UK Politics

Outdated United Nations 'must reform', warns Nick Clegg

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Media captionDeputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg: "The UN does not adequately reflect the world we live in today"

The UN faces becoming a "relic of a different time", Nick Clegg has warned.

Calling for permanent seats on the UN Security Council for Japan, Germany, Brazil and India, the deputy prime minister said the international body does not reflect the modern world.

He said Africa should also have permanent representation.

Mr Clegg was addressing the UN General Assembly in New York. Earlier this week he used his visit to announce a further £100m of UK aid to Syria.

He said the United Nations, formed in the wake of WWII, had "many virtues".


But he repeated Britain's call for the number of permanent Security Council members - currently China, France, Russia, the UK and US - to be expanded.

"The UN has no greater friend than the UK, but it does not adequately reflect the world we live in today.

"The Security Council must be reformed. Unless more room is made at the top table, it will become an anachronism - a relic of a different time.

"That is why the UK continues to support permanent seats for Brazil, India, Germany and Japan, and permanent African representation too."

He used the speech to draw a dividing line between what he called "open" and "closed" societies.

"It is not surprising to hear some argue that liberal democracy has had its day and our multilateral system is becoming obsolete," he said.

"But those who make these claims are wrong. They are drawing the wrong conclusions from recent events."

He said the "real lesson" from the financial crash was the "acute need" for international co-operation.


Turning to Iran, the deputy prime minister said the UK was ready to improve relations with the Islamic republic on a "step-by-step and reciprocal basis".

He welcomed President Rouhani's commitment to reaching a deal over the country's nuclear programme within six months.

His comments came as former PM, now Middle East peace envoy, Tony Blair said the UK's "credibility is on the line" over Iran.

"Syria, Iran - all these issues now are a question of credibility, he told the BBC.

"There's been a major change in tone and possibility. We've got to translate it into reality."

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