Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Reform of the UN

Delivered in Plenary - January 29th 2004

Mr President

First of all let me congratulate my good friend Mr Laschet on his brave attempt to reform the structures of the UN, which were shown to be sadly lacking during the recent Gulf War. The report also looks at the role that the EU should play within the UN. Clearly, the UN was designed for the Cold War period in which permanent membership status and veto rights were necessary for the nuclear powers to ensure global security. Not enough has changed yet in the world to justify changing that.

The responsibility of security often conflicts with the additional mandate of the UN to protect human rights, as many of the UN Member States are undemocratic dictatorships - resulting in the perverse decision to appoint Libya as Chair of its Human Rights Committee. Furthermore, in the past, the UN was powerless to stop the brutal invasions of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan as a result of the Soviet veto. China is still not a democracy or a respecter of human rights, making security the main responsibility of the UN and it has a vital role to play in the world.

I believe there is a case to be made for India and Japan to be given permanent membership status as a result of their size and democratic status. Similarly, Nigeria or Brazil could be candidates. Unfortunately, this report conflicts with a number of stated positions of my party, the British Conservatives, as it attempts to dilute UK veto powers with a double veto and suggests an EU seat on the Security Council, which would undermine British and French membership. We are also opposed to an EU foreign minister and to a legal personality for the EU, and therefore, no matter how well intentioned the report is, I cannot support it as it stands.

With my party, however, I will of course be monitoring closely any attempt to reform the UN. We welcome very warmly today the presence in the Chamber of Secretary-General Kofi Annan.