“The UN needs new impetus for reforms” – Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle in an interview with the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung

27.09.2010 - Interview

Minister, what is your impression upon returning from New York? Has the United Nations been weakened by the stiff competition posed by the G20 meetings of the key industrialized countries and emerging economies?

As far as peace and development partnership are concerned, the United Nations is the centre of discussion and decision. There is much speculation about whether new formats are reducing the role played by the United Nations. To my mind they aren’t. It is the only forum that comes close to a kind of “world parliament”.

The financial crisis has been dealt with at G20 level – a reflection of the UN’s inability to act?

The United Nations focuses first and foremost on questions of peace and regional conflict resolution. Then there is tackling new threats – for example that posed by climate change. All this endangers not just our livelihoods but also the stability and fundamentals of our world. I believe the United Nations will become more important here in future – although internal reforms are of course necessary.

Germany is standing for one of the ten non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council. What exactly do you want to achieve there?

We want to push ahead in three fields. Firstly, disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. If more and more states were to acquire nuclear arms, the danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists would increase. Secondly, we want to extend climate protection and thirdly we are keen to promote development partnership. An export-dependent country like Germany can only have a bright future if other global regions also develop. If German products can be bought elsewhere, this benefits us and the workforce in Germany.

How good are Germany’s chances to get the 128 of 192 votes it needs on 12 October and be a member of the UN Security Council 2011/12?

It’s a close call as Canada and Portugal are strong candidates. But we have convincing arguments. Germany has a good reputation as a reliable partner in the world.

And how about Germany’s vision of having a permanent seat in the UN’s leading body?

We remain determined to reform the United Nations. A permanent seat for Germany on the Security Council would be a stepping stone towards greater representation of the EU. The structures in the United Nations of today still reflect the set up after the end of World War Two. The fact that two continents, Latin America and Africa, are not permanently represented on the Security Council and that Asia is under-represented, underscores the urgency of reform. In New York, I agreed with the foreign ministers of Brazil, India and Japan that we are going to lend new impetus to our endeavours.

You said earlier that Germany is pushing for nuclear disarmament and has joined forces with eleven other countries none of which being a nuclear power. How much clout can such an initiative have?

These states foregoing nuclear weapons themselves ups their credibility on nuclear disarmament. It is important that we all use our influence in our respective regions to promote disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons: Germany in Europe, Chile in Latin America, Japan in Asia. And look at US President Barack Obama who took office as President with the clear vision of a world free of nuclear weapons thereby setting new standards.

In New York you had more than 30 sets of talks in three days. Is foreign minister a dream job?

It’s certainly a dream job but one with very little sleep and extremely strange working hours. After a 19 hour day in New York, you say “good morning” to Germany and get the reply “good night”. That is pretty weird.

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