UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- On the heels of the new year, India, Colombia, Germany, Portugal and South Africa began their two-year tenure on Saturday as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Elected by the UN General Assembly on Oct. 12, the five freshmen members took their seats on Jan. 1 -- as some have called for a permanent seat on the powerful world body.
The Security Council remains unchanged since its membership expanded from 11 to 15 nations in 1963. Five permanent members -- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- hold veto power. The other 10 members are elected to serve for two- year terms and have no power to veto decisions by the Council.
The five other members whose seats do not expire until the end of 2011 are Brazil, Nigeria, Lebanon Gabon and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Brazil, Japan, and newly-elected Germany and India, known as the Group of Four (G4), have formally introduced a proposal to expand the 15-member Council by 10 seats, with 6 permanent members.
The G4 proposal argues that the Council's post-World War II structure does not reflect the realities of today's world.
Despite a general consensus by all 192 UN member states to reform the Council, the process of reform continues to face serious political obstacles. It is an issue that has been under discussion for 17 years.