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Reforms to re size security council gain momentum

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United Nation: Reforms in security council have gained momentum with a total consensus on its resizing from 15 to mid-20s. Although, Russia and the US opposed at the recent negotiating session, according to diplomatic sources.

While the issue of adding permanent members was not on the session’s agenda and was scheduled for later, Pakistan and a group of countries served notice that they would oppose any such move.

Despite these differences, the “momentum of convergence is gaining speed” for reforms, a diplomat who was at the February 22 meeting told agencies. The diplomat cited the overwhelming support for increasing the total number of Council members from 15 to the mid-20s and for other reforms, which include making its working more transparent, emphasising mediation over military force, and more involvement of non-member countries in its activities.

This was the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reforms (IGN) after the General Assembly overcame stiff opposition last year to adopt a text to base the discussions on. IANS put together this account of the closed-door meeting from conversations with sources who attended it and speeches released by some countries.

The US and Russia wanted the size of the Council restricted to 20 asserting that anything more would undermine its efficiency. Limiting it to 20 would make it virtually impossible to add permanent members because there would then be no room for any non-permanent members, which would be the priority of most countries to broaden the representation on the UN’s highest decision-making body.

Washington and Moscow have, however, endorsed adding permanent members, with India as one of them. But a 20-member limit on the Council could nullify this.

The other permanent members, Britain and France, backed the mid-20s number while China did not take a stand.

India supported going up to 27 and Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said: “Efficiency is not merely an issue of numbers but stems from a broader set of factors such as credibility, equitability, legitimacy and representativeness.”

Russia also opposed proposals coming from the IGN on reforming the working of the Council, the other item on the agenda, claiming that it was an internal matter that only the Council should decide.

The IGN is to discuss on March 9 the veto issue, including whether new permanent members should have veto powers and if they should voluntarily forgo them. But in a preview of differences expected at the session, African nations said they wanted two permanent members from their region with veto powers and all other privileges the current five have.

While China spoke of a greater role for developing countries, it avoided saying anything on adding permanent members so as not to publicly antagonise the African countries, even as it lobbies against more permanent members.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi said categorically: “There should be no additional permanent seats.”

Pakistan belongs to a 13-member United for Consensus (UfC) group led by Italy that campaigns against adding permanent members and held up the reform process for several years by preventing the adoption of a negotiating text for the talks.

Italian Permanent Representative Sebastiano Cardi, speaking on behalf of UfC, suggested adding 11 seats to the Council, but said: “UfC countries are convinced that we cannot afford to allocate seats permanently to a few countries at the expense of the rest of the membership.”

Cardi examined the current distribution of seats in the Council to various groups, which gives five seats to the Europe and North America group and only three each to the Asia-Pacific and Africa groups and two each to Eastern Europe and Latin America groups.

This resulted in one Council seat for every 26 Asian-Pacific countries and one seat for every 18 African nations, he said. To right the imbalance, the majority of the added seats should go to Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America, he said.

German Permanent Representative Harald Braun, who spoke on behalf of four-nation group G-4 that includes India, Brazil and Japan, said he was “gratified” that the UfC supported his group’s proposal for enlarging the Council and added that this “indicated the group’s willingness to consolidating this point accordingly”.

The G-4 nations lobby for adding permanent seats and mutually support each for them.(IANS)

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

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Climate Change Not A Hoax: Trump

President Trump signed a declaration Sunday saying the federal government will, for now, pay for 100 percent of the cleanup in Florida

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Climate Change
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump is backing off his claim that climate change is a hoax.

In an interview broadcast Sunday, Trump told CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes “I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again…I’m not denying climate change, but it could very well go back. You know, we’re talking about over millions of years.”

Trump has over the years called global warming a hoax and had once called it a Chinese plot aimed at wrecking the U.S. economy.

climate change
People clean up their house that was destro. yed by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach. VOA

Trump told 60 Minutes he does not know if global waning is manmade, despite the scientific research showing that pollution and human activity is the major contributor. He said he does not want to give “trillions and trillions of dollars” and lose “millions and millions of jobs” to prevent it.

Most scientists link a warming planet with storms that are more intense. Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle last week as the strongest storm to strike the continental United States in nearly 50 years.

Trump said there have been hurricanes that were “far worse” than Michael and said scientists calling for action on climate change have a “very big political agenda.”

Meanwhile, the town of Mexico Beach, Florida was just about wiped off the face of the earth by Hurricane Michael.

“Mexico Beach is devastated,” Florida Governor Rick Scott says. “It’s like a war zone.”

Climate Change
Scenes of devastation in Mexico Beach, Florida in the aftermath for Hurricane Michael. VOA

Michael’s 250 kilometer per hour winds left only a handful of buildings standing. Concrete slabs are left where houses and stores thrived. Only a few trees are left. The main U.S. highway that goes through the town is not drivable.

Mexico Beach police chief Anthony Kelly told VOA’s Spanish Service, “When you come here and see the devastation, it’s hard, it’s emotionally hard.”

“We know each person in the majority of the houses. They know us,” Kelly said. “All these people are close to us. And now we’re going around the neighborhoods making sure that they’re not in any of these houses that are so extremely damaged.”

“Looking in the debris, seeing photos of grandkids, people that we know that have come back here year after year, that’s the emotional side,” he said. “I’ve got officers that this is their first catastrophic event, and it’s hard to explain to them, you know, it’s going to get better, because they’re seeing reality.”

The town’s medical manager, Patricia Cantwell, said, “It’s extremely sad that the devastation has been so rampant throughout the Panhandle” of the state.

“Having lived through Hurricane Andrew in south Florida (in 1992), it’s going to take a while,” she told VOA. “It’s one day at a time. It looks overwhelming to start, but, you know, one day at a time. It’s going to take years to get things back up and running.”

Climate Change
Scenes of devastation in Mexico Beach, Florida in the aftermath for Hurricane Michael.. VOA

Brock Long, the head Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the death toll in Mexico Beach could rise, as rescue workers continue to search the rubble left behind by the storm. It could take another 10 days to compile a damage estimate.

Some physical structures in the town were lifted off their moorings and moved hundreds of meters away by the winds and storm surge from the storm. Other buildings were left in masses of debris, demolished beyond recognition.

Also Read: US First Lady Melania Trump Starts The Final Leg of Her Africa Trip

President Trump signed a declaration Sunday saying the federal government will, for now, pay for 100 percent of the cleanup in Florida, temporarily easing the financial burden from the state. (VOA)