Recommendations for reforming the United Nations are due on Thursday: According to early reports, they include two models to expand the Security Council. Germany remains hopeful it will get permanent membership.
Reformers offer two paths to reach the goal of a more efficent UN
Expanding the Council, the UN's central decision-making body, from 15 to 24 members is one of the main suggestions included in the reform recommendations, according to German public broadcaster ARD and Reuters news service.
On a more general basis, the high-profile panel charged with drawing up reform plans reportedly suggests that the Council needs to be "more representative of the broader membership, especially of the developing world." It also states that the Council is the UN's body "most capable of organizing action and capable of responding rapidly to new threats."
Two competing models
The Security Council at United Nations Headquarters in New York
The first one would add six new permanent members without veto powers -- two from Africa, two from Asia and one each from the Americas and Europe. It would also add three non-permanent members with a two-year term like the ones currently elected to sit on the body.
The second option would add eight new seats for semi-permanent members, which would be elected for four years and could have their terms extended. Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas would each get two of these seats and one additional non-permanent member would also be added.
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan (right) with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer
Japan, Brazil and India support the plan as well as they all hope for permanent seats for themselves. While Britain, France and Russia have indicated support for the aspirations of these four countries, the US has so far refused to give Germany a nod of approval. Bush administration officials have, however, voiced their support for Japan, a supporter of the Iraq war unlike Germany.
According to Reuters, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt would compete for the African seats.
The Italian alternative
Support for the second version comes from countries such as Italy, a US ally in Iraq and a strong opponent of handing a permanent seat to Germany. Italy, which locked heads with Germany and France over Europe's role in Iraq, worries giving a Council seat to Germany, in addition to the two permanent seats already occupied by France and Britain, would weaken its role in the European Union.
Others favoring the plan to introduce eight semi-permanent seats include Pakistan, which rejects India's place on the Council and Mexico and Argentine, which oppose Brazil's claims.
The flags of the United Nations wave in front of the UN headquarters in New York
A Turkish court has issued an arrest warrant for the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a major critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Gulen is accused of leading a terrorist plot to seize power.
Children of foreign parents living in Germany no longer have to choose a citizenship before they turn 23. But remaining a dual citizen is not automatic, as new legislation sets conditions that must be fulfilled.
Gay and childless heterosexual German couples seeking to have children by non-traditional means have gained a small victory. If the surrogacy is done abroad, authorities must recognize the couple as the legal parents.
We may know him best as the devilishly handsome provocateur of films such as "Ocean's Eleven" but Brad Pitt may be about to receive a somewhat more salubrious title - the "Keeper of the German Language" for 2014.