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Revamp for UN Security Council?
Aussie PM Howard to propose change, back Indonesia to be one of five permanent seats without veto powers

By Robert Go

AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister John Howard will propose to the United Nations next week that the UN Security Council be revamped to include a permanent seat for the world's largest Islamic nation, Indonesia.

The Foreign Ministry in Jakarta reacted by calling the proposal a reflection of its neighbour's views of 'Indonesia's contribution to global peace and security'.

Under the plan, outlined in recent interviews, Mr Howard sees the council becoming a three-tiered body. This would replace the existing two-tiered system, which has five permanent members and 10 two-year rotational seats.

Indonesia, India, Japan, Germany and Brazil would form the second tier with permanent seats but no rights of veto like those of existing permanent members

The final five places making up the third tier would continue to be elected and rotated every year or two.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa told The Straits Times that Indonesia has been at the forefront in calling for reform of the UN Security Council, both in terms of membership and working methods, at least since 1992.

'We think that to ensure greater legitimacy of the council, it has to be more representative,' he said

'Indonesia, in calling for reforms of the membership of the council, has identified certain criteria. Primary among them is the idea that developing countries should be included in the council.'

Mr Howard leaves today for the United States, where he and his wife, Janette, will be guests of President George W. Bush at his Texas ranch before flying on to New York for talks with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Sunday.

He is expected to seek Mr Bush's support for a plan he thinks may help restore the relevance of the UN after it failed to act decisively over Iraq and emerged from the conflict with questions hanging over its future.

Mr Bush has persistently called for reform of the Security Council.

An enthusiastic member of the US-led 'coalition of the willing' in Iraq, Mr Howard told The Bulletin magazine that the UN had been weakened over Iraq.

'But I don't think it's terminal. There may be a greater momentum towards some kind of reform of the Security Council.

'I see merit in a Security Council that has three layers, the five permanent veto members - none of them are going to give it up - with five permanent non-veto members, then five that keep changing every year.

'The five permanent non-veto members would be, say, Japan, India, Brazil, Germany and Indonesia, an Islamic country.'

Mr Natalegawa said Indonesia's Foreign Ministry called on other countries to judge the country on its record when considering whether it was qualified to sit on the Security Council.

'The reality is that we are not only the largest Muslim-population country in the world, but we are also the globe's third largest democracy,' he said.

'We should not lose sight of this. Our contribution to global peace and stability has been multi-dimensional.' -- Information for this report also came from AFP


THE THREE TIERS
THE UN Security Council has two tiers now.
• Five permanent members, with veto powers: Britain, China, France, Russia and the US

• 10 two-year rotational seats

The proposed third tier is:
• Five permanent non-veto members. Suggested members are Japan, India, Brazil, Germany and Indonesia, an Islamic country

The 10 two-year rotational seats would then become:
• Five one- or two-year rotational, elected seats
 
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