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A permanent seat on the UN Security Council

Posted by Helen Wednesday, July 14, 2004

One of the purposes of Joschka Fischer’s extended visit to South-East Asia is to drum up support for the German campaign to get a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Their very reasonable argument is that the five countries who do have a “coveted” permanent seat are the USA, UK, France, Russia and China, representatives of the 1945 world that has changed unrecognizable. Part of the change has been the fact that it is not the same China that sits there now and a very different Russia but these are details as far as the German government is concerned.

Furthermore, German troops are involved in peace-keeping operations in many parts of the world – not in itself a necessary pre-requisite for a permanent seat.

There is a feeling that the campaign will be looked on favourably by India who also wants a permanent seat on the Security Council. Presumably, if that happens, Pakistan will demand equal rights and the Security Council will grow and grow. Given that the organization already finds it difficult to come to any kind of a politically complicated decision, one wonders how a Council of a dozen permanent members as well as, presumably, an equal number of rotating ones will operate.

There is, however, one big problem with the German aspirations: Germany together with France are the two main supporters of the idea of a common foreign and security policy for the EU, headed by a single Foreign Minister. If the EU Constitution will go through, that will happen automatically. Judging by the way Solana’s position was confirmed by the European Council, the plan is being put into place with or without the Constitution. But, surely, if there is one foreign policy and one foreign minister, it will be the EU that will want to have the seat on the Security Council.

Of course, the EU belongs to the post-1945 world that is, according to German arguments, fast vanishing but has that been clearly recognized by the same German government?