Journalist | Writer | Analyst
6 August 2005
African Union pours cold water on India’s campaign for U.N. seat
|Addis Ababa meet insists that any new permanent UNSC member must have veto power|
NEW DELHI: India’s hopes of winning a permanent seat on an enlarged United Nations Security Council hit a road block on Friday with the African Union (AU) — whose 53 votes in the General Assembly are crucial — insisting that any new permanent member of the UNSC must have veto power.
The AU’s decision — taken at an extraordinary summit in Addis Ababa on Thursday — means Africa as a whole will not back the G-4 draft resolution authored by India, Japan, Brazil and Germany. As matters stand, the AU and G-4 have separate draft resolutions, neither of which is likely to garner the 128 votes necessary to win acceptance.
With India running out of options, the Ministry of External Affairs said it was a “matter of regret” that the African States were “unable to endorse an AU/G-4 Draft framework resolution” based on the compromise reached by the G-4 Foreign Ministers and representatives of the AU in London last month. The compromise involved the G-4 agreeing to increase the total size of the proposed Security Council to 26, rather than 25, so as to accommodate an additional African non-permanent member on a rotational basis. In return, the AU was supposed to drop its insistence on the veto. Though Nigeria pushed for acceptance of the compromise at the meeting, an alliance of North and East African States — Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Kenya and Zambia — effectively derailed the process.
When the G-4 draft was first circulated in May, it envisaged full veto powers for the proposed new permanent members. This provision was subsequently diluted and virtually dropped under pressure from many countries — mostly in Europe — worried that the proliferation of veto power might end up reducing the effectiveness of the Security Council. Of the more than 80 countries backing the G-4 draft on Friday, it is estimated that as many as 50 of them have strong views against the extension of veto power.
Although the G-4 must now collectively decide its next move, there is likely to be little or no appetite for a vote any time soon on the G-4 draft currently before the General Assembly. The External Affairs Minister, Natwar Singh, had spoken to his counterparts from Brazil, Germany and Japan to review the situation, an MEA spokesman said on Friday.
An attempt is being made to understand the African position and to see whether a critical mass of countries from the continent is prepared to break ranks with the AU’s consensual position.
Apart from buying time in order to woo individual African supporters, the G-4 now has two options. The four can push for a vote or can announce that they will not seek a vote on their draft resolution, thereby living to fight another day.
To be united
The MEA spokesman said the G-4 would “continue to act in unity to promote the cause of U.N. reform, including UNSC reform.” According to Indian officials, Security Council reform is firmly and irrevocably on the international agenda and this is largely due to the G-4’s efforts.
At the same time, officials say, the G-4 will also have to guard against the “Coffee Club” taking advantage of dissonance in the camp of those who want more permanent seats. Italy and Pakistan have drafted a resolution based on U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan’s `Model B,’ envisaging the creation of semi-permanent membership. If both the G-4 and the AU do not press for a vote on their draft resolutions, the “Coffee Club” might seek to put its draft to vote. In the absence of competing proposals, it just might win a respectable level of support in the General Assembly though nowhere close to the 128 votes needed to pass.
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This was expected, especially because of India’s late start and lacklustre approach to getting into campaign mode.>>I just think this shouldn’t demoralize us; we should try to get the UN rights at a later time, and not get bogged down if we fails to get them this time.