Move to expand Security Council to 24

New York - The president of the UN General Assembly yesterday fired the starting gun for a race that could change the face of international politics.

Razali Ismail, of Malaysia, presented a key resolution to enlarge the UN Security Council to allow Japan and Germany to become permanent members, but without veto power.

The document would expand the 15-member council to 24 seats, and it is considered the first serious attempt at concrete steps to reform the body after years of discussions. It envisages stages that would take about a year before final decisions are made and voted on by the assembly and the council.

Five countries, the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, are permanent members with veto powers.

Mr Razali's proposal would add five permanent members and four rotating non-permanent members. Two of the permanent members would be from industrialised states, and one each from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The four non-permanent members would be from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

But none of the new members would have veto power, a provision which Japan and Germany are bound to oppose.

Italy's ambassador, Paulo Fulci, said Mr Razali's proposals would make the council less democratic, creating three, instead of two, categories of members. The British ambassador Sir John Weston said it was a good basis for negotiation and should lead to a decision by the assembly.

Mr Razali hopes his proposal will be adopted by the General Assembly in September, and that the assembly will vote on the actual members of the expanded Security Council by 28 February 1998, a spokeswoman said. Under the proposal, the assembly would vote a week later to amend the UN charter, she said.

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