The Swiss ambassador to the United Nations in New York has said the annual report of the UN Security Council is unsatisfactory and the body must be reformed.This content was published on December 11, 2006 - 22:34
Peter Maurer told the UN General Assembly on Monday that members would be better served by a detailed analysis of the council's activities than by a general overview.
The Security Council is the body of the UN charged with maintaining peace and security among nations.
While other UN bodies only make recommendations to member governments, the Security Council has the power to make decisions which member governments must carry out under the United Nations Charter.
Switzerland, along with several other countries, has repeatedly called for the Security Council to be reformed.
Maurer reiterated his demands for an expansion of the UN's most powerful organisation, but he said that the power of veto – currently held only by five permanent members – should not be granted to new members as that could hinder the decision-making process.
The five permanent members are China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States – the only nations recognised as possessing nuclear weapons under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The ten temporary seats are held for two-year terms with member states voted in by the UN General Assembly on a regional basis.
Maurer said the council must be expanded according to "objective criteria" such as a nation's size and population, and the level of its financial and military contributions to the UN.
Despite his disappointment, Maurer pointed out that the initiative for better working methods at the Security Council, proposed last year by Switzerland and four other countries, had had a positive effect.
He said the council had recognised and taken on board the thoughts of non-member states and had even taken steps to adapt to their demands.
In November 2005 Maurer – together with colleagues from Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein and Singapore – handed a proposal to all UN member states, demanding the Security Council become more transparent and pay greater attention to non-member states.
But the United States and Russia dismissed the Swiss draft resolution, fearing a weakening of their influence.
In an accompanying letter Maurer and his four colleagues quoted from the UN summit document published after the three-day world summit held in New York in September 2005.
That document said reforming the council would reflect political reality more accurately and would enable non-members to get involved in negotiations more regularly.
It maintained that non-member states had a right to be well informed and to share in the decisions taken by the Security Council.
But Maurer emphasised on Monday that more could be done to improve the Security Council. More frequent reports on crises for example would strengthen member states' faith in the body, he said.
What's more, he suggested that in the case of genocide or crimes against humanity, permanent members should not be allowed to use their veto – and in other cases when they do, they should be forced to give reasons why they have done so.
Maurer also said he was in favour of creating a working group that would look at errors in previous Security Council actions and formulate effective strategies.
swissinfo with agencies
The United Nations has 191 member countries.
The Security Council is made up of 15 members. It has five permanent members - China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States - which can block any proposal brought before the council by casting a negative vote (veto).
The ten non-permanent members are periodically elected by all member states for a two-year term.
The Security Council has the authority to send UN peacekeeping forces to conflict zones.
The council can also authorise enforcement measures, economic sanctions or collective military action.
Switzerland joined the UN in September 2002 following a nationwide vote. It does not have a seat on the Security Council.
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