Day: November 10, 2010

Europe has to go on a diet

President Obama scored points this week by supporting India’s bid for a permanent (non-veto) seat on the 15-member UN Security Council.  He is likely to do the same for Brazil when he next meets its President, newly elected Dilma Rousseff.  Neither Brazil nor India, however, can expect to occupy their cushions any time soon.  Among the many obstacles, two bear mention:

1.  Regional opposition is strong.  Pakistan (and other Asian countries) are unlikely to applaud loudly as archrival India gets a permanent seat among the world’s mighty.  Nor are Argentina and Mexico likely to applaud for lusophone Brazil to represent Latin America permanently on the Council.

2.  Europe is over-represented and needs to give up seats so that the Council can be kept at a reasonable size.  As many as five, more often four, seats on the Council are occupied by European Union members, including two permanent seats for France and the UK.  To make room for Brazil and India, plus increased regional representation from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, will require Europe to go on a diet, as it has (barely) begun to do at the IMF: IMF Survey: G-20 Ministers Agree ‘Historic’ Reforms in IMF Governance.

This won’t be easy:  Germany has long campaigned for a permanent seat of its own.  But with EU countries coordinating their foreign and security policies, is there really any need for so many different European voices to be saying much the same thing?  Or would European weight in peace and security issues be greater if the Union had fewer seats (and a louder voice)?

Tags :