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UN: Annan Calls For Security Council Reform

Prague, 19 July 1999 (RFE/RL) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he expects the first steps to reform the UN Security Council will be taken within the next six months.

Annan made the remarks following talks with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan in Prague July 16 that centered on reforming the UN.

Annan says a variety of proposals are on the table to expand the Security Council:

"Suggestions have been made that the size of the council should be expanded. Some have sought to expand it to 20 or 21. Others have sought to expand it to 24, 26 or 26 with five new permanent members. And in the past, one of the discussions had focused on creation of new seats and new permanent seats with three for the developing world and two more for the industrialized world."

At present, the five permanent members are the victorious powers that emerged at the end of World War II -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China.

Germany and Japan -- against which the United Nations was in part initially founded -- want to be permanent Security Council members due to their economic strength.

Annan says discussion is also proceeding on possibly limiting the veto powers of the permanent members, perhaps through a mechanism for overriding the veto as exists in some democratic parliaments, including the U.S. Congress.

"There is more and more discussion about maybe finding some ways of proscribing the veto. Probably coming up with a mechanism for overriding the veto, where for example, if nine members of the council as it is currently constituted were to vote against the veto, the veto would be overridden."

Annan says the Kosovo conflict, as he put it, has shown the limitations of the Security Council in its present form and the need for reform.

He said any move by UN members to use force should first seek Security Council approval before engaging in such force, not after -- a reference to NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia earlier this year.