- The Washington Times - Monday, November 29, 2004

NEW YORK — A report by a high-level panel on reforming the United Nations proposes expanding the criteria for U.N. military action but maintains the need for Security Council approval, U.N. diplomats said.

The report, requested by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to be released Thursday, also presents two proposals for expanding the council — the most powerful U.N. body — from 15 to 24 seats.

The document includes benchmarks for acting against a terrorist threat and for humanitarian intervention when atrocities are committed against defenseless civilians, provided the Security Council gives consent.

The 16-member international panel of men and women was set up by Mr. Annan after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which went ahead without the council’s specific blessing, and responds to decades of pressure for reform.

After the September 11 attacks, which triggered a global campaign against terrorism, President Bush advocated the principle of pre-emptive war to confront perceived threats.

Mr. Annan, although criticizing the Bush administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq last year without U.N. approval, said it was not enough to denounce unilateralism unless the world body also considered thoroughly why nations went to war.

The report does not recommend a pre-emptive strike without Security Council approval, said diplomats familiar with its proposals.

It envisages leaving intact a provision in the U.N. Charter that justifies “individual or collective self-defense” in case of an attack.

At the same time, the report urges the council to consider action that could be taken against threats from terrorists who have or are seeking weapons of mass destruction, provided all other means have been exhausted, the diplomats said.

The panel is led by Anand Panyarachun, a former Thai prime minister, and includes Brent Scowcroft, a former U.S. national security adviser.

Also on the panel are Yevgeni Primakov, a former Russian prime minister; Qian Qichen, a former Chinese foreign minister; Amr Moussa, the Egyptian head of the Arab League; and Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former Norwegian prime minister.

On the Security Council, which was created nearly 60 years ago and no longer reflects the complex balance of world power, the panel has two proposals — one advocated by Germany, Japan, Brazil and India, and another by Italy, Pakistan and Mexico.

One proposal would add six permanent members without veto power, and probably would include two candidates from Africa to give an Arab country such as Egypt a seat, along with key nations in Asia, Europe and Latin America. It also would add three nonpermanent members.

The other proposal is for eight new seats with four-year terms that can be renewed, and one more nonpermanent seat with a two-year term. This is favored by those unhappy with the leading candidates.

Italy opposes Germany; China has doubts about Japan; and several Latin American nations, led by Mexico, oppose Brazil. The United States backs Japan but has remained silent on Germany because it opposed the Iraq war.

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