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Annan vows to press ahead with UN reforms

NEW YORK

ecretary-General Kofi Annan signalled yesterday that he won't let the current deadlock over a proposed Security Council overhaul scuttle his broader plans to reform the United Nations.

Mr. Annan has pushed back until the end of the year his deadline for agreement on controversial expansion of the council, whose permanent membership has not changed since the UN was founded 60 years ago.

The Secretary-General wants the Security Council overhaul to be part of a larger reform package that he hopes national leaders will endorse when they convene for a summit here next month.

While he still holds out hope for agreement on the council's membership, Mr. Annan said yesterday that failure to do so should not impede agreement on other critical issues, including major changes to the administrative functioning of the organization, new rules on the use of force and agreement on the definition of terrorism.

"I have always maintained that we should try and make as much progress as we can on the other clusters where [negotiators] are much closer," he told reporters.

The proposals for Security Council expansion have dominated the debate over UN reform, but it is not clear that countries hoping to gain permanent member status will agree to remove the issue from a broader reform package.

Canadian diplomats are lobbying aggressively for UN member states to accept the "responsibility to protect," a principle endorsed by the Secretary-General that would require the international body to intervene when states fail to adequately protect their citizens.

The adoption of the so-called R2P principle would make it easier for the Security Council to intervene over the objections of national governments in situations like the genocide in Rwanda or the slaughter of villagers in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Countries such as China and Russia oppose it because they see it as an excuse for the West to intervene in their internal affairs.

Mr. Annan is also hoping the leaders will endorse reforms to the UN secretariat that would strengthen its self-policing ability and create a more professional hiring procedure.

Proposed changes would also provide a new definition of terrorism that would include any willful attacks on civilians regardless of the political motivation.

Four countries -- Japan, India, Germany and Brazil -- are lobbying for permanent membership on the Security Council but have garnered little support for their position. Canada is part of a group called Uniting for Consensus that wants to add 10 new members to the current 15-seat body, to be elected for two-year terms.

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