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Consensus Key to Success of Security Council Reform

Supporters of rival plans for the United Nations Security Council reform have campaigned heavily against each other in recent months and showed no signs of reaching a compromise.  

As a few countries continue to press ahead with its immature plan calling for an increase of the council permanent seats, the process of reforming the council could be derailed, thus casting a shadow over the UN reforms as a whole.


Under such circumstances, the Chinese government released a position paper last week, laying out six principles on the council reform, including seeking broad consensus through consultations and giving priority to increasing the representation of developing countries. By advocating these principles, China is making its efforts to ensure the success of the council reform and safeguard the interests of the developing countries.


The council reform should contribute to the council's increased authority and efficiency, enhance its ability to cope with the challenges to international peace and security, and keep the UN at the center of the collective security mechanism. The Security Council is a body entrusted with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Over the past 60 years, profound changes have taken place in the balance of world power and the challenges to global peace and security, calling for an appropriate increase of the council's membership and its working methods.


The council reform should reflect on the international political reality, with priority given to increasing the representation of the developing countries on the council. More countries, the small and medium-sized ones in particular, should be given more opportunities to enter the council on a rotating basis to participate in its decision-making process. Only by doing so can decisions made by the council be more democratic, authoritative and legitimate.


The developing countries currently account for more than two-thirds of the UN membership, but only eight seats on the present Security Council are allocated for Asia, Africa and Latin America. Apparently, developing countries are seriously under-represented on the council. This situation must be reversed.


The council reform should adhere to the principle of geographical balance, with representation of different cultures and civilizations taken into consideration. All the regional groups should, first of all, reach agreement on reform proposals concerning their respective regions. China believes that the principle of regional rotation advocated by some countries also merits attention and consideration.


The council reform should stick to the principle of achieving consensus through consultations and accommodate the interests of all sides, particularly those of the small and medium-sized countries. Adhering to the principle of achieving consensus through consultations is in accordance with the spirit of the UN Charter. Only decisions thus made can truly help strengthen the council's authority and effectiveness and win the broadest trust and support from the general membership. Therefore, China opposes the approach to set a time limit for the Council reform or force a vote on a consensus-lacking proposal.


Seeking consensus through consultations can avoid a split in the UN membership and therefore serve the long-term interests of the UN as a whole. More and more countries are now becoming worried by the prospect that the debate and controversy over the Security Council reform could not only lead to a rift among the member states but also marginalize or even harm the consultations on other important questions, especially those concerning development. As a result, it would be unlikely for the September UN summit to meet its goals.


Undoubtedly, the purpose of reform is to build new consensus and strengthen existing unity so as to enhance the ability of the UN to meet new challenges with greater efficiency.


Should the world body be dragged into divisive fight over the reform of the Security Council, the original purpose of this reform would be totally defeated. Such an outcome would neither bode well for the upholding of the authority of the Security Council nor for the reform of the UN as a whole. China has categorically expressed its firm opposition to the attempt to rush to a decision on the council reform, which could do harm to the UN reform as a whole.


(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2005)

Tang: 'Development' Is Top Priority for UN Reform
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UN Reform Should Be Based on Broad Discussions Among Members
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