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UN seat: India calls for reform

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INDIA, South Africa, Germany, Portugal and Colombia yesterday won seats on the UN Security Council in a move that could increase pressure for change on the main global peace and security body.

Many of them renewed calls for change as they celebrated winning a two year stay on the Council from January 1.

India, South Africa and Colombia secured two-year terms in uncontested votes.

Germany was part of a three country battle with Portugal and Canada for two seats from a West European dominated regional group. It secured 128 votes in the first round, one more than the two thirds majority required. Canada withdrew after an inconclusive second round, leaving victory to Portugal.

Five of the 15 Security Council nations are elected to two year terms each year. Britain, China, France, Russia and the US are permanent members of the council who can veto any resolution.

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The new countries will take the places of Japan, Austria, Turkey, Mexico and Uganda and give the Security Council a completely new political profile.

Germany, India and South Africa have all been pressing for a permanent role in a reformed Security Council. Brazil is also part of the campaign for change and it will go into a second year on the council as a non permanent member.

“We will discuss a reform of the UN, but not now, not today. It’s necessary to change the structures to make the UN more effective,” said German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle.

“The vote is a success for Germany. It shows that the world has trust in us. We will do everything to justify that trust,” he added, setting out Germany’s priorities as peace, security, climate protection, development, disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.

“Germany is reliable – not only when it comes to its products but also when it comes to its foreign policy. The world knows it can rely on Germany,” he told reporters.

India secured 187 votes, the highest number of any country. Foreign minister SM Krishna said India would be a voice of “moderation and constructive engagement” while reaffirming “the need for a permanent presence for India” on the Security Council.

“We live in a troubled neighbourhood,” Krishna told reporters in New Delhi in a reference to India’s fraught ties with rival Pakistan and concerns over Afghanistan.

India’s UN ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri acknowledged that many of the new council faces wanted “permanent membership.”

“Naturally all of us will try to use the time that we have during this two year tenure to also give our partners a sense of confidence, build trust, so that they are comfortable with our membership of the Security Council on an extended basis,” the envoy told reporters.

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