Syed Mahmood, President of the American Institute for International Studies (AIIS), has called for a permanent seat for the Muslims in United Nations Security Council. If the criteria for the seat is nuclear power status then Pakistan could be considered as a strong candidate for the permanent seat, he added.
Addressing a seminar entitled "War or Peace", Syed Mahmood said that the United Nations is important for maintaining global peace and stability; however, the time has come to re-evaluate, reorganize, and re-adjust its power structure in view of the new geopolitical realities. I am not an expert, but I believe that the UN should reflect today's geopolitical realities.
Later, in response to questions on the importance of the UN in global peace and security, he pointed out that although the Bush administration ignored the UN while invading Iraq, it had to resort to the Security Council for approval of various measures taken after the fall of Saddam.
Syed Mahmood reminded the audience that the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on March 19 released a report to reform the world body. The report entitled "In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security, and Human Rights For All" calls for expanding the 15-nation Security Council before year's end to ensure more democratic representation on the United Nations' most powerful institution.
On efforts to reform the UN, Syed Mahmood recalled that President Clinton, in his September 22, 1997 address to the General Assembly, expressed strong support for expanding the Security Council to give more countries a voice in the most important work of the UN. The Clinton administration had originally suggested expanding the permanent membership to include only Germany and Japan.
Under the UN Charter, the primary responsibility of the Security Council is to maintain international peace and security. At the time of the creation of the UN in 1945, the Security Council had eleven members, including the permanent five, out of a total membership of 51 states. After a subsequent amendment to the Charter in 1963, the number of non-permanent members was raised from six to ten.
The Council's ten non-permanent seats are presently allotted regionally: three to Africa, two each to Asia, Latin America, and Western Europe, and one to Eastern Europe. The non-permanent members rotate through the Council, each elected to a two-year term.
Syed Mahmood said since the foundation of the UN global geopolitical situation has changed but the size and composition of the UN Security Council remains unchanged. The UN membership now stands at 191. Syed Mahmood asked what about Latin America, they don't have any representation in the Security Council? Brazil has expressly campaigned for a permanent seat while many Latin American countries have shown little interest.
He went on to say that Africa also deserves appropriate representation. The 1997 Harare Declaration has demanded that African countries should be granted two permanent and three non-permanent Security Council seats.
Similarly India, a nuclear power with huge population and one of the largest world economies, may also be a candidate for a permanent seat, he added.
Strongly arguing for a Muslim seat, Syed Mahmood said that about 1.2 billion Muslims living on this planet should be represented on the Security Council and there could be two Muslim seats. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) - with 57 members and three observer countries that make it the largest single inter-governmental institution in the world - could decide which Muslim country should join the Security Council. He said if the criteria will be nuclear power, then Pakistan is a strong candidate.
It may be recalled that an OIC Foreign Ministers meeting in New York on September 28, 2004, that coincided with the 59th annual session of the General Assembly, declared that any reform proposal, which neglects the adequate representation of the Islamic Ummah in any category of members in an expanded Security Council, will not be acceptable to the Islamic countries. Meanwhile, Pakistan, in a statement to the UN on April 7, pointed out that the Secretary-General's report did not address the troubled relationship between Islam and the West.
Returning to the theme of War and Peace, Syed Mahmood pointed out that conventional weapons killed 15 million people in the World War I and 43 million in WWII. We must recognize this fact that in any nuclear or conventional war there are no winners, we are all losers.
According to rough estimates, since WWII there were 170-200 wars which claimed about 130-145 million lives. Most of these wars were fought in the Third World countries over religion, territory or against a tyrant. He said peace is an ongoing process, a continuing effort to manage conflicts between nation states and communities.Real peace demands a policy that has elements of fairness and justice and history has shown us that policies based on only national interest without any moral obligations were doomed to failure. In his view the United Nations is the appropriate global entity to maintain peace and stability in the world. In this respect, Syed Mahmood referred to the doctrine of President Woodrow Wilson that the security of America was inseparable from the security of the rest of mankind.