THERE is a growing danger that Kofi Annan's proposals for the reform of the United Nations, which range widely over many areas of the Organisation's structure, management and operations, will get bogged down if a dispute over the reform of the Security Council. Since the Secretary General's initative on reform stemmed directly from the difficulties experienced prior to the Iraq war, it was natural that he would propose changes in the size and membership of the Council. However, it was equally inevitable that any proposed change would fall foul of competition among member states for a seat on a new Security Council. And so it has proved. The so-called G4 group, comprising Brazil, Germany, India and Japan, are lobbying hard for their permanent membership, without veto powers, and want the African Union's support in return for an agreement that two African nations should join them on the Council. However the African Union wants the Council to be enlarged from its present 15 countries to 26 and insists that the six new permanent members should have veto powers. Even if the African Union and the G4 countries could agree on a united front, there is the problem that China does not want Japan on the Council and the United States has told Germany that it does have its support. There is also a rival group to the G4, known as Uniting for Consensus, which consists of Italy, Mexico, South Korea and Pakistan; it wants 10 new permanent, non-veto, seats on the Council. Any change in the Security Council will need a two-thirds majority in the UN's General Assembly of 191 members states. The special UN summit to discuss reform will precede the next session of the General Assembly starting in September. With only two months remaining, negotiations are likely to become heated and it is quite possible that Security Council reforms will have to be postponed while other less ambitious reform measures are discussed and, hopefully, progressed.
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