Cablegate: Usun Views On Security Council Reform


DE RUCNDT #1225/01 3630222
O 290222Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/26/2017

REF: A. STATE 169809
B. USUN 1183

Classified By: Ambassador Zalmay M. Khalilzad, per 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary and comment. With inter-governmental
negotiations on Security Council reform set to begin in 2008,
a serious debate has begun on Council expansion. We are
closer than we have been in several decades to the prospect
that a formal proposal for expansion could be put to a vote.
We do not know yet if any proposal could secure the needed
two-thirds majority in the General Assembly, although this is
possible. In any scenario, the position of the African bloc
will be critical. Therefore, we believe it is time to
seriously consider our response. We have four options: (1)
avoid engagement and rely on our veto in the ratification
phase to preserve our interests; (2) delay engagement until
African states begin to declare support for realistic
proposals; (3) start to engage the key players with a view to
shaping where they throw their votes; and (4) proactively
articulate an American position and mobilize a coalition to
support it. We recommend that we begin to engage now to
understand better the political terrain; to test reactions to
certain principles, possible redlines, and other structural
reforms we would seek as part of a comprehensive reform of
the UN; and then to determine which option to pursue. End
summary and comment.

The Political Landscape on UNSC Reform

2. (C) Changes in the global distribution of power since
1965, when the membership of the Council was last adjusted,
underlie the political impetus for Security Council
expansion. Some states are perennial critics of the Council,
although this is typically ideological in nature. The real
danger is that, as the membership of the Council has not been
updated to reflect geopolitical realities, new rising powers
as well as their friends and allies might come to view the
Council,s role as illegitimate. This, in turn, could
undermine the willingness of countries to abide by its

3. (C) The U.S. position is that we favor permanent
membership for Japan, that other nations should be considered
as well, and that changes in the Council should be part of a
comprehensive package of structural reforms. All significant
proposals for Council reform, however, go beyond the position
of favoring Japan alone for permanent membership. Based on
the President's speech to the UNGA and bilateral engagement
with G-4 members, we are already viewed within the P-5 as
more forward-leaning than Russia and China. The British and
French are publicly wedded to the G-4 approach, partly to
deflect attention from questions about over-representation of
Europe among the permanent members.

4. (C) According to the UNGA resolution adopted in September
2007, member states are set to begin inter-governmental
negotiations on Council reform before September 2008. These
negotiations could provide a vehicle for the G-4 model
(permanent seats for Japan, Germany, India, Brazil, and two
African countries, as well as four additional non-permanent
seats) to be brought to a vote. Because the G-4 proposal was
not put to a vote in 2005 when it was first tabled, it is
difficult to know exactly how much support it would have
commanded. We do not, however, believe that it enjoyed the
support of the required two-thirds majority (128 countries)
of member states. But in the coming months, the G-4 will
revise their proposal and could force many previously
undecided countries as well as African Union members to show
their cards and reveal how close to 128 votes Council
expansion has now come.

5. (C) We believe expansion of the Council, along the lines
of the models currently discussed, will dilute U.S. influence
in the body. USUN currently starts most discussions about
important Council statements or resolutions with at least six
votes (U.S., UK, France, and the three European delegations)
and must secure three more to reach the required nine votes
-- barring a P-5 veto -- for adoption. To take just the G-4
countries plus the yet-unidentified African state(s) that
would join them in permanent membership, we are confident we

could reliably count on Japan's support, and to a lesser
degree, on Germany's. However, on the most important issues
of the day -- sanctions, human rights, the Middle East, etc.
-- Brazil, India, and most African states are currently far
less sympathetic to our views than our European allies.

6. (C) Due to the arithmetic of the UNGA, the African states
will be critical in determining whether any Charter amendment
reaches the two-thirds majority. Based on public speeches
and our own estimates, we assess that the G-4 model or some
variant thereof currently enjoys the support of roughly 70-95
member states. The Uniting for Consensus (UFC) proposal (no
additional permanent seats, but 10 additional non-permanent
seats) enjoys support of no more than roughly 20-25 member
states. The African Union (AU) model (largely the same as
the G-4 model but with veto rights for all new permanent
members) counts about 40-50 adherents. Out of a total of 192
member states, these figures leave about 40 states without a
clear position on UNSC reform. Assuming these 40 states
either split their support between the rival camps or abstain
from voting, it is clear that the G-4 proposal or its
successor will need the support of a sizable number of
African states to reach the 128-vote threshold.

Principles for Acceptable Council Expansion

7. (C) Regardless of how we play the situation tactically,
our position should be based on a set of principles that
define the parameters for acceptable Council expansion,
including a group of structural UN reforms that would be
acceptable trade-offs for our support for Council expansion:

CHALLENGES: We should not think about Council expansion just
in the abstract, but also as a way to fashion the Council to
address the contemporary era's fundamental challenges,
including instability and threats arising from the Middle
East, the management of the rise of China, and proliferation.
This would imply that countries to be added should align
with our interests and views of these problems.

-- PRESERVING U.S. INFLUENCE: We should base our approach to
Council expansion along the following lines in order to
prevent significant erosion of our current level of

1. SMALLEST POSSIBLE EXPANSION: A dilemma of Council reform
is that it is inevitably "additive" in nature because
declining powers and regional blocs can prevent any
diminution of their representation on the Council. A modest
expansion of two or three permanent members would best suit
our interests, but the dynamics of securing the two-thirds
majority for a particular proposal would create pressure to
move to a significant expansion of five to seven new members.
As it is, negotiating documents that require unanimity among
fifteen members is already a long and difficult enough
process. We are also cognizant that this may not be the last
call to expand the Council over the life of the United

2. NO EXTENSION OF VETO: Addition of new permanent members
with veto rights would increase the risk to U.S. interests
from Council expansion exponentially. We should quietly
allow discontent with P-5 veto prerogatives to ensure the
veto is not extended to new members while joining Russia and
China in stoutly defending existing P-5 vetoes. Although G-4
countries privately concede the veto, most AU states remain
united behind the demand in the AU "Ezulwini Consensus" for
two permanent seats for Africa with veto rights. Cracks
began to appear in the AU position, however, when ten African
states joined India in September 2007 in tabling resolution
L69 -- which did not make any stipulations regarding the
right of veto. USUN understands that an AU summit is planned
for late January 2008, at which African supporters of L69
(South Africa and Nigeria most prominently) will seek greater
flexibility in the AU position.

According to the UN Charter, in order for the Council to
adopt a resolution, nine of its fifteen members must vote in
favor without any P-5 vetoes. As described earlier, USUN

currently starts most important debates with six typically
sympathetic countries (P-3 plus European delegations) and
must secure three more to reach the nine-vote threshold. If
the Council were expanded to 20 members but the minimum votes
for adoption of UNSC resolutions were set at 11, USUN would
start most debates with eight votes -- assuming Japan and
Germany were among the new permanent members -- and still
only have to seek three more for adoption. Adjusting voting
thresholds in an expanded Council could be an important
vehicle to preserve our current arithmetic advantage in the

While an amendment to the UN Charter to expand the Security
Council would have to specify the names of the new permanent
members, most UNSC proposals envision as a first step a
framework resolution to set forth a mechanism to elect the
new permanent members. To maximize predictability, we should
structure the framework agreement to require that candidate
members receive broad support from the UNGA membership as a
whole, not within regional blocs, and to limit the rounds of
balloting on each seat.

Council should only be made in exchange for significant
structural reforms to revitalize the institution as a whole.
The list below is illustrative of the trade-offs we should
pursue. It should be noted that all of these would be highly
controversial at the UN and that many would threaten the
current base of support for the G-4 or other UNSC expansion
proposals. Many of these reforms might also dissuade African
states from supporting a "package" of UNSC expansion tied to
structural UN reform.

1. SHIFT TO VOLUNTARY FUNDING: This reform would have the
most dramatic impact on General Assembly decision-making, the
U.S. financial contribution to the UN, and support for
greater transparency and accountability within the UN system.
Its viability as a reform tied to UNSC expansion depends on
the willingness of aspirants for permanent Council seats to
increase their contributions and/or pledge to cover any
shortfall from a decrease in contributions by other states.
African states, whose support would be crucial to successful
UNSC expansion, would be particularly concerned about a drop
in UN funding for development projects.

2. WEIGHTED VOTING: Weighted voting could be based strictly
on the assessment rate for contributions, a double majority
voting system, or a bicameral UNGA in which representation in
the second chamber is based on financial contributions and
concurrence between the two chambers is necessary for all
budgetary decisions. Weighted voting is likely to be one of
the most unpopular structural reforms for countries that do
not attain permanent seats on the UNSC, including African
states, because their influence in the UNGA and Fifth
Committee would also be circumscribed.

contribution to the UN would decline with either a floor or a
cap on UNSC permanent member contributions. If the floor
were set at 5 percent of contributions (China currently pays
2.6 percent, Russia 1.2 percent, Brazil 0.87 percent, and
India 0.45 percent), and the G-4 countries plus an African
state were to become permanent members, the U.S. contribution
for non-peacekeeping assessments would decline to roughly 18
percent. The same floor/cap could be used to lower U.S.
assessments to finance peacekeeping operations. Such
proposals would probably be most palatable to African and
other developing countries, but they would have to overcome
Russian and probably Chinese opposition.

4. IMPROVING OVERSIGHT: Some of the proposals to improve UN
oversight include enshrining a "sunset clause" in the UN
Charter, according to which all UNGA mandates would terminate
after five years unless renewed by a two-thirds vote. Other
ways to ensure transparency and accountability include
guaranteeing Office of Independent Oversight Services (OIOS)
independence in the UN Charter and/or ensuring access to all
internal UN audits by all member states.

5. POLITICAL REFORMS: States under UNSC sanctions could be
barred from running for seats on any UN body. This reform

was proposed unsuccessfully in the run-up to the creation of
the new Human Rights Council, as a considerable number of
states complained of UNSC encroachment on the rights and
prerogatives of other UN bodies.

U.S. Options

8. (C) With these principles in mind, we believe that the
United States has four options to respond to the new round of
activism on Council expansion:

-- OPTION 1: Avoid engagement on Council expansion and rely
on our veto in the ratification phase to preserve our
interests. Amendments to the UN Charter require the
ratification of two-thirds of UNGA and must include the P-5.
The United States could therefore remain disengaged from the
process and determine its position in the ratification phase.
The risk is that an expansion that threatens our interests
could pass in the UNGA, that we would be isolated in
rejecting ratification, and that this, in turn, would
undermine the legitimacy of future Council actions.

-- OPTION 2: Delay engagement until African states begin to
declare support for realistic proposals. When we get
strategic warning that parts of this bloc are beginning to
declare their intentions, we would engage with key players to
shape the outcome, including potentially organizing a
coalition to block proposals contrary to our interests. The
risk is that by waiting we will allow momentum to develop
behind unfavorable proposals and come to the game too late to
intervene successfully.

-- OPTION 3: Engage the key players and undecided countries
with a view to shaping where they throw their votes. By
articulating to these states the kind of expansion we could
support, the United States could try to moderate their
demands and mobilize their support behind our views. The
risk is that such engagement could accelerate the momentum
behind Council expansion in ways that we could not ultimately

-- OPTION 4: Proactively articulate an American position on
Council expansion and mobilize a coalition to support it.
Because of our vital interest in the legitimacy and
effectiveness of the Council, the United States would engage
the G-4 or some subset of the group to set forth its own
proposal for Council expansion as part of a comprehensive
package of structural reforms for the UN. This would
certainly accelerate the process of considering Council
expansion, with the attendant risks, but we would be postured
to shape a coalition in favor and against particular models.


9. (C) We recommend that we move forward in four steps.
First, in order to collect sufficient information for a
well-informed decision, USUN will in the next few months
enter into discussions with other member states, with an eye
to monitoring how close the G-4 or other models are to
reaching the two-thirds majority, and carefully and
selectively testing reactions to our principles in ways that
do not accelerate movement toward Council expansion. Second,
we should assess and refine the principles described above
for acceptable Council expansion. Third, we should decide
which specific structural reforms we should seek in exchange
for our support to expand the Council, as any Security
Council expansion has to be part of a comprehensive package
of reform of the UN as a whole. Fourth, we should decide
which of the above-noted procedural options, or others that
might later emerge, would best serve our interests.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Washington Riot And The Georgia Results
Hong Kong and Washington DC. On the same morning, the tyrants in power in Beijing and their counterpart in the White House have shown how they refuse to accept the legitimacy of any different points of view, and the prospect of losing power… More>>

WHO: Vaccination No Guarantee Of Virus Eradication

In the final World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 press conference of the year, on Monday, senior officials warned that the virus is 'not necessarily the big one', and that there is a real chance of another, more serious pandemic spreading ... More>>

Covid: Two Billion COVID Vaccine Doses Secured, WHO Says End Of Pandemic Is In Sight

The end of the pandemic is in sight but we must not let our guard down, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, as he welcomed the news that the global vaccine partnership COVAX has lined up almost two billion doses of existing ... More>>

UN: Guterres To Seek Second Five-year Term
António Guterres will be seeking a second five-year term as UN Secretary-General, which would begin in January 2022.... More>>

UN Rights Office: Iran Execution Of Child Offender Breaks International Law

The execution of an Iranian man for a crime allegedly committed when he was 16 years old has been condemned by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and raised concerns over violations of his right to a fair trial. In a statement released on Thursday, ... More>>

UN News: Fighting Displaces Over 500,000 In Northern Mozambique, Reports UN Refuge Agency

Attacks by armed groups in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Zambezia and Niassa provinces have displaced more than 530,000 people, many of whom have been forced to move multiple times, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday. According to ... More>>