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UN Reform.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 6 October 2005

Thursday, 6 October 2005

Questions (30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

19 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has any proposals for reform of the UN Security Council; and if so, the details of same. [26940/05]

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Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

33 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the statement on Security Council reform agreed at the UN 2005 World Summit. [26941/05]

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Ruairí Quinn

Question:

35 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding the reform of the United Nations Security Council; if he has adopted a position regarding the number of countries to be represented and on the geographic mix of a reformed Security Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26835/05]

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Arthur Morgan

Question:

58 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his position during discussions on Security Council reform at the UN 2005 World Summit. [26938/05]

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Seán Crowe

Question:

69 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the matter of UN Security Council reform following the outcome of the UN 2005 World Summit. [26934/05]

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Martin Ferris

Question:

108 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the proceedings in which he was involved at the UN 2005 World Summit on the area of Security Council reform. [26939/05]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 19, 33, 35, 58, 69 and 108 together.

The members of the United Nations are agreed that the composition of the Security Council established under the UN Charter is not in accord with the realities of the 21st century. This is particularly the case as regards the permanent seats on the council, which are still occupied by the five major victorious powers in the Second World War, who hold the power of veto over its decisions.

The question of reform of the Security Council has been under discussion in the UN General Assembly since 1993, but agreement has failed to emerge.

In the course of these discussions, Ireland and a number of like-minded partners supported a regionally balanced increase in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of member. We supported the abolition of the veto, but opposed in any event its extension to new permanent members. We have also been firm in our view that any reform of the Security Council should not result in any diminution of the opportunity for small and medium-sized countries to serve regularly on the Security Council.

A high level panel was established by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, in 2003 to examine how current threats and challenges might be best addressed by the international community. He asked it to address, among other things, the question of reform of the Security Council. The panel, which reported in December 2004, failed to agree on any one model of reform, offering instead two different models. One model would establish six new permanent and three new non-permanent seats, while the other would provide for no new permanent seats but would create a new category of eight seats to which states could be elected, and re-elected, for four years, along with one new normal non-permanent seat.

In his own recommendations to the UN Summit, Secretary General Annan said that while reform of the Security Council was a matter for the UN member states rather than for himself, he believed that that "no reform of the United Nations would be complete without reform of the Security Council". He did not express a view on either of the models put forward by the high level panel, urging UN members to consider both models as well as "any other viable options".

In May of this year a group of four countries, Germany, Japan, India and Brazil, which base their claim to permanent membership on their strong contributions to the UN system, circulated a draft framework resolution on Security Council reform. This draft provides for six new permanent members, including two from the African continent, along with four additional non-permanent members. A provision that would extend the veto to the new permanent members was later removed, in favour of a review in 2020. A vote on this draft resolution was delayed pending the conclusion of negotiations with other members of the General Assembly, and particularly with the members of African Union, whose votes were regarded as crucial to securing the two-thirds majority necessary for adoption. These negotiations were not concluded in advance of the recent UN Summit. It remains to be seen whether the group of four will put forward their draft resolution again in the new session of the General Assembly.

Some members of the General Assembly do not regard it as sufficient to adopt a reform of the Security Council by means of the two-thirds majority required under the UN Charter. They maintain that the legitimacy of, and universal respect for, any reform measure requires a much broader degree of consensus. They put forward a rival draft resolution based on the second model proposed by the high level panel but did not submit it to a vote in the General Assembly. Our European Union partners include strong supporters of both approaches, which has prevented the emergence of a common EU position.

At the recent UN 2005 World Summit, world leaders reaffirmed the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security. They also unanimously supported early reform of the Security Council and asked the General Assembly to review progress by the end of this year. In my own address to the General Assembly on 19 September, I drew attention to the wide acknowledgement of the need to align the Security Council with today's realities, and aid that this remained an important piece of unfinished business.

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