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New UN council to reflect 21st century

Last Updated: Thursday, January 6, 2011 - 21:50

United Nations: The UN Security Council has
launched the new work year with a fresh mix of non-permanent
nations including India and South Africa whose diversity
better reflects the modern world but could complicate efforts
to reach consensus.

The UN`s most powerful body has been criticised for
sometimes failing to properly represent the world, especially
the poorer, non-Western states.

The new assemblage will offer a glimpse of how a more
diverse panel might work together if efforts prevail to expand
the number of permanent council seats. It will also test new
members on their ability to put international concerns over
their own national and regional interests.

The new council met together for the first time
yesterday, representing a world in which former colonial
states have become economic and political powerhouses.

Besides India and South Africa, Brazil and oil-rich
Nigeria already are members.

The first order of business was a political stalemate
in the west African nation of Ivory Coast, where the incumbent
president is refusing to step aside for the man the world says
beat him in recent elections.

The council this week will also discuss weekend
elections in Sudan that are expected to divide Africa`s
largest country into two.

UN specialist Stewart Patrick from the Council on
Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank, said this
year`s mix will be a "testing ground" for what a larger, more
diverse Security Council could look and act like.

India is now the world`s largest liberal democracy and
a nuclear power. South Africa has blossomed politically and
economically since apartheid ended 17 years ago and is now a
major leader in Africa, home to more UN member states than any
other continent. Latin American giant Brazil boasts the
world`s eighth largest GDP.

"Everyone will be watching whether they make good use
of the tools they have on the council, whether they will be
willing to go after rogue states," Patrick said.

Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said the new
diversity provides "a good opportunity to see what it would be
like," with countries such as India, Brazil and South Africa
playing a larger role.

Bruce Jones, a former senior UN staffer who now
directs New York University`s Centre on International
Cooperation, said he`s "relatively optimistic" that the new
members will put international concerns first.

"For instance, India isn`t the India of 10 years ago,
playing to the Group of 77," which represents 132 mainly
developing counties and China, he said. "This is an India that
has strategic relations with the United States."


First Published: Thursday, January 6, 2011 - 21:50

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