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Annan Backs Expanding UN Security Council


Expanded Security Council would enhance its legitimacy - Annan

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for expanding the membership of the Security Council to make the 15-member body more democratic and more representative and thus give it greater legitimacy, especially in view of recent divisions over Iraq.

Replying to question at a news conference at which he launched his latest progress report on goals set in 2000 at the United Nations Millennium Summit, Mr. Annan declined to be drawn into specifics on who exactly the new members should be, who should be permanent members with the right of veto and who should be elected for specific terms, and what regions should be represented.

Instead he noted that UN membership had almost quadrupled since the world body was founded nearly 60 years ago and yet the structure of the Council had not changed since its first day, with five permanent members with the right of veto - China, France, the Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States - and 10 members elected for two-year terms from the various regions of the world.

"Yes, it implies expansion of the membership of the Council and allowing other regions and other groups to be represented on the Council," he said on reforming UN institutions. "We started with 51 Member States and we are now 191 Member States.

"Yes, we are an organization of sovereign States, but the structure of the Council has not changed and I think it is about time that we took the reform very seriously. It will entail expansion in membership," he added.

Asked whether that would mean an increase in permanent membership, he replied: "It could be increase in permanent membership as well as in ordinary, elected membership."

At another point he said the need for Council reform was not questioned. "I think if we can reform the Council and make it more democratic and more representative, it will gain also in greater legitimacy. I think most Member States would want to see that happen," he declared.

Noting that discussion of Security Council reform had been going on for more than a decade, Mr. Annan said: "But I think that in the current climate lots of leaders have been concerned about the state of the international peace and security architecture and would want to see something done about it. I think that the Iraqi crisis brought this to the fore.

"But in tackling it this time, I hope we will be much more creative and much more daring, and look at the issue in a broader context and really try to make progress. My sense in my contacts with leaders around the world is that they seem determined to move forward. We should all put our thinking caps on and really make some creative proposals."

All the discussions on reform have considered the possibility of the creation of additional permanent seats and additional elected seats, "and I do not think you are going to get an agreement without allowing for that," he added.

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