International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

October 5, 2004

October 5, 2004





**  The UNSC reflects a world that "no longer exists"; globalization demands UN reform.

**  Western papers worry a German seat could "tilt balance" too much toward Europe.

**  Asian dailies leery of Japan and India; Latins back Brazil as region's "natural candidate."

**  African and Arab writers claim their countries also "deserve" permanent representation.




Time for 'major overhaul'--  Global media deemed the UNSC in its current formation an "anachronistic hangover" from the Cold War and WW II that "unduly favors" wealthy nations.  Expansion proponents sought a "more equitable" and democratic world body that includes "important" nations such as the group of four--India, Japan, Brazil and Germany--to reflect new "global realities."  Echoing European sentiment, Denmark's centrist Politiken urged a reform that ensures "all peoples of the world feel they are represented in a clear way."  African and Asian dailies saw a need to counter "the near-monopolistic power wielded" by the U.S.  South Africa's liberal Mercury made the case that "the world’s bipolar power system has collapsed and a new set of nations and interest blocs are emerging."


Sizing up 'Gang of Four', wary of German seat--  Most judged the four applicants as having the "best prospects" for a permanent seat; their population, economies and UN contributions make them "too important to be ignored."  They have the "breadth, weight and proven record to qualify," judged Britain's conservative Times.  Yet Euro and Canadian pundits also worried that a German seat could "tilt the balance too much toward Europe."  German media warned PM Fischer's "push" for a permanent spot "harbors the risk of alienation in Europe" and would prefer, as a commentator for national radio station Deutschlandfunk advised, that Germany "confine itself to its core task as a mediating middle power."  Canada's leading Globe and Mail likewise feared a German seat would "aggravate the power imbalance" favoring Europe.


Mixed Asian reviews for Japan and India; Latins tout Brazil region's 'logical choice'--  While a Thai daily rooted for Japan, Chinese and Pakistani papers carped that Japan and India's impressive credentials do "not necessarily mean" they should occupy a permanent seat.  Suggesting its rival was unfit to serve as "a regional state," Pakistan's liberal Daily Times painted India as "hugging the Cold War notion that its neighbors are its enemies."  Latin reaction, by contrast, was more enthusiastic toward its own candidate, with Mexico's nationalist El Universal dubbing Brazil the "obvious Latin American option for an enlarged" UNSC.


What's missing is a 'place' for Africa, Arab countries--  African and Arab writers claimed that given their regions' potential for acting as a "catalyst for maintaining peace and security," their countries "deserve" permanent representation in UNSC.  Declaring Africa now "mature enough" to contribute to world affairs, African dailies crowned South Africa the "most credible choice" to represent the continent.  "It is beyond doubt," gushed the independent Times of Zambia, "Africa is capable of fairly correcting ills that...the UN...has been grappling with."  The elite Jordan Times added: "Unless Arab and African countries are also fairly represented, the demands of Japan, Brazil, India and Germany will remain incomplete."


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Irene Marr


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 40 reports from 26 countries over 23 September - 4 October 2004.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  “Seat Of Power.  Four More Countries Should Have A Security Council Veto” 


An editorial in the conservative Times stated (10/4):  "Permanent membership of the Security Council demands not only a large  budgetary contribution but a willingness to back its decisions with troops, sanctions an even military action.  No African country meets these qualifications; no Muslim nation, except possibly Indonesia, is ready to put global security ahead of regional or sectarian interests.  Only the four claimants [Japan, Germany, India and Brazil] have the breadth, weight and proven record to qualify, and of these only two should be admitted immediately.  Japan, the second-largest contributor after the US and a key economic power, is already fully engaged in UN operations; India, the world’s largest democracy, is a potential superpower as well as an exemplar of a stable, multiethnic, multiconfessional society.  Brazil can reasonably claim to represent all South America.  But the admission of Germany, though an economic and democratic heavyweight already taking on more UN peacekeeping roles, could tilt the balance too much towards Europe.  But by all applying together, the four have a realistic chance at last of winning at least two seats."


FRANCE: "Japan, Brazil, India and Germany Want to Sit In The UN Security Council"


Corine Lesnes reflected in left-of-center Le Monde (Internet Version, 9/24):  "On the question of enlargement of the Security Council, the panel has tabled a new proposal that would result in creating a new group of six 'semi-permanent' members to be added to the 10 non-permanent members elected every two years and the five permanent ones that have a right of veto. These semi-permanent members would be appointed in their regions and sit for five years. This proposal has the merit of having renewed a debate blocked for more than 10 years on the question of the choice of countries, but it has provoked negative reactions from the main candidates for a permanent seat. On Tuesday [21 September], Japan, Brazil, Germany and India held a summit meeting in New York to officially submit their application for a permanent member seat.... The four countries indicated they have a 'shared recognition that they are legitimate candidates.'  Africa, they add, must also have a permanent seat. So far, no African country has officially submitted an application. Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa are possible claimants. The African Union is seeking an agreement on the designation of a candidate.  The four candidates obviously reject the formula of 'semi-permanent' members.... Japan has made entry into the Council a diplomatic priority. Last year, it warned its partners it would reconsider its contribution when members' shares are renegotiated in 2006. Japan currently pays more than the four permanent non-Americans combined."


GERMANY:  "National Ego"


Michael Stürmer commented in right-of-center Die Welt (9/25):  "Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer wants a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, alongside the United States, Russia, France, and Great Britain.  He points --with some justification--to the large amount of German money that goes toward the United Nations, and the many German 'blue helmet' troops....  As promotion to the UN elite is something Germany will be unable to achieve on is own, Fischer is seeking solidarity with Brazil, Japan, and India.  Yet the most that the five permanent members of the Security Council are going to grant these pretenders is medium ranking in a three-class structure, with the veto remaining the sticking-point.  London and Paris are keeping a low profile; while it is not hard to imagine what Washington thinks about the prospect of a German veto.  But is a permanent seat actually in Germany's interests?  For 50 years, the priority of German policy has been not to be on its own, but to strengthen its own influence within coalitions.  We have done well out of this.  The EU's common foreign and security policy should be what sets the tone and defines our own policies.  But now this is being abandoned by the federal government, despite its pledge in the coalition agreement to actively work for a European seat--which is suddenly supposed to be a German one, instead.  It is sad to observe the architecture of Europe being sacrificed on the altar of national ego, and the vanity of those pursuing it."


"Risking The Alienation Of Europe"


Centrist Stuttgarter Zeitung had this to say (9/24):  "Even Germany's current move harbors the risk of alienation in Europe.  Other middle powers like Italy and Poland, but also Scandinavians are suspicious of the German canvassing.  The cracks in the EU could now widen.  But reality also shows that nobody is waiting for Germany [to join the UNSC].  No German government in the UNSC would have been able to send a reasonable UN mission to Rwanda, no German foreign minister would have been able to persuade Russia to accept a Kosovo resolution in 1999, and as a rotating Security Council member, Germany would not have been able to prevent a U.S. unilateral move in Iraq.  Berlin should concentrate on other things.  Environmental protection, development assistance, disaster prevention; there are many political fields where the UN can help mankind make progress.  But in order to do this, it must reform itself first."


"Well-Meant Is Not Enough"


Eric Chauvistré noted in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (9/24):  "Of course, an application for a permanent seat on the UNSC is not per se legitimate.  We have not yet heard a clear answer to this question....  Those who argue that we are among the biggest contributors and are militarily everywhere present on behalf of the UN are damaging the idea of the United Nations.  With this view, these people suggest that it is possible to buy or work militarily for such a permanent seat.  The view that German foreign policy is thus well visible for everyone and has nothing to do with particular interests and personal vanities does not suffice.  The naïve reference that we only mean it well and only want the best for the rest of the world sounds strangely familiar;  we usually hear it once the current government defends its foreign policy in Washington."


"Nothing To Do With Nationalism"


Center-right Neue Westfaelische of Bielefeld (9/24) had this to say: "The time is ripe.  It is not an expression of megalomania if Germany claims a seat on the UN Security Council.  It does justice to the realities of international crisis management.  The German government accepts its responsibility and is among the leading nations when it comes to contributions and sending forces.  German diplomacy - as the Middle East shows - is no longer in demand in Europe only.  In this situation it would only be fair if Germany is represented in this body with a seat and a voice....  This has nothing to do with nationalism."


"Serious Or Not Serious"


Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger had this to say in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/24):  "While India, Brazil and Japan send their leading politicians to New York to make clear to every one that they are serious about their plans and show the will to use all their political capital, Chancellor Schroeder leaves it to his foreign minister to find support for his position...but it would have been Schroeder's task to proclaim Germany's claim and represent it if he were really serious about it....  Maybe he is not really expecting an enlargement of the Security Council....  Rivalry and envy in Asia, Latin America or Africa, even in Europe, have not been invalidated because the four want it that way."


"Four Countries Want To Become UNSC Members, But Why?"


Stefan Kornelius opined in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/23): "The application of the four countries suffered less from a lack of symbols but from a meagerness of arguments.  It was again UN Secretary-General Annan and U.S. President Bush who set standards with their speeches in which they dealt with the central issue of an ailing UN: credibility and assertiveness.  We can certainly ignore Bush's speech as an element of the election campaign (which is by the way true), but, nevertheless, his words pointed the way ahead because they contain the U.S. security policy logic.  Of what use will be a UN that is unable to define its goals, and fails to implement its international interests thus losing all its credibility...while Annan was able to bridge in an impressive way the gap between assertiveness and credibility.  Of what use will be a policy of a tough hand presented by the United States if the international community does not want to be lead by the U.S.?  What about legitimacy if Bush wants democracy and human rights but does not want to accept standards and acts on his own in case of doubt?  These are the questions that will determine the ability of the UN to reform.   The gang of four only has a few meager answers available....  Their policy is only declamatory.  Of course, Germany, Japan, Brazil, and India have a claim for a greater say because they considerably contribute to the UN and send soldiers all over the world.  But those who want to become UNSC members must explain why the supervisory council of the international community of nations will become more effective and more legitimate through an enlargement.  Thus far, their application does not create enthusiasm." 


"Gang Of Four"


Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf stated (9/23): "Germany, Brazil, India, and Japan have bundled their forces to achieve an enlargement of the UN Security Council.  These are the four candidates with the best prospects for a permanent seat on the UNSC and that makes it easier for them to cooperate. This cooperation and cohesion will be bitterly necessary once the UN reform debate will enter its 'dirty stage' next year.  Then the current courtesy in the debate will give way to haggling and bickering.  But if the 'gang of four' sticks together despite the regional tensions, it will have an effect.  With respect to their population, economic output and UN contributions, the four are too important to be [ignored].  The criticism they have presented that the Security Council no longer reflects the world of the 21st century creates problems for the UN.  This can revive the reform will of the current five veto powers."


"Concert Of Powers"


Rainer Burchardt had this to say in a commentary on national radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (9/23):  "For reasons of prestige, it is really not necessary for Germany to play a role in the concert of major powers.  For a long time, we have been a globally respected partner in the diplomatic arena....  The courageous decision of the Schroeder government not to take part in the Iraq war and the closely linked criticism of the United States and Britain have resulted in great respect and acknowledgment for the 'new Germany.'  But we must also wonder whether more could have been achieved if we had had a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.  Of course not....  No, Germany should confine itself to its core task as a mediating middle power, increase its influence in Washington and Moscow, in order to help the UN get a greater significance and work for a decentralization of the power balance on this globe."


ITALY:  "Frattini At UN: Italy Makes New Play"


Mario Platero commented in Milan-based leading financial Il Sole-24 Ore (9/24):  "Italy reopened the wound which has divided India and Pakistan, for example: If India were to join as a full-fledged permanent member, this development would be unacceptable to Pakistan.   And perhaps, as a consequence, for the United States, which is in danger of alienating from itself important allies in the fight against terrorism.   Thus the battle for reform has taken off again in a more heated fashion than ever before.   And the danger remains that of a quick fix, in other words a sudden action to confront the Assembly with the fait accompli of four new members on which to vote in a short timeframe, and prior to the proposal by the wise men which is expected at the end of December.   If there is a majority of two thirds of the vote, the proposal will get through without any further discussion.  This hypothesis was once again rejected by Frattini as an imposition from outside, and outside institutional dialogue: "In deciding between the satisfaction of the few and the inclusion of the many, a wrong decision is a luxury which the United Nations, at the very heart of the international system, cannot afford," he said at the end of his speech."


“At UN The Sixteen Experts Disappoint The Band of Four” 


An editorial in elite, classical liberal daily Il Foglio (9/23): “The ‘band of four’ countries (Germany, Japan, India and Brazil) seeking to become permanent UNSC members met yesterday to coordinate the next steps, while speculation increases on the contents of the report that the 16 ‘experts’ will present to Secretary General Kofi Annan.… UN reform, and particularly Security Council reform is a very tortuous and highly political process, so much so that despite the fact talks have been going on for some time now no agreement has yet been reached.”


AUSTRIA:  "UN Reflects A World That No Longer Exists"


Foreign affairs writer for centrist daily Die Presse Friederike Leibl wrote (9/23):  "The UN's basic structures keep alive the ideal concept of a world that is dominated by the West, thus leaving out the South and negating decades-long political developments.... For years, demands for a UN reform have been in vain. But now that the colossus is faltering, the biggest chance so far for far-reaching changes has come.... Critics object on the grounds that an enlarged body of permanent Security Council members might fall apart, that the decision-making process would become even more difficult. Even more problematic seems to be the principal acceptance of new members.... In Europe, Germany's attempt to gain a permanent seat in has killed the vision that Europe might be represented in the Security Council with a seat of its own. In 2002, the German government had still given priority to this option. Now it claims that Europe has not yet developed far enough, the aim is unattainable, individual countries can achieve more. Never would London or Paris have consented to be represented by a single vote in the Security Council. Never would the EU have been able to agree to speak with one voice. Berlin is now going it alone. Among other reasons out of a zest for power politics - those who, like Germany, are becoming ever more engaged internationally, also want to move closer to the center of decision-making. This is what the present is like.”


DENMARK:  "The New World:  Globalization Demands UN Reform"


Centrist Politiken (Internet Version, 9/25):  "At the United Nations General Assembly many countries, Denmark among them, spoke in support of a reform of the world organization's structures, so that it is better able to meet the challenges that a globalized world presents us with. This sounds self-evident.   For centuries we have discussed what we in each individual nation view as the common good.   Now we must raise at the global level the question of the common good -- the good things that can only be achieved as a result of a coordinated political effort.   But the road to this goal is long and rocky.   Unfortunately, on this point neoliberal and isolationist forces in the strongest UN member nation, the United States, and nationalist governments in many parts of the world have shared interests with authoritarian regimes and dictatorships which reject any suggestion of interference in their internal affairs.   The United States reserves the right to act unilaterally on all issues from war to the environment.   And when a foreign policy like this is accompanied by an ideology which gives priority to free market forces, what we have is the recipe for international anarchy.  For this reason it will be an uphill struggle for the supporters of global cooperation within the United Nations.   The first battlefield will be a reform of the UN Security Council.   A number of countries, with Germany as the driving force, have proposed that the large countries in the southern hemisphere should be given permanent seats on the council.   It is important that more important nations should assume some responsibility for the world's security, not only against war and terrorism, but also in all the "soft" areas to do with human rights, poverty, the environment, and development.   These are described in the United Nations' so-called 2015 goals, whose achievement certainly cannot be guaranteed unless many more rich countries make a serious effort, by drastically increasing their aid to the developing countries, for example. An even more distant prospect is the problem of involving what have by now become the countless transnational forces, from NGO's to multinational companies and social movements, that today are independent players on the world stage.   Sooner or later they, too, must be brought into the work of the world organization, if globalization is to be governed by political forces, and not by chance.  The United Nations therefore needs a major overhaul that will ensure that the peoples of the world feel that they are represented by the world organization in a way that is clear, but quite different from the situation that prevails today.    The future of the world is a global concern."


SPAIN: "Zapatero At UN"


Centrist La Vanguardia wrote (9/23/): "Zapatero's speech leaves many questions up in the air on how his proposal can be translated into concrete results. The positive image of a peaceful Spain that Zapatero wanted to transmit is very clear. It is another thing if this is the case."


"United Nations Visions"


Conservative ABC noted (9/23):  "More than the "grandeur" of this ambitious speech, were concealed thorny issues that the Europeans have not been able to solve....  Zapatero's UN vision, although vague, will sooner or later lead to difficult contradictions for the Europeans."


TURKEY:  "A Role For The Future"


Sami Kohen wrote in the mass-appeal Milliyet (9/28):  “The UN General Assembly has served as a suitable forum for Turkey to voice Ankara’s determination to play a significant role in international platforms.  Foreign Minister Gul talked about Turkey’s experiences and positions on issues ranging from the Balkans to Iraq, from Palestine to Afghanistan, and from terrorism to anti-Semitism.  Given Turkey’s involvement in international organizations, the minister stated Turkey’s advantage in contributing to a convergence of the Islamic world and the West.  Turkey wants to see a restructuring of the UN.  It also wants to be a member of the UN Security Council.  There are more reasons than ever before to expect that Turkey will be supported for this position.  Turkey is becoming an increasingly important international player due to its recent efforts in world affairs.  The expectations voiced during the UNGA indicate Turkey’s willingness to expand its role even further.”




JORDAN:  "Fair Change Makes Sense"


An editorial in the elite, English-language Jordan Times judged (9/30):  "The request made by Japan, Germany, Brazil and India to occupy permanent seats at the UN Security Council is certainly one of the highlights of the just started UN General Assembly ordinary session at the UN headquarters in New York. The demands of these pivotal countries has consequences that go beyond their being able to enjoy becoming permanent members of the Security Council.  First and foremost, these applications for a new status at council level suggest that the UN Charter, which was adopted more than half a century ago, is overdue for a review.  Many changes occurred at national, regional and international levels after 1945, when World War II ended ushering in a new phase in international relations. It certainly makes sense that Japan, Germany, India and Brazil occupy a position in the council that is commensurate with their economic, political and even military powers. What is missing, though, are similar proposals to grant African and Arab world countries a place in the proposed changes in the Security Council. Africa deserves representation at the council on a permanent basis and the choice of a nation from this continent that would speak on behalf of the African nations could be left for the African countries themselves. By the same token, the Arab countries constitute a significant part of the international community, numbering 20 states. They certainly deserve a permanent representation at the main UN organ and, hopefully, act as a catalyst for maintaining peace and security. That is why unless African and Arab countries are also fairly represented, the demands of Japan, Brazil, India and Germany will remain incomplete. Another dimension of the proposed the exercise of the veto power of the permanent members of the council. It is high time that a more enlightened approach to the exercise of the veto power be introduced in the UN Charter. While it is hoped that one day the exercise of this power will be rescinded altogether, for the time being it should be confined to the five permanent members only, and not extended to any potential new members."




AUSTRALIA:  "Uniting Nations After Iraq"


The liberal Sydney Morning Herald editorialized (9/20):  "Mr. Annan knows the UN's future depends on its capacity to reform....  There is no way forward, however, without reconciliation between the U.S. and the rest of the international community.  A more responsive UN would rely heavily on the military power and funds of the world's wealthier nations, none more singularly important than world's sole remaining superpower.  This means considering Washington's interests--such as its contentious assertion that the legal right to self defense should include pre-emptive first strikes on a potential aggressor--while expanding the Security Council to more accurately reflect the global balance of power in the 21st century.  Japan, Germany, Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa are under consideration for inclusion.  Terrorism, undoubtedly, will be especially hard to define and address.  The General Assembly is meeting under this long shadow.  The success of the UN's reform effort is vital.  Without a respected global umpire, the world reverts to Dr. Grotius's 17th century reality in which raw power alone determines who makes the rules."


CHINA:  "UN Problems Boil Down To 'Near Monopolistic Power' Of World's Leading Superpower"


Official English-language China Daily commented (Internet version, 9/28): "Last week, the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Anan, for the first time, described the invasion of Iraq as illegal, a fact well known to the world since pre-invasion build up in 2002.  The problems of the UN boil down to the near-monopolistic power wielded by the world's leading imperialistic superpower, the United States.   The Bush administration, which has become arrogant, unilateralist, and under the rule of the so-called neo-conservatives, has chosen to trample upon the civilized codes of conduct of international relations.  The reality of a world system that has come under the control of a lone superpower has therefore rendered the UN system, with its tradition of multilateralism, very weak.   The world is now less safe than at any point since the end of the Cold War.  The United States, under the rule of the neo-conservatives, has railroaded the entire international community into accepting its own priority of the fight against so-called international terrorism, making it the foremost problem in the contemporary world.    It is however important for the different countries of the world, united within the international system of the UN, to regain their voices and begin to speak out against the illegalities that underscore the foreign policy of the United States, which it attempts to ram down the throats of the weak and strong alike." 


"Security Council Expansion:  A Political Difficulty"


Zhang Ling commented in the China Radio International-sponsored newspaper World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (9/27):  "Brazil, Germany, India and Japan’s joint announcement [that they would jointly press for inclusion]...added fuel to the Security Council expansion issue, which is already very complicated....  In regard to Security Council expansion, there are two core issues:  first, how to expand; second, whether or not the added members should have ‘veto’ power....  Security Council expansion should primarily take into consideration developing countries.  Many factors like population, economy, military and regional influence should be considered in establishing new membership, not just economic factors....  Otherwise the UN will become a club for rich and powerful countries....  This has suddenly aroused a sensational reaction.  These countries, Germany, Japan, Brazil and India, etc., who think they are most qualified for permanent membership think that the plan has turned them into second-class countries....  For the four countries, even though joining hands can’t guarantee they all win in the end, promoting reform is their common interest.  As long as the wheels of reform start rolling, they are hopeful about realizing their wish....  An increase in Permanent Membership concerns the balance of power and efficiency of the UN in the future....  Although they signed this ‘joint agreement,’ it is still hard to know the possibilities for their entering the Security Council."


"UN Seat Needs More Than Money"


Hu Xuan commented in the official English-language newspaper China Daily (9/24):  “Japan has been feverishly knocking at the United Nations (UN) Security Council's door....  [PM] Koizumi, who has been somewhat cautious in the past about permanent membership in the UN Security Council, now says Japan 'should have a greater say in the international community.'...  As the world's second-largest economy, there is no doubt that Japan should play a larger international role.  This does not necessarily mean, however, that it should take a permanent seat on the Council.  Despite all the diplomatic niceties, analysts do not paint a rosy picture for Japan's efforts to gain a permanent seat.  The UN reform aims at enlarging the Council to command greater respect, especially in the developing world.  Japan would not be able to press for membership on the basis of geographical diversity, or on the basis of being a developing state....  There is obviously a limit to what money can and cannot buy.  Japan's unsuccessful bid for a permanent seat is an indication of where one could draw the line....  There should be no abusive linkage between contributions and attribution of the permanent seats....  Koizumi has pursued a policy aimed at what Japanese nationalists call a return to 'normal statehood.'  With the prime minister and other top Japanese officials repeatedly paying homage to the Yasukuni Shrine, their irresponsible deeds can only alienate their country from its neighbors instead of winning their support for Japan pursuing a bigger role on the international stage."


JAPAN:  "Japan Needs Support from U.S. And Asian Neighbors"


Conservative Sankei argued (9/27):  "Prime Minister Koizumi needs to overcome several hurdles in seeking a permanent UN Security Council seat for Japan.  First, he needs to win U.S. support for Japan's quest.  The prime minister needs to convince the U.S. Congress, which is said to be suspicious about Japan's ability to bear the responsibility of being a UNSC member.  Koizumi may stress that although Japan would be able to make limited military contributions to UN peace-making efforts, Japan's participation in the UNSC as a non-nuclear power would be highly significant.  Negative reaction by Asian neighbors, including China and South Korea, is another obstacle to be cleared by Tokyo.  Not only the prime minister but also politicians and diplomats need to do their utmost to gain their support."


NEW ZEALAND:  "Reform Of UN Needed Urgently"


The Manawatu Standard editorialized (Internet version, 9/24):  "If anything good ever comes out of the continuing tragedy that is Iraq, it is that there might, at last, be some meaningful changes made at the United Nations.  Starting with the make-up of the Security Council, it is past time, surely, for serious reform if the UN is to have any meaningful effect for the better on the state of international relations this century.  The Security an anachronistic hangover from the Cold War (which ended in 1989) and World War II....  Japan, for example, which contributes to nearly 20 percent of the UN's budget, isn't a member.  Nor is Germany, the powerhouse of Europe.  India, the world's second-most populous country, isn't a permanent member of the council and neither is anybody from Africa or South America.  So you don't have to be a genius to see that membership of the council is at once skewed and lop-sided and far from representative of global realities....  There are dangers in reform--but the UN needs to be revitalized if it is to have relevance in the future and make the world a safer place."


THAILAND:  "UNSC Must Embrace Japan"


The independent, English-language Nation commented (9/27):  “Too often, the UNSC’s decisions are made through Western perceptions of security.  China alone, despite its power and long-standing presence on the council, cannot speak for all of Asia.  Granting Japan permanent membership on the council would not only give credit where credit is due, but also be a move towards a more just international community.”




INDIA:  "Unfair Means"


Former UN permanent representative Chinmaya R. Gharekhan remarked in the nationalist Hindustan Times (9/27):  "According to media reports, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not broach India's interest in acquiring the permanent membership of the Security Council in his meeting with President Bush in New York on September 22.  It was the right thing to have done.  Media reports also suggest that he conveyed to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan India's rejection of the proposal to create a new category of semi-permanent members.  This, too, was the right thing to do....  The U.S. obliged to support the candidatures of Germany and Japan for political and financial reasons; its position towards countries such as India is that they must get themselves endorsed by their respective regional groups.  This is a polite way of saying that the U.S. is not enthusiastic about them.  And like most things at the UN, the U.S. holds the key to this question....  Now that New Delhi has entered into firm reciprocal support agreements with Germany, Japan and Brazil, it makes diplomatic sense to let the other three countries raise this issue with the U.S. ...  India would always have to struggle for endorsement of its claim.  Apart from that, India has put forward its candidature for a permanent seat, and cannot be enthused for some half-baked formula which has only one objective, namely, to deny permanent membership to India and others.  Countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Argentina and others for their own reasons are very fond of this formula since, apart from torpedoing the candidatures of India and Brazil--they have no problem with Germany and Japan--it gives them the opportunity to claim equal status with their respective regional rivals.  Nuclear weapons gave Pakistan strategic parity with India.  The 'winning formula' would give it political and diplomatic parity.  It was appropriate for India to register its views with the Secretary-General at the highest level.  Annan will no doubt reflect this and other inputs that he will receive from others when he submits the panel's report to the membership of the UN next year."


PAKISTAN:  "Opposing India At UN Security Council"


The liberal, English-language Daily Times had this to say (Internet version, 9/28):  "By taking the position that no expansion of the apex body was really needed, Pakistan has adroitly avoided taking on India at the United Nations on the question of its becoming a permanent member of the Security Council.  There were already five permanent members who could veto resolutions and halt collective action.  Throughout the Cold War the veto stood in the way of the resolution of many important issues just because the United States and the Soviet Union did not see eye to eye about how the world had to be governed.  Some issues were addressed by the UN successfully after the Cold War but soon enough the veto reappeared.  It is now used mercifully to prevent the unilateralism of one superpower.  If at this stage the veto-carrying members were increased from, let us say, five to 10, the institution of the veto will fall by the wayside because of sheer proliferation.... The states interested in [UNSC] expansion are also those that wish to curtail its powers by watering down the power of veto.  The intent is to have so many vetoes that it would be counterproductive for anyone to even think of bringing an issue to the Security Council....  There is no doubt that India is a big country with a population of one billion.  It has remained admirably democratic and now the world is looking at it as a potential big power.  As a regional state, however, it has not yet learned to behave appropriately towards its neighbors....  If India were to resolve its disputes with its neighbors amicably, it could be theoretically qualified to represent South Asia at the UN on a permanent basis....  But as it stands today, India seems to be hugging the Cold War notion that its neighbors are its enemies and need to be put back in place as subordinate states.  Giving a permanent seat to India at this stage would simply be gifting a veto that would embolden India to 'boss' it over the region and enhance the chances of conflict."


BANGLADESH:  "Reform Is In The Air"


The independent English-language Bangladesh Observer held (9/28):  "To give up Security Council reform is, in the words of the Japanese, tantamount to accepting an unacceptable consequence:  that the council will continue to be dominated by the victors of World War II.  However, as most people believe the absence of a United Nations will scuttle the gains made on issues of human rights, refugees and the environment, the world must prevent it from going the way of the League of Nations.  For all its faults, it is still the best protector of democracy and the best dampener for aggression by powerful states."






The liberal Mercury editorialized (9/27):  “The time is overdue for restructuring the United Nations Security Council in a more logical and democratic way....  The world’s bi-polar power system has collapsed and a new set of nations and interest blocs are emerging.  Several proposals for Security Council reform are in the melting pot....  However, many of the world body’s...member nations are tired of any system that will continue to unduly favor the wealthy nations while neglecting to address serious issues facing the planet--including environmental degradation, poverty and under-development....  South Africa has emerged as one of the leading African nations wanting a seat on an expanded Security Council....  South Africa’s size--coupled with a record of reconciliation and stability over 10 years--places it in the best position to voice the hopes and concerns of Africa.”


"SA Declares Its Bid"


The liberal Star commented (9/29):  “At last South Africa has stepped forward...and accepted that its destiny is to play a starring role in the continent’s affairs....  Africa needs to be represented at the UN by a strong, democratic and consistent country that is capable of looking beyond national interests to continental interest.  No one else fits the bill....  Forget Pretoria’s assurances that there will be no battle for the African seat.  Mbeki acknowledged as much when he said that if Africa would not choose its own candidate the rest of the world might have to.  Let the contest begin!”


"Difficult Choice"


Balanced Business Day observed (9/28):  “The ‘African complexion’ of some of the matters discussed by the [UNSC] African countries to be given a direct say in the council’s affairs....  The fight for the African seat, or seats, is likely to be a lot less timid than, say, the 2010 Soccer world Cup bid.  And it goes without saying that of all the African contenders, SA is the most credible choice.  It is the most politically stable and most capable of shouldering the great responsibilities, on behalf of Africa, of such an appointment.  One concern would be the relative weakness of the current foreign minister, who has yet to make her mark on world affairs outside of the many conferences she attends....  The other candidates have their problems too....  Of course, all the jostling may be academic if the U.S. decides that the UN and its Security Council no longer matter.  There will not have been much point in winning a permanent voice on the council if the world’s superpower decides it is no longer worth listening to.”


NIGERIA:  "United Nations:  Regaining Its Voice"


The Abuja-based Daily Trust noted (9/22):  "It is however important for the different countries of the world, united within the international system of the UN, to regain their voices and begin to speak out against the illegalities that underscore the foreign policy of the United States, which it attempts to ram down the throats of the weak and strong alike.  There is also the need to push through the reform of the UN system, especially in respect of the Security Council.  It has become unacceptable that just a few countries, would continue to determine the fate of the world system, but as we have witnessed in recent events, the Security Council has almost become the instrument of furtherance of the foreign policy of the United States.  A more equitable United Nations Security Council should bring on board such countries as India, Japan, Brazil, Germany and Nigeria to reflect the realities of a complex world determined to build a harmonized world in a twenty-first century of infinite possibilities for humankind."


ZAMBIA:  "Continent Mature Enough For Permanent Representation"


The independent Times of Zambia (Ndola) editorialized (9/24):  "Africa has come of age and deserves a permanent place on the United Nations (UN) Security Council.  South Africa should therefore be backed to sit on the Security Council on behalf of Africa.  The continent is now mature enough for permanent representation on the Security Council to effectively contribute to the evolution of world affairs.  It is beyond doubt that Africa is capable of fairly correcting ills that afflict the world that the UN and the world at large have been grappling with.  Africa has its own views and feelings concerning conflicts and disputes that the Security Council has tabled.  Some contentious issues that the Security Council has mandate on have a purely African complexion that calls for the continent to have a direct say.  That Africa has been left out in the decision making process of matters that not only effect the continent's well-being but also as a contributor on global issues is a synopsis that should be changed immediately....  For the Security Council to be legitimate and representative its composition should be acceptable to the dictates of the present.  African countries should back the South African candidature. South Africa would ably represent the continent on the council.  At the 59th UN General Assembly African countries called for the reformation of the Security Council so that the continent could secure a seat.  The call should not end with the continent splitting its vote but resolutely backing South Africa's bid and ultimate confirmation on the council.  Africa's maturity and unheralded approach to a peaceful world will only manifest when the continent is consulted on issues affecting humankind.  A seat on the UN Security Council shall give Africa that opportunity and South Africa is the right candidate."




CANADA:  "Paul Martin's Vision For The UN"


The conservative National Post asserted (9/24):  "For too long, Canada's leaders have been uncritical admirers of the United Nations. The reason has not been hard to fathom: The UN is the world's pre-eminent multilateral body. And in matters of foreign policy, multilateralism is Ottawa's dominant orthodoxy.  As this page has long argued, such reverence is misplaced. Certainly, many of the UN's humanitarian agencies do good work. But as a political body, the UN is useless....  Currently, the only doctrine by which one UN member may attack another is self-defence -- and even this theory is often interpreted so narrowly as to preclude attacks on rogue nations that support terrorist groups, create regional turmoil or seek to amass weapons of mass destruction.  Absent a Security Council declaration to the contrary, humanitarian intervention is not generally seen as a legally valid basis for war-making -- a fact anti-American pundits have applied to impugn such eminently defensible wars as the 1999 campaign to protect Kosovar Albanians.  But Mr. Martin's answer to this strikes us as unrealistic....  What worries us about this idea is that it suggests humanitarian wars might be mandated and troops dispatched on the basis of abstract legal tests imposed by the UN. This would be a bad idea. A nation's decision to send its soldiers to face death on a foreign battlefield will always be, fundamentally, a moral one. It is a multilateral fallacy to imagine that it can be outsourced to lawyers or international bodies.  As the examples of Iraq, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Bosnia show, the best way to liberate oppressed peoples is for Western nations to take matters into their own hands. By contrast, when it is the United Nations calling the shots, the outcome is more likely to resemble that of Rwanda...  Whatever new regime of international law the Prime Minister may seek to usher into existence, the doctrine of humanitarian intervention will be hollow unless nations such as ours have the military might to project force in places like Darfur....  Paul Martin is to be commended for his well-intentioned efforts to reform the United Nations. But if he wants to help save lives around the world, Canada must look inward as well."


"The Security Council's Musical Chairs"


David Malone, former Canadian ambassador to the UN, opined in the leading, independent Globe and Mail (Internet Version, 9/20):  "Any realistic proposal for council reform must swallow the bitter pill of the five permanent members' privileged position; Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, were granted a veto over council decisions at the UN's inception in 1945.... The power imbalance that favours Europe in the council would be aggravated by German claims to a permanent seat based on its share of the UN bill, and on Germany's active role in promoting security in places such as Kosovo and Afghanistan.... The new semi-permanent seats would be granted to four newly configured regions -- Europe, Asia, Africa, Americas.   Canada would migrate from a Western European-dominated hybrid to an Americas-only group.   This could be electorally to our advantage.   For example, if the Americas were granted two of these seats, as the panel apparently proposes, Canada might alternate in one with Mexico, while Brazil alternates with Argentina in the other. These proposals have been hotly contested by the candidates for permanent seats, notably Japan, Germany and India.   Meanwhile, Egypt insists that at a time of contentious relations between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, ensuring Islamic community representation is vital.   Besides, it's hard to see why countries such as India and Brazil, whose clout is increasing sharply, should acquiesce not only in second-class status in the council but also to the uncertainty of election every few years to the newly created second-rank seats. These discussions touch on broader consideration of the post-Cold War institutional architecture.... There are always strong arguments against meaningful change at the UN advanced by governments that take a narrow view of their national interests (most do).   But a strong, credible UN is in the interests of most member states and this will require significant change in how the UN addresses global threats -- and who makes those decisions.   Otherwise, the drift toward unilateralism by the powerful will gather momentum -- witness Russia's claims earlier this month to use preventive force to address terrorism, echoing the Bush administration's contentions over Iraq. As citizens of the world, we should welcome reform.   But for governments such as Canada's, the Rubik's puzzle, involving important elements both of national interest and of collective benefit, remains redoubtable and so far unresolved."


ARGENTINA:  "Brazil:  Strong Offensive To Obtain More Power At UN"


Eleonora Gosman, Sao Paulo-based correspondent for leading Clarin, wrote (9/23):  "Brazil [has] launched an offensive to achieve its 'strategic priority' in foreign policy:  a permanent seat at the UN Security Council....  A year away from its 60th Anniversary, today the Security Council is an anachronistic entity.  This structure was only valid for the situation existing at the end of WWII.  In 1945...the UN was made up of 40 countries. Today, there are 191.  But the need for a UN reform has nothing to do with the number of members, nor its democratization through principles.  The war in Iraq devastated the image of the UN and the Security Council.  It showed its weakness regarding the unilateral decision of the U.S. and Great Britain to invade that country without authorization from the Council....  According to sources, before his departure as UN chief next year, Kofi Annan wants to leave his own mark.  He's allegedly planning to democratize the UN.  Nevertheless, Anna's ambition, which coincides with that of G-4, isn't easy to achieve."


"A Strategic Move"


Eleonora Gosman, leading Clarin Sau Paulo-based correspondent, opined (9/23): "Brazil is aware that democratizing the UN isn't a task you can accomplish overnight. But it's also true that diplomacy and the Lula administration follow a key principle: the present political issues that will be the seed for tomorrow's results. After the war in Iraq, the expansion of the UN may eventually strengthen Brazil's position in favor of peace.  This is the thesis defended by Brazil and, following that principle, it has already received endorsement from France, Russia and China, plus that of Great Britain."


BRAZIL: "Powell Begins Visit That Shows Interest Towards Brazil"


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo Washington correspondent reported (10/4): "According to Brazilian and American diplomats, Secstate Powell's visit to Brazil will emphasize and reinforce the good relationship between the two nations.  Postponed several times due to problems in the Secstate agenda, the visit has not been resulted by specific issues and is expected to encompass bilateral political and economic topics included in the U.S.-Brazil dialogue.  Brazil's aspiration of a permanent seat at the UNSC will also be discussed."


MEXICO:  "Mexico And The Security Council"


Academic Eugenio Anguiano wrote in the nationalist El Universal (9/27): "Last week at the U.N. headquarters in New York, Germany, Brazil, India and Japan stated that they will support each other's goal to become a permanent member of the Security Council.... The Mexican government doesn't seem willing to recognize that Brazil is the obvious Latin American option for an enlarged Security Council. Since the times of Angel Gurria as the head of the Foreign Relations Secretariat up to the present, there have been sporadic movements against accepting Brazil as the natural candidate. But our country hasn't shown any clear diplomacy that would offer another possibility. This is due to the hesitant Mexican attitude regarding its participation in the Security Council, a by-product of the dilemma between realism or idealism in foreign policy". 


CHILE:  "Chile And United Nations In The Neighborhood.”


Popular, conservative afternoon daily La Segunda commented (9/23) “In the U.N. General Assembly, President Lagos spoke in favor of multilateralism as a means to resolve international conflicts, move forward in a balanced manner, and protect the rights of weaker nations in the globalization process....  The heart of the controversy is whether...large powers can legitimately unilaterally decide to launch preventive military attacks against threats like terrorism or weapons of mass destruction....  President Lagos’ stance...opposes all unilateral interventions not approved by the United Nations.  But given the challenge the current concentration of power poses, this calls first for the elimination of the inefficiency in the U.N.’s reactions, agreements, and even sanctions.  In this regard, Lagos underscored the need for the total reconfiguration of the U.N. and specifically its Security Council.”


ECUADOR:  "UN Forum" 


A column by Jorge Vivanco Mendieta in Guayaquil’s centrist Expreso (9/26):   “The inauguration of this UN assembly was used to present clear proposals that show that poor countries, impoverished by the [current world] system are aware of what is happening and are taking positions, thus, showing that dignity has not been entirely lost.  Brazil’s President proposed the unification of Latin America to fight against hunger and poverty before negotiating free trade accords.  Kirchner from Argentina - the third of the Latin American axis formed by Brazil and Venezuela, demanded that the International Monetary Fund act again as a moneylender for development, instead of being a creditor and a demanding collector of external debt....  There is an international consensus developing that is steering the world down a whole, new, different path because the economic and financial system sustaining the so-called globalizing neo-liberalism cannot keep dominating the world.  It is perverse and impracticable, because concentrating wealth in clubs of increasingly fewer countries deepens poverty in the majority of countries, which, at a certain point will cause them to rise up to demand their right to a decent and secure survival.  As history has shown us, once people start mobilizing, they are unstoppable.”





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