UN Security Council Schroeder Demands German Veto Power

A week after the United Nations released its ideas for a revamped Security Council, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder dished up with one of his own on Thursday. For the first time, he demanded that new members -- including Germany and Japan -- be given veto rights.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's speech at an economic reform conference in Japan on Thursday was far from the standard, platitudinous fare one often expects from leading politicians. Indeed, he even managed to surprise his own advisors.

Speaking on his pet-project of United Nations Security Council reform, Schroeder for the first time demanded that potential new Council members should also be given veto rights. Currently only China, Russia, Britain, the United States and France are in a position to veto UN resolutions. Double standards should not be part of a Security Council enlargement Schroeder emphasized.

"This means, of course, that (the new members), like the (permanent members) should have the veto right," the chancellor said.

Until Schroeder's speech, the party line from Berlin had always emphasized that Germany was not looking for veto rights in its demands for UN reform. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, whose country likewise hopes to become part of an enlarged council, expressed support for Schroeder's surprisingly strong position at a joint press conference later in the day.

Brazil and India have also been lobbying together with Japan and Germany for permanent seats on the council with a seat reserved for an African country as well. But veto rights had never been a serious part of the discussion.

The two options for an expanded Security Council proposed by a United Nations panel last week likewise made no mention of adding additional veto-wielding members. One panel proposal suggested adding six new permanent members -- two each from Asia and Africa and one each from the Americas and Europe -- as well as three temporary members that would be elected for two-year terms.

The other proposal presented last week was for an addition of a sub-tier of eight non-permanent members that would be elected to four-year terms -- two members each from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

On the first stop of Schroeder's current Asia trip in China, Schroeder sought on Tuesday to gain Chinese support for reform of the Security Council. While China reacted positively to an expanded role for Germany in the United Nations decision-making process, no mention was made of veto rights. It is considered unlikely that China would go along with any proposal that guaranteed archrival Japan a permanent veto. It is likewise unclear how the other veto powers will react to Schroeder's Thursday speech.

With reporting by Carsten Volkery in Tokyo

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