Argentina, Denmark, Greece, Japan and Tanzania win seats on Security Council as U.N. debates reforming the powerful body

Friday, October 15th 2004, 7:42 pm
By: News On 6

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Japan won a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council Friday and hopes to prove that it deserves a permanent seat on the powerful body as the issue of U.N. reform takes center stage next year.

Argentina, Denmark, Greece and Tanzania were also elected as nonpermanent members _ all committed to enlarging the 15-member council, but without the same open ambition as Japan to make their two-year stints permanent.

``The people will look at the behavior of Japan. They regard Japan as a country who has a very strong hope to serve in the Security Council as a new permanent member ... So we will continue to keep that in mind and do as much as possible to live up to the ... expectation,'' said Japan's U.N. Ambassador Koichi Haraguchi.

Haraguchi said Japan will remain ``very heavily involved'' in key issues before the council including Iraq, Afghanistan and African conflicts.

It will also try to promote democracy and development and focus on ``the so-called new threats and and new challenges ... which require a lot of creative thinking'' including the prevention of terrorism and weapons proliferation, he said.

While some elections for Security Council seats are hotly contested battles, this year's results were known months ago. Friday's election by the 191 members of the U.N. General Assembly rubber-stamped the candidates selected by regional groups.

In the secret ballot, Argentina received 188 votes, Greece 187, Tanzania 186, Japan 184 and Denmark 181.

When the five countries take their seats on Jan. 1, the complexion of the council will change. The departure of Pakistan _ along with Angola, Chile, Germany and Spain _ means the council will lose one of its two Muslim nations, leaving just Algeria to represent Islamic nations.

``That's why we are asking that Islamic countries should be more equitably represented in an enlarged council,'' said Pakistan's U.N. Ambassador Munir Akram.

The United States and France _ veto-wielding permanent members along with Britain, Russia and China _ said they were ``very happy'' with the new members.

``We can work with all of them and we have had good relations,'' said U.S. deputy ambassador Anne Patterson.``It will be great.''

France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere was equally enthusiastic, saying: ``I'm sure that they will make a good contribution to the work of the council.''

While reform of the Security Council is the subject of intense discussion, the decision will be made by the General Assembly, though it must be ratified by the permanent council members.

At last month's General Assembly ministerial meeting, the leaders of Japan, Germany, Brazil and India agreed to support each other's candidacies for permanent seats.

Germany and Brazil are currently on the council and have quietly promoted their candidacies. Germany's two-year term is up on Dec. 31, but Japan's presence next year is expected to keep the issue in the spotlight.

Many new council members said, however, that they want to focus on the council's primary job of ensuring peace and security.

``Our priorities are the priorities of all developing countries ... international terrorism, poverty, HIV/AIDS, peace and security,'' said Tanzania's Deputy Foreign Minister Abdul-Kader Shareef, whose country is returning to the council for the first time since 1976. ``We'll be there to try to make a change.''