117. South Africa, like many UN member states, argues
that the organisation is in need of fundamental organisational
reform. The United Kingdom shares this concern and has set out
its proposals for possible improvements on a number of occasions.
Both nations stress that any reform should encompass the whole
organisation, but public attention on this issue has largely been
focused on reform of the Security Council.
118. At present, the UN Security Council reflects
the post-war balance of power. It has five permanent membersthe
Peoples' Republic of China, France, the Russian Federation, the
United Kingdom and the USAplus ten other, non-permanent,
members on a rotating basis. The five permanent members have the
power of veto over all business. Many commentators feel that the
permanent membership fails to reflect the realities of the world
in the twenty-first century. The dominance of European nations
among the five has caused particular annoyance.
119. The British Government has committed itself
to expanding the Council to include "new permanent members
who represent the regional realities of the modern world."
Such "realities" are largely interpreted as adding,
at least, one new permanent member from South America, Africa
and an additional one from Asia. In a recent debate in the House,
the FCO Minister Bill Rammell indicated that the United Kingdom
supported the principle of India and Brazil's permanent membership
of a reformed Council.
120. It is generally accepted that South Africa would
be, as one witness described, the "natural inheritor"
of any African seat in the Security Council.
It has demonstrated repeatedly that it would have the necessary
resources, international respect and commitment to multilateralism
to fully justify a place at the table. Chris Mullin indicated
that the Government certainly supported an African seat on the
Security Council and that South Africa would be an "obvious
However, he recognised that this was not for him to determine.
As we were told during meetings in South Africa, this will be
a matter for African nations to settle amongst themselves. They
may well compromise on a rotating seat for the continent.
121. We conclude that the arguments for reform
at the United Nations, particularly at the Security Council, are
undeniable. We also conclude that were there to be an 'African
seat' on the Council, South Africa would be amongst the strongest
African candidates, filling nearly all of the criteria for such
a position. We recognise, though, that this will be a matter for
African nations themselves to settle when the time arises.