UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A high-level panel called for sweeping reform of the United Nations in the wake of bitter divisions over the U.S.-led war in Iraq, with proposals to expand the Security Council and to give the powerful body clear guidelines for authorizing pre-emptive military attacks.
The panel’s long-awaited report, which was commissioned by Secretary-General Kofi Annan after last year’s diplomatic battle over Iraq, said the dangers confronting the world today cannot be dealt with by any nation acting alone, even a superpower.
The 95-page report laid out a new vision for collective action to tackle threats to global security and to make the Security Council “more proactive.”
“Today’s threats recognize no national boundaries, are connected and must be addressed at the global and regional as well as the national levels,” the panel said. “No state, no matter how powerful, can by its own efforts alone make itself invulnerable to today’s threats.”
Former Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, who chaired the panel, said members were divided over expanding the 15-nation Security Council, an issue that has challenged the world body’s 191 member states for more than a decade.
The panel therefore presented two options: One would add six new permanent members and the other would create a new tier of eight semi-permanent members, two each from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Panel members agreed that only the current five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — should retain veto power.
Seeking more influence over global decisions, Brazil, Germany, India and Japan joined forces in September to lobby for permanent seats. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said yesterday that new permanent members should have veto power.
South Africa and Nigeria are the top candidates for one African seat and Egypt is pushing for the other, insisting that Arab nations must be permanently represented on the council, diplomats said.
The 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission also should be expanded to include all member states, the panel said.
The issues facing the international community, the panel said, go far beyond fighting wars and must include campaigns to fight poverty, terrorism, environmental destruction, organized crime and weapons proliferation.
The report also addressed questions about the Security Council’s role in authorizing the use of force, which came to the fore in the run-up to last year’s war in Iraq when the United States had to abandon an attempt to get U.N. approval because of sharp opposition from France, Germany, Russia and other council members.
The panel said it saw no reason to change the U.N. Charter, which permits the use of force for self-defense only in case of an attack or if authorized by the Security Council.