22 September 2006

Need for Security Council Reform Never Greater; Until then, UN Handicapped by Perception of Inequitable Share of Power, Secretary-General Says

NEW YORK, 21 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to a dinner hosted by Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, and Romano Prodi, Prime Minister of Italy, 20 September:

Since the world's leaders agreed on an ambitious reform agenda at last year's Summit, we have made a great deal of progress on a number of fronts.  We have a new Peacebuilding Commission, with a Support Office and Fund; a new Human Rights Council; a new Central Emergency Response Fund for humanitarian needs; a new Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy agreed by all 192 Member States; a new Democracy Fund, already providing grants; and an Economic and Social Council reform.

These are all important institutional innovations.  But, I continue to believe that no reform of the United Nations will be complete without reform of the Security Council.  And, indeed, so long as the Council remains unreformed, the whole process of transforming governance in other parts of the system is handicapped by the perception of an inequitable distribution of power.

The world has changed dramatically since 1945, and the Security Council must change, too.  Without an expansion of its power base, it's hard to see how we are going to go on meeting the demands that Member States make on us, particularly in the area of peacekeeping.

When I took this job a decade ago, there were 20,000 United Nations peacekeepers in the field.  Today we have over 90,000 deployed, and if we are to comply fully with the mandates the Security Council has now given us in Lebanon, Timor-Leste, Sudan -- that is, Darfur -- the total will surge to nearly 140,000 troops.  It will not be easy to raise such numbers of troops from countries which feel inadequately represented in the Council that is deciding the mandates.

And, raising troops for peacekeeping is far from being the only problem.  The Council also needs greater political participation of all regions, if it is to be accepted as fully legitimate by all -- as it must be, in order to address major challenges to the Middle East peace process, and in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, and many corners of the world.

But, while virtually everyone agrees on the need for expansion of the Security Council, there is still no agreement on how to do it -- the nature, the extent and scope of that reform.

For the good of the world's peoples and the United Nations, we cannot allow the current stalemate to continue.

It is time for those who have become entrenched in supporting a specific option to think anew.  Neither Option A nor Option B has garnered enough support to carry the day.

Countries on both sides of the divide stand to benefit if a compromise solution could be found.  All will suffer if the stalemate is allowed to continue.

With a determined effort, Member States could find a solution within a matter of months.  You have discussed this issue for a long time, and, in fact, last year it was a subject of intense debate and discussions among you.

The need is clear and has never been greater.

I hope the entire membership will make a new and urgent effort to explore new ways forward.  The peoples of the world are waiting.

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