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Nonaligned Nations Seek Democratic Reform of U.N. : Summit: Members want more voting power in world body, three new seats on Security Council.

October 20, 1995|WILLIAM R. LONG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CARTAGENA, Colombia — When the United Nations opens its General Assembly this weekend, celebrating its 50th anniversary, an overwhelming majority of its members will be demanding "democratic" reforms in the world body.

The 113-member Nonaligned Movement, holding a summit meeting in this Caribbean coastal city, wants changes in U.N. structure that will give the members more voting power and will safeguard the "sovereign equality of states."

Part of a declaration prepared for adoption today at the close of the Nonaligned nations' summit says that "it is essential to substantially increase" the movement's representation on the U.N. Security Council.

Nonaligned nations, most of them in the Third World, account for nearly two-thirds of total U.N. membership.

The 15-member Security Council is now dominated by the United States, Russia, France, China and Britain, which are its only permanent members and the only ones with veto power.

Diplomats said here Thursday that the Nonaligned Movement will support proposals to add Japan and Germany as permanent members only if permanent seats are also given to an African, Asian and Latin American country.

"Permanent membership for only Japan and Germany will not be accepted," said Ambassador Shah Pakash, India's representative to the United Nations.

Pakash said the Nonaligned nations are in general agreement that the Asian seat should go to India and the Latin American seat to Brazil. He said there was no agreement yet on the African seat, but it would be expected to go to one of the continent's biggest and most economically strong countries.

A draft of the declaration to be issued by the Nonaligned Movement also calls for measures to curtail or eliminate veto power in the Security Council--"in view of the increasing trend on the part of some countries to exercise undue influence over the Security Council and the privileged and dominant role that the veto right ensures for the permanent members of the council, which is contrary to the aim of democratizing the United Nations."

In speeches to the Nonaligned summit, many prime ministers, presidents and other officials complained of undemocratic structures and practices in the United Nations.

Some of the sharpest criticism came from Cuban President Fidel Castro, who has been given a U.S. visa to attend the opening of the General Assembly for the first time since 1979.

"Privileges should cease, and permanent membership should no longer be an almost exclusive attribute of European countries, nuclear powers or super-rich countries," Castro said. "The irritating veto privilege should at least be reformed as long as that anachronistic and anti-democratic instrument exists."

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia said that "the present U.N. and the Security Council cannot be entrusted with the task of forestalling such tragedies" as bloody civil wars in Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Somalia.

"The U.N. and the Secretariat have been more of an obstruction to peace than upholding the principles of the U.N.," he said. "Clearly, the U.N., its Secretariat and in particular the Security Council must be reformed if the world is to be made safe from the kind of gross injustices we see everywhere today."

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