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UN Reform Proves Difficult

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Section: International News Topics: UN

October 24, 2004

UN Reform Proves Difficult

In the face of charges that the UN is ineffective and unable to respond to crisis situations affecting international peace and security, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has commissioned a panel to reform decision-making procedures within the multinational body. Conclusions from the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change are due out in December.

Central to the reform debate is the amount of power concentrated in the Security Council, particularly the permanent five (P5) members: the US, Russia, the UK, France and China. Observers speculate that reforms will include an increase in both seats and vetoes and will likely include an option to establish semi-permanent members serving a four or five-year term. Japan, Germany, Brazil and India are among those pushing for a higher profile role.

Critics are skeptical that simply increasing the number of seats and vetoes will prevent the gridlock (most recently over Iraq) that has plagued the world body over the last decade. While diversifying and expanding representation in the Security Council to more accurately reflect UN membership is seen as a start, observers point out that the selection of candidates will likely serve the interests of the current P5. In a move that supports this view, the US has indicated that it will support Italy's council candidature over that of Germany based on Italy's support for the war in Iraq.

Nathan Lepp

» The Guardian: All Change but No Change

» International Herald Tribune: Toward a More Representative Security Council

» Deutsche Welle: US backing Italy in Security Council Row?

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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