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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

‘Unshackle’ the UN by changing permanent members, former British Prime Minister Sir John Major says

Sir John called for countries like India and South Africa to have a seat at the table

Former British Prime Minister John Major speaking at the One Young World Conference in The Hague. Taylor Heyman / The National
Former British Prime Minister John Major speaking at the One Young World Conference in The Hague. Taylor Heyman / The National

Former British prime minister John Major has called for a shake-up of the UN by changing the permanent members of the Security Council.

Sir John, 75, who served as prime minister for seven years, said that nations such as India and South Africa should be given a place at the table, given that the current permanent members are no longer the five most powerful in the world.

Speaking at the One Young World summit, which brings together young people from over 190 countries to discuss issues including climate change, human rights and economic development, Mr Major criticised the power the permanent Security Council members hold.

“The five permanent members no longer represent the five most powerful nations in the world, and the permanent members need to change,” he said. “It needs not to be the permanent big five we've got now, but should be other big nations.”

The UN security council is made up of permanent members China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States as well as 10 non-permanent members elected by the General Assembly for a term of two years each. Only the permanent members have the power to veto proposed UN resolutions.

The council is frequently in deadlock over world issues. Permanent members have been criticised for failing to take action on the deadly conflict in Syria as it escalated, as the US and Russia refused to come to a resolution.

“Once you remove the single nation veto, that Russia for example and sometimes China uses so rigorously,” he said, “you will be in a position to unshackle the good that the United Nations was intended to be able to do, but often cannot do.”

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