07 July 2005

U.N. reform: India may agree to defer vote on G-4 resolution

7 July 2005
The Hindu

India may agree to defer vote on G-4 resolution on U.N. Council

The feeling is that it might be better to have an open-ended debate

Siddharth Varadarajan

NEW DELHI: With the G-4 countries' "deadline" for tabling their draft resolution on U.N. Security Council enlargement fast approaching, India is now leaning towards not insisting on an immediate vote in the General Assembly.

At the initiative of the Brazilian Foreign Minister, a meeting of the G-4 foreign ministers will be held in London on July 8 to discuss the future strategy. External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh will attend, as will his counterparts from Germany and Japan.

According to official sources, India still sees tremendous merit in the draft framework resolution being submitted to the General Assembly as early as next week. But rather than pushing through with a vote immediately, the feeling is that it might be better to have an open-ended debate on the resolution's proposals. Many countries have not yet clarified their position and a debate would help them to air their views without the fear of having immediately to commit a vote this way or that.

Political decision

At the same time, the officials conceded that the G-4 ambassadors to the U.N. were keen on going in for a vote immediately. "They feel the numbers add up and they may be right from their perspective in New York," a senior official told The Hindu. "But the decision to press for a vote has to be a political one in which the wider implications are considered by each of the G-4 governments."

The official said that a number of countries friendly to India and its bid had counselled a postponement of any vote and that New Delhi would accord due consideration to these views as well.

If the G-4 agrees to defer voting for now, India is likely to prefer that the resolution be formally taken up later in the year, perhaps in September. The feeling is that any postponement beyond 2005 would kill the momentum for reform.

New Delhi is convinced that a substantial majority of the world's countries will speak in favour of the G-4 draft which envisages the creation of six additional permanent members of the Security Council — two each from Asia and Africa, and one each from Europe and Latin America. "The African Union (AU) summit in Libya (which concluded on Tuesday) has broadly endorsed what we want by calling for two permanent members from Africa, an official said. At the same time, the AU was insisting on an additional non-permanent seat, which would take the size of the enlarged Security Council to 26 — rather than 25 as envisaged by the G-4.

That might just be one too many members for those countries concerned that a bigger UNSC might lose its effectiveness.

Though India has received more pledges of support for its own candidature than for the G-4 framework resolution, the officials said New Delhi was determined to maintain the unity of the G-4 at all costs. If the AU had chosen its two candidates, the G-4 could have been expanded to include them as well. "But we are all going to work closely with the Africans on this," the official said.

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