UNITED NATIONS: The intensive six-year campaign by India and three other aspirants for permanent seats on the UN Security Council, Brazil, Germany and Japan has fizzled out for lack of support among member states, and even led to divisions within the so-called Group of Four.
The collapse of the G-4 drive for permanent membership on the world body’s high table becomes obvious from it’s recent letter to General Assembly President Joseph Deiss requesting him to resume the inter-governmental negotiations on reforming the 15-nation Council, a process they had abandoned and went on to circulate a resolution seeking expansion in permanent and non-permanent categories.
But the resolution, which the G-4 thought would be a short-cut to their goals, won—in their own words, 80 pledges of the support—not even a simply majority in the 192-member Assembly when 128 votes, or two-thirds majority, is required.
Critics of G-4 pointed out that since the resolution has not been tested on the floor of the Assembly, even their claim of 80 member states, as mentioned in the G-4 letter, could be a bit of exaggeration.
“This (the claim of 80) is an admission of defeat, to say the very least ... a shattering blow to their ambitions,” a European diplomat said.
“Obviously, the reform model advocated by G-4 is not acceptable to the member states.” Four months ago, the G-4 opted out of the inter-governmental negotiations, saying that the talks were not making any progress.
The G-4 underscored the need for the Council’s reform, which they had virtually reduced to mere enlargement and categories—ignoring other important issues like working methods, question of veto, regional representation and relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council.
During that period, representatives of the G-4 countries, especially India, went virtually door-to-door to lobby support for their resolution that would open the door to permanent and non-permanent categories.
The Security Council currently has five veto-wielding permanent members—Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States—and 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms.
Despite the general agreement on enlarging the council, as part of the UN reform process, member states remain sharply divided over the details, most of them sticking to their positions.
Indeed, the General Assembly president has said there was little possibility of the Security Council reform in the near future unless different groups holding steadfast to their respective positions hammer out a compromise on the issue, at least a temporary one.
Probably it is not possible actually to find a solution where one of these different groups will get the total of their aspirations, President Deiss said.
Experts see G-4’s call for the resumption of inter-governmental negotiations, in which Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) is a key player, as an indication of the fact that they are giving up their campaign for the Council’s permanent membership, at least for the time being.
Though their (G-4) action, they created a stalemate for four months.
“It’s like coming back to the process that they had killed,” an analyst said. In doing so, India and other group members have become isolated.
The G-4 letter said, “We reiterate our full support to the process of the inter-governmental negotiations. We look forward to working constructively and in a spirit of flexibility with other Member States to realize as a matter of urgency the reform of the Security Council.”
Just before the June 23 letter, a major Japanese newspaper also reported that G-4’s draft resolution has “not made much headway on votes of support.”
Therefore, division within G-4 is increasingly discernable, with India trying to assume the group’s leadership.
An article published in Japan’s paper Manicichi Shinbun notes that the G-4 has started giving up its initiative to put its resolution to a vote in the General Assembly, because the chances to obtain 128 votes are slim.
The article says that the UFC held a meeting in Rome where 120 countries attended, whereas the countries that support the current G-4 proposal only number 70-80.
It also states that during the June 6 meeting of the G-4 in New Delhi, Japan and Germany wanted to discuss the next steps—apparently compromise—but India and Brazil wanted to continue pushing for the resolution.
The UfC group advocates consensus on reforming the Council, instead of a divisive vote. The group opposes any addition to the Council’s permanent members, but seeks enlargement of the 10-member non-permanent category, with the new members elected for two-year terms, along with the possibility of immediate re-election.