN organ.

In December 2004, the Secretary General's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change proposed two models for enlargement, which both suggest expanding the Council to 24 members. Model A proposes adding six new permanent seats, with no veto, and three new two-year term elected seats. Model B creates a new category of eight seats, renewable every four years, and one new two-year non-renewable seat. Neither the Panel’s document, nor the March 2005 Secretary General’s report titled "Enlarging Freedom" expresses a preference for one of the two models. Skeptics question whether Security Council reform is feasible as long as certain members have the power to veto.

This page contains follows the ongoing debate on Security Council expansion, including discussions on membership and representation.



Wikileaks Exposes US’ Double-Game on UN Security Council Expansion (July 25, 2011)

The G4 (India, Brazil, Germany, Japan) and the African Union have led talks about the expansion of the Security Council from 5 to 10 or 11 seats for at least two decades. The US has publicly supported these initiatives and has recently backed India’s bid for a permanent seat. However, diplomatic cables revealed by Wikileaks show that US backdoor diplomacy has done everything to prevent a Security Council expansion. Indeed, the US fears losing its influence in the executive body of the UN and its privileges, such as the veto right. China and Russia share similar views. All three countries want to create a new class of less powerful permanent members (RTN Asia).


Germany, India to Work Together on Security Council Reform (December 13, 2010)

Germany and India have vowed to work together on Security Council reform during their two year term as elected Council members. One of their main goals is to expand the permanent membership of the Security Council. Both countries have an interest in obtaining a permanent seat. Germany and India are advocating for more regional parity, arguing that Africa and South America are not permanently represented and Asia has only a single permanent representative. (Deutsche Welle)

Obama Backs India for Seat on Security Council (November 8, 2010)

President Obama announced in New Delhi that he supports India's bid for a permanent seat on an expanded Security Council. He did not outline details of how the US plans to support India's bid, nor did he suggest a timeline for Council reform. Obama's announcement underscores support for India as a global power, countering the increasing influence of China. Obama's announcement came at a critical time, according to one Indian diplomat, as Indian officials were beginning to place more importance on the G-20 than the Council. (New York Times)

Dream of Influence: Germany Renews Campaign for UN Security Council Seat (September 16, 2010)

Germany has been campaigning vigorously for a non-permanent UN Security Council seat. Peter Wittig, Germany's Ambassador to the UN, has spoken with 190 of his 191 UN counterparts, campaigning for their votes. Canada and Portugal are also vying for a non-permanent seat and it is a close race between all three countries. The secret vote will take place this week and potentially lead to a powerhouse Council dominated by BRIC and G8 nations. (Spiegel)

African Leaders Call for Permanent Security Council Seat for the Continent (September 24, 2010)

Africa occupies seventy percent of the Security Council's agenda, and yet does not have a permanent seat on it. African leaders called on the UN last week to remedy this lack of permanent representation. Senegal has proposed a permanent seat with the right of veto for an African nation. While Africa may deserve a seat, this would be one step on a long road of reforms for the Security Council to become a more democratic institution that is not dominated by the politics of the P5.  (UN News)

India Deserves Place at UN High Table  (March 10, 2010)

India is the world's second fastest growing economy, the country with the second largest military budget and the home to one-sixth of humanity.  Since 1994, India has repeatedly tried and failed to gain a permanent seat in the Security Council. This article from an Indian newspaper notes the rise of China and India as new "global powers," and it argues that the Council's permanent membership should be modified, since it no longer reflects current political and economic realities. (Deccan Herald)

Integrity Too High a Price for Security Council Role  (February 3, 2010)

Australia questions whether a non-permanent seat on the Security Council in 2013-14 is really worth the effort, expense and moral compromise. The Arab League informed Australia that it would block Canberra's attempts to gain a non-permanent seat because of its pro-Israel stance. Further, Australia is unsure about the purpose of the UN at all: ex-ambassador to the UN, John Dauth, called it "defunct" and "rotten."  (The Australian)

Increased Security (January 20, 2010)

Many who actively advocate for expansion of the UN Security Council's membership argue that an increase in the number of members will remedy the democratic and representative deficit from which the Council suffers. In October 2010, Canada will once again stand for election to a two-year term as non-permanent member of the Security Council. This article represents the Canadian viewpoint as it explores the need for the nation's increased role in the Council.



The United Nations Role in Peace and War (December 4, 2009)

Former UN Assistant Secretary General, Denis Halliday, argues that the UN has become a body of unrealistic expectations. The five veto powers corrupt the UN charter by acting out of the interests of states rather than "we the peoples". Halliday suggests that regional permanent seats in the Security Council would entail less corruption of international law and the UN Charter. He believes that the rights of the worlds poorest would be properly addressed for the first time if all regions were presented. (Global Research)


Reform of the Security Council (April 2008)

This Center for UN Reform Education article reviews Security Council reform proposals from 1991-2008. The article notes that UN member states such as Italy and Pakistan cite the need for consensus to stall the reform process, and prevent regional rivals from gaining seats at the Council. Furthermore, previous efforts to increase the openness of the Council have backfired, as permanent members move the decision-making process to informal closed meeting rooms adjacent to the Security Council chambers.

Squaring the Circle – A Regional/Economic Proposal for Reform of the United Nations Security Council (May 2008)

This Dag Hammarskjold Foundation article suggests a Regional/Economic Proposal (REP) for UN Security Council (SC) reform. According to the REP, SC members represent a geographic region, and have a minimum of 4 million people or a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of at least US$40 billion. In the voting process, SC members must have regional support from countries with 60 percent of the member's population and GDP. The author believes that the P5 will probably not accept the REP proposal because it diminishes their power within the Security Council.

Between Enlargement and Reform – The UN Security Council: Choices for Change (May 2008)

This article focuses on two different debates of Security Council (SC) reform. The quantitative theory wants equal representation of different regions in the SC. The qualitative theory, however, believes that countries who contribute the most to maintaining international peace and security should be permanent members of the SC. The author supports the quantitative theory because it promotes greater regional involvement instead of the interests of a single country. (Dag Hammarskjold Foundation)

Beyond Extension – The UN Security Council: Insights into an Ongoing Debate (May 2008)

This Dag Hammarskjold Foundation article discusses various proposals for Security Council (SC) expansion, including the possibility of expanding the SC to generate a more equally distributed regional representation. The General Assembly has rejected recent reform proposals. The SC's permanent members argue that enlarging the council would "have a negative effect on the ability of the body to undertake rapid and effective action to maintain peace and security."

Security Council Reform – An Overview of Member States' Positions (December 8, 2008)

This chart by the Center for UN Reform Educationoutlines the positions of various UN member states on issues relating to Council reform, including regional seats, veto reform, and preferences for timing of intergovernmental negotiations.

Security Council Reform – the 62nd GA Session and the Road Ahead (November 11, 2008)

In 1993, UN members including Japan and Germany helped to establish a General Assembly Working Group on Security Council reform, but members of this Working Group cannot agree on various issues such as expansion of the permanent members. In February 2009, further negotiations will take place, but as in the past, the divergent interests of UN members are likely to stand in the way of any reform agreement.(Center for UN Reform Education)

A Look at the Transitional Approach to Security Council Reform (June 24, 2008)

The transitional approach to Security Council reform means that UN members would agree on basic reforms and adapt these agreements later on at a conference. Countries have not been able to decide on the timeframe for a review conference or on the proposals for the transitional reform approach because New Zealand, Germany and others fear that the initial basic reforms would become permanent. (Center for UN Reform Education)

UN Security Council Seat: China Outsmarts India (May 30, 2008)

China refused to endorse India's bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council at a recent BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) meeting in Yekaterinburg, Russia. China remains concerned about India's economic, technological and military advances and is trumping New Delhi's quest for global stature by blocking India in the Council. India's dashed hope for Chinese support proved to be nothing more than a political illusion, which may have negative consequences in the economic and military relations between both nations. (Indo-Asian News Service)

Six Member States Submit New Proposal for Security Council Reform (March 27, 2008)

Germany has tabled a proposal at the UN General Assembly to expand the Security Council from 15 to 22 members. The increase would create a new seat for countries from Latin America, the Caribbean, Western and Eastern Europe, and two seats each for representatives from Africa and Asia. The proposal, however, does not address how long each country would hold a seat, or the contentious issue of veto power. Any enlargement of the Council would require the amendment of the UN Charter. (


Security Council Reform: a Transitional Approach (December 3, 2007)

Member states have agreed that the UN Security Council must become more representative, efficient and transparent to be seen as more legitimate, yet a number disagree on how this reform should occur. Among various proposals from countries, the GA appointed facilitators to conduct consultations about the Council's reform. The facilitators main point consists of adding a mandatory review clause, which demands that after a couple of years, the Council has to review its reform. (UN Chronicle)

Africa Presses Demand for Security Council Seat (December 11, 2007)

The UN General Assembly continues to debate Security Council reform. The African group has requested two permanent seats, with all rights including veto power. Angolan Ambassador Ismael. Gaspar-Martins expressed the "continent's position" requesting a more inclusive, transparent and democratic Council. So far, only China and Britain support the African pledge. (Final Call)

New Bid to Reform UN Security Council Begins (November 13, 2007)

The majority of UN members agree on expanding the Security Council's membership, to make it more representative and equitable. However the members diverge on how that expansion should happen. They also express concern that the enlargement will diminish the Council's effectiveness. Pakistani Ambassador Munir Akram stated that Council reform should include all countries, should be based on broad multilateral proposals, and should require consensus support. (Associated Press - Pakistan)

UN Backs India for UNSC Seat (November 13, 2007)

France and Britain favor India, as one of the G-4 candidates for a new permanent seat on the UN Security Council. In their speech, both countries requested a more representative and consequently credible and effective Council. While Russia abstained from coment, Japan and China placed greater importance on having new permanent members from African countries. Before backing any candidacy, the US recommended a "set of criteria" for the aspiring candidates, such as a commitment to human rights. Ironically, critics have often criticized China and the US, both permanent members, for human rights violations. (NDTV)

Cuba Opposes Greater Power to UN Security Council (November 13, 2007)

During a UN General Assembly (GA) meeting on Security Council Reform, Cuba called for a more democratic, representative, responsible and effective Council. Cuba's Ambassador Rodrigo Malmiera argues that the Council suffers from a lack of representation from developing countries. The Council does not represent the world's contemporary realities, raising questions about its legitimacy representative and procedures. Malmiera called for greater involvement of non-permanent members in the Council's agenda, as well as membership reform. He also expressed apprehension about the Council's jurisdiction and working methods, such as the selection of Council agenda items. (Prensa Latina)

UN Reform, Including SC Expansion Not End in Itself – Russia Envoy (November 13, 2007)

Russia, one of the five permanent members with veto power, declared at a General Assembly meeting that Security Council reform discussions should preserve the "foundations" of the United Nations. According to Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN Representative, the Council should only expand if it can also become more effective. Even though Churkin expressed a willingness to work with non-Council members, in order to continue further peacekeeping improvements, his speech did not seem to favor the Council's enlargement. (Itar-Tass)

Britain Will 'Have to Give Up Seat On UN', Claims Think-Tank (August 15, 2007)

European think-tank Skeptika claims that under new European Union (EU) treaty provisions, the UK and France must cede their UN Security Council seats to the EU on issues where the EU takes a common position. The UK Foreign Office rejects this possibility, claiming that the "UN Charter does not allow international organizations like the EU to hold a seat on the Security Council." (Daily Mail)

Regional Representation as a Basis for Security Council Reform (June 2007)

Professor Joseph E. Schwartzberg suggests weighted regional representation as a way to reform the membership of the Security Council.  His proposal consists of twelve regional seats including four individual states (the US, China, India and Japan) and eight regional groupings. These seats would be based on a weighted vote based on a formula including the country's population and contribution to the UN budget. Schwartzberg argues that the weighted voting system would bring a fairer and more workable allocation of power in the UN as well as a more legitimate world body.

General Assembly Launches New Effort to Tackle Divisive Issue of Security Council Reform (April 20, 2007)

The UN General Assembly issued a report on Security Council reform, proposing that UN member states consider a temporary expansion of Security Council membership. All previous attempts at reform have failed for lack of agreement on size and composition of an expanded Council, due to national and regional rivalries. The report says that reform should increase opportunities for countries to serve as members on the Council and should increase involvement with the Council's work whilst not serving. (Associated Press)


Member States Prove Again that Reshaping Security Council is Most Divisive UN Reform Issue (July 21, 2006)

Despite Member States promising to redouble their efforts to achieve reform of the UN Security Council, agreement remains elusive. Differing reform proposals and regional rivalries again frustrated the UN General Assembly's work at reaching a consensus. While most proposals focus on increasing Council membership, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Jordan, Singapore and Liechtenstein have joined in recommending modifying Council procedures and working methods to make decision making more open and clear. (Associated Press)

UN Defies West in Vote for Human Rights Council (May 9, 2006)

The UN General Assembly has "brushed aside both US and Western criticisms" and elected China, Russia, Cuba to the new Human Rights Council. But the author states the Council election resulted in a good "representative sampling" of governments with varying commitments to human rights. Some observers believe the Council election gives a good indication of how a vote for permanent seats on the Security Council would fare, but others criticize this reasoning, stating that voters can differentiate between candidacy for a permanent seat and candidacy for a short-term seat on the Council. At any rate, "the race for permanent seats is over, finished and dead." (Inter Press Service)

Japan Unlikely to Submit New Security Council Reform Plan by September (March 19, 2006)

Japan may not table a new resolution pushing to expand Security Council membership to 21 members by September 2006 given the lack of support, particularly among permanent members. Although the US supports Japan's bid for a permanent seat, Washington opposes expansion of the Council's membership. As a Japanese official puts it, "only scant percent of chance exists for Security Council reform." (Japan Economic Newswire)

Japan Seeks 6 New Seats on UN Council to End Expansion Deadlock (February 1, 2006)

In an effort to gain a permanent seat and end a deadlock over Security Council expansion, Japan discussed a proposal with the US and China to add six members to the world body. According to Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, the plan is a compromise between the US preference to add four countries to the Council and the wishes of Brazil, India and Germany - Japan's former G4 allies - to include 10 new members. (Bloomberg)

A Competing Model: A Security Council with 20 Members (February 1, 2006)

A non-profit policy research organization called Center for UN Reform Education has put forward an alternative model to the many proposals introduced in the past on Security Council expansion. The plan, called Model X, enlarges the Council to 20 members by adding five four-year renewable term seats - as opposed to the 9 or 11 new members previously proposed. Also, Model X groups the member states in a way that Africa, Asia, Europe, Americas and the Pacific would each have five seats, thereby ensuring more balanced representation from each continental region. So far, the Council's great powers have stalled any attempts towards Security Council reform.

Japan Pushes for UN Seat (January 22, 2006)

Japan plans to boost its military presence in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, in the hopes of securing US support for a permanent seat on the Security Council. Tokyo's hostile neighbor, veto-wielding China, believes Japan's past occupation of China disqualifies Tokyo of a permanent seat and is determined to frustrate Japan's ambitions. (Aljazeera)

Brazil, India, Germany Present Resolution on UNSC Expansion (January 7, 2006)

Following a move by Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Senegal in December 2005, three of the Group of Four (G-4) - Germany, India, and Brazil - have re-introduced to the General Assembly their draft resolution aimed at expanding the Security Council. Japan, the fourth G-4 country, decided not to join the initiative this time. Both texts are similar to those tabled in July 2005. By reintroducing their draft resolutions, the two groups of countries hope to revive the debate on Security Council reform. (Xinhuanet)

Japan Says No to G-4 Bid (January 7, 2006)

While Japan continues to lobby for expansion of the Security Council, Tokyo opted not to support the move by the Group of Four (G-4) to retable the previously unsuccessful draft resolution. Japan hopes instead to explore other possible options that may gain broader support. One of Japan's central aims will be to address the concerns of the US and China, who have opposed the G4 resolution and whose support will be necessary for any such resolution to succeed. (News 24)


Tabled Uniting for Consensus Draft Resolution on Security Council Reform (July 21, 2005)

In response to draft resolutions tabled by the G-4 and the African Union, Uniting for Consensus has tabled its alternative proposal. The draft resolution proposes adding 10 non-permanent members immediately eligible for re-election to the Security Council, leaving formalities of re-election and rotation to regional groups.

Tabled African Union Draft Resolution on Security Council Reform (July 14, 2005)

Also responding to the G-4 resolution, the African Union has tabled its proposal calling for 11 additional members on the Security Council, with Africa gaining two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats. The AU also recommends that new permanent members gain all existing privileges - including veto power.

Towards a Democratic Reform of the UN Security Council (July 13, 2005)

James Paul and Céline Nahory argue that adding more permanent members to the Security Council would enlarge a discredited oligarchy rather than build for a democratic future. They also oppose the addition of elected members, arguing that an expanded Council would be too large to function effectively and not substantially more representative. Instead, they propose a process of stronger regional representation as a future-oriented approach that can develop in stages and without the headache of Charter change. (Global Policy Forum)

Tabled G-4 Draft Resolution on Security Council Reform (July 6, 2005)

Brazil, Germany, India and Japan have tabled their draft “framework” resolution calling for Security Council enlargement to 25 members, including six additional permanent seats. In a desperate attempt to secure permanent membership, the Group of Four (G-4) had accepted to forego their right of veto for at least 15 years. The less contentious proposals on the Council’s working methods have more of a chance to succeed than membership expansion plans. Also see previous versions of June 8 and May 13.

Italy's Regional Model (April 2005)

Opposing new permanent members – and Germany in particular – Italy proposes to add 10 permanent regional seats that each group would manage independently with its own principles and mechanisms to ensure regional representation rather than a national occupation of their seats.

United for Consensus' Green Model (April 2005)

In the Green Model, United for Consensus proposes to expand the Security Council with an additional 10 elected seats. All 20 elected members would serve in the Council for two year terms and be eligible for re-election.

United for Consensus' Blue Model (April 2005)

The Blue Model foresees longer-term seats while at the same time adding regular two-year elected seats to the current ones. Longer-term seats would be elected for three or four years and might run for re-election.

Excerpt of Kofi Annan's Report on UN Reform: In Larger Freedom (March 21, 2005)

In his report on UN reform, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan only touches very briefly upon Security Council reform, and does not recommend specific action on this vital aspect of UN reform. Annan urges member states to consider both models A and B, as outlined by the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, and calls on states to reach a decision on Security Council enlargement before the summit in September 2005. (United Nations)

Position Paper of the Group of Like-Minded Countries "United for Consensus" (February 18, 2005)

In this paper, the Group of Like-Minded Countries states its common position on Security Council reform. Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Kenya, Algeria, Italy, Spain, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea have united in support of "Model B, with appropriate improvements" as outlined in the High Level Panel's Report on Threats, Challenges and Change. The group hopes to find support among other UN member states for the model that suggests adding only elected, non-permanent members to the Council. It argues that "Model B is democratic and more flexible, providing for fairer and equitable representation and accountability."

Security Council Reform Debate Ends Without Agreement (November 12, 2005)

Disputes over permanent membership once again blocked UN member states from reaching consensus on Security Council reform. While the five permanent members consider the debate closed, ambassadors from countries seeking permanent seats said they might bring the issue to a vote in the General Assembly. (Voice of America)

Bolton Rejects UN Council Plan (October 15, 2005)

US Ambassador John Bolton will not support the attempts of Germany, Brazil and India to enlarge the Security Council, arguing that boosting the number of seats to 25 would make the world body less effective. But Bolton reiterated the US commitment to Japan's bid for permanent Security Council membership, as it represents a "major international economic player." (Associated Press)

Japan Rethinking Plan for Security Council (September 30, 2005)

Japan shows increasing signs of displeasure with the UN since failing to get a permanent seat on the Security Council at the Millennium+5 Summit. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi claims his government faces growing pressure from the Japanese population to scale back its dues to the UN because citizens no longer believe the country is getting its money's worth. UN officials warned Japan that withholding dues would only delay UN reform and alienate other member states. Japan pays 19.5 percent of the annual UN budget of $1.8 billion, second only to the United States, whose contributions amount to 22 percent when paid in full. (Associated Press)

Like Fixing the Weather, Council Reform Eludes UN (September 19, 2005)

According to David Malone, a former Canadian UN ambassador, Security Council reform failed at the UN summit because "most countries adopted a fairly self-interested position on the subject." French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said that he hoped that the African countries and the G-4 could reach an agreement by the end of the year. But asked if Council reform was dead in the foreseeable future, Pakistan's UN Ambassador Munir Akram said: "It's on life support." (Reuters)

Africa Split Hope for Delhi's UN Bid (August 28, 2005)

The African Union (AU) prepares to meet in London the first week of September to find a last minute common position on the rival proposal put forward by the Group of Four (G-4). This article looks into the possibility that the AU will split and that the majority of African states will side with the G-4 to present a joint draft resolution in the General Assembly before the High Level summit. (Telegraph, India)

No UN Reform Likely, Say Directors of Africa Policy Think-Tanks (August 28, 2005)

African experts agree that the African Union's (AU) unwavering stance on Security Council reform is "tragic," in that it will keep the AU from being a powerful lobbying force for issues of development and poverty eradication at the Millennium+5 Summit. The AU has firmly stood by the demand for permanent veto-power seats on the Security Council. Moreover, the AU's lack of an "opt-out clause" makes it impossible "for individual African countries to act alone without being seen to be breaking ranks or dissenting." (BuaNews)

UN Reform Bogged in Complex Political Geometry (August 12, 2005)

The African Union's decision to reject a compromise with the Group of Four on Security Council expansion and instead "stick to its guns" on the demand for veto power "has set the stage for a showdown in which [Africa] looks certain to end the loser," says the Financial Gazette. Discussing the multifaceted opposition to potential new members and their privileges, this author raises questions over the Council's existing power structure and the possibility of eliminating the veto completely in the future.

Annan Acknowledges Delays in UN Council Reform (August 11, 2005)

Acknowledging the deadlock over Security Council expansion, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has extended the target deadline from September to December 2005 for member states to reach an agreement. Annan says he would like to see a provision in the summit's outcome document committing states to decide on Security Council reform by the end of the year. (Reuters)

African Leaders Reject Compromise on UN Security Council Reforms (August 5, 2005)

The African Union has formally rejected the option of compromising with the Group of Four on Security Council expansion proposals. Ninety percent of the 53-member group voted to stick to the AU's original plan, which allots two permanent veto-wielding African seats on the Council. A compromise was one of the G-4's last hopes to gain enough support in the 191-member General Assembly for their resolution, and the AU's "rejection may scuttle years of work toward expanding the Security Council," claims the Associated Press.

US and China Unite to Block G4 Plan (August 3, 2005)

Although the United States and China have both openly opposed the Group of Four resolution on Security Council expansion for different reasons, the two countries have agreed to formally work together to block the G4 plan from approval in the General Assembly. China's Ambassador Wang Guangya says the main objective is to find a different expansion plan that is not "divisive," and he notes that the countries will work parallel but not together because "we have different friends in different parts of the world." (Associated Press)

Egypt Slams Nigeria over UN Seats (July 28, 2005)

The African Union may no longer speak with a unified voice on Security Council expansion. Nigeria announced that the AU reached an accord with the Group of Four by abandoning veto power as a requirement for new permanent members and agreeing to a total of four instead of five African seats on the Council. But Egypt, claiming that Nigeria "tried to subjugate the African position" to better its own chances of gaining a Council seat, denies that a compromise was reached and instead warns of a potential "fracture in the African position." (Daily Trust)

Japan Sees Risk of UN Aid Cut If Council Bid Fails (July 28, 2005)

If the resolution of the Group of Four on Security Council expansion fails, G-4 member Japan says Tokyo may feel "domestic pressure" to cut its contributions to the United Nations. Japan is the second-highest payer to the UN, behind the US, and a drop in the country's regular assessments could deepen the current UN financial crisis. (Reuters)

Italy Accuses Countries on Council Seats (July 26, 2005)

In a statement to the General Assembly, Italian Ambassador Marcello Spatafora accused G-4 governments of using aid money to blackmail poor countries into supporting the G-4 bid for Security Council permanent seats. Expressing outrage at the "improper and unethical behavior," Spatafora asked the GA to start a formal investigation on the matter. This "rare public attack by one European Union member against another" serves as an indicator of rising tensions and rising stakes over Council reform. (Associated Press)

Not-So-Musical Chairs (July 26, 2005)

The obsession of a few UN member states over gaining permanent seats on the Security Council "is now threatening to stymie desperately-needed UN reforms," says AlterNet. Discussing rivalries and other complications with current enlargement proposals, this author warns that "the Council is already top-heavy toward the industrialized world," and adding members would only make the Council less efficient.

Last Chance Talks for G4 UN Hopefuls (July 25, 2005)

African Union ministers "hold the key" to the Group of Four's bid for Security Council permanent seats, yet the Deutsche Welle points out that AU support still may not ensure a mandatory two-thirds victory if the G-4 calls for a vote on its resolution in the General Assembly. Despite German and Japanese offers to increase foreign aid in return for support, the necessary votes have proved elusive and the debate over Council expansion will likely drag on past September 2005.

Mexico, Canada Introduce Third Plan to Expand Security Council (July 22, 2005)

The 12 state group Uniting for Consensus has introduced its proposal for Security Council reform to the General Assembly, despite tense divisions in the General Assembly. The US opposes all current proposals for Council expansion. Washington believes adding members would dilute its power and render the Council ineffective. But many believe reform should overcome US "arm-twisting" and create a more representative world body. (Los Angeles Times)

African Union Optimistic on Council Plan (July 21, 2005)

The African Union, which tabled its resolution on Security Council expansion in the General Assembly on July 14, may be willing to give up its demand for veto power in order to at least get two permanent seats on the Council, reports the Associated Press. AU President Oluyemi Adeniji expresses optimism that the AU and the Group of Four can come to a compromise and call for a vote before the month's end, but permanent members China and the US would oppose the resolution.

A Security Council Numbers Game: All Bets Off (July 19, 2005)

Century Foundation's Jeffrey Laurenti argues against adding permanent members to the UN Security Council, warning that a larger Council would magnify the "fundamental disconnect between power to decide and responsibility to implement". He says US opposition to the Group of Four resolution effectively ruined the chances for a vote on the proposal -an outcome he favors for different reasons than Washington. Noting that five countries with veto power already caused Council inaction because of national political interests, Laurenti believes that the best reform proposals entail regional representation and elected terms.

Annan Urges Calm in Heated UN Council Reform Debate (July 12, 2005)

The General Assembly debate over the G-4 Security Council expansion resolution stirred high tension and "undiplomatic language", as Secretary General Kofi Annan had to warn representatives "to calm down." The rare intensity of the debate, which has only just begun, demonstrates how far apart UN member states stand on the issue of Security Council expansion and how unlikely it is that one of the current proposals will become a reality. (Reuters)

Japan Ups Aid by $10bn (July 8, 2005)

At the Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Japan announced that it would sizably increase its foreign aid budget by $10 billion over a five year period. Japan's current official development assistance rate lies at 0.19% of gross national income, way below the UN's 0.7% target. The decision to increase aid is likely a move to "make the country's presence felt as it seeks to win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council," says Finance24.

Africa Throws UN Council Expansion into a Muddle (July 6, 2005)

The African Union has adopted a new plan for Security Council reform, calling for an 11 member expansion with two permanent and two nonpermanent seats for Africa but stopping short of deciding which countries would lobby for those seats. The AU proposal differs slightly from that of the Group of Four (Germany, Brazil, India and Japan) by proposing an extra nonpermanent seat and veto power for new permanent members. Asking for veto power will likely spell defeat for the AU plan, as current permanent members strongly oppose such a proposal. (Reuters)

Security Council Reform Not Just a Question of Numbers (July 5, 2005)

Security Council reform should focus on "changes in the decision-making process" rather than membership expansion or veto rights to improve the UN's multilateral nature, say Latin American analysts. Warning against the continued state of the Council as an "oligarchical, undemocratic mechanism lacking in transparency," this Inter Press Service article nevertheless falls victim to the membership debate and mainly argues over the prospect of Brazil as a new permanent Security Council member.

3 Hurdles Remain for G-4 (June 10, 2005)

The G4 (Brazil, India, Germany and Japan) have faced considerable opposition from UN member states in their efforts to obtain permanent membership in the Security Council, and must now also overcome differences among themselves over Council reform. India disapproves of the G4's decision to drop veto demands, and Germany and Japan disagree over the amount of international support behind their draft resolution. With all these obstacles, the threat that "the momentum of Council reform could come to a halt" continues. (Yomiuri)

Africa Fails to Break Deadlock Over UN Reform (June 9, 2005)

Pursuant to proposed UN reform, the African Union (AU) "has agreed to seek two permanent and five non-permanent seats on the Security Council." However, African foreign ministers have not selected criteria for choosing candidates, and cannot agree which two countries should represent the AU. This deadlock reflects Africa's deep regional differences "largely based around colonial divisions," and threatens the continent's ability to "speak with one voice and…act together" in the Security Council. (Reuters)

UN Security Council Candidates Drop Demand for Veto Power (June 9, 2005)

The "G4" – Japan, India, Germany and Brazil – have amended their proposal to expand the Security Council by postponing their veto request for at least 15 years. As Germany's UN Ambassador Gunter Pleuger acknowledged, this "concession" comes as a result of "strong opposition" to the original draft resolution from permanent members of the Security Council. At the moment, only France has agreed to co-sponsor the G4, while Washington has said it "needs more time to study" the revised proposal. Will the veto "concession" be enough to turn current Council opposition around? (Voice of America )

US in Face-Off with UN Hopefuls (June 9, 2005)

The US, China and Russia are pushing to delay a General Assembly vote on a draft resolution to expand the UN Security Council. The US finds itself "in the uncomfortable position of siding with the Chinese and Russians": as the Los Angeles Times suggests, the three permanent Council members fear a diminution of their power. Nevertheless, Brazil, Germany, India and Japan – the "G4" who drafted the proposed resolution – say that this opposition will "not deter them," and will only hasten the vote.

The Insecurity Council (June 8, 2005)

President of the UN General Assembly Jean Ping highlights the lack of consensus among UN member states on Security Council reform and says the issue has awakened "great passions and fixed attitudes." The G4 resolution – a proposal by Germany, India, Brazil and Japan to grant them additional permanent membership – faces strong opposition from China and the US, and competing reform proposals have come to light. As Jean Ping notes, Council reform may fall through unless "fundamental shifts on the part of some key countries" take place in the next several weeks. (South China Morning Post)

Players and Proposals in the Security Council Debate (June 3, 2005)

This report looks at the state of the debate on Security Council, analyzing the three proposals that emerged from the High Level Panel's and Kofi Annan's reports. As the Group of Four has circulated a draft resolution to add six permanent seats, United for Consensus put forwards two models (the Green Model and the Blue Model) adding only elected members. Will Washington take a leadership role and push the two groups to find a consensus before heads of states gather for the high level summit in September 2005? (Centre for UN Reform Education)

China: UN Council Resolution Dangerous (June 1, 2005)

In June 2005, Brazil, Germany, India and China (the "G4") will ask the General Assembly (GA) to vote on a draft resolution , which calls for Security Council expansion and gives the G4 permanent membership. The resolution meets strong opposition from China, which called it "dangerous" and has "hinted it would use its veto." According to Chinese UN Ambassador Wang Guangya, this resolution will "split UN membership" and prevent member states from discussing other UN reform issues. Nevertheless, China has indicated that if the GA and the other Security Council permanent members accept the G4 proposal, Beijing "would take into account the feelings of others." (Associated Press)

UN Divided over Proposal to Expand Security Council (May 13, 2005)

Japan, Germany, India and Brazil will submit a draft resolution to the Security Council proposing a UN Charter amendment, necessary to enable the Council to expand to 24 members. The document foresees an increase in permanent seats from 5 to 11, with two seats for African countries. Two thirds of the 191-member General Assembly needs to vote in favor of the proposal if the aspiring nations want to secure permanent member status. Critics argue that enlargement will not necessarily result in a reformed, more accountable Security Council and warn that the document simply serves the national interest of the six candidates. (Los Angeles Times)

Africa and the UN Security Council Permanent Seats (April 28, 2005)

While UN member states discuss adding new permanent seats to the Security Council, African states disagree on which countries should represent the continent as new permanent members. Various factors such as troop contribution records to UN peacekeeping missions, democratic values, African representation, financial contributions to the UN and financial capability will determine the likelihood of obtaining a seat. Candidates include South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Senegal and Libya, each of which faces opposition from fellow African countries. Since the African Union has failed to reach a consensus on African representation in the Council, the campaign "is going to be long, nasty and brutal." (Pambazuka)

UN Security Council Expansion Thrown into Disarray – Again (April 12, 2005)

Regional rivalry and long-standing disputes between neighboring countries will likely prevent expansion of the Security Council with permanent members. The "Like-Minded Countries Uniting for Consensus" want an addition of elected members only, arguing permanent members should only be added "with the widest possible consensus, which doesn't exist right now." As leaders of the initiative, Italy, Pakistan, South Korea, Mexico and Argentina have clear domestic interests to oppose Germany, India, Japan and Brazil respectively from obtaining a seat on the Council. The existing permanent members' opposition to new permanent seats further diminishes the chances of a change in the permanent make-up of the Council. (Inter Press Service)

China Fights Enlarging Security Council (April 5, 2005)

China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya has said Beijing will only support Security Council enlargement if most new members come from the developing world. Ambassador Wang also insisted it was "essential" that the 191-member General Assembly unanimously adopts the proposal, leaving little hope for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who proposed to enlarge the Council to 24 members and stressed that failure to obtain a consensus "must not become an excuse for postponing action." (Washington Post)

If 22 Million Chinese Prevail at UN, Japan Won't (April 1, 2005)

A popular Chinese website has gathered some 22 million signatures to oppose Japan's bid for a permanent seat in the Security Council. The Chinese government has allowed state-controlled media to cover the campaign prominently. The initiative indicates that China might block a Japanese seat or pressure Japan to force concessions to China in return for Security Council membership. Diplomatic relations between both countries have significantly deteriorated following disputes over energy resources as well as a long-standing disagreement over Taiwan. (New York Times)

Common African Position on Security Council Reform (March 7-8, 2005)

This excerpt from the African Union's (AU) Common African Position on Reform of the United Nations focuses on Security Council reform and calls for full representation of Africa in the Council. The AU demands at least two African permanent seats on the Council with veto powers and an additional five non-permanent seats. The statement further notes that the AU will itself determine which African countries should represent the continent as new members.

UN Seat: AU Sets Up Committee On African Position (February 1, 2005)

African Union (AU) Chairman, President Olusegun Obasanjo established a 15-member committee which will produce an official African position on UN Security Council reform. The AU will present its stance to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for inclusion in his report to the General Assembly in March. The committee will consider options outlined in the High Level Panel's report on Security Council reform recommendations and nominate African nations eligible for a seat on the Council. (This Day-Lagos)


Excerpt of the High Level Panel's Report on Threats, Challenges and Change (December 2004)

Among broad recommendations for reform of the UN, this excerpt of the High Level Panel's Report focuses specifically on Security Council reform. In order to increase the Council's effectiveness and credibility and "enhance its capacity to act in the face of threats," the Panel puts forward two options for expansion without veto powers. Model A foresees enlargement with both permanent and elected members, whereas model B proposes enlarging the Council with only temporary elected members. The Panel also recommends the introduction of a system of "indicative voting" and encourages an increase in the Council's transparency and accountability. (United Nations)

All Change but No Change (October 20, 2004)

Security Council reform was a hot topic at the 2004 General Assembly debates, and Secretary General Kofi Annan's High Level Panel will deliver recommendations for reform in December. Reform, however, is not likely to go further than expanding Council membership. This Guardian article points out that "simply adding a few more seats… is likely to result only in further gridlock," and asks whether expansion will do anything to ensure representation of less wealthy countries, particularly those in Africa, Latin America and the Muslim world.

Echoes of Reform Sound at General Assembly Debate (October 1, 2004)

Many nations at this year's General Assembly debate focused on Security Council reform through membership expansion. They argued that security threats facing the world require a reform of the Security Council to better reflect the realities of the international community. Although almost all agree on the need for reform, nobody expects to change the veto power attributed to the five current permanent members. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

A New UN Security Council? (September 27, 2004)

This BBC Q&A addresses questions such as why the Security Council needs reform, who is pushing for a permanent seat, how strong nations' bids are, and what may be on the agenda for broader UN reform.

South Africa Ready for Security Council Seat (September 25, 2004)

President Thabo Mbeki has declared that South Africa is ready to take up a permanent seat on the Security Council if and when the UN restructures the Council. (Weekend Argus)

Promising Seat For India? (September 23, 2004)

Western states may "reward" India with a seat on the Security Council for its willingness to compromise on the issue of Kashmir. However, many permanent members of the Council are reluctant to share their veto privileges with any new entrants. (truthout)

G4 Nations Bid for Permanent Security Council Seat (September 22, 2004)

Germany, Japan, Brazil, and India have put forward a united bid for permanent seats on the Security Council. The "G4 Nations" say the Security Council must broaden its membership to represent the 21st century international community. They have also included recommendations for an African permanent seat and an expansion of non-permanent council membership in their proposal. Regional animosities may prevent success, but both supporters and critics of the UN say reform is long overdue. (Deutsche Welle)

High Level Panel Nears Agreement on Security Council Makeup and Humanitarian Intervention (July 28, 2004)

The Secretary General's High Level Panel is working on UN reform to identify and address "future challenges to international peace and security." The Panel seeks to expand the Security Council to twenty-four members based on a "three tiered system." The Panel, however, does not address the problem of the veto power, or the question of representation.(Citizens for Global Solutions)

India, Japan Still Shooting for Security Council (February 26, 2004)

This article examines the challenges presented by some of the proposed Security Council reforms, including adding new members, abolishing the veto of the permanent five, and awarding seats to regional security bodies rather than individual countries. (Asia Times)



GPF Comment | General Documents | Group Documents | National Documents


GPF Comments

GPF Comment on Security Council Reform

The debate on Security Council reform has been raging for over 15 years in the UN General Assembly. Recently, the discussions moved into a formal intergovernmental negotiation and the temperature has been rising. At odds are the "G-4" aspirants who hope to gain new permanent seats and the opposition grouping known as "Uniting for Consensus." This GPF page provides an analysis and posts a number of key documents from the latest round.

General Documents

Second Round of Security Council Reform Talks Ends (June 29, 2009)

Overview of the first round of Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform, presented by Ambassador Zahir Tanin of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (May 18, 2009)

Report of the Open-ended Working Group on Security Council Reform (October 9, 2008)

Security Council Reform: A Transitional Approach (December 3, 2007)


Group Documents

Statement by African Group on Security Council Reform (March 4, 2009)

The African group says the current membership in the Security Council is unacceptable and calls for an enlargement in both permanent and non-permanent seats. It argues that Africa should have no less than two permanent seats with all the privileges of the current five permanent members. The group claims that better African representation in the Council will contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in the continent. (Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN)

United For Consensus (UfC) Group on Security Council Reform (April 2009)

Paper on Principles and Procedures for Intergovernmental Negotiations by United for Consensus (UfC)(December 2008)

National Documents


Italy: Statement by Franco Frattini, Minister of Foreign Affairs (February 5, 2009)

Japan: Statement by Ambassador Yukio Takasu (February 19, 2009)

Republic of Philippines: Press Release by the Mission to the UN (June 11, 2009)

Republic of Philippines: Press Release by the Mission to the UN (March 17, 2009)

Germany: Statement by Ambassador Dr. Martin Ney, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany (June 22, 2009)

Germany: Statement by Ambassador Thomas Matussek, the Permanent Representative of Germany (April 20, 2009)

Brazil: Statement by Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (April 7, 2009)

India: Article from The Hindu Newspaper (June 23, 2009)

India: Statement by the Mission to the UN

South Africa: Statement by Ambassador Baso Sangqu (May 25, 2009)



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