United Nations' Security Council

The UN General Assembly opened the door to expanding the Security Council by calling for full-scale negotiations on adding new members to the United Nations’ most powerful body.After hours of talks that several diplomats involved in said nearly collapsed, the assembly unanimously passed a resolution approving “inter-governmental negotiations” on expanding the council to begin by February 28, 2009. Several diplomats described the breakthrough as “historic”, saying it increased the likelihood that the council will become larger and more representative of today’s world.The process of expanding the council began in 1993 when a UN working group was given the task of drawing up a plan for enlarging the 15-nation body. But the committee worked on the basis of consensus, something it could never achieve due to disagreements among key members like Italy and Germany.Even if the inter-governmental negotiations strike a deal on enlarging the council, which has the power to authorize sanctions and military action, the process of ratification by UN member states will likely take years and there is no guarantee it will succeed. But diplomats said moving the discussion out of the deadlocked committee early next year and putting it into the hands of the 192 UN member states will capitalize on the view that an enlargement is long overdue.UN diplomats said that it would not be difficult to get the support of two-thirds of the UN member states needed for approval, provided they can agree on how many seats to add.One recent proposal which UN diplomats said enjoyed broad support among member states called for adding around seven new members to the council. Japan is one of the top candidates for a permanent seat on an expanded council, along with Germany, India, Brazil and an undetermined African nation.The council now has five permanent veto-wielding members—Britain, China, France, Russia and the US. Ten non-permanent members are elected for 2-year terms on a regional basis. The size of the council has increased once since the UN was created in 1945.

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