Britain backs 'modest' UN Security Council expansion

British UN envoy says UK does not support extending the use of veto, at the heart criticism of the council's structure

British UN envoy says UK does not support extending the use of veto, at the heart criticism of the council's structure

NEW YORK - The United Kingdom supports "a modest expansion" in permanent and non-permanent seats at the UN Security Council, British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said Wednesday.

"We believe that the time has come to make the United Nations Security Council more reflective of the modern world," Grant told a UN General Assembly session on possible Security Council reform.

He ruled out British support for extending the use of the veto power yielded by the Council’s permanent members – China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.

The structure of the 15-member Council has faced widespread criticism for the over-riding influence of the permanent members, who were granted their seats because of their roles in the formation of the UN in 1945 as the victors of World War II.

Many have described the privileges held by the five permanent members anachronistic and far from representative of the cultural and geopolitical realities of the world.

"In particular, we support new permanent seats for Brazil, Germany, India and Japan alongside permanent African representation," Grant said.

Speaking at the session, President of the UN General Assembly Sam Kutesa said the 70th anniversary of the UN's founding, which will be observed in October, provided "a historic opportunity" for Security Council reform.

"A revitalized, reformed and effective United Nations needs to be at the heart of the international community’s effort to promote peace and security, sustainable development and human rights," he said.

"This is a historic opportunity for the Security Council to adapt to the new realities and constructs of our world and become the more broadly representative, efficient and transparent institution to enhance its legitimacy envisioned by peoples everywhere."

The Council is tasked with maintaining international peace and security and developing friendly relations among nations. It can slap financial sanctions and can authorize the use of force in conflicts.

Its five permanent members yield the right of veto on any resolution.

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