U.N. assembly chief's plan offers 5 options to expand Security Council

For the first time since intergovernmental negotiations began the General Assembly president introduced Thursday five ways the Security Council could be enlarged in hopes of moving the contentiously debated topic forward.

Called a "non-paper" the document introduced various possibilities of enlarging the powerful 15 member council from adding more permanent members to only increasing nonpermanent seats and even adding new categories.

"This is the first time that the paper came from the General Assembly president although this does not tell you which direction is good or bad," Japan's Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa told Kyodo News.

While he pointed out that John Ashe's document is only a "compilation of different proposals" the Japanese envoy hoped it would take discussions to a new level and prompt action at the world body after two decades of discussions

Under a "new category," countries could be elected to hold a seat for a period of time after which the seat would be converted into a permanent one. Another option is creating a seat to be occupied from 8-12 years and "immediately renewable" or creating a seat for 3-5 years.

Currently the 10 nonpermanent members are elected to serve for two years. Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the five permanent members.

Japan, along with Germany, Brazil and India, comprise the so called Group of Four, and are aspirants of permanent seats on a reformed council.

Brazil's Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota said that many countries were in favor of "using the non-paper as a basis (of negotiation) and establishing where the majorities are."

To change the structure of the permanent and nonpermanent members, the U.N. charter needs to be revised with the backing of two-thirds of the member states.

"Our hope is one day the General Assembly president can produce a draft resolution based on what he has heard from member governments," said Yoshikawa, who has advocated for reform since 1993.

It is widely accepted that reform of the council is desperately needed to better reflect the realities of the 21st century, yet finding a consensus has been elusive.

Another group, called Uniting for Consensus, which includes countries like South Korea, Pakistan, Italy and Argentina, is calling only for an increase in the number of nonpermanent seat holders.

"Pakistan is opposed to permanent seats on the Security Council," Pakistan's Ambassador Masood Khan said. "We believe that this reform cannot just be for a handful of countries."

There are pressures as 2015 closes in, marking a decade since the world summit took place that addressed the necessity for council reform at an early date.