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In Security Council Reform Session of L69, of Veto & Small States, Indian Answer?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 -- Two stories above the UN Security Council, other members states began a closed door meeting in the General Assembly on Tuesday about Security Council Reform. The so-called L69 was making its pitch, led by Jamaican Permanent Representative Wolff and Hardeep Singh Puri of India.

  Inner City Press asked Hardeep Singh Puri, on his way up to the GA, if it isn't a contradiction for India to be a member of both the Group of 4 (with Japan, Germany and Brazil) and the L69, given their different proposals about the veto.

   He said no, said he would provide a copy of his speech, and then went upstairs and faced the same question from members of Uniting for Consensus. One UfC leader, when the GA meeting broke at 1 pm, said that India had not fully answered the question. Hardeep Singh Puri is one of the better speakers in the UN system, so one expects some answers.

  And so here is one write-up of the questions:

  If it's said that 80 member states support the G4 proposal, why not release a list of these states? Or is it true, as some in UfC allege, that the 80 break in half on the question of the veto?

   How would given more countries the veto impact on issues like Palestine and the settlements, or more recently Syria? Why even pretend that the current Permanent Five would agree to give more countries the veto, or to give up their own?

   Why reproduce the error of the past -- permanent seats when no country's power is forever -- by fixing in time the big donors of today?

  One UfC activist opined to Inner City Press, during the break between sessions, that India is strident on getting the veto "after what Obama said" about supporting India, and "because time is on India's side, unlike Japan." Ouch!

   Another UfC proponent pointed out to Inner City Press that currently each of the Permanent Five members have big staff posts in Ban Ki-moon's Secretariat. "If you increased it to a P11, then all the posts would be spoken for," he said, "with even less merit based selection than today."

This continued, in writing:

In their letter dated 6th September 2011 the L69 refer to the results of their initiative which was carried out in a genuine give and take. In fact it seems the L69 proposal wants to give too little to small and medium sized states and take a lot away from them by allotting six permanent seats to the few (G4 plus two African countries). Small and medium sized countries represent 114 out of the total membership of 193 UN member states. Since the last expansion of the SC in 1963, 80 new members have joined the UN, and 69 were small and medium sized states. A good question to the L69 is whether they can give one reason why comparatively the L69 proposal is better for the 114 small and medium sized states than the Uniting for Consensus proposal?

The UfC proposal has at heart the interest of small and medium sized states. These represent 114 out of the total membership of 193 UN member states. In the last expansion of the SC in 1963 the total UN membership was 113. Out of the 80 new members that joined since then the vast majority, to be precise 69, are small and medium sized states. The Security Council needs to adapt to this reality. The Italian - Colombian proposal specifically allocates one (1) non permanent seat to small states (with a population below 1 million) and one (1) non permanent seat to medium states (with a population between 1 and 10 million). Over and above it leaves all other seats open to both small and medium sized States. The increase in non permanent seats, including the creation of longer term seats, will make more options available to developing countries, including small and medium sized states that will be able to run for regular non permanent seats (2 years) without competing with stronger countries.

The debate continues. Watch this site.

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