|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-first General Assembly
72nd & 73rd Meetings (AM & PM)
General Assembly seeks to end 15-year stalemate over Security Council reform
as it opens debate aimed at reshaping most powerful United Nations organ
Delegates Focus on Need for Expansion, Reflection of Modern Global Realities
The General Assembly returned once again to the issue of Security Council reform as it opened its annual debate today, looking to end the 15-year stalemate among Member States over how to reshape the most powerful United Nations organ and remedy the democratic and representative deficit, by which many felt it was afflicted.
Delegations stood by their belief that the current Security Council, with its 5 permanent veto-wielding members –- China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States -– and 10 rotating members, retained the anachronistic, post-Second World War global balance of power. Council reform was central to the overall process of revitalizing the United Nations and any changes should encompass its expansion, both in the permanent and non-permanent membership categories, as well as the further improvement of its working methods.
But the question of who would get a seat on an expanded Council -- and with what powers –- loomed large over the debate. Speakers said the Assembly’s efforts to agree on a formula had been stalled for the past year, following what had seemed like promising bids put forward in 2005 by a number of political alliances and regional groupings pressing to restyle the Council for the 21st century. The powerful body -- in which Africa, Latin America and the Arab world had no permanent voice -- was still heavily weighted towards the developed world and could not realistically speak for the international community.
Opening the debate, Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain acknowledged that past efforts for comprehensive Security Council reform had not met with success. “After many years of inconclusive debate on this important matter, I believe the time has come for us to make a realistic assessment of the whole issue,” she said, adding: “In doing so, we should be prepared to look at this matter with a fresh and open mind so that we can make substantial progress.”
With the floor open for comments, Pakistan’s representative said the most tangible contribution to peace and security was not wealth, military power or population, but the degree of a Member State’s commitment to the principles of the United Nations Charter, its adherence to resolutions, its participation in peacekeeping and its willingness to rely on peaceful settlement of disputes. The best way to determine a State’s qualifications for membership was through the democratic method of periodic elections by their peers in the General Assembly. As all Member States had an equally crucial stake in reform, that question must be decided by consensus or by the widest possible agreement, he added.
Egypt’s representative said it was crucial that Council reform take place in a way that echoed world realities and embraced the values and principles of democracy, justice and equality. Reform should narrow the increasing gap between the South, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the growing feeling among some that they were more responsible than others for maintaining international peace and security. In that light, the matter of accountability lay at the core of Council reform, most importantly by correcting the discrepancy in the institutional relationship between the Council and the General Assembly, as well as among permanent and non-permanent members.
But the fundamental question was enlargement, Senegal’s representative said, adding that expanding the Council’s membership must take into account two principles: the need to immediately rectify the injustice done to Africa -- since 80 per cent of the issues before the Council dealt with that region, and the need to maintain equal status among all members. Therefore, Africa must be given two permanent seats with the same status as other permanent members. But Council reform was nevertheless within reach, despite deep-rooted differences, though many questions remained, including those regarding the veto and requirements for new permanent members.
Sounding a note of caution, the representative of the United States said reform should be designed to increase the Council’s effectiveness in responding to the challenges posed by non-State actors, transnational threats and failed States. One reason for its efficient functioning was that its size permitted useful and manageable discussions and debates. Expansion to a larger membership must not undermine that efficiency, he warned.
Proposals for the Council’s expansion over the last two years had not reached the level of broad-based consensus required for adoption as a Charter amendment, he noted, while agreeing that new avenues must be explored. Permanent members must be supremely qualified to undertake tremendous duties and responsibilities. They must have a suitable size in economy and population; military capacity; financial and/or peacekeeping contributions to the United Nations; commitment to democracy and human rights; strong records on non-proliferation and equitable geographic balance. Japan fit those criteria, he added.
In other business today, the representative of Qatar, speaking in his capacity as Security Council President for December, recapped that organ’s activities and the highlights of the one-year period, through July, in which the Council had held 259 formal meetings; 217 of them public. It had held consultations 191 times, adopted a total of 81 resolutions and 65 presidential statements; renewed 26 peacekeeping mandates and created 1 new one. No mandate had been terminated.
[On 20 and 21 July, the Assembly held a debate, in which the Group of 4, or G-4 (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan), called for, among other things, an increase in the Council’s membership from 15 to 25, by adding six permanent and four non-permanent members. The African Group’s proposal called for new permanent members to have veto powers and an additional temporary member to bring the Council up to 25. A proposal by the “Uniting for Consensus” group would enlarge the Council to 25 members, with the current permanent five remaining the only permanent members, and 20 more elected as non-permanent members with due regard to, among other things, their contribution to the Organization in maintaining international peace and security.]
Other speakers today included the representatives of Cuba (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, or NAM), Ukraine (on behalf of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development -- the GUAM States of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Republic of Moldova) and Barbados (on behalf of the Caribbean Community).
Also speaking were the representatives of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, San Marino, Colombia, Jordan, Netherlands, Japan, Turkey, Viet Nam, Germany, Iceland, China, Myanmar, Brazil, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Singapore, Finland and Mexico.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, 12 December, to continue its debate on Security Council reform.
The General Assembly met today to consider a notification by the Secretary-General concerning the work of the Security Council, as required by the United Nations Charter, and to take up a joint debate on the report, and reform, of that organ.
Submitted to the Assembly under the Charter’s Article 12, the notification by the Secretary-General (document A/61/371) asks him to notify the Assembly of matters relative to international peace and security that are being considered by the Council and those that the Council has ceased considering.
The Report of the Security Council (document A/61/2) covers the period 1 August 2005 to 31 July 2006, and details Council activities relating to all questions under its responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. That includes communiqués, monthly presidential assessments, annual reports of subsidiary bodies, meetings with troop contributors, peacekeeping and Council missions.
A wide-ranging section of the report deals with questions considered by the Council under its responsibility for international peace and security, including threats caused by terrorist acts, country situations and the Middle East, strengthening cooperation with troop contributors, the Tribunals, the role of civil society and children in armed conflict. Other matters considered by the Council include the International Court of Justice and recommendations for the appointment of the next Secretary-General.
The report also covers the work of the Military Staff Committee and presents matters brought to the Council’s attention without being discussed in meetings during the review period. They include communications concerning country situations and sanctions, and communications from bodies such as the Working Group on Peacekeeping. The Council then reports on the work of its subsidiary bodies, including the Governing Council of the Compensation Commission, the Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, the International Tribunals and the Security Council Committees on country situations, Al-Qaida and counter-terrorism.
Appendices to the report list the Council membership for the period under review, the presidencies and communications between the Council and the Secretary-General.
Statement by Assembly President
SHEIKHA HAYA RASHED AL KHALIFA ( Bahrain), General Assembly President, said the question of equitable representation on, and increase in the membership of, the Security Council had first been placed on the Assembly’s agenda in 1979. By 1983, discussions had led the Assembly to establish its Open-ended Working Group on that question, which, since 1994, had been attempting to reach an agreement on various aspects of that important issue. A number of draft resolutions had been tabled on the matter of Council reform during the Assembly’s fifty-ninth and sixtieth sessions and as a result, Member States had discussed it at a number of informal meetings.
So far, those efforts had not led to an agreement on Security Council reform she said, adding, however: “We should not lose hope in our ability to make progress on this important matter.” In the 2005 World Summit Outcome, world leaders had acknowledged a “clear mandate” to move forward and recommitted themselves to support early reform of the Security Council, “an essential element of our overall effort to reform the United Nations, in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and transparent and, thus, to further enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions”.
She said that, after many years of inconclusive debate, the time had come to make a realistic assessment of the whole issue. In doing so, Member States should be prepared to look at the matter with a “fresh and open mind” so they could make substantial progress. The Presidency looked forward to hearing “concrete proposals” and views on how to move forward on that important issue, and was ready to work with everyone to establish the most appropriate process to enable the Assembly to fulfil the challenging task.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), speaking in his capacity as Council President for December, recapped the Organ’s activities and the highlights of the one-year period through July, in which the Council had held 259 formal meetings, 217 of them public. It had held consultations 191 times, adopted a total of 81 resolutions and 65 presidential statements, renewed 26 peacekeeping mandates and created one new one. No mandates had been terminated.
He said the Council had focused on a number of cross-cutting thematic issues, mainly in open debate. They included the strengthening of international law, small arms control, peacekeeping, cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations and protection of civilians. Four missions had been conducted, one to Central Africa and others to Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Sudan and Chad, and finally, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Africa had continued to receive the Council’s attention and the precarious situation in the Great Lakes region had remained of concern, he said. The situation in the Sudan had been extensively debated; the Council had called for implementation of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, and for full cooperation with the United Nations Mission in the area; and as the situation in Somalia had become more complicated, the Council had begun considering an African peace support mission for the country.
Turning to the Middle East, he reviewed developments in the region, including the legislative elections by the Palestinian people, to which the Council Presidency had responded by issuing a congratulatory statement. However, the Council had failed to reach agreement on a number of presidential and press statements beyond that. It had also failed to adopt a draft resolution on the situation in the Middle East, even as violence had spilled over into Lebanon. The Council had expressed shock at the Israeli Defense Forces’ firing on a United Nations observer force and their shelling of a residential building in southern Lebanon. A public meeting with the participation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister had been held and the Council had also requested the Secretary-General to negotiate an agreement with Lebanon on the establishment of an international tribunal in addition to the Commission established to investigate the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
He went on to review the situations in Haiti, Afghanistan, Europe and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, while noting that threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts had also been a priority. The Council had continued its tradition of hearing joint briefings by the Chairmen of the two Council Committees on terrorism. In addition, the Peacebuilding Commission had become operational, and Montenegro had been admitted as a Member of the United Nations.
RODRIGO MALMIERCA DIAZ ( Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said his delegation opposed the tendency to equate reform of the United Nations with greater empowerment of the Security Council. There was also the danger of Council encroachment on issues falling within the functions and powers of other principal organs of the United Nations. The Non-Aligned Movement called the Presidents of the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, and the Security Council to coordinate among themselves on the agenda and programme of work; called on the Security Council to take fully into account the recommendations of the General Assembly on international peace and security; and opposed attempts to shift issues on the agendas of the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council to the Security Council. It was also deeply concerned about situations where the Council had failed to address cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, or ceasefire between parties, which, in fact, was its primary responsibility.
Regarding enforcement, he said the Council had been too quick to threaten or authorize action in some cases, while remaining inactive on others. In addition, it should clearly define the objectives of sanctions regimes. Furthermore, the issue of Security Council reform should not be confined to the question of membership, but must also include substantive issues on the agenda. The objectives of Council reform must be addressed in a comprehensive, transparent, and balanced manner. Those objectives included: ensuring that the agenda reflected the needs and interests of developing and developed countries; ensuring that Council enlargement would make the organ more democratic, accountable and effective; ensuring that the Rules of Procedure were formalized to improve transparency; and democratizing the decision-making process by curtailing use of the veto and eventually eliminating it. Additional measures should include limiting the exercise of the veto to actions taken under Chapter VII of the Charter; the possibility of overruling the veto by an affirmative vote of a certain number of Member States, commensurate with the size of an expanded Council; the possible overruling of the veto by a two-thirds majority vote in the General Assembly under the Uniting for Peace procedure and under progressive interpretation of Articles 11 and 24 (1) of the Charter.
In conclusion, the Non-Aligned Movement called on the Council to increase the number of its public meetings, which should provide real opportunities to take into account the views and contributions of the wider membership, particularly non-Council members whose affairs were under discussion; to allow briefings by Special Envoys or Special Representatives of the Secretary-General to take place in public meetings, except in exceptional circumstances; to further enhance its relationship with the Secretariat and troop-contributing countries; and to ensure its subsidiary organs functioned in such a manner as to provide adequate and timely information on their activities to the general United Nations membership.
VIKTOR KRYZHANIVSKYI (Ukraine), speaking on behalf of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development (the GUAM States of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova), said the past year had been another challenging one for the United Nations, and another test for the relevance of the global collective security system, safeguarded by the Security Council. Without doubt, terrorism was one of the greatest threats to that system and recent terrorist attacks worldwide reminded the international community that the menace was ever-present. The Council should continue to use its unique potential to mobilize the international fight against terrorism and the Counter-Terrorism Committee should remain a critical tool for its elimination.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was another major threat to international peace and security, he said, adding that the GUAM States would add their voice to the international call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cease its nuclear and missile programmes and renew dialogue with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the States leading the six-party talks. The GUAM States were also concerned by the IAEA’s findings on Iran’s nuclear programme, and international efforts towards a negotiated solution should continue in order to strengthen confidence in its peaceful uses. The GUAM States commended the Council’s work on Iraq and underlined the importance of continued and enhanced support for that Country’s sovereign Government at the present crucial time.
He gave a brief overview of other important issues, including the situation in the Middle East and in Kosovo, before stressing the urgent need for a mutually acceptable formula to use all United Nations peacekeeping capacities to help bring about an early settlement of the crisis in Darfur. The Council should also continue to boost its cooperation with regional groups and organizations, an issue of particular importance in helping to address the protracted conflicts within some GUAM States that had been running for some 15 years. The United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should continue to take practical steps in the GUAM region towards the implementation of Council decisions regarding the Nagorny-Karabakh region, the realization of a Plan of Peace settlement of the conflict in South Ossetia, offered by the President of Georgia, and the initiative of the President of Ukraine on Transnistria, Republic of Moldova.
Turning to Council reform, he said it would make that organ more effective, especially in its decision-making efforts, which would be vital in helping the United Nations adapt to the realities of the twenty-first century. The GUAM position on the matter had been highlighted in the response of the Group of European States (document A/59/723) to the report of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. Existing regional groupings should be maintained during the negotiations on Security Council reform and any increase in the Council’s non-permanent membership should ensure enhanced representation of the Eastern European Group, with the allocation of at least one additional non-permanent seat. GUAM believed that both the permanent, and non-permanent, membership should be enlarged.
CHRISTOPHER HACKETT (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), noted that most of the Council’s work in 2006 had been focused on Africa and applauded its efforts to bring peace and stability to that region. Regarding its own region, CARICOM welcomed, in particular, the support provided by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and asked the Council to remain engaged in that country, providing its new leadership with the time and support necessary to establish and build a durable peace and a good basis for sustainable development.
Regarding the report, he said it contained no assessment of the Council’s work, which was essential if the General Assembly was to have a meaningful and analytical consideration of the Security Council’s activities. The Assembly was informed, for example, that the mandate of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) had been extended for two years in Council resolution 1673 (2006). It would have been useful for Member States to receive some analysis of the situation in fulfilling the mandate of resolution 1540 and learning what additional work was needed within the context of the new resolution 1673. Reports on such issues created a heavy burden on smaller Member States, which could be lifted with the cessation of the need for such frequent reports.
He expressed concern that the General Assembly had been unable to reach agreement on Security Council reform, which was critically important to completing the larger reform of the United Nations. Consultations over the past 18 months, and particularly during 2005, had helped to provide useful parameters for identifying desired elements of Security Council reform. It should be possible to build on those earlier consultations by re-examining earlier options, formulating fresh ideas and forging an agreement that would attract the support of the wide United Nations membership, which should view 2007 as a new and final chapter in the search for a solution to Security Council reform.
CARICOM had been consistent in its call for an increase in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of Security Council membership, and for greater representation of developing countries, he said. Any model for increased membership should provide for equity of access for small States. Also, the veto was an anachronism that should be abolished. If abolishment was not possible immediately, it was imperative that it be used with utmost restraint and limited to actions under Chapter VII. Furthermore, sanctions were to be imposed only as a last resort, with special care and attention to their design and implementation in order to avoid their negative impact on civilian populations. Also critical to reform was greater transparency and openness in the Council’s working methods, as well as more frequent open debates. Likewise, increased and more comprehensive briefings would keep all delegations fully informed of Council activities.
ABDULAZIZ NASSER AL-SHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said that, since the establishment of the Open-ended Working Group in 1993, and the subsequent informal discussions among Member States, the question of Security Council reform remained nettlesome as it involved many complexities owing to continuing differences of opinion among Member States and their inability, so far, to find common ground for implementing such an important part of comprehensive United Nations reform. Much attention must be devoted to the suggested size, regional distribution, accountability, decision-making processes and all matters pertaining to the use of veto power in a reformed Council. Veto power had particularly obstructed many important resolutions dealing with grave threats that continued to threaten the world.
He said the double standards and selectivity employed by the Council over the past 15 years should give pause. While that body had been keen to take effective measures under Chapter VII in addressing situations in many regions, it had remained silent, or failed to take similar measures in other situations, which many believed to be even more threatening to international peace and security. That had, in turn, led to fundamental questions about the Council’s credibility, “not only at the level of Governments in some regional groups, but also in the sphere of public opinion”. The move to reform the Council and increase its membership had become a pressing international issue.
There was no time for more delays or complications, he said, calling on States to demonstrate a more flexible, democratic and transparent attitude so that the process of reforming the Council could achieve consensus. While the United Arab Emirates noted the limited progress thus far on the Council’s working methods, it stressed its support for the Non-Aligned Movement position on wider Council reform, including the enlargement of both permanent and non-permanent categories in a manner that was politically balanced and in conformity with the principle of equitable geographical representation. A permanent seat should be allocated to the Arab Group, to be filled on a rotating basis.
He also supported the proposal to establish a series of checks and balances in the use of the veto, whereby that measure would only be used in Chapter VII-grounded decisions. The veto should be overruled if resolutions received a two-thirds majority vote, in order to ensure impartiality and non-selectivity, particularly in addressing pressing global issues requiring urgent intervention. There was also a need to ensure that the Chapter VII designation was not used as an umbrella for addressing issues that did not necessarily pose a threat to international peace and security. On the Council’s working methods, the United Arab Emirates called for an increase in public debates and more interaction between the Council and the Assembly.
ABDULLAH AL-MURAD ( Kuwait) said last year’s discussions had highlighted the need to reform the Security Council to enhance transparency. Among the most important items under discussion were equitable representation and enlargement of the Council. Though the principle of reform had been agreed upon, the Working Group had not reached agreement on the nature of change. Kuwait strongly supported the strengthening of all United Nations bodies, including the Council. Moreover, it was imperative that reform not undermine that organ’s effectiveness, but enhance its credibility.
He called the allocation of a permanent seat to the Arab group, with rotation being decided through coordination among its members. Also beneficial would be any action that made the flow of information smoother. On the veto, it was crucial to place norms and limitations on its use.
TAWFEEQ AHMED ALMANSOOR ( Bahrain) said the issue of Security Council reform had been highlighted in both the Millennium Declaration, and the 2005 World Summit Outcome. It was clear that the Council was presently unable to deal effectively with matters of international peace and security –- and would not be able to do so –- unless it was adapted and reshaped in a comprehensive manner reflecting current international affairs and the overall make-up of the international community.
The Council must be more democratic, transparent and accountable in its membership and working methods, he said, noting that regional groups had long called for a limit on the use of the veto and a reshaping of the Council’s membership in line with the principle of equitable geographic distribution. Regardless of the model finally agreed upon, there was also a need to include the views of the world’s smallest countries, whose voices were just as important to the collective security system as those of powerful States. There must also be a mechanism in place to allow the Council to react more quickly to rapidly changing situations on the ground.
If the 13-year deadlock on expansion of the Council’s membership continued, the principle objective -– to make the Organ more effective -– would never be achieved, he said. The Council was the Organization’s showcase, its window to the world, for better or worse. That 15-nation body must rise to the expectations of the peoples of the world, who were concerned that it was out of sync with current realities, particularly in dealing with the Middle East.
PETER MAURER (Switzerland) said that, while enlargement must focus on a reasonable and manageable increase in Security Council seats, his Government remained committed to the process as it would make the Council’s work more representative and better reflect geopolitical realities. The Swiss delegation favoured enlargement based on objective criteria such as size and population, financial contributions to the United Nations system, and troop contributions to peacekeeping operations.
Since countries lacking the necessary resources might never be able to join the Council, he said, the Swiss Government, along with the Small Five Group (S-5), had been working to make the Council’s work more transparent, accountable and inclusive. On implementing the provisions of the presidential notes, the S-5 had also put forward several measures, including enhanced information sharing with troop-contributing countries and explanation of veto. Lastly, change towards systematic access to information, enhanced transparency and improved accountability remained high on the reform agenda.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) said that his delegation would not discuss the substance of the Council’s annual report because it had been submitted too late for a thorough review. At first reading, there was nothing to account for its late submission. While the Assembly’s debate on Council reform traditionally took place earlier in the year, perhaps there was a symbolism in scheduling it this late in the session. At a time of the year when Member States looked back at what they had achieved and where they had failed, Council reform seemed to fit rather nicely.
After the institutional changes that had been agreed upon, including the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, Security Council reform was clearly the “one big task” that remained unresolved, even though Member States had been mandated by the 2005 World Summit to change both its size, and composition. Efforts to reform the Council must be guided by the Charter, which made clear that the body worked on behalf of the entire membership of the United Nations. One would think that meant representation of both current geopolitical realities and the diversity of opinions. “We must therefore conclude that the Council, at this juncture, is not in a position to fulfil either of these two prerequisites,” he said, stressing that the “big conundrum” remained the composition of a reformed Council.
After the failure of all efforts in 2005, despite some positive side effects, there had been no serious or promising initiative for enlargement for more than a year, he said, calling for a quick re-launch of the debate in a manner that differed from past approaches. Ever since the release of the High-Level Panel’s report, all proposals for enlargement had been characterized by one main difference of opinion: there had never been, and there was not now, any agreement on whether new permanent seats should be created. Positions on both sides of that debate had become nearly entrenched, so there was barely a way forward without revisiting the notion of “permanency”. As long as Member States interpreted “permanent membership” in the same manner as it was interpreted by the Charter -– whether or not the right of veto went with that category of membership -– it was unlikely that Member States could come up with a formula that would find stronger support than any of those put forward in 2005.
Indeed, the Charter amendment needed to enlarge the Security Council required support that went far beyond the numerically necessary two-thirds of the membership, he said. There were ways to make it possible for States to serve on the Council on an ongoing basis without resorting to the type of permanency granted in San Francisco and hopefully, States would rethink their old positions on the matter, and those with no immediate national stake in Security Council expansion would join the debate. On improving the Council’s working methods, Lichtenstein, as a member of the S-5, focused on that issue, believing that beyond the draft resolution the group had tabled last year, there was a need to stay engaged on that important matter.
ALI HACHANI ( Tunisia), aligning himself with the Non-Aligned Movement with regard to the Security Council report, said that greater effort was required to improve its quality. Tunisia was pleased, however, to note that the Council had held a large number of public meetings with greater participation.
Referring to the Middle East specifically, he said the Council’s efforts had not met expectations. Most notably, the Palestinian question threatened the credibility of the Security Council. On equitable representation, the Working Group had been unable to come up with a specific formula acceptable to all. Though the matter was delicate, it required global reform as soon as possible because the Security Council must reflect the political and economic realities of today’s world. Without increasing the number of permanent and non-permanent members, the Council would lack the legitimacy needed to accomplish its mandate. Tunisia would support any consensus formula that gave Africa and developing countries their rightful place on the Council.
MISHAL BIN ABDULLAH BIN ABDULAZIZ AL-SAUD (Saudi Arabia) said equitable representation of, and increase in, the membership of the Security Council was crucial to enhancing and maintaining the credibility of the wider United Nations in the international community. The Saudi delegation supported the proposal by the Non-Aligned Movement on Council reform, and would stress as well, the need for a comprehensive strengthening of the Council’s role in the maintenance of peace and security throughout the world. The 205 World Summit had specifically mandated the raising of the Council’s profile in matters relating to grave human rights situations.
Expressing his country’s disillusionment with the Council’s reticence to act in matters relating to the Middle East, despite pressure from the international community, he said the body had repeatedly failed to stop the spread of Israel’s hegemony in the region, despite the Arab countries’ repeatedly expressed desire for a negotiated settlement. The Council must deal with such situations in a rational manner. In addition, its working methods and operating procedures must be reformed to reflect modern realities, and it must be given the tools to act impartially in heading off conflicts before they occurred.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said the United Nations reform process would be neither complete, nor successful, without the reform and expansion of the Security Council. There must be a real and transparent picture of all aspects pertaining to Council activities in a way that enhanced its performance and reinforced its representation of the general membership’s interests. It was, likewise, vital to curtail the Council’s encroachment on the mandates of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, while reducing its hesitation in assuming its own mandate, in light of political interests usually linked to its permanent members and their practicing the right of veto.
He said the Council’s inability to face Israeli violations in the recent Beit Hanoun massacre because of one permanent member’s use of the veto had subjected the Lebanese people to massive killings. That same member’s obstruction in adopting a resolution that called for a ceasefire had proven the need to reform the existing balance of power within the Council. Reform was especially important because of an existing geographic imbalance in permanent membership on the one hand, and the abuse of the right of veto on the other. The Security Council’s credibility had also been harmed by resolution 1706 (2006) on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Sudan. That had been a consequence of the rush towards an unrealistic and misguided approach based on narrow and temporary self-interest, rather than practical and objective considerations.
It was crucial that Security Council reform take place in a way that echoed world realities and embraced the values and principles of democracy, justice and equality, he said. Reform should narrow the increasing gap between the South on the one hand, and the growing feeling by some that they were more responsible than others for maintaining international peace and security. In that light, the matter of accountability lay at the core of Security Council reform, most importantly through the correction of the discrepancy in the institutional relationship between the Council and the General Assembly, as well as among the permanent and non-permanent members.
Furthermore, he said, Egypt would engage in any constructive effort aimed at comprehensive reform within a package based on broad agreement on the following set of principles: that expansion of the permanent and non-permanent membership categories ensure a just representation of developing countries, particularly African ones; that equitable rights, privileges and responsibilities among existing and new permanent members be ensured; that the veto be eliminated, and until that happened, that right be extended to new permanent members; that the introduction of meaningful reforms to the Council’s working methods ensure transparency and non-member participation; and that the balance in the institutional relations among the three principal organs of the United Nations be restored. On that note, the Egyptian delegation wished to align itself with the statement to be made by Niger, on behalf of the African Group.
MARTIN PALOUŠ ( Czech Republic) said the expansion of the United Nations main peace and security body was a highly sensitive and difficult issue, yet the international community must act without delay. Despite the absence of a perfect solution, the Czech Government supported the G-4 in aspiring to expand the Council to 25 members in both categories, with the inclusion of developing countries in both. That expansion must also encompass permanent seats for Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
On reform of Council working methods, he said the proposal by the S-5 countries was a viable option. However, though well-intentioned, the practicality of that proposal remained doubtful, as it should go hand-in-hand with the structural reform of the Council itself. While the Czech Republic had no vested interest in Council reform, it wished to see the Council’s authority and effectiveness heightened.
JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said that, following the call by leaders at the 2005 World Summit to press ahead with efforts to improve the Council’s working methods, his delegation had hoped to see substantive progress on improving that body’s accountability reflected in its report. Unfortunately, the report served the purposes of the Council, but did not reflect the Assembly’s concerns. Expanding its membership must, by necessity, take into account improving representation for the world’s poor,; those who suffered the most from hunger and war, paid most dearly for environmental degradation and had scant access to new communication technology.
The reform process should avoid further enshrining the influence of the Organization’s most powerful countries, he stressed. Agreeing to measures that would increase the powers of big countries or provide them with guarantees could only weaken Member States’ sense of ownership, to the serious detriment of the entire Organization. In order to have a Council that met the needs of all Member States and was viewed as an effective body in the court of public opinion, the focus must be on improving its working methods. To that end, the efforts of the Working Group on Documentation were to be commended.
But much remained to be done in improving the Council’s legitimacy and the S-5 would not relent in its efforts to see them improved, he said. Indeed, all United Nations organs, without exception, should explain their actions before the Assembly. Since the Council was tasked with maintaining international peace and security, it should naturally report to the Assembly on its actions or lack thereof, so that the Assembly could then take appropriate action, within its mandate, if it deemed such action necessary.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), aligning himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country’s concerns included the double standards in the Council’s work; its prolonged inaction and silence in some cases; its quick resort to threats, sanctions and enforcement action; its lack of coordination with other principal organs of the United Nations and occasional encroachment on their mandates, and its non-transparent and non-inclusive decision making, aggravated by veto abuse.
While the Council had enjoyed relative success in confronting internal crises and complex emergencies, it had failed to deal effectively with peacebuilding and development, he said. Without that, success stories could regress to failure, as in the case of Haiti. Moreover, the Council was not dealing directly with some of the major conflicts and threats to international peace and security and there had been inaction, even in the face of obvious acts of aggression, as in Lebanon. At the same time, there was interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States.
In addition, the provisions for the peaceful settlement of disputes remained under-utilized, he said. Conversely, there was a dangerous tendency to resort to sanctions and enforcement action too often and too soon. Meanwhile, the Council’s encroachment on the mandates and jurisdiction of other principal organs remained unchecked. Despite recent efforts to increase transparency, non-members had to hunt and gather information, while the media were often better informed than Council members because decision making took place behind closed doors. Given those factors, it was no surprise that the United Nations Secretariat seemed responsive only to the major Powers.
On reform of Council working methods, he said the Government of Pakistan supported the Small Five initiative, which, however, did not cover the vital veto question. While it was clear that the P-5 would neither surrender nor share the veto, what could be considered would be raising the proportional majority required for the adoption of draft resolutions in an enlarged Security Council, for example, increasing it from the present ratio of three fifths to two thirds.
He said the most tangible contribution to peace and security was not wealth, military power, or population, but the degree of a Member State’s commitment to the principles of the United Nations Charter, its adherence to resolutions, its participation in peacekeeping and its willingness to rely on peaceful settlement of disputes. The best way to determine a State’s qualifications for membership was through the democratic method of periodic elections by their peers in the General Assembly. Furthermore, an acceptable formula for rotation could provide the means for equitable representation. As all Member States had an equally crucial stake in reform, that question must be decided by consensus or by the widest possible agreement.
DANIELE D. BODINI ( San Marino) said that, since the Assembly’s last meeting on Council reform, many serious political and military crises had erupted around the world and democratic elections had changed the political landscapes of small and large countries alike. Unfortunately, in that same timeframe, the Assembly had been unable to pry the Council out of its 60-year-old format. Despite a promising meeting organized over the summer, there had been very little progress. So once again, the Assembly found itself back at the beginning. But this time, it was more obvious than ever before that most Member States wanted to achieve comprehensive and equitable reform of the Council.
No one was denying that certain countries or continents deserved greater representation on the Council “for the good of all,” he said, but for the Council to play a pivotal and legitimate role, its membership must be truly representative. San Marino called for enhancement of the Council’s relationship with the General Assembly. It also called on the President of the General Assembly to convene, as soon as possible, after the New Year; a meeting where all Member States could negotiate in an open and democratic manner with new rules that might govern a new Security Council.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said that her delegation gave special priority to the revision and adaptation of the Security Council’s working methods, which, together with an increase in the Council’s membership in the non-permanent category, were logical consequences of changes that had taken place in recent decades on the global and regional levels. Furthermore, greater participation by non-Council members would allow for better information about national and regional realities.
The Council must be accountable to the General Assembly and focus its work on threats to international peace and security, she said. Dealing with issues that were not directly related to that mandate affected the Council’s efficiency and called into question the legitimacy of its functions. On the veto, until it was eliminated, it should, at least, be limited. The Colombian Government supported the proposal presented by the Uniting for Consensus Movement on Council expansion in the non-permanent category, which avoided differentiation between Member States, the extension of privileges, and was both realistic and flexible.
ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said that the process of reforming the Council’s working method was an ongoing exercise, and expressed the hope that Member States would work with the S-5 on that issue, so the group could present a draft resolution to the Assembly next year. Jordan welcomed the important efforts being undertaken by the Working Group on Documentation and hoped that body’s recommendations would be implemented. The Council’s membership should be expanded in both permanent and non-permanent categories to make it more representative. The Arab States should have a continuing seat on the Council.
FRANK MAJOOR ( Netherlands) said that, while the list of accomplishments with respect to United Nations reform had been growing, it had yet to include the Security Council, which was one of the Organization’s more effective bodies in recent years. It had adopted an average of 60 to 80 resolutions annually; a sharp increase compared with 10 to 15 during the cold war. However, it was imperative that Governments, civil society and citizens perceive the Council’s decision as legitimate, credible and equitable. Only with those conditions met would Council decisions receive the sustainable military, financial and political support that was so vital.
Highlighting several important decisions that the Council had taken recently, he said an expanded Council with new global powers would allow for more burden-sharing to take on leading roles. In short, while expansion would not facilitate decision-making on the situations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran or Darfur, neither would it automatically complicate matters. Meanwhile, improved working methods and assured access for Member States to the Council’s work, and that of its subsidiary bodies, was of utmost importance. That meant greater consultation with those on which its resolutions might have direct bearing. As for the Council’s current power structure, the reform options ranged from long-term, re-electable and possibly rotating seats, to a strong and binding review mechanism of expansion with semi-permanent seats. The interim period could also be used in trying to find the ideal size of an expanded Council.
KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) said that, as a non-permanent Council member for the past two years, his country had sought to play an active role, while chairing two of its subsidiary bodies; the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations and the Informal Working Group on Working Methods. Specifically on the latter group and its informal panel on documentation and other procedural questions, Japan aimed to improve the transparency of the Council’s working measures and to enhance interaction with non-Council members.
Turning to Council reform, he said the need to change that body’s composition and structure were now widely accepted by nearly all Member States. Many believed that, in its present form, the Council was no longer as legitimate or effective as it could be. Earlier this year, two of its five permanent members -– France and the United Kingdom -- had issued a communiqué expressing their continued support for the G-4 and an African country as future permanent members. The Council must reflect the political realities of the 21st century and let major stakeholders participate in its decision-making. It must also ensure that developing countries had an adequate say in Council matters and commit to reforming its work.
The Government of Japan had made it clear that it would continue to pursue a permanent seat, while working towards overall United Nation reform, he said. At the same time, the discussions had stalled since the end of the Assembly’s fifty-ninth session. During the Assembly’s debate in July, many States had stressed the need to start “thinking outside of the box” and to get the dialogue back on track. Japan reiterated its view that the international community needed a creative and persuasive new proposal, with a view to reaching a decision during the Assembly’s sixty-first session. The Council must be reformed through expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent membership categories to make it more efficient and transparent. The G-4 was actively considering concrete ideas that might provide a basis for discussion and it hoped to be able to present them in due course as a basis for wider consultations.
BAKI İLKIN ( Turkey) said it was clear that the Council should be more representative and its working methods must be reviewed and adjusted to the needs of the day. It was also clear that the present proposals for enlarging the Council did not reflect the expectations and requirements of the wider United Nations membership. Enlarging the Council directly involved the national interests of almost each and every Member State.
He said two options were available; accepting one of the existing expansion proposals, which would almost certainly lead to deadlock, or reviewing national positions and seeking new models that would serve the good of the wider United Nations. Turkey was ready to play its part in working towards a negotiated conclusion, which, if not reached by consensus, would be approved by an overwhelming majority of Member States. Regarding the Council’s working methods, a number of proposals on the table would work and it was time to move forward. However, if that was not possible, the issue of working methods should not hamper the Assembly from moving forward on Council expansion.
HOANG CHI TRUNG (Viet Nam), aligning himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Security Council had made significant contributions to removing the dark spots on the overall view of peace and security. Among its remarkable achievements were the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding in Sierra Leone and the fair -- and largely calm -- elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Burundi and Haiti. Still, the Council must work much harder to discharge its heavy responsibilities, since peace and stability were still a luxury to people in many parts of the world. Although the Council had closely monitored the situation in the Middle East, for example, the escalation of violence there showed that the Council was unable to carry out its high responsibilities.
Reform of the Security Council was among the most important issues in reforming the United Nations, he reaffirmed. No reform of the Council could be comprehensive in the absence of reform in two equally important elements; its composition and its working methods. It was frustrating that no headway had been made on reforming the Council’s composition, though more positive change had been seen with regard to reform of its working methods. Structural reform must be pursued on the basis of the strong determination that Member States had expressed to keep the momentum going and their willingness to continue further with discussions.
THOMAS MATUSSEK ( Germany) said Security Council reform had proven a sensitive and difficult issue and many legitimate concerns must be addressed regarding its modalities. On the one hand, concerns were being raised, not for the sake of reform, but as a means to delay and dilute it. Two years ago, the G-4 had been accused of undue and artificial haste. Such a serious concern, it had been asserted, required appropriate time. Twenty months down the road, nothing had been achieved, and the lack of progress had created a sense of frustration, which in turn, had translated into a general atmosphere of mistrust.
He said the Assembly had often heard the argument, particularly by some Council members, that Security Council enlargement would harm the organ’s effectiveness. It was important, however, not to confuse efficiency and effectiveness. The most efficient body would be a very small body unfettered by considerations of transparency and accountability. While a body consisting of five countries would be extremely efficient, it would neither be legitimate nor, therefore, effective. An enlarged Security Council would have to be both effective and efficient, which could be achieved with 25 members. Much would depend on working methods, Secretariat support and the members’ approach.
The G-4 proposal was the most comprehensive, aiming at structural reform of the Council and a thorough reform of its working methods, he said. New ideas had emerged and the call for an interim solution was gaining ground. While Germany was prepared to discuss any idea with an open mind, the aim of the exercise must remain at the centre of reflection. That aim, among other things, was to bring the Council into line with today’s political realities and to give appropriate influence to the developing world as well as the main contributors and enablers. Those aims could only be achieved by adding members who, given their political weight and status in the Council, could act as peers of the permanent five. The outright, permanent and systematic refusal to grant permanent seats to developing countries –- amounting to more than half of the world’s population -– constituted discrimination. In discussing interim or transitional models, it was important to bear in mind that the option for permanent seats must be kept open.
On working methods, he said his country was, in principle, very supportive of the ideas developed by the S-5, but doubted whether they could, or should, be treated in isolation from structural reform. Germany hoped to see progress on the matter before the end of the Assembly and called on all concerned to re-engage on Security Council reform with the aim of overcoming the present deadlock.
HJALMAR HANNESSON ( Iceland) said his country’s position on Security Council reform had been on the record since it had advocated reform in terms of both expansion and working methods for more than a decade, without a comprehensive agreement in sight. In terms of composition, Iceland supported the G-4 proposal, calling for an increase in Council membership from 15 to 25 by adding 6 permanent and 4 non-permanent members. To increase transparency, it welcomed the proposal of the so-called S-5 States, which was in line with the working methods part of the G-4 proposal.
A United Nations member since 1946, Iceland had never been a candidate for the Council and had announced its candidacy for a non-permanent seat for the period 2009-2010, he said. Comprehensive reform was essential to the Council’s reflection of present-day global realities. Discussing the matter for another 10 years was not an option and the seemingly “no-end-in-sight” discussions must be broken through compromise. The goal must be to come as close to a consensus as possible with respect for the views of others as the guiding light.
WANG GUANGYA ( China) said a highly efficient and accountable Security Council was in the interest of all Member States. The Council had always sought to improve its working methods and increase its transparency. During the process of recommending the new Secretary-General, it had given a lot of attention and respect to the views of Member States and constructive arrangements to enhance communications with the Assembly had yielded good results.
Noting that President Hu Jintao had spelled out China’s position on Council reform during the 2005 World Summit, he said the country had always supported Council efforts to reform so as to enhance its capacity to respond to new global threats and challenges. Reform must be multifaceted, covering both enlargement of its composition and improvement of its working methods, with the aim of ensuring its authority and enhancing its efficacy. Reform must also take into consideration the interests and concerns of all parties, while giving priority to enhancing the representation of developing countries. China would not support any formula that addressed only the concerns of a few big Powers and disregarded the wishes of small and medium-sized countries.
Reform should be carried out on the basis of extensive consultations to avoid hasty political showdowns that would divide, rather than unite, States, he stressed. The reform debate that had taken place more than a year ago had demonstrated valuable lessons. When progress was being made in other areas of United Nations reform, it was understandable that more would be expected from the Council. A flexible and pragmatic approach that took all views into consideration was crucial in coming up with a formula that would bridge differences. A new phase of Council reform had been reached, whereby all sides should approach the question from a fresh angle. Starting by exploring main benchmarks on a formula that would be acceptable to all, specifics could be determined later.
U MAUNG WAI ( Myanmar) said that, though the views of Member States had varied widely on reform modalities during the Assembly’s July debate, a general consensus had emerged that there would be no meaningful United Nations reform without a more representative Council. For its own part, Myanmar supported expansion of both the Council’s permanent and non-permanent membership categories. Myanmar was aware of the complexities of that issue and stressed that coming to a decision should not divide Member States, which must use dialogue and consultations in striving for consensus. At the same time, expanding the Council was not enough, as its working methods and decision-making processes also needed enhancement to make it more democratic and transparent.
While some of the Council’s efforts in that regard had been welcome over the past few years, he said he was concerned that it was infringing on the powers mandated to the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, Myanmar itself being an example of such encroachment. Claiming a “threat to regional peace and security”, the Council had placed the situation in Myanmar on its agenda, even though nothing could be further from the truth. Myanmar had done nothing to undermine the peace and security of any country and maintained close relations with its neighbours and other member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement. The founders had not intended the United Nations to become a forum where some members with political and economic clout could gang up against another Member State. Myanmar, therefore, urged fellow Member States to resist attempts by powerful States to influence the Council.
PIRAGIBE TARRAGÔ (Brazil) said the need for effective collective measures to re-establish confidence and settle international disputes was all the more evident as regional tensions continued to escalate, conflicts continued to be a daily reality and civilians continued to suffer mounting casualties. Recent events in different regions of the world highlighted the narrow power and representation base of the Security Council, risking the further erosion of the United Nations authority, legitimacy and ability to respond adequately.
Recalling the latest debate on Security Council reform, held on 20 July, he said it had underlined that the pressing need for change was nearly unanimously held by Member States. Many delegations had underscored the need for the participation of developing countries in both permanent and non-permanent membership categories, as well for changes in the Council’s working methods, while none had expressed support for maintaining the status quo.
He said that reforming the Council’s membership and representation did not mean denying the importance of a comprehensive reform that included adaptation of those working methods and the problem of Council encroachment on the powers and functions of other main United Nations organs. But unless the question of membership was addressed, the imbalance in representation and its impact on the Council’s legitimacy would continue gradually to erode its effectiveness and credibility. A reform that corrected the historical imbalance in the Council’s composition, which today excluded entire regions of the developing world from the permanent category, was not only a just aspiration, but also a political necessity.
After more than 40 years and the substantial enlargement of the United Nations membership, the Security Council needed an overhaul to reflect current realities, he stressed. At the Africa-South America Summit held in Abuja, Nigeria, on 30 November, the leaders of those two regions had called for urgent Security Council reform and supported its enlargement in order to make it more broadly representative for developing countries. Encouraged that the G-4 proposal had garnered the largest support base, Brazil would continue to work with its partners and co-sponsors to build on core elements of that platform, while keeping an open mind to views expressed recently, including today, with the aim of incorporating constructive and creative ideas in the preparation of a text for adoption as the current Assembly session.
ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said the Working Group on reform was going too slowly and causing frustration, whereas its purpose was to make the Council more effective, transparent and democratic. Increase in membership should be based on both permanent and non-permanent members from developed and developing countries in accordance with the principle of equitable geographic distribution and taking into account the relative importance of the various countries.
Reform should also include measures to make the Council more transparent in its working methods, especially with regard to decision making, he said. Transparency would boost the confidence of Member States and allow understanding and support for Council decisions. Africa must be represented on the Council and all efforts should be made to rectify the glaring error of its lack of representation.
MARK WALLACE ( United States) said reform to modernize the United Nations, as called for by leaders at the 2005 World Summit, had been modest so far, which was also true of Security Council reform. The Organization’s membership had grown from 51 in 1945 to 192, and the balance of power had shifted. Reform should be designed to increase the Council’s effectiveness in responding to the challenges posed by non-State actors, transnational threats and failed States. One reason for the Council’s efficient functioning was that its size permitted useful and manageable discussions and debates. Expansion to a larger membership must not undermine that efficiency.
The proposals for the Council’s expansion put forward over the last two years had not reached the level of broad-based consensus necessary for adoption as a Charter amendment, he noted, adding that new ways must be explored. Permanent members must be supremely qualified to undertake tremendous duties and responsibilities. They must have a suitable size in economy and population; military capacity; financial and/or peacekeeping contributions to the United Nations; commitment to democracy and human rights; strong records on non-proliferation and equitable geographic balance. Japan fit those criteria.
VANU GOPALA MENON (Singapore), expressing support for the S-5 proposals on improved working methods, said he wished to make sure they were not seen as attempts to badger or shame the Council’s members and their work. Although the S-5 proposal had indeed been around for nine months, the opportunity to discuss those issues with the Council as a whole had yet to arise.
Expressing regret that the latest Council report had been insufficient, he said the Assembly needed more analytical reporting. Regarding expansion, the Government of Singapore supported it both in the permanent and non-permanent categories, as it better reflected current geopolitical realities. While opposing the extension of veto powers to new permanent members, Singapore remained wary of intermediate steps that could possibly ensconce a few countries on a semi-permanent basis, while potentially excluding small States. Nonetheless, as none of the ideas proposed had generated the support required to pass an amendment, it was more feasible to pursue reform on working methods.
KIRSTI LINTONEN ( Finland) said it was imperative to take every opportunity to make the United Nations more efficient, effective and transparent, as well as more reflective of the aspirations of its entire membership. Closer cooperation between the Security Council and the United Nations membership at large was essential, as all Members States were required to implement Council decisions and were directly affected by its actions. While Finland supported enlargement in the number of permanent and non-permanent members, the right of veto should not be extended to new permanent members under any circumstances. However, the Council’s working methods required further reform to ensure its transparency, inclusiveness and legitimacy.
MAMADOU MOUSTAPHA LOUM ( Senegal) said it was unfortunate that the Council’s report had been issued so late that it could not be properly considered. The Council was charged with reporting on its activities to the Assembly and the format of its report should be changed to make the Council and its activities more transparent and accountable.
He said enlargement of the Council’s membership must take into account two principles; the need to rectify immediately the injustice done to Africa, since 80 per cent of the issues before the Council dealt with that region, and second, the need to maintain equal status among all members. Therefore, Africa must be given two permanent seats with the same status as other permanent members.
Council reform was within reach, despite deep-rooted differences, he said. However, many questions remained to be answered, including those regarding the veto and requirements for permanent members. Suggestions had been made and should be adopted to give the Council more legitimacy. The fundamental question, however, was enlargement. Reform was a delicate matter and could now be completed on the basis of the progress made in the past two years.
ENRIQUE BERRUGA ( Mexico) said many issues had been dealt with in the context of today’s discussion on reform, including equitable representation. But reform had not really been discussed. Instead of holding a dialogue, the Assembly had heard the delivery of monologues. It was time to start direct dialogues because the United Nations would be left in a dire situation if reform was not achieved now. If a particular model of reform had made no progress in gaining support, it should be dropped. The question to be considered had to do with what basic weakness of the Council must be addressed most urgently and how it could be updated to stand up to its responsibilities. A diagnosis of the kinds of threats facing the international community should be conducted to determine the answers.
There were a number of challenges to be met, including the need to balance better representation without losing effectiveness, he said. That had been one of the greatest challenges throughout the history of the United Nations. How should the Council’s function be reflected in its representative structure? The structure must be flexible and able to change over time so that it would not have to face the same question again in 20 years. The Council’s accountability must be strengthened through reform, especially in the case of periodic elections, and the Council must more readily explore the peaceful settlement of disputes instead of automatically resorting to Chapter VII.
* *** *For information media • not an official record