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UN Security Council ExpansionFact sheet released by the Bureau of International Organization Affairs
U.S. Department of State, April 5, 2000
- U.S. Objective: The U.S. is committed to expanding the Security Council in a way that strengthens its capacity and effectiveness, and enhances its representative character without detracting from its working efficiency.
- Current Structure: The Council's current structure is 5 permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK, the U.S.) each with the right to veto, and 10 non-permanent members elected by the General Assembly for 2 year terms. Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and it is the only UN body that can take decisions binding on all UN members. The U.S. and other permanent members of the Council must ratify any changes to the UN Charter, including any changes to the Council's size or powers.
- New Members: The U.S. supports the granting of permanent seats for Japan and Germany and is prepared to accept three additional permanent seats for developing nations from the regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The U.S. favors regional groups deciding if the seat allocated to their region would be filled on a rotating basis or held by a single nation. The U.S. on April 3, 2000, announced its willingness to consider reasonable proposals for an expanded Council that would result in a slightly larger number of seats than 21, providing that the new composition would contribute to a more effective Council and be based on broad UN consensus, including the principal regional states.
- Veto: The U.S. has not taken a position on the veto for any proposed new permanent members, and believes this issue should only be addressed once the structure of an expanded Council is determined. We are firmly opposed to any changes to the veto held by the current permanent members.
- Status of Deliberations: The UN's Open-Ended Working Group on Security Council Reform, created seven years ago, continues to debate the process for increasing membership of the Council and examining ways to improve the Council's working methods. Significant differences remain among UN member states on the best course for Security Council expansion. In contrast to the U.S. position, many UN members support large increases in the Council's membership; some UN members also favor the adoption of severe limits on the veto rights of the permanent members of the Council.
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