• AFP-Jiji, Kyodo


A flurry of world leaders have appealed again to the United Nations to reform the Security Council, reviving a bid launched 15 years ago.

But chances of transforming the world body's most powerful institution are seen as close to zero by most experts, who see little incentive from today's Permanent Five to let others in.

Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States hold veto-wielding permanent seats at the Security Council, an arrangement that reflects the geopolitical dynamics at the time of the U.N.'s creation in the aftermath of World War II.

A coalition of four nations — Brazil, Germany, India and Japan — on Wednesday renewed its campaign for inclusion.

Adding the "Group of 4" would ensure that the Security Council incorporate Europe's biggest economy (Germany), the world's second largest developed economy and major U.N. contributor (Japan), the world's second most populous nation (India) and the most populous nation in Latin America (Brazil).

"The world of today is very different from what it was when the United Nations was created 75 years ago," their four foreign ministers said in a joint statement after talks by videoconference on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Only if we manage to reform the Security Council will we stop it from becoming obsolete," they said.

The foreign ministers of the countries stressed "the urgency of reforming the United Nations and updating its main decision-making bodies, in order to better reflect contemporary realities," according to the statement.

The ministers voiced "disappointment at attempts to derail this process and committed to addressing the issue in a meaningful way" as this year marks the 75th anniversary of the world body.

Japan has been working with the three other countries for years to have all four included as permanent U.N. Security Council members and increase the number of nonpermanent seats.

Intergovernmental talks on U.N. reforms started in 2009 but have not achieved much progress.

The Security Council currently consists of five permanent members and ten nonpermanent members elected for two-year terms.

Japan has said the Security Council should be more representative, noting that the number of its members only increased once in 1965, from 11 to 15, by adding more nonpermanent seats, although the United Nations now has 193 member states, up from 51 in 1945 when the New York-headquartered organization was established.

Toshimitsu Motegi from Japan, Ernesto Araujo from Brazil and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar from India took part in the teleconference, while Niels Annen, the German foreign ministry's minister of state, sat in for Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

But to include more nations, the Permanent Five would dilute their own status.

The chances of Security Council reform "are next to none," said Andrew Bacevich, professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University.

"And the reason is that the reform proposal, which in many respects makes great sense, calls upon the Permanent Five countries to lose their power," he said.

"I can't imagine why any of them would find that prospect agreeable."

The United States has backed a seat for close ally Japan, and former president Barack Obama on a visit to India announced support for New Delhi's bid.

But the United States is hardly pressing for an expansion, and showed hesitation in 2005 amid tensions with Germany over the Iraq invasion.

With Britain's exit from the European Union, France is the only EU nation with a Security Council veto.

But France officially backs the bid by the four nations including Germany, as well as an expanded African presence, and unlike Russia, the United States and China seeks to limit the use of the veto to questions involving mass atrocities.

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