Sir Emyr Jones-Parry: Reform can make the United Nations more effective

From a speech at the London School of Economics, by the British Ambassador to the UN
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The Independent Online

How can the UN best prepare for the next 50 years? One of the most high-profile issues under consideration is reform of the Security Council. This subject will attract a lot of media attention in coming months. The Security Council's primary role in maintaining international peace and security is as important as it has ever been. The Council is active across the broad range of threats to international peace and security. The UN's membership as a whole has a shared interest in a Council that is credible, effective and decisive.

How can the UN best prepare for the next 50 years? One of the most high-profile issues under consideration is reform of the Security Council. This subject will attract a lot of media attention in coming months. The Security Council's primary role in maintaining international peace and security is as important as it has ever been. The Council is active across the broad range of threats to international peace and security. The UN's membership as a whole has a shared interest in a Council that is credible, effective and decisive.

The Security Council could be stronger if it could more closely represent the modern world. The UK has long supported the case for expanding the Security Council with both permanent and non-permanent members. We support permanent seats for Germany, Japan, India and Brazil. We also want to see a permanent member from Africa on the Council. More non-permanent members would increase the voice of the developing world in the Council's discussions. That must be right, as so much of the Council's work now touches the developing world directly.

But being prepared goes further than the Council. Across the UN system, if we are going to be prepared to meet the threats and challenges of coming years, we need to be ready to act earlier than in the past. The UN needs to consider whether and how it can develop "early warning" systems for countries at risk, drawing on all its human resources in the field. This is a sensitive area - no state wishes to be identified with a label such as "failing" or "at risk". But, done tactfully, there should be ways of offering constructive help.

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