UNITED NATIONS - A group of five small countries, known as S-5, are seeking to place limits on the use of the veto by five permanent members of in the UN Security Council - the P-5 - as part of the process to reform the 15-member body.

The move by S-5 - Switzerland, Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein and Singapore - is ostensibly aimed at improving the working methods of the United Nations’ most powerful organ, but it has generated a lot of controversy.

A draft resolution has already been submitted to the UN General Assembly, which has scheduled a vote on May 16.

Among other elements, the draft calls on the veto-wielding powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - to refrain “from using a veto to block council action aimed at preventing or ending genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity”. It also requests that in cases where a permanent member ignored the General Assembly's advice and exercises its veto, it should at least explain why it did so.

For obvious reasons, the S-5 proposal has run afoul of the permanent members who are pressurising the sponsors not to press for a vote as such a piecemeal approach would disrupt the long-running process to reform the Security Council.

But the Group of Four countries - India, Brazil, Germany and Japan - which are aspiring for a permanent seat on the Security Council, are openly supporting the S-5 proposal because it tends to suit their purpose. If adopted, the S-5 proposal would kill the process to reform the Council though negotiations and open the way for accomplishing the objective through a divisive vote.

"The G-4 countries just want to get into the Security Council no matters what happens to the objective of reforming the council in a comprehensive manner," one diplomat said.

Pakistan, along with allies in the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) - Italy, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, etc - are fully alive to the G-4 strategy. They are lobbying hard convince the draft's sponsors to abandon their efforts in the larger interest of moving towards reforming the Security Council through consensus, rather than a divisive vote.

African countries, which have common position on Security Council reform, are also opposing the resolution due to its negative impact on the negotiation process. African demands are also threatened by S-5 proposal.

Diplomats expect some hopeful developments in the next couple of days. Already the sponsors have made a few changes in the text delinking their proposal from the ongoing intergovernmental negotiations to restructure the Council. Meanwhile, Pakistan and other UfC members are working hard and in the capitals in order to protect their interests and the UN system.