|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
55th Meeting (AM)
TO REMAIN RELEVANT, SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP MUST REFLECT FULL DIVERSITY
OF UNITED NATIONS, SPEAKERS SAY DURING GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE
On Second Day Tackling Security Council Reform, Delegations Call for
More Transparency, Better Representation for Small States, Curbs on Veto Power
Current meetings of the Security Council marked a “disheartening” departure from its more open and transparent beginnings, and the 15-member body must urgently reform its working methods to restore its credibility and ensure greater diversity in its decision-making, General Assembly delegates said today as they continued their joint debate on Council reform.
To make that point, the representative of Argentina drew attention to the worsening situation of interstate conflicts, which took place in developing regions and where institutional fragility prevailed. The situations in Darfur, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia were still desperate. In the face of potential genocide and crimes against humanity, States had the responsibility to protect populations from atrocities when the States in which such events occurred could not -- or did not -- choose to address them.
Every day that passed without reforming the Council undermined its legitimacy, as it lacked equitable representation of the United Nations’ 192 members, and made it more ossified, reflecting a global situation that was now 60 years old, he said. To better reflect modern circumstances, it should ensure the participation of developing countries, small States and all other underrepresented countries and regions.
Echoing that call, Singapore’s representative said “either we reform to forestall crises or wait for crises to force change on us”, adding that the first meetings of the Security Council in 1946 had been open and on record. At the same time, he said that if ever there was widespread support to go down the path of creating renewable or re-electable seats, it must go hand-in-hand with measures to prevent large and medium countries from flip-flopping between any new intermediate and traditional non-permanent categories, to the detriment of small States.
He also called for identifying ways the permanent and non-permanent membership of the Council could best reflect current geopolitical realities, including, perhaps undertaking some fundamental restructuring of the Council’s current composition. On the specific question of veto, Singapore remained opposed to granting the veto to any more Council members, as there was a risk of complicating decision-making and creating gridlock. He also called for the “Permanent Five” Council Members –- China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States -- to be prepared to explain the use of the veto, stressing “There should be no privileges without responsibilities.”
Similarly, Uruguay’s representative was adamantly opposed to any solution that enshrined the right of veto to new Council members, consecrated directly or indirectly, through moratoriums or other mechanisms which prolonged its extension. Many topics had been debated for over 12 years, and it was not appropriate to consider issues that would not achieve broad consensus, such as the use of veto.
The representative of Slovenia pointed out, however, that progress had been made in improving the Council’s working methods. Enlargement of its membership lagged. Reform should address both those issues, and importantly, cover the Council’s interactions with the wider United Nations membership.
Membership should be expanded in three directions, she said. Six additional permanent members from the world’s regions were needed. Also needed was an additional category of non-permanent members with a more frequent rotation; six in any particular composition should be elected according to a formula developed by the General Assembly, and alternating every second two-year term. The remaining eight non-permanent members should be elected in accordance with the principle of equitable geographic distribution.
At the same time, Australia’s representative said any reform must acknowledge the contribution made by Japan and India to international peace and security and include them as permanent members. Japan was a major financial contributor to peacekeeping missions and a leader in developing peacebuilding activities, while India was an emerging economy with over one billion people.
Further, appropriate representation of Africa and Latin America was needed. He said any increase in non-permanent membership should balance the representation of regional groups that had changed in size since the last expansion, particularly Eastern Europe and Asia. However, an expanded Council should not be so large that its ability to fulfil its responsibilities was diminished.
The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines offered a unique perspective of a State that had no aspirations to become a permanent Council member. With no illusions of the difficulty of implementing such dramatic and needed reforms, he called for a representative, nimble, and transparent Council; one that could be accomplished when all States chose to rise above “pettiness and dilatory tactics, and get on with the serious work of reform”.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Czech Republic, Myanmar, Swaziland, Solomon Islands, Libya, Dominican Republic, Senegal, Malta, Malaysia, Spain, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Turkey, Venezuela and South Africa.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday 20 November to continue and conclude its annual debate on matters related to the question of equitable representation on and increase in the Council’s membership, as well as to begin consideration of revitalization of the work of the Assembly.
The General Assembly met this morning to continue and conclude its annual joint debate on the Report of the Security Council and matters related to the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of that 15‑member body. [Please see Press Release GA/10786.]
SIN SON HO (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said more than 60 years had passed since the Security Council had been established, yet the world had never been at peace. In most cases, the Council was being used to serve the interests of specific countries disregarding all fundamental principles, such as respect of sovereignty and non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.
Sanctions and coercive measures were imposed against sovereign States under the pretext of conflict resolution, and righteous struggle to safeguard sovereignty were condemned as threats to international security, he continued. Abuses of power by the Council -- such as dealing with issues beyond its mandate ‑‑ had become ever more serious. The 15-year-old debate on Security Council reform had produced no results, and Member States were growing increasingly less confident in the Council’s work.
He stressed that the Council should be responsible for global peace and security and should never be used as a tool to legitimate strategic interests of certain countries. The principle of impartiality should be strictly observed in all its activities, and the peaceful settlement of conflicts through dialogue and negotiations between parties should be the primary resort. Sanctions and coercive measures only aggravated conflicts, and such moves should be rejected. A mechanism that would make the Council’s resolutions effective only after the endorsement of the General Assembly was needed, he declared.
Emphasizing that the Council was not a court handling the cases of developing countries only, he said Non-Aligned Movement Member States and other developing countries should be fully represented. In that, the Council’s non-permanent membership should be enlarged first, while the enlargement of its permanent membership was deferred. Whenever the permanent membership was expanded, Japan, which was guilty of war crimes and distorted its past history of aggression, should never be allowed to occupy a permanent seat. Even today, Japan resorted to despicable acts to grab Tok Islet and suppressed the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan. If such an “irresponsible and brazen-faced” State as Japan were given a permanent seat, it would be paramount to instigating Japan’s ambition for its old dream of “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”. It was also important that Security Council reform ensured transparency by allowing interested parties to attend informal meetings, he added.
PETR KAISER (Czech Republic) stated that, after many years of discussion and efforts, it was time to implement Assembly decision 62/557 -- by which it decided to begin intergovernmental negotiations during the sixty-third session, “but not later than 28 February 2008” -- and make the Security Council reforms a priority, and he called for the launching of the intergovernmental negotiations to begin today. It was clear to him that under the leadership of Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan the proceedings would move swiftly and with transparency, openness and inclusiveness. Without predicting outcomes, he expressed his hope that permanent and non-permanent seats would increase. Furthermore, he hoped that small and middle-sized countries’ needs and ambitions would also be taken into account in any reconfiguration of the Council.
He noted that the previous 15 years of debates regarding those reforms had laid a strong and solid foundation upon which the Open-ended Working Group could build. Those efforts would not be lost and the mandate had been fulfilled. Therefore, it was crucial that the Working Group not slow down the next phase of the intergovernmental process. In conclusion, he affirmed the determination of the Member States call for reform, citing the need for a stronger, more representative and effective United Nations and Security Council. Committing the Czech Republic’s support for such reforms, he said “Let us start sooner rather than later.”
U THAN SWE ( Myanmar), recalling Article 24 of the Charter, which conferred responsibility to the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security, said the body was also accountable to the General Assembly. The principal approach of the Security Council’s report was similar to that of last year: informative but not analytical, and it should strive for a report that went beyond a listing of its activities and meetings. Its important responsibility for maintaining global security underscored the urgency of reforming the Council so that it met the challenges of a new era.
Collective efforts in the Open-ended Working Group had not borne fruit, and he agreed that Council reform must be integral to the ongoing United Nations reform process. He stressed that any reform would become meaningless if the Council did not become more representative and transparent. Recalling the 2005 World Summit, which had raised expectations of reaching agreement on a reform formula, he said positive developments had emerged from subsequent consultations. Indeed, the Assembly had agreed to launch an intergovernmental negotiation process, but regrettably, attempts to do so had not resulted in any significant headway, due to entrenched positions. He was discouraged by the conclusion of the task force that sufficient support had not been received to launch the talks.
The outcome of the present stage of discussions on the question at hand demonstrated that States would not be able to overcome the present impasse, he said. Council Membership must be expanded in the permanent and non-permanent categories, and such expansion must consider the need for representation of developing countries, particularly in Africa. He was concerned by the Council’s failure to strictly adhere to the Charter provisions, and the Non-Aligned Movement had stressed, several times, that the Council’s decision to initiate formal and informal debate on matters that did not constitute a threat to peace ran contrary to Article 24.
Finally, he said reform of working methods must aim to promote transparency in considering issues of interest to Member States, and urged continued improvement to ensure that the Council not be “held hostage to progress” on the issue of membership expansion.
JOEL M. NHLEKO (Swaziland), aligning himself with the statement made on behalf of the African Group yesterday, said that while States had agreed on the need for accelerated talks on the question of equitable representation in the Security Council, regrettably, words had not been matched by actions. The stakes had long been laid, and he stressed moving with urgency, as the Council’s democratization had been inconsequential. Reaffirming the principles of the Ezulwini Consensus –- the African Union’s common position on Security Council reform -- and Sirte Declaration as “our beacon of hope”, he said the status quo did not inspire confidence in the United Nations as a credible body that sheltered the weak.
Indeed, the Ezulwini Consensus was very compelling to the African cause, he said, particularly as the present Council reform regime was “surreal”. He reaffirmed his unwavering support for the Open-ended Working Group, created in 1994. Its draft report stated clearly that the Council should be reformed to ensure better representation of the world today. “This is a good premise for negotiations”, he said, as some of the “Permanent Five” could attest. It was encouraging that common elements had been identified, and he urged hammering away at them to move quickly to negotiate on the more difficult issues.
He also urged seeking structural reform of the Council’s working methods, in partnership with the Security Council mechanism set up for that purpose. The “no reform option” was not an option, as failure to act would bring long-term injustice, impotence and parochialism. Africa had a commanding oversight regarding the selection of the two permanent seats, which was true to the virtues of the propensity to collective action and justifiable distribution.
VANU GOPALA MENON ( Singapore), while observing the renewed interest in Security Council reform following the Assembly’s decision in September to commence intergovernmental negotiations, recalled one of the first meetings of the Security Council in 1946, which were then open and on record. “There was so much transparency at that first meeting that the United Kingdom delegate, without realizing that his microphone was switched on, was heard complaining, ‘that bloody Chairman has double-crossed me again!’” He then observed that today’s Security Council meetings were a marked and disheartening change from those transparent beginnings.
Knowing that creating reforms that reflected the many divergent interests and goals of the many Member States was challenging, he expressed his faith that intergovernmental negotiations could ensure a balanced and positive outcome. The need for reform was an urgent issue. “Either we reform to forestall crises or wait for crises to force change on us,” he observed.
As a member of the “Small Five Group” (S-5) urging improvement of the Council’s working methods, he stressed that any Security Council reforms needed to include its operations, which, regardless of how many members sat on the Council, were, in his opinion, questionable. Furthermore, the views and interests of small States, like Singapore, who made up the majority of the Member States in the United Nations, needed representation on the Council to ensure that 15-member body reflected the Organization’s diversity.
In light of this concern, he stated four points that were core to small States inclusion in such reforms. First, there needed to be an expansion of non-permanent seats so that small States had more opportunities to participate. Second, if ever there was widespread support to go down the path of creating renewable or re-electable seats, it must go hand-in-hand with measures to prevent large and medium countries from flip-flopping between any new intermediate and traditional non-permanent categories, to the detriment of small States.
His third point was to identify ways the permanent and non-permanent membership of the Council could best reflect current geopolitical realities, including, perhaps undertaking some fundamental restructuring of the Council’s current composition, and he asked that Member States “leave no stone unturned […] to seek the most optimal solution”.
COLLIN BECK ( Solomon Islands) said the Council must place emerging threats to international peace and security on its agenda, and for small islands like his, that included the need to migrate from low-lying islands to larger ones. The threat of conflict was real, as people would be forced to leave ancestral homes and enter completely new settings under a very different land tenure system in an alien ethnic domain. That situation, in a country where a half million people spoke some 87 different languages, was compounded in the region as a whole. Indeed, talks at the presidential level were already taking place about the need for people to move to third countries within the Pacific Small Islands States community. A resolution would be introduced on the matter.
Furthermore, he said, the poverty that was a root cause of conflict would be fanned by the impact of the global financial crisis on official development assistance. Billions had been made available to stabilize that situation and a similar stimulus packaged aimed at such stability should be directed at the least developed countries and small island developing States. A reformed Council would be instrumental in achieving that end. The long-awaited intergovernmental negotiation process that was to be started before 28 February was a decisive move that should bring further such action. The Working Group should not get bogged down in procedural matters as it carried out the work plan to be presented to it.
GIADALLA A. ETTALHI ( Libya) said consideration of the items at hand stemmed from his delegation’s desire for the Council to find its way out of the reform process. The Arab Group had welcomed recommendations of the Open-ended Working Group, and especially the initiation of intergovernmental negotiations. He emphasized the need for the talks to be open, inclusive and transparent, taking into account the positions of all Member States and Groups.
Indeed, Member States had made considerable efforts to achieve concrete progress in reforming and expanding the Council, within the framework of the Open-ended Working Group, he said. General Assembly Decision 62/557 reflected consensus on the start of talks being no later than 28 February, 2009.
The Arab States stressed their commitment to constructive cooperation with all parties to reform the Council process, with a view to making it more able and effective in addressing issues of the world today. He emphasized the unified Arab position, which called for permanent Arab representation in the Council, as mentioned in a June letter to the Assembly by the Chair of that Group. He urged true reform to the Council’s “modus operandi”, which should observe transparency and openness, and aspire to bring about participation of non-members, notably those directly concerned with issues under Charter Article 31.
In addition, more inclusive briefings to non-members should be held, he said. While the Arab Group appreciated Viet Nam’s effort to hold inclusive briefings on the Council’s report prior to its submission, the report did not give a clear picture of what was happening now. In the future, he hoped the report would be more useful and incorporate the reasons why the Council was unable to maintain peace in some world regions. In closing, he hoped the General Assembly would make up for the Council’s impotence.
JORGE ARGÜELLO ( Argentina) said it was clear the Security Council had had another year of intense activity, but it was not his delegation’s intention to examine the Council’s work in detail. Instead, he stressed Argentina’s concern over the worsening situation of interstate conflicts, which took place in developing regions and where institutional fragility prevailed. The situations in Darfur, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia were still desperate.
In the face of the danger of repeated genocide and crimes against humanity, Member States had the responsibility to protect populations from atrocities when the States in which such events occurred could not or did not choose to address them. He underlined the role of the International Criminal Court to guarantee that those responsible for such crimes did not go unpunished and encouraged those States that had not done so to ratify the Rome Statute.
He further called on the parties involved to make substantive progress towards a fair and just solution in the Middle East in the framework established by the Security Council’s various resolutions. Argentina also continued to follow the situation in Haiti, including the crisis generated by the recent rise in food prices. The situation in that country underscored the interrelatedness between instability and social development.
Since its inception, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had contributed to improving Haiti’s security situation, promoting a greater respect for human right and strengthening the State’s institutional capacity, he said. Renewed cooperation with the Security Council had been established to continue consolidating achievements in Haiti, including through reform of the country’s judiciary and its police force. The Secretary-General had provided guidelines for a consolidation plan to assess progress there, elaborating five variables to track. Argentina would continue to closely monitor the development of those variables and would also continue to contribute to the work of MINUSTAH.
He said that in its current composition, the Security Council did not reflect modern circumstances. Every day that passed without reforming the Council made that body less legitimate and more ossified. It was less legitimate because it lacked equitable representation of the 192 countries of the United Nations. It was ossified because it reflected a historical situation that was now 60 years old. The whole Organization’s current composition should be better mirrored in the Council. That 15-member body should ensure the participation of developing countries, small States and all other underrepresented countries and regions. An increase in the Council’s membership should take into account the principles of fairness, accountability and democracy. To that end, he added that the category of elected members should be expanded.
He noted that the Open-ended Working Group had been given a mandate to define a framework to prepare and facilitate intergovernmental negotiations. The first objective in that phase was to define how to proceed with the negotiations in order to achieve the broadest possible support for the reform. It was hoped that at the close of this phase, in February 2009, favourable results for all parties would be presented.
ENRIQUILLO A. DEL ROSARIO CEBALLOS (Dominican Republic) said the interest and urgency of all Member States in the restructuring of the Security Council was more than evident in their various statements, which had highlighted the importance of strengthening the Council’s role in the maintenance of peace and security, as well as its capacity to better face the challenges of the future.
Noting with satisfaction the progress so far made in that regard, including the changes in the Council’s working methods, he said there was therefore need to implement lasting improvements that necessarily had to be included in a broad reform of that body. Although that was a difficult task due to the various interests at stake, such as the question of the veto, for instance, he nevertheless believed that more important was the desire of the international community to undertake a substantial reform of the Security Council that would adjust the existing imbalance in geographical representation and support the international equity that truly reflected the Organization’s universal nature.
He urged Member States to take advantage of the new framework and cycle of negotiations ahead to hold debates and make contributions that could elevate the political level of their deliberations, thus translating the political will expressed on so many occasions into a truly constructive approach for Security Council reform.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) stated that the Security Council’s decisions needed to take into account the interests of the international community as a whole by conforming to the Charter on which it was founded. Thus, the Council’s annual report had special significance, providing an opportunity for Member States to be informed of how it discharged its duties and mandate, as well as presenting reasons that underpinned its members’ actions, or failures to act.
However, as others had observed during the joint debate, the report didn’t always provide such information, and he stressed that analysis of the Council’s work needed to be included and utilized as a way to strengthen the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council. Furthermore, the report had welcomed the discussion on equitable distribution and increased membership to the Council, a necessity that would ensure modernity, justice and legitimacy of the Council’s work.
Observing that Africa was the only continent that did not have a permanent seat on the Council, he expressed hope that Assembly decision 62/557 would offer new prospects to embark on genuine intergovernmental negotiations. “In addition to gaining a more modern Council, we need a more legitimate Council more able to deal with the challenges of maintaining international peace and security,” he said. Any artificial solution by forcing the issue, he feared, would only further divide the international community.
He believed that, whatever solution and formula emerged from the reform process, that both representation of small States needed to be included and the working methods expanded to include the participation of non-Council Member States. He stressed the importance to continue the work of not just the current Assembly President, but also the work of the Presidents of the sixty-first and sixty-second Assemblies, so that Member States could “give the Organization the means to live up to the aspirations of the people of the world”.
SAVIOUR F. BORG ( Malta) expressed regret that the situation in the Middle East had remained on the Security Council’s agenda for six decades and yet the search continued for a long-term solution to that problem with the Palestinian question at its core.
While he did not underestimate the complexity of the Middle Eastern issue, he regretted the fact that the Council was unable to agree on timely and urgent measures to address situations that continued to block progress in achieving a comprehensive and durable solution. The international community had welcomed the Annapolis conference and, therefore, the role of the Council was “primordial” in solidly backing the outcome of that conference in order to advance the Middle East Peace Process. He hoped the council, in the coming months, would review its efforts in support of the current positive engagement between Israelis and Palestinians.
He said the role of United Nations peacekeepers in the numerous ongoing operations could not be underestimated and, therefore, needed the complete support of and encouragement by all Member Sates. The successes achieved by United Nations peacekeeping operations, including in Nepal and Liberia, he noted, were examples of determination and close cooperation by all concerned. Those examples also gave encouragement to others to surmount the difficult task of achieving peace and reconciliation. Similarly, he added that post-conflict peacebuilding was an important element linking the Council’s work and that of the Peacebuilding Commission.
In all those areas, the role of regional and subregional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security should continue to be further strengthened, he stated, adding that he welcomed the initiative of holding thematic debates, which had taken place in the Security Council with the participation of a considerable number of Member States. He further commended the Council for its efforts to encourage global justice and fight impunity for crimes related to the violation of human rights.
CAMILLO GONSALVES ( St. Vincent and the Grenadines) thanked the Security Council for mandating the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, as well as the Council’s efforts in the many conflicts around the world, where troops and United Nations personnel were deployed. However, he noted that when the Council fell short in its mandate, “lives are lost and development reversed”.
There was, therefore, some disappointment on his part, regarding the annual report. In citing the section of the report on the Sudan, he questioned why there had been no substantial action taken on the part of the Council to prevent the massacre of so many people, but instead a barrage of various statements that expressed condemnation. He expressed the same disappointment in the Council’s efforts and lack of results in the Middle East, as well as its decision to define the situations in both Kenya and Zimbabwe as not “formal Security Council agenda items”. Those failings, in his mind, illustrated the absence of the political will and structural inadequacies, and clearly stated the need for Council reform.
When the Council had been established in 1948, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, like 133 other current Member States, had not been involved in composing or outlining the functions of that body. Over the past sixty years, the portrait of power had transformed from great-Power unilateralism to multipolar, multilateral interconnectedness. Yet, he observed that “the Council has remained stubbornly resistant to change and impervious to the logic of an evolving world.” Indeed, the annual report had cited crises in Africa on its agenda, yet no African representative sat on the Council.
Continuing, he commented that the United Nations celebrated transparency, newly emerging democracies and decolonization throughout the global world, yet the Council’s lack of reform and change evinced an opaque, undemocratic “five-headed monarchy, largely unchanged in 60 years of global metamorphosis”. That circumstance was not just the Council’s doing, and he held the General Assembly Member States also responsible for the lack of reform, citing a “paralysis” that had impeded effective action.
With no aspiration to become a permanent member of the Council, and with no illusions of the difficulty of implementing such dramatic and needed reforms, he called for a representative, nimble, responsive and transparent Council, one that could be accomplished when all Member States chose to rise above “pettiness and dilatory tactics, and get on with the serious work of reform”.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia) said there was a great deal of room for improvement to enhance the Security Council’s transparency, inclusiveness and accountability, and allow it to efficiently and effectively fulfil its duties. Urgent consideration should be given to transforming the existing structure. Reform should address both the enlargement of the Council’s membership and the improvement of its working methods. Regardless of the Council’s size, improvements in its working methods and in its interactions with the wider United Nations membership must be addressed. Slovenia particularly appreciated and supported the work of the Small Five States in that regard, she added.
While progress had already been made in improving the Council’s working methods, the enlargement of its membership had lagged behind, she said. The time had come for specific proposals and, finally, decisions. Expanded membership was not only a matter of fairness, but was a necessary condition for the Council’s effectiveness. It was time to make the Council more representative, and to strengthen its authority and legitimacy. She said the current momentum, generated by General Assembly decision 62/557, should be preserved. For the intergovernmental negotiations to be successful, they should be conducted in an open, transparent and inclusive manner.
She underlined Slovenia’s position, outlined by President Danilo Turk during the Assembly’s general debate two months ago, that the Council’s membership should be expanded in three directions. Six additional permanent members from all the world’s regions were needed. Also needed was an additional category of non-permanent members with a more frequent rotation; six in any particular composition should be elected according to a formula to be developed by the General Assembly, and alternating every second two-year term. The remaining eight non-permanent members should be elected in accordance with the principle of equitable geographic distribution. Thus, the total membership of a reformed Council would not exceed 25. A review clause allowing for a comprehensive review of the new system should also be included in any amendment to the Charter that expanded the Council.
Noting the “sporadic briefings” of the President of the Security Council, HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) called for more regular, open briefings on the Council’s work, and greater overall transparency, accountability and participation of the general membership of the United Nations, in the work of the Council. The challenging situation besetting several regions in Africa reflected the complex socioeconomic and political developments of the continent as a whole. While there had been some encouraging results in mitigating the number of conflicts, many daunting challenges remained, and the Council, among its options, might consider pursuing efforts to engage and work closely with regional organizations, including the African Union.
He expressed regret that little attention had been given by the Council to addressing the Palestinian issue. “We do not understand why the Security Council could be so concerned and eager to act on matters such as climate change, where security implications are debatable, and be stone silent on the Palestine question,” he said, adding that the continued failure of the Council to solve that question had undermined its credibility.
While taking note of the Security Council’s efforts to improve its working methods, he said his delegation was of the view that the Council’s annual report should be more substantive and analytical, to allow Member States to properly assess its effectiveness. The Council was fast reaching its capacity, and to avoid becoming “overstretched”, it should “refocus on its core business” of international peace and security.
In regard to the question of equitable representation in the Council, the Assembly’s adoption of decision 62/557, in September 2008, gave cause to believe that the day had finally arrived to begin engaging in intergovernmental negotiations, with a view to making concrete progress. Yet, the divisiveness of the first meeting of the Open-ended Working Group had been cause for concern, and he expressed hope such discord did not reflect what was to come in the negotiations.
JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO ( Spain) said the effort being made by Costa Rica as President of the Security Council was most laudable as it had worked to increase that body’s transparency. The annual report Costa Rica had presented yesterday had been more analytical than last year’s document, and had allowed the Organization to move forward in its evaluation of the Council’s work. Still, greater interaction between the major bodies of the United Nations was needed. Through the application of Article 15 of the United Nations Charter -- which established that the General Assembly would receive annual and special reports from the Security Council -- better cooperation could be achieved. It could also lead to the adoption of more effective measures to maintain peace and to enhance international security.
He stressed that Security Council reform should be dealt with during the forthcoming intergovernmental negotiations, which had been called for in by the Assembly’s decision 62/557. In that decision, the Member States had agreed to continue the two-fold negotiations on reforming the Council’s working methods and enlarging its membership. The time until February 2009 should be used to ensure that those negotiations would lead to general agreement that was as broad as possible on such Security Council reform. That would guarantee that the effort would be truly accepted and effectively applied by the Organization’s membership.
He said that expansion of the number of non-permanent members of the Council was needed, as they were the only members accountable to the General Assembly. Turning to the Council’s decision-making mechanisms, he said it should be recalled that any expansion of the membership should be accompanied by a parallel increase in the majorities needed to pass a resolution. A distinction should also be made on both kinds of decisions –- procedural and substantial -– taken by the Council.
He went on to say that the veto should be reserved exclusively for decisions undertaken under Chapter VII of the Charter. Spain favoured other proposals, especially those that restricted the use of the veto in other cases, and those that sought to ensure the representation of subregional groups. He added that the representation of trans-regional groups such as the League of Arab States and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) should likewise be ensured. Formulas that provided adequate representation for small and other underrepresented States were also needed.
In terms of the Council’s working methods, his delegation supported the S‑5 proposals as well as reforms that called for oversight measures for the Council. He also specified the need to encourage greater dialogue between members of the Council and civil society, including intergovernmental organizations and members of the academic and business communities.
ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia), recalling that the sixty-second session had made an historic breakthrough in the long-stalled Security Council reform process with the unanimous adoption of decision 62/557, said the time had come to seize momentum and move forward expeditiously. The Working Group’s last two meetings had vividly revealed that a large majority of States were willing to engage in intergovernmental negotiations as soon as possible, and she regretted that it was somehow found impossible to start the talks on 21 November, as originally proposed by the General Assembly President in his 10 October letter. Nonetheless, she was hopeful that they would start soon, and eagerly looked forward to new dates being announced.
She agreed that, having considered the question of equitable representation on and increase in the Council’s membership over the last 15 years, the Working Group had fully exhausted its potential. She would welcome any constructive recommendations in coming weeks, but its outcome –- or lack thereof -– should not stall intergovernmental talks on comprehensive Council reform.
Mongolia stood for a just and equitable enlargement of the Security Council by increasing both permanent and non-permanent members, while ensuring due representation of developing and developed countries. In addition, the Council needed to improve its working methods, and she supported the S-5 proposal aimed at enhancing accountability, transparency and inclusiveness with a view to strengthening its legitimacy. Incoming Presidents should hold open debates and interactive briefings. In closing, she assured the Assembly of Mongolia’s full support in moving the reform process forward through launching, and steering, the conduct of intergovernmental talks.
JOSE LUIS CANCELA ( Uruguay) shared the view on the urgent and necessary need to reform the Security Council, as it underscored the need for the United Nations to adapt to current challenges. He urged that the Council become a democratic and transparent body, and that reform of its working methods was needed. He welcomed circulation of previous General Assembly resolutions, which clearly defined main points decided on the matter during the sixty-second session.
While he lauded the scheduling of meetings that called for starting intergovernmental negotiations on 21 November, he would have wished that the Assembly President had conducted wider consultations, particularly with the regional groups. Uruguay’s position remained unchanged, but he reiterated that his country was adamantly opposed to any solution that enshrined the right of veto to new Council members, consecrated directly or indirectly through moratoriums or other mechanisms which prolonged its extension. That principled position dated back to the United Nations’ establishment.
As the phase of intergovernmental negotiations was approaching, he said States sought to overcome difficulties of previous sessions of the Working Group. It could not be ignored that many topics had been debated for over 12 years, and it was not appropriate to consider issues that would not achieve broad consensus. The issue of veto was among those issues.
PARK IN-KOOK ( Republic of Korea) said meaningful Security Council reform should uphold the United Nations Charter principles to render it more representative, accountable, transparent and efficient. He favoured enhancing the Council’s “democratic legitimacy” through increasing elected seats with terms of varying duration, as only through elections could democracy and accountability be sustained. Indeed, periodic elections would allow States an opportunity to review the Council’s performance, and open the door to qualified States to present candidatures in hopes of serving the international community.
The goal of improving the Council’s working methods must be met, he said, welcoming initiatives that had been put forward to enhance transparency, accountability and inclusiveness. He supported the Council’s steps taken in that regard. States were now on the right track, in that many had agreed on the sequential link between the preparatory work, to be undertaken by the Working Group, and the intergovernmental talks to be launched no later than next February, he said. In that context, the Republic of Korea, with Mexico, had presented a joint proposal on a draft timetable for consultations during the last Working Group meeting. His delegation was fully committed to working towards the successful launch of negotiations, and proposed making the best use of remaining time by using the Working Group as a preparatory committee for those talks.
He urged starting open and inclusive consultations, with a view to achieving the most accurate agreement on the framework and modalities for the talks. In that connection, he said first that, as a matter of principle, the Assembly should aim to achieve the widest possible political acceptance, well above the required two-thirds majority. States, time and again, had overwhelmingly adopted reforms, he said, including the landmark resolution 1991, which increased the Council’s non-permanent members from 11 to 15.
Second, Council reform contained “extremely delicate” elements that should be addressed in a comprehensive and organic manner, and as such, a holistic approach was needed, by which all relevant issues were discussed. Next, Council reform should build on progress made, notably during the Assembly’s sixty-first session, and he agreed with the Facilitator’s conclusion that the intermediate approach was the only feasible compromise option to break the current impasse.
Finally, he reiterated the guiding principles of: respecting States’ sovereign equality; ensuring equitable geographic distribution; strengthening the Council’s democratic underpinnings; solidifying ownership of the reform process by accommodating interests of all States and regional Groups; and increasing the opportunity of all States to serve in the Council. In closing, he said the Republic of Korea was willing to participate in negotiations in a flexible way, based on its principled positions, and he hoped others would show greater flexibility to advance Security Council reform.
FAZLI CORMAN ( Turkey) said the Council’s report had provided an accurate account of its work, demonstrating the multiplicity of issues considered in the maintenance of international peace and security. Further, it had confirmed the Council’s increased workload, whereby African issues, notably in the context of peacekeeping and peacebuilding, were at the forefront of the agenda.
While the report could have been more analytical, he was aware of the complexity of issues that would have rendered such analysis extremely difficult. At the same time, there was room for improvement in the Council’s working methods to enhance its transparency, inclusiveness and accountability, and he encouraged the body to continue efforts to that end.
Turkey had emphasized, several times, its full commitment to early reform of the Council to make it more democratic, representative and transparent. Such widely shared principles should guide efforts in every stage of Council reform, he said. States also should not overlook other important parts of the overall United Nations reform process, including revitalization of the General Assembly, an interrelated issue that should proceed concurrently.
Turkey had actively participated in ongoing consultations in the Open-ended Working Group, and attached great importance to it as the main forum to “set the stage” for intergovernmental talks. That meant completing consultations in the Group on the main parameters of the upcoming talks. Turkey supported the proposal of Mexico and South Korea on scheduling more meetings for the Working Group prior to the start of talks by February 2009. Sufficient preparation prior to the talks and mutual flexibility would help bring Security Council reform to a successful conclusion.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) said changes on the international scene, following the end of the Cold War, reaffirmed the need to encourage debates to adapt the United Nations and its bodies -- particularly the Security Council -- to respond to the current challenges in furthering the causes of peace, security and development. Indeed, as Venezuela’s President said during an interactive dialogue during the Millennium Summit, the United Nations could not continue to orient itself according to the world map of 1945.
He said Venezuela had repeatedly advocated for the restriction of the use of the veto in the Security Council. Such a step would increase the legitimacy of the Security Council, as would an expansion of the Council’s membership that better reflected the current make-up of the United Nations. The Council’s permanent membership should be increased to include representation from African, Asian and Latin American countries. Given changes in the world order, including members from countries and regions of the developing world was also appropriate. Also needed was an increase in the number of non-permanent members. In doing so, the principle of equitable regional representation should be upheld. Meanwhile, the “anachronistic and outdated” veto should be repealed. In fact, the issue of the veto was inseparable from the reform issue, and both expansion and the elimination of the veto would enhance the Council’s legitimacy. Immediately, however, the use of the veto should be governed by certain criteria. In situations where a decision is being made under Chapter VII of the Charter, two concurrent negative votes by Member States should prevent a resolution’s adoption. Moreover, use of the veto in the Council should not be used under Chapter VI decisions governing the pacific settlement of disputes.
Turning to reform of the Council’s working methods, he said that, while some progress had been made over the years, reforms continued to fall short. Peace was a matter of everyone –- small and large States, rich and poor States. Peace should not be supported by privilege. Venezuela rejected the procedures which made closed meetings the rule. Public meetings should predominate since closed meetings prevented participation of the majority of Member States. The status quo also marginalized the majority of States, and in the spirit of transparency and fairness, the Council should invite the participation of countries affected by its deliberations. Efforts to reform the United Nations should lead, per force, to an overall strengthening of the General Assembly, since it was the Organization’s main body for making decisions and formulating policies, and remained the most representative. To this end, the Security Council should submit substantive, analytical and regular systemic reports to the General Assembly.
BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) acknowledged the Security Council’s many areas of engagement around the world, and its success in highlighting important global issues, including the role of women in peacekeeping and the relationship between the Council and other regional organizations. However, he noted the Council’s inability to successfully resolve protracted conflicts, notably in Palestine and Western Sahara. Fulfilling its mandate to maintain peace and security could stem that erosion of credibility. In that regard, the call for the Council’s reform through the implementation of resolution 62/557 and the start of intergovernmental negotiations had been a watershed decision.
Stating his delegation’s support for the Ezulwini Consensus for Africa to have two permanent and five non-permanent seats on a reformed Security Council, he had a clear African Union Summit mandate “to participate in the forthcoming intergovernmental negotiations” with a focus on five key areas necessary for that reform, including categories of membership, the question of veto, regional representation, size of an enlarged Council, and the working methods of the Council.
Concerned that additional consultative discussions in the Open-ended Working Group would only “rehash the same discussion the [Working Group] has had over the past 15 years”, he reminded the Assembly that the resolution, which had been adopted unanimously and which could not be reopened, renegotiated or amended, had moved the process away from consultations and into intergovernmental negotiations. In that regard, he requested that intergovernmental negotiations begin as soon as possible so that progress on the reform of the Security Council during the sixty-third session of the General Assembly could be achieved.
* *** *For information media • not an official record