|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
43rd & 44th Meetings (AM & PM)
As General Assembly Opens Annual Debate on Security Council Reform, Delegations
Pledge to Keep Pushing for Equitable Solution to End Years-Long Deadlock
Assembly President Says Reform Model Should Address Views of All States,
Developing Country Envoys Say Proposal for Interim Measure Postpones Real Action
A new tone of flexibility and compromise emerged during the General Assembly’s annual debate on Security Council reform, as delegates vowed to push towards achieving a model that would produce the elusive consensus needed to revamp the United Nations’ most recognizable body.
Eager to break through the divisions that had kept diplomats toiling through numerous proposals and hours of debate for more than 15 years, many agreed that reform, wrapped around five key issues, was essential to bring the Council into the twenty-first century. The most nettlesome issue remained the expansion of the Council’s membership, which now consists of five veto-holding permanent members -- China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States -- and 10 rotating non-permanent members elected for two-year terms.
General Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki said the real challenge was to find a reform model that enveloped both membership categories; the question of the veto; regional representation; the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods; and the relationship between the Council and the Assembly. He noted that a model that accommodated all States, including those of small- and medium-size, and underrepresented regions like Africa, had yet to be found.
As a way to resolve the stalemate, France and the United Kingdom had this summer declared their positions on an “interim reform” measure to create a new category of seats with a mandate for more than the current two years. When that phase ended, a decision could be made to convert the seats to permanent status. The representative of the United Kingdom said that intermediate model could be considered as a way to end the deadlock and provide a stepping stone towards permanent reform. “Creative ideas need to be considered if the deadlock is to be broken and permanent reform was to be achieved,” he said.
Yet delegates from the developing world did not wholly agree. While there was general consensus that tangible reform of the Council was an absolute necessity, the representative of Brazil, whose country had been among several Member States whose permanent membership had been supported under various proposals, said the so-called “intermediate model” was not the first preference of any delegation, as that scenario lacked clarity. “Diversity has to be embedded in [the Council’s) very heart,” she said, to make the body more legitimate and more effective.
Egypt’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the African position, including that the continent receive no less than two permanent seats with the right to veto, along with two non-permanent seats. Moreover, his delegation did not support the proposed transitional approach since the interim measure did not respond to African demands and was actually just a way to defer serious action. The African Group believed the proposal had been offered as a way around its demands that the right of veto be extended to any new African permanent members.
Further on that point, Swaziland’s representative said the world had evolved since 1945 and a modern United Nations needed to represent a “holistic citizenry”. As the only continent without a permanent seat, Africa felt frustration in the 15‑year stalemate over expanding the Council’s membership “from Cape to Cairo”. He made clear that Africa did not want a regional seat. Rather, it would only help determine which African nation would occupy a sovereign, national seat. He called on States to negotiate robustly to bring closure to the membership issue.
Along with several other delegates, Germany’s representative said the logical next step was to forge a composite text to act as a basis for negotiations. The positions of Member States were well known and had been outlined repeatedly, including in the Assembly. These positions “could and should now be cast into a negotiation text”, he said, adding that the Chair of the current intergovernmental talks could present such a document. Finally, he said the text presented by the Chair would not be the solution to the reform question. It would rather be the beginning of a negotiation process, “and by that, I mean a negotiation process that is true to its name”.
The representative of Indonesia also urged the Member States to build on existing areas of agreement, such as the Council’s working methods, its relationship with the Assembly, and the need for the Council to reflect an equitable geographical distribution and the plurality of today’s world. While its choice was to expand the Council in both categories of membership, the least divisive option right now might be to consider an intermediate approach. Future reform involving expansion in permanent members would be addressed in the proposed review conference.
As a permanent member, the Russian Federation’s delegate said he favoured enhancing the Council by making it more representative without affecting its operational capacity. The Russian Federation favoured keeping a “relatively small” Council and regarded any infringement on the powers of the permanent members as counter-productive. His Government was ready to consider any “sensible” option, notably an interim model, if it enjoyed the most support.
While welcoming the annual report presented by current Security Council President Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria, and recent efforts to make the Council more open, many delegates also called for greater analysis in the report and more transparency of Council working methods.
Introducing the report ahead of the debate, Mr. Mayr-Harting said that again this year, the Council had faced a challenging and complex set of situations and issues throughout the world. Among other issues, the Council had been regularly briefed and had then acted on developments in conflict situations in Africa, from Chad to the situation in Western Sahara, and continued peacebuilding efforts in Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, the Central African Republic and Sierra Leone.
He went on to say the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, had received close attention and, he said, the Council adopted two resolutions, one focusing on support to the overall peace process, and the parties’ agreed principle of bilateral negotiations, and the other calling for a ceasefire leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. Finally, he noted that over the past year, the Council had increased the number of open debates and open briefings, and decisions had been taken, by and large, unanimously. Council members had also made great efforts to preserve unity, he added.
Also speaking today were Sierra Leone (on behalf of the African Group), Barbados (on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Micronesia (on behalf of the Pacific Small Island States), India, France, Bahrain, Portugal, Belarus, Algeria, Spain, Japan, Liechtenstein, Philippines, Pakistan, Mexico, South Africa, Cuba, Peru, Viet Nam, Mongolia, Switzerland, Congo, Tunisia, Paraguay, Zambia, Kuwait, the Republic of Korea and Romania.
The Assembly will continue and conclude its debate on Security Council reform at 10 a.m. Friday, 13 November.
The General Assembly met today for its annual joint debate on the question of the equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters. For its debate, the Assembly had before it a Note by the United Nations Secretary General, Notification by the Secretary-General under Article 12, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations (A/64/300).
This document notified the Assembly of matters relative to the maintenance of international peace and security that are being dealt with by the Council. It sets out the matters of which the Council is seized. Items that the Council no longer deals with, since the notification to the Assembly at its sixty-third session (A/63/300), are deleted.
The Assembly also had before it a Report of the Security Council (A/64/2), covering the period between 1 August 2008 and 31 July 2009. In Part I, activities relating to all questions considered by the Council under its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security are covered. These include resolutions adopted by the Council, statements made or issued by the Council President, and reports of Security Council missions.
In Part II, the questions considered by the Council under its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security are reviewed. These include items relating to the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question; the situation in Somalia, Afghanistan, and other geographic areas around the world; United Nations peacekeeping operations, the protection of civilians in armed conflicts; threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts; and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Part III reviews other matters considered by the Council. Part IV reviews the work of the Military Staff Committee, and Part V details matters brought to the attention of the Council, but not discussed at its meetings. Part VI looks at the work of the subsidiary bodies of the Council.
Statement by the General Assembly President
Opening the joint debate, General Assembly President ALI ABDUSSALAM TREKI, said today’s discussion contributed to strengthening the cooperation between the Assembly and the Security Council, and that he was personally committed to promoting that relationship.
Among the provisions of the United Nations Charter governing that relationship was the requirement for the Council to submit annual and special reports to the Assembly for consideration. There was a widely shared view that such consideration would be more meaningful if the report provided substantive information and more analysis that would lead to better understanding of the dynamics of discussions and decision-making.
It was further encouraged that the Council expand its practice of holding open meetings and briefings, he said, adding that the recent practice of consulting non-Council members in the preparation of the annual report should be broadened. The Council’s report outlined the wide range of issues on its agenda and, given the crucial nature of its work, scrutiny of its performance was intense. The Council had been questioned for not being able to fully shoulder its responsibility in dealing with some of the most pressing peace and security issues, including the Middle East and the Palestinian question.
In that context, he said the Assembly should encourage the Council to play its role in peacefully resolving conflicts, and imperative to that was the impartial implementation of the Council’s decisions and resolutions. While States had the right to hold the Council to account on that aspect, they should commit to carry out the Council’s decisions, in line with the Charter.
Improving the effectiveness and credibility of the Council and the Assembly was at the heart of United Nations reform efforts. “We need a strengthened United Nations,” he said; one that was more democratic, open, inclusive and adaptive to changing realities. He was committed to promoting that goal. Security Council reform was among the most mentioned issues in this year’s general debate and he had been encouraged by the broad support for the need to reform.
Further, intergovernmental negotiations, begun last year, offered an excellent opportunity to carry forward those efforts. To that end, he said he had informed the Assembly, in his 13 October letter, that Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan had agreed to chair the negotiations on his behalf. States would soon be informed of the way forward for continuing those talks.
For his part, he would continue to guide the process, and saw his role as a convener, facilitator and bridge-builder. “The job ahead of us is not easy,” he explained; it would require the vigour and cooperation that characterized the intergovernmental talks last session. The mandate was clear, as contained in Decision 62/557 (2008).
The real challenge was to find a reform model that took into account the interlinkages of five key issues: membership categories; the question of the veto; regional representation; the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods; and the relationship between the Council and the Assembly. A model that accommodated all States, including small and medium nations, as well as underrepresented regions like Africa, had yet to be found. With that, he urged the Assembly to chart a way forward that would bring it closer to achieving that objective.
Introduction of Report of the Security Council
Introducing the Security Council’s annual report in his capacity as the current President of 15-member body, THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) said that again this year, the Council had faced a challenging and complex set of situations and issues throughout the world. Among others, the Council had been regularly briefed and had then acted on developments in conflict situations in Africa, from Chad to the situation in Western Sahara, and continued peacebuilding efforts in Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, the Central African Republic and Sierra Leone.
The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly in the country’s eastern provinces, were of great concern, and the instability in Somalia and the Horn of Africa required greater attention, including the adoption of several resolutions on fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia. He said the Council also engaged on the Sudan and addressed the unconstitutional changes of Government, or attempts, in Madagascar, Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau and also in countries such as Fiji.
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, had received close attention and, he said, the Council adopted two resolutions, one focusing on support to the overall peace process, and the parties’ agreed principle of bilateral negotiations, and the other calling for a ceasefire leading to the full withdraw of Israeli forces from Gaza.
He said engagement on situations in the Asian region, including Iraq, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Timor-Leste had intensified, and in November 2008, Council members undertook a mission to Afghanistan to obtain a first-hand assessment. The Council also undertook a mission to Haiti in March 2009 and followed developments in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Cyprus and Georgia.
Terrorism remained a top concern for the Council, which had quickly reacted to terrorist acts around the globe, including in Mumbai, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Pakistan, and other areas. He also said that Council devoted significant time and attention to general issues, such as peacekeeping, peacebuilding, mediation and settlement of conflicts, protection of civilians during armed conflicts, reduction of armaments and women, and peace and security. It also developed particular attention to the current challenges encountered by United Nations peacekeeping operations. Non-proliferation matters had also received close attention, particularly the series of actions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that violated relevant Council resolutions.
Wrapping up his report to Member States with some general observations on the Council’s work over the past year, he said that body had increased the number of open debates and open briefings, and decisions had been taken, by and large, unanimously. Council members had made great efforts to preserve unity, he added. Their were few cases it which it was unable to adopt a resolution with a unanimous vote, which included the Middle East and on the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
He said that Council missions were an important tool for members to gather first-hand information on the work of United Nations missions. The Council also strengthened its cooperation and partnership with regional and subregional organizations. They had met with senior African Union officials during a mission to Addis Ababa, for example. And the support of the European Union bridging operation in Chad to support the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) was an interesting example of this support.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) spoke on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressing that delegation’s support for tangible progress towards reaching the common goal of expanding and reforming the Security Council. Informal talks during the Assembly’s current session could achieve rapid results on equitable representation and membership within the Council. Reforming that body must be addressed in a comprehensive, balanced and transparent manner. A reformed and enlarged Council would have to bear in mind the needs of developed and developing countries objectively. The veto would have to be eliminated gradually leading ultimately to a more representative and accountable Security Council.
Africa had to be more represented. Despite some improvements, much still remained to be done, he added. Turning to sanctions, he said that those were a cause for concern among Non-Aligned countries. Such measures must adhere to the United Nations Charter and be applied solely after all peaceful means had been exhausted. He regretted that the Security Council’s annual report lacked depth and was of limited value to the broader membership. The report could have better reflected the Council’s challenges, assessments and rationale, particularly with regard to maintaining global peace and security, he said.
Aligning himself with a statement delivered by Sierra Leone on behalf of the Africa Group, he said in his national capacity that Africa’s common position was that the Council should grant it no less than two permanent seats with the right to veto, along with two non-permanent seats. Unless all permanent Council members had the right to exercise it, Africa was opposed to the veto, which was the cornerstone of Security Council reform. Africa had asked either for it be eliminated or for it to apply to new permanent members.
He said that Egypt agreed that the African Union should select its prospective Security Council members, and that there should be discussions on how such a principle could be applied for all regions. Egypt also reiterated the African position that the proposed transitional approach was not acceptable. It did not respond to African demands and was actually just a means to defer serious action. Indeed, the African Group believed the proposal had actually been proposed as a way around its demands that the right of veto be extended to any new African permanent members.
He also urged for the Security Council’s working methods to hinge on enhancing transparency and accountability. That would require the political will of permanent and non-permanent members of the Council. Concrete steps must be taken to improve the relationship between the Assembly and the Security Council and to make the latter more transparent, representative and accountable towards the Assembly. In conclusion, he reiterated his confidence that with the Assembly’s support, there would be an agreement on how to reform the Security Council, in order for it to become a democratic, transparent and accountable platform.
SHEKOU TOURAY (Sierra Leone), speaking on behalf of the African Group, paid tribute to the respective facilitators for their stewardship of the intergovernmental process. The reform process had cautiously forged ahead, though not at a pace the African Group would have liked. Still, delegations had remained remarkably engaged, and areas of agreement as well as possible sticky areas were well known. By now, the positions of various groups had been stated and restated, and he hoped an effective interactive approach would dictate the pace of the process.
The African Group acknowledged the Council’s holding of more public meetings with other stakeholders, and other measures to encourage open discussion. However, he was disappointed at the resistance to improve other aspects of the Council’s working methods. In that regard, he expressed preparedness to subscribe to and consider views which required that the Council submit special subject‑oriented reports to the General Assembly for its consideration. His delegation consistently reiterated the imperative of reforming the Security Council if the United Nations was to respond to the current geo-political realities.
“Only a comprehensive reform of the Security Council will address the historical injustice that leaves Africa as the only continent not represented in the permanent category of the Security Council,” he continued. Paradoxically, that organ devoted 70 per cent of its time dealing with issues directly and sometimes exclusively affecting the African continent, which also made up over a quarter of Members of the United Nations.
Africa had a common position, reflected in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration, and thus, it requested full representation in the Security Council, no less than two permanent seats, with the African Union being credited the responsibility for selection of Africa’s candidates. He said the requirement for a democratic and inclusive decision-making Council, particularly in the execution of its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace, need not be over-emphasized.
Touching on other issues, he expressed reservations about the process of negotiations themselves. The last session of the intergovernmental negotiations strengthened Africa’s determined position that a transitional or intermediary approach ought not to factor as a viable proposition in the reform process. Such a notion actually predated the current intergovernmental negotiations and was not an outcome of that process.
“It can now be safely assumed that from the last session of the intergovernmental negotiations, the intermediary approach did not garner the necessary support from Member States and groups as was expected for it to contend for consideration,” he said. One area of concern was what to do with the veto and whether it should be abolished, curtailed or extended. Africa’s position was that the veto should be abolished but if it had to be retained, it should be extended to all new permanent members. In conclusion, Africa stood ready and willing to negotiate in good faith and mutual trust.
CHRISTOPHER HACKETT (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), declared that the delegation believed Security Council reform was one of the priority issues to be addressed by the current session of the General Assembly, and it would be incumbent upon Member States to build on the progress that had been made during the previous session. Having participated fully in the intergovernmental negotiations that had been held to date, CARICOM recognized that there had been general support for the model that called for expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories including its different varieties.
In that regard, he restated his delegation’s belief that any expansion in the permanent category should include representation particularly from those regions currently under-represented or not represented at all in the Council, namely Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Regarding the non‑permanent category, CARICOM was of the view that the number of seats needed to be increased to enable small States, particularly small island developing States to have more opportunities to serve on the Council.
While CARICOM did not have a definitive position on the size of a reformed Security Council, it supported the position of the African Group, recognizing that a Council of between 25 and 26 seats could represent the most viable option, he said. On the question of regional representation, CARICOM considered the African Group/African Union position to come the closest to the concept of genuine regional representation, he stated. “CARICOM’s perception of a reformed Security Council was one that should ideally provide for equitable representation for developing countries, including more balanced equitable geographical distribution of subregions within groups,” he said.
In addition, he believed that the veto should be abolished, and explained that CARICOM considered the practice to be fundamentally undemocratic and unrepresentative of the wider membership of the United Nations in whose interest the Council was empowered to take action. The misuse and abuse of the veto seriously undermined the main purpose of reform efforts to make the Council more transparent and accountable. However, if abolition of the veto was not likely to be immediately possible, he believed there should be an agreement that it would be used with the utmost restraint, and should be limited to actions under Chapter VII of the Charter. In addition to forbidding the use of the veto except in specifically prescribed instances, he suggested further that an explanation of the use of the veto be made to the general membership, and that a provision be adopted that would allow for an override of the veto by a specified “supermajority”.
Regarding the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly, he noted that as the chief deliberative and policy-making organ of the Organization in which all its members participated, the Security Council needed to refrain from encroaching on the powers and mandate of the General Assembly by not addressing issues which traditionally fell within the purview and competence of the Assembly.
JEEM LIPPWE ( Federated States of Micronesia), speaking for the Pacific Small Island States, said it was important to expand the Council’s membership in the permanent and non-permanent member categories. It was clear that only increasing non-permanent members, as was done in the early 1960s, had not yielded any real change in the Council’s decision-making processes. Moreover, the Council’s composition did not adequately represent the world’s regions and no longer reflected the geopolitical realities of the twenty-first century. He did not support the creation of new membership categories, such as one for extended seats.
In that context, he said Africa and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States were not represented as permanent members, while Asia had been underrepresented, with only one permanent member. That historic imbalance must be addressed through the election of States from the regions concerned. His delegation’s support for six new permanent seats was in keeping with the desire of world leaders at the 2005 World Summit to make the Council more representative. He supported two new permanent seats for Africa, one for Latin American and Caribbean States, as well as two additional permanent seats for Asia and one for the Western European and Others Group.
Finally, he said his delegation’s support for five additional non-permanent members was based on the belief that all countries must, in differentiated measure, help maintain international peace and security. Existing regional group arrangements used to propose members for a two-year non-permanent seat also needed reform, as it was no longer equitable in the selection of members from within regional groups. Reform must ensure a more democratic system of selection and balanced geographic distribution of subregions within regional groupings. Also, the option of allocating a seat for small island developing States within the existing group structures must be expressed in some form of assurances, contained in guidelines that could be part of a realistic reform process. He urged all to aggressively work together to overcome the barriers that impeded Council reform.
MANISH TEWARI ( India) said the real solution not only for a more credible, legitimate and representative Security Council lay in the comprehensive reform of that body, including the expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, as well as its working methods. In that context, it was important to note that an overwhelming majority of Member States had clearly expressed their preference for such a reform during the three rounds of intergovernmental negotiations held so far on the matter.
He declared that it was imperative for genuine and rapid progress to be made on the issue of Security Council reform because without it, the whole process of United Nations reform would remain incomplete. “Our institutions of global governance cannot remain chained to the balance of power that existed in 1945,” he said. Moreover, the economic meltdown of 2008 highlighted just how urgent the need was for international institutions to reflect contemporary global reality; again strongly underscoring the imperative of reform of the Council.
In his view, among the areas that required critical attention were proper implementation of Articles 31 and 32 of the Charter that dealt with participation of non-members of the Security Council’s deliberations, enhancing participation of troop-contributing countries in decision-making on peacekeeping mandates, and increasing the transparency of the Council’s work. In addition, while he noted the proposals for interim or intermediate solutions, he said such ideas had raised more questions than answers. “Let us be clear, pushing this decision into the future does not solve the problem, it merely enhances an erosion of the credibility and legitimacy of the Council,” he said, stressing that the luxury of inaction was not an option that was available to the collective will of humanity represented by the Assembly.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said the calibre of the Security Council document had met the international community’s legitimate expectations. Last July’s informal meeting had provided an opportunity for dialogue with non-Member States and had raised many issues in a spirit of transparency. France was committed to improving the Council’s working methods to achieve more transparency and better interaction with non-members, without challenging the Council’s independence, enshrined in the Charter. The renewal of the Afghan Ambassador as Chair of intergovernmental negotiations was good news, and that facilitator would receive France’s support.
Reform of the Council was essential if that body was to be effective and representative of a world different from that in 1945. “The status quo cannot be an option”, he said, stressing that reform must take place in both categories of membership, and take into account the emergence of new Powers that wanted permanent seats and were in a position to make important contributions to the Council’s ability to maintain international peace and security. France supported permanent seats for Germany, Brazil, India and Japan, and wished to see more African countries as members, including as permanent members. There was also a question as to permanent membership for an Arab country.
At the same time, he said expansion must not diminish the Council’s effectiveness -- it should remain a “reasonable” size. To resolve the stalemate, States had to show pragmatism and creativity. France and the United Kingdom supported “interim reform”, which would see the creation of a new category of seats with a mandate for more than the current two years. At the end of that phase, a decision could be made as to whether to convert them to permanent seats. He expressed hope that that solution would be discussed in the Assembly. To make progress in intergovernmental talks, a reform model must be proposed, and one from the Chair outlining the parameters of reform would help discussions.
MARTIN NEY ( Germany) said he was confident that during the Assembly’s current session there would be decisive progress on the crucial issue of Security Council reform. He trusted the debate would usher in the long-awaited resumption of the intergovernmental negotiation process. The overwhelming majority wanted meaningful Council reform now. “It is our responsibility to ensure that the Security Council can play its role in the twenty-first century. The overwhelming majority of Member States considers this aim to be served best by an expansion in both categories,” he said. Moreover, Member States were not only ready for but expected to achieve decisive progress. Germany was convinced that the logical next step was to arrive at a text that would serve as a basis for negotiations. The positions of Member States were well known -- they had been repeatedly been outlined, including in the Assembly, and now they “could and should now be cast into a negotiation text”.
Such a draft text needed to emanate from a trusted, impartial and balanced source. That was why we called on the Chair of the intergovernmental talks to present a document that could then be the basis for negotiations. In the process, two things were obvious: the Chair needed to be invested with the authority to help Member States narrow down the options; and the text the Chair would present would not be the solution to the reform question. It would rather be the beginning of a negotiation process, and by that, he meant a negotiation process that was true to its name. Once a first draft was on the table, delegations could and would point out where there were shortcomings. The text would be repeatedly revised by the Chair, just as in all the other negotiation processes within the United Nations.
Finally, he said there needed to be an expansion in both categories, and in the meantime, there could be an intermediate solution, but one that needed to pave the way for expansion in both categories. All other variations of the intermediate model were just disguised forms of an enlargement in the non‑permanent category only. He would not support any of those variations. In addition, he said Germany supported permanent representation for Africa in the Council, as well as for countries such as Brazil and India. Also, those that significantly contributed to the maintenance of international peace and security should assume their rightful place.
TAWFEEQ AHMED ALMANSOOR ( Bahrain) said the issues before the Assembly were very important to Member States. With regard to the annual report, the current discussion was the only opportunity for the non-members of the Council to make observations on its work and its decisions, and discuss ways to improve its operating methods. A more analytical report was necessary to understand the obstacles that hindered the Council from reaching agreement on significant issues. This was important as the international community viewed the United Nations through the Council and its resolutions. The factors behind very pressing matters that did not find solutions needed to be shown.
While noting that the Council had dealt successfully with many issues, such as situations in Africa, it had failed to tackle other highly important questions, such as the Question of Palestine, which was still on agenda. More efforts were needed to have the Council’s work and ensure that it was more transparent in order to dissipate the ambiguity around its work, he said.
With regard to Council reform, he said world leaders showed in 2005 that they were committed to support this reform. It was necessary to affirm that mandate. The Council needed to be made more legitimate and more transparent, which, in turn, would make its resolutions more legitimate. After many years of negotiations, it was high time to make a realistic evaluation of this question in all its aspects. “We should look at it with an open mind,” he said. The negotiations had to be continued and new ideas were necessary to attract wider support from Member States.
The membership had to be just and geographically representative in the two categories of membership: permanent and non-permanent. The Arab States needed to be represented. An equal relationship had to be enforced between the Council and Assembly. The Council should not overuse Chapter VII of the Charter. With regard to the use of the veto, it was important to restrict the use of this right as it was a barrier to agreed-upon resolutions.
Referring to the process surrounding the preparation of the report, JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL ( Portugal) said there was room for improvement in several areas. Meeting with the wider membership to exchange views on the report well before its formal adoption would be helpful. He would like to see a more analytical Council report, the submission of a special report to the Assembly, and believed that the “informal working group on documentation and other procedural questions” could help improve the Council’s working methods. He believed it would be useful to annex the assessments made by the outgoing Council President of the work done by the Council under their leadership, as provided for in Presidential note S/1997/451.
Turning to the issue of Council reform, he called it a pressing issue necessary to bring the body into line with current geopolitical realities. He supported a comprehensive reform that enveloped its working methods and expansion of the two existing categories of members. The underrepresentation of developing countries from Africa, Asia, and the Latin America had to be addressed as well as the legitimate interests and aspirations of small- and mid-size nations. Their chances to serve in the Council should be expanded and the role of non-permanent members in the decision-making process should be enhanced.
Portugal also supported improved access by the wider membership to the Council’s work when they were not members. Acknowledging the deep divergences among States and groups of States on the reform issue, he said a spirit of flexibility and compromise was needed to move ahead. He called on Member States to build on areas of convergence that had been identified.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS ( Belarus) supported the Council’s enhancement as central to maintaining international peace and security, but was against the “unwarranted” expansion of its agenda to include issues that fell within the purview of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. It was crucial to improve the Assembly’s interaction with the Security Council, including through regular consultations and joint briefing of the presidents of those bodies. While informative, the Council’s report still lacked analytical depth and one way to deal with that would be to shift the focus to monthly reports, prepared by delegations presiding in that body. Efforts to improve transparency continue, and he welcomed the practice, by the Council President, of holding open debates and briefings.
Against that backdrop, he called on the Council to consider ways of ensuring wider participation of non-members in its activities. In addition to existing formats for work, he proposed introducing a new format: meetings that were closed to the press and non-governmental organizations but open to State delegations and observers. Belarus also suggested taking action on issues considered in open debates at a later stage -- during follow-up meetings -- which would allow the Council to reflect on the contributions of non-Council members. Council reform was crucial to the inner renewal of the United Nations and Belarus called for speeding up the search for a compromise formula to expand its membership.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria), citing the Council’s annual report, said that during the year, the Council had adopted more than 130 texts and held more than 200 meetings. However, the report did not include the cases in which the Council had failed to reach a decision on a specific issue. Nor did it explain why the Council was unable to react to Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip. The Assembly’s adoption of resolution 64/10 (2008) requested Secretary-General to transmit the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission to the Council. Doing so would allow the Council to face up to its duties. The Council had to address violations of international humanitarian law and human rights outlined in that report. The same was true for the situation in the Western Sahara, where the decolonization process remained blocked.
The report showed that events in Africa dominated the Council’s agenda, he said. The Council had deployed two of its most important missions on the continent: the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), in the Sudan. For its part, the African Union had boosted its conflict-prevention and settlement capacities. It also had deployed a mission in Somalia, which aimed to create conditions for a return to peace and stability. However, the mission faced challenges -- including a lack of equipment and funding -– and the Council must decide whether it would deploy a United Nations peace mission in Somalia.
Moreover, he said a peacebuilding dimension must be taken into account at the start of any peacekeeping mission. A civilian component also would make the reintegration of former combatants possible. As to the Council’s composition and operational rules, they reflected the world in 1945, and reform would allow for a more balanced, transparent and legitimate body. Intergovernmental negotiations had allowed for a more practical approach and Algeria supported the common African position, as outlined in the “Ezulwini Consensus” and Sirte Declaration. There should be two permanent seats, with veto power, and five non-permanent seats. Africa was the only continent that lacked a permanent seat.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said the annual report showed the Council’s progress and challenges over the past year. He noted some positive developments, such as a more open debate involving more Member States and early consultations with troop‑contributing countries on renewing or issuing new mandates of peacekeeping operations. He encouraged the Council to keep engaging with the Organization’s wider membership more regularly. Such engagement, along with interaction with the pertinent agencies within and outside the United Nations system, would build greater support for its efforts to promote global peace and security.
He said greater transparency and interaction with non-Council members would boost the body’s effectiveness and was inseparable from efforts to enhance the legitimacy of its decisions. While commending the Council for producing a more analytical report, he said there was always room for improvement and it would be useful if the report included the status of implementations of its own decisions.
On the issue of reform, Indonesia believed the Assembly’s informal plenary was the appropriate primary vehicle for promoting the Council’s long overdue reform. He urged Member States to build on the existing areas of convergence, such as addressing the Council’s working methods, its relationship with the Assembly, and the need to reflect an equitable geographical distribution and the plurality of the world in the Council. Indonesia’s optimum choice was to expand the Council in both categories of membership with greater representation of developing countries from the under-represented regions. Yet he said the least divisive option right now might be to consider an intermediate approach. A future reform involving expansion in permanent members would be addressed in the proposed review conference. He noted that the work plan for intergovernmental negotiations was set with the understanding that all five key issues of Council reform should be agreed and adopted as an integral part of a comprehensive package.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) said the Council’s report made it clear that efforts were being made to reach out to the wider membership and other relevant actors, and it was essential to broaden those efforts so that non-members were properly heard and the Council was better prepared to discharge its duties. However, no matter how often the Council reached out to others, all such initiatives would be insufficient if the body did not truly reflect present global realities. “Diversity has to be embedded in its very heart”, she said, which would make the Council more legitimate and, hence, more effective. Progress had been at the Assembly’s last session, notably with three rounds of intergovernmental negotiations that had yielded important results.
The main options and “negotiables” for successful reform were clear, she said, and the reform model that had garnered the most support was one that included expansion in both categories of members. The so-called “intermediate model” was not the first preference of any delegation, as there was a lack of clarity around its meaning. States had agreed, in Decision 63/565, to continue negotiations in the sixty-fourth session and she welcomed the appointment of the Afghan Ambassador as chair of those talks, as his impartiality to any of the positions had earned the trust of States. Brazil awaited the work plan for the talks and expected a concrete outcome by the end of the session. To do that, the reform options had to be narrowed down as soon as possible. A Security Council of 25 members, with six new permanent members and four new non-permanent seats –- and inclusion of developing countries in both categories -- could bring about the desired change.
JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) opened by mentioning that great importance was given to the existence of good interaction and collaboration between the two main bodies of the United Nations, the General Assembly and Security Council, through greater transparency and accountability. Turning to the issue of Council reform, the first three rounds of negotiations were reviewed in detail. There were five key issues of Security Council reform which included categories of membership, the question of veto, regional representation, size and working methods and the relationship between the Security Council and General Assembly.
He said Spain had joined the “Uniting for Consensus” Group in introducing a new reform model, which included some elements that were characteristic of the “intermediate model” such as the creation of “longer-term seats” and the “review” concept, which did not appear in the model presented in 2005 (A/59/L.68). He remained convinced that a more legitimate and democratic Security Council could only be achieved through its enlargement in the non-permanent category.
Although progress had been made during the first three rounds of negotiations, there was also a troubling pattern that could create some problems during the fourth and future rounds. In particular, there was a repetitive nature of statements, a lack of flexibility and willingness to compromise, which could result in a loss of momentum. He eagerly awaited the “work plan” to be presented to Ambassador Tanin of Afghanistan, who was Chair of the negotiations. There were several points regarding the “work plan,” including the start date of the fourth round, which he hoped would start as soon as possible. There was a need for a comprehensive Security Council reform, including question of the veto, working methods, and the relationship between the Security Council and General Assembly. Regarding the format or modalities of negotiations, he wished that they continued to be open, transparent and inclusive.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said his delegation supported efforts to ensure a transparent process with regard to the Security Council’s report. He welcomed the initiative taken by Viet Nam last year and continued by Uganda this year, which was to convene an informal interactive meeting with Member States to discuss the report. The United Kingdom hoped more Member States would take advantage of such opportunities, and, more broadly, he noted that positive trends towards greater transparency of the Security Council continued. The last year saw a further increase in the number of open meetings.
Turning to Security Council reform, he was pleased to take the opportunity to reiterate a commitment to making progress and continued to support permanent membership for Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, as well as permanent representation for Africa. It had been an eventful year, and the start of intergovernmental negotiations had been a clear indication of the collective desire to achieve concrete progress. The focus on the current session needed to be moving the process forward, and the session on the intermediate model in the last round of intergovernmental negotiations was very welcome.
A range of views had been expressed on the issue of an intermediate model, he said, adding that a United Kingdom/French declaration in early July noted that such a model could provide for a new category of seats with a longer mandate. On completion of an intermediate period, a review could be undertaken to convert those new seats into permanent ones. The United Kingdom believed the intermediate model could be considered as a means to ending the deadlock and providing a stepping stone towards permanent reform. Creative ideas needed to be considered if the deadlock was to be broken and the permanent reform was to be achieved. There was a genuine will for reform, but concerted effort from the wider membership was needed if there was going to be progress. There should be a spirit of compromise and flexibility and he was committed to working with others in this session to make Security Council reform a reality.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said the Council’s report reflected the dynamics of its work. His Government was well aware of the criticism typically accompanying the Assembly’s discussion of the report and did not agree with the prevailing view. Rather, the report’s purpose was to give a complete and accurate account of work over the last year. There had been a positive evolution in the Council’s working methods –- it had broadened its practice of open debates and briefings. It must now strike reasonable balance between transparency and effectiveness.
He called on the Council to increase it interaction with the Assembly, with a focus on areas where cooperation was both possible and necessary, notably in enhancing United Nations peacekeeping and peacebuilding. There was also scope for joint efforts in mediation. Cooperation between the two bodies should demonstrate respect for their respective powers. The Russian Federation, as a permanent member, favoured enhancing the Council by making it more representative. However, trying to do that should not affect the Council’s operational capacity.
He favoured keeping a “relatively small” Security Council and regarded as counterproductive any infringement on the powers of the permanent members. Any amendments to the United Nations Charter would not be productive. Reform must enjoy the broadest possible support among the Council’s membership. It was necessary to get support of most States -- more than the legally required two‑thirds majority in the Assembly. Attempts to push through reform models by carrying out a vote would only “polarize” the Assembly. The Council would hardly gain stature in the eyes of the dissenting minority.
He said his Government was ready to consider any “sensible” option, notably an interim model, providing it enjoyed the most support. Unfortunately, intergovernmental negotiations had not narrowed the options and there was no choice other than to continue “painstaking” efforts in the talks. Such work must be done without imposing any artificial deadlines. It would be counterproductive to prematurely focus discussions to one or two options. Progress would depend on States’ readiness to reach a compromise.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said Security Council reform was long overdue. After three rounds of informal negotiations, the Assembly adopted Decision 63/565 (2009) and the task now was not to question the need for reform but to “act and deliver” in the form of solutions at the earliest possible time. Japan thanked Afghan Ambassador Zahir Tanin for his important contributions to moving the negotiation process forward. Reform should entail expansion of permanent and non-permanent membership categories. An enlarged Council should include, on a permanent basis, those States that had shown readiness, capacity and resources to implement Council decisions.
He said Japan, in September, had confirmed that goal by stating it would continue to actively engage in negotiations, pursuing expansion of both membership categories, and Japan’s permanent membership on the Council. Only by expanding both categories could the Council enhance its effectiveness, which was why the overwhelming majority of States, including African States, supported that option. It was time to seek a solution that would garner the broadest possible support. Substantive negotiations should be started.
To do that, it was essential to have a brief option paper to serve as the basis for negotiations. That paper could summarize the options and positions presented by States, and the Chair was in the best position to prepare it, in consultation with the General Assembly President. If the Chair was not in a position to formulate such a paper, other State-driven ways to produce it should be sought.
The Council must make its decision-making process more transparent and provide assurances that it was acting on behalf of all States, notably by improving its communication with the Assembly, he said. Japan welcomed the Council’s annual reports and would join in efforts to improve its quality, taking into consideration comments made in today’s debate. On the Council’s working methods, he urged more efficiency, transparency and interaction with other Member States.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) pointed out the strong substantive connection between the two agenda items under consideration. Thus, he welcomed the joint debate and hoped that it would offer guidance in shaping the future course of action. The Security Council report was a central channel of communication between the Council and rest of the membership on whose behalf the Council carried out its work. Like many other States, Liechtenstein was particularly interested in the report. That interest was compounded by ongoing engagement in the arena of working methods as a member of the Small Five States Group (S-5).
The long held view was that the report, in its traditional format, did not serve the purpose of accountability. In addition, he said ritualistic complaints in the annual debate on the report about the lack of analysis in it were not productive and didn’t bring about change. He looked forward to continuing the work, as part of the S-5 Group, and together with Council members and other States, on concrete measures to make a better report and to use the opportunity to exchange views. There was no illusion regarding the feasibility of a report that gave full political analysis of the work of the Council.
The S-5 worked on two tracks to improve the working methods of the Council; in the General Assembly, in the overall framework of the work on Security Council reform, and second, in a direct engagement with Council members on a number of select issues that were of particular interest. With regard to the enlargement discussion, he thanked Ambassador Tanin and his team for the skilled manner that guided the process over the last session. They were the last ones to blame for a lack of progress. If anything, the lack of progress was strengthened by the conviction that the only way to an early solution was an intermediate approach that offered a solution that was ratifiable, sustainable and flexible. Willingness to compromise was minimal at best, and it appeared that the political momentum necessary for enlargement could only be created through challenges to the role and legitimacy to the Council that were not yet fully felt.
HILARIO DAVIDE JR. ( Philippines) said that over the years, the Assembly had seen the same thing over and over again: nearly identical Security Council reports and a deadlock on the issue of Council reform. Indeed, this year’s report on the Council’s work appeared to be a rerun, despite efforts to make changes, and he suggested transforming it from the compendium it was now into more of a report using the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council as a model and even merging the annual report and the Repertoire.
Turning to Council reform, he said that despite the effort’s “long, discouraging, frustrating, exasperating and even painful” history, he saw a possibility that the current Assembly session could make progress. For that to happen, however, he urged that the Open-Ended Working Group on Council reform not be convened and that, instead, the focus remained on the intergovernmental negotiations.
In addition, he reiterated, there was no need to further elaborate on the various reform proposals, since all of them were already well known to all delegations. What was needed instead was action, he maintained, and suggested that the next step should be the drafting of a paper including all proposals on key issues, so that discussions could be more focused. He also proposed that “all or nothing” thinking on agreements should be discarded, and that the Council should act now to reform its working methods to make them consistent with due process.
AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL ( Pakistan) said the report of the Security Council was a comprehensive compendium of meetings and decisions and had procedural accuracies and reference value, but analytical depth could add to its value. Turning to issues of the work of the Security Council, he mentioned its effectiveness in maintaining international peace and security, and its ability to reflect the interests of the widest possible membership. In terms of effectiveness, the annual report detailed significant achievements: peacekeeping was utilized in several complex crises in Africa, and in Asia, Latin America and East Europe, there was a disengaging of the parties involved in violent conflicts. In areas of civilian support programmes and peacebuilding, important accomplishments were noted. The Council deserved appreciation for its work in these areas. Major unresolved issues, including in his region, remained asleep on the agenda of the Security Council. With issues on the active agenda, particularly on the Middle East, the Council abdicated its role.
Continuing, he said however, that the annual report failed to offer sufficient information, especially with regard to its decision-making process. It was widely noted that decisions evolved mostly in closed-door sessions, if not behind the scenes by a few key States. The decisions lacked transparency and inclusiveness. Pakistan was committed to comprehensive reform of the Security Council and the question was how to achieve the objective. The important work was done during the intergovernmental negotiations during the last sessions, but it was clear that achieving a solution was far away. There were three areas of convergence among Member States: reform had to be comprehensive and based on the principle of single undertaking; reform of the Council must make it diverse and plural in geographical representation; and reform must not be imposed by a few but enjoy the widest possible support of the membership. Flexibility was needed.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said an “enriching” intergovernmental negotiation process had begun and would lead to a comprehensive reform. Five interlinked aspects of reform had been dealt with during three rounds of talks. States had analysed innovative proposals and seen some flexibility to achieve comprehensive reform. Mexico welcomed the debate initiated by the “Uniting for Consensus” group on the intermediate position. Discussions on that approach should continue to gauge its full scope. It was seen as a compromise solution that would allow for reconciling the aspirations of all. However, he cautioned against repeating traditional positions or unilateral initiatives, as that would only lead to division.
He said Mexico was ready to continue with intergovernmental negotiations during the current Assembly session in the spirit of flexibility. Urgent reform was needed and with the support of the Facilitator, concrete progress would be achieved. As an elected Council member, Mexico had helped to draft its report and worked to ensure it contained accurate information. Transparency and analysis was seen in the report’s introduction and he thanked the representative of Uganda who had undertaken consultations with the Assembly. Such efforts had instilled a more analytical and substantive nature to the report. It also enhanced the Council’s relationship with the Assembly. While analysis had improved, annual reports should be continually “fine tuned” and more broadly include the Assembly.
For its part, Mexico had promoted debates on the situation in Haiti, strengthening of the mediation process and the issue of children and armed conflict, among others. It also had taken positions that fostered respect for humanitarian law, mediation, protection of children in armed conflict and post-conflict reconstruction. Mexico would continue to promote transparency in the Council’s work and participation of regional bodies. It would be productive to reintroduce the practice of “wrap-up sessions” at the end of the monthly presidencies. Mexico would also promote enhanced international crisis prevention, conflict-prevention, and the rule of law in the Council’s decisions. It would also actively participate in negotiations for Council reform.
BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) said that in light “of the immense power exercised by the [Security] Council, both in terms of the impact of its decisions and its wide discretion, it is important to ensure it is fundamentally reformed […] to render it more democratic, legitimate, representative, responsive [and] transparent in its working methods and its decision-making process”. Open debates, open meetings and open briefings in the Council were important to ensure transparency, he continued. That openness would allow greater participation from the general membership and enable affected parties to put their views across. Further, he noted with appreciation the Council’s increasing engagement with those affected on the ground through mission visits, including to Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan.
Improving cooperation and coordination with regional organizations could also facilitate the involvement of those affected by the Council’s work, he said. Noting that the largest percentage of situations on the Council’s agenda was in Africa, he urged strengthening the African Union/United Nations partnership on peace and security and called the Council’s May 2009 visit to the African Union Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa an important step in that direction. An assessed contribution from the Organization would greatly assist African Union peacekeeping. He went on to say that the most serious threat to the Council’s credibility was its inability to resolve protracted conflicts such as those in the Middle East and Western Sahara and encouraged Council members to transcend national interests and discharge their Charter-based mandate.
To further “real negotiations” on Security Council reform, he said delegations must stop restating positions that were well known. The Facilitator of intergovernmental negotiations should be given a clear mandate to produce a text for negotiation, based on those positions, which would narrow options and focus on those likely to garner the broadest support. Resumption of negotiations should be announced imminently. On substance, he expressed support for an expansion in both categories, noting that whatever compromises were reached must ensure effective representation of Africa in the permanent category and greater representation of developing countries generally. If the intermediary approach did not address those concerns, “it would be no more than an attempt to avoid addressing the injustices of the current configuration of the Council”.
RODOLFO BENÍTEZ VERSÓN ( Cuba) described the latest Security Council annual report as “descriptive”, but insisted that in the future, it should be far more analytical and substantive. The Council itself had to undergo urgent reforms and such a prospect could not carry on being sidelined while the views of the majority were disregarded. The time had come to end the 15-year-long reform deadlock to enter a negotiation phase.
Although Cuba favoured an immediate increase in both levels of the Council’s membership, he said that enlarging the body just for sake of doing something was not the way forward. Such changes would have to be done to correct long-standing and unjustifiable underrepresentation of developing countries. Increasing only non-permanent members would only serve to widen the gap between those and permanent members, thus rendering the Council less representative, legitimate and thus less effective, he warned.
He said it was unjustifiable that although over half of the Council’s agenda items dealt with Africa, that continent still did not have a single permanent member on the body. In that regard, Cuba fully supported Africa’s “just demands” for representation, as well as those by other underrepresented regions, including the Latin America and the Caribbean. Turning to the veto, he described that mechanism as “an anachronistic and anti-democratic privilege that must be abolished as soon as possible”.
Meanwhile, as long as the veto remained in existence, a good portion of developing countries also should have the right to exercise it, which would be the only way they could impact the Council’s work. On the other hand, depriving new permanent members of veto power would be tantamount to relegating them to a lower position, which Cuba did not support. The bulk of the increase in new permanent members and non-permanent members had to go to developing countries throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Despite modest changes over the past years, the truth remained that the Security Council was “not transparent, democratic or efficient”. He wanted closed-door consultations to be a thing of the past, few and far between and a Security Council that bore in mind its members’ opinions before making a decision and gave non-member States genuine access.
GONZALO GUTIÉRREZ-REINEL ( Peru) said the Security Council reform process was a matter of priority. He was pleased that Afghanistan had been confirmed to preside over the ongoing negotiations in the Open-Ended Working Group, adding that substantive progress could be made. Peru drew attention to the introduction of the annual Security Council report, which reflected upon broad matters. It could contain more description, especially on decisions that had already been made. A more integral vision of those matters would have been far better than a mere listing, he cautioned. As Peru believed firmly in multilateralism, it was essential to keep up the Council’s open and transparent work through assessment.
Calling for a Security Council that was more democratic, transparent and representative, which reflected the modern world order, he suggested a model of representation that went beyond each Member State, and urged for more equitable representation that would do the Council justice. The ultimate aim was to welcome new members. Peru wanted to eliminate the veto. Nonetheless, so as not to paralyse talks, a compromise had to be reached on the matter. He called for consensus on limitations regarding the use of the veto especially where genocide and flagrant human rights violations were concerned. He urged for a text that compiled concrete elements on those processes to lead to more tangible talks and results and reiterated that with that in mind, Peru would be ready and willing to cooperate.
HOANG CHI TRUNG (Viet Nam) said that during the period under review, the growing complexity and multidimensionality in the international situation had tasked the Council with further challenging responsibilities in shouldering its noble mission of maintaining international peace. In that regard, he acknowledged efforts exerted by Council members to fulfil the tasks before the body, particularly by managing to smoothly conduct its hectic program of work, to regularly review and take appropriate actions on conflict situations in Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia.
He said the Council’s annual report reflected improvement in terms of format and content. It was a good basis for further substantive discussions by the General Assembly, but the report needed to be further consolidated in order to better grasp the increased role and involvement of the Council under the current challenging circumstances. To be more specific, it was necessary to find appropriate ways to reflect the concerns of troop- and police-contributing countries, the coordination of the Security Council and other United Nations organs, the legitimate interests of the countries in question and the role of regional and subregional organizations.
There were positive steps taken inside and outside the Security Council to move the difficult process further ahead. However, no breakthrough had been recorded and the body’s current membership structure was still a challenge to the United Nations fundamental principles of equality, representation. Moreover, the current set up was not and proper reflection of current geopolitical realities. For the coming negotiations to succeed, talks must reflect the needs of both developed and developing countries in a balanced, rational manner. Pending its final elimination, the application of veto power by the permanent members needed to be restricted. This year’s General Assembly was a crucial time and now was the time for Member States to act together.
ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR ( Mongolia) strongly agreed that to move negotiations forward, the Chair of the negotiations had to produce a composite text of States’ positions. Mongolia had consistently stood for a just and equitable enlargement of the Council by increasing permanent and non-permanent members, while ensuring due representation of developing and developed countries. That position was based on legislative and political considerations, as well as principles of justice and equality. The veto right was anachronistic and should be limited with the goal of abolishing it. As long as it existed, it had to be extended to new permanent members. Mongolia also supported a voluntary moratorium on veto use until the proposed review process.
On regional representation, she said the solution should be fair and just, and Mongolia attached high importance to the criterion of equitable geographical distribution that included emphasis on non- and underrepresented groups in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. An enlarged Council should include 24 to 25 members, with six new permanent members and four to five non-permanent members. To make progress in the negotiations, a decision had to be taken on the categories of enlargement. She agreed with the preference of increasing membership in both categories and expected the proposed composite text to reflect that position. She hoped the current Assembly session would make meaningful progress towards early Council reform.
BENNO LAGGNER ( Switzerland) said that in order for the Security Council’s annual report to be pertinent to the General Assembly, it required more assessment and rationale of decisions as well as analytical information of the challenges the Council faced. Further, the lack of highlighting linkages between thematic, regional and country-specific issues, as well as incomplete summaries of debates was notable. He suggested several options for improvement, including analytical summaries of the 12 presidencies and a component of “lessons learned” on each specific issue.
Continuing, he said that a systematic, interactive involvement of the general membership at an earlier stage of the drafting of the annual report through informal meetings would give non-members of the Council a chance to express their views. The fact that many Member States were not only troop and financial contributors, but were obligated to implement coercive measures justified an enhanced analytical and transparent report. “We owe this to our national political constituencies and our national legislatures, as we have to explain to them where the taxpayers’ money is being spent,” he said.
Because positions on the enlargement issue are entrenched, he also said that the “intermediate model” was the only realistic option to break the deadlock and allow progress towards reform efforts. His country with its S-5 partners would continue to focus on the issues of reforming the Council’s working methods, as stated in their reflection paper in April and he urged careful scrutiny on what working methods had worked well in the past as well as why Council decisions were often insufficiently implemented. All improvements, he said in conclusion were to the benefit of both Council and non-Council members alike, by conferring greater authority to the Council and strengthening its relationship to the General Assembly.
RAYMOND SERGE BALÉ ( Congo) said his delegation was grateful for the Council’s annual report and the Open-Ended Working Group. He praised the Security Council for all the work it had done to ensure global peace and security. The Assembly had to ensure that the Council shouldered its responsibility. Moreover, the time had come for the Council to recognize that preventive diplomacy was far more effective than giving in to the pressure of events. The report’s purely factual approach limited Member States’ understanding of the Security Council’s challenges.
Although it had been said time and time again, it was true that reforming the Security Council in particular was the cornerstone of reforming the Organization in general. He referred to history’s two walls of shame, the one that fell in Berlin in 1989 and another one that fell throughout Africa, shortly after the independence of a number of former colonies in the 1960s. Now, almost all States of the world had become Members of the Organization. Things were not set in stone, he warned. Member States could not forever be denied their place within the Security Council. The United Nations, which was a living organism, had to evolve. It had to be transparent, democratic and representative or else, it would be doomed to a tragic, numbing death.
GHAZI JOMAA (Tunisia), supporting statements made on behalf of the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that for most States, the Assembly’s consideration of the Council report was the only chance for an in-depth study of the Council’s work. As in prior years, this year’s report was a compendium of decisions and resolutions adopted. “We are still far from the recommendations of States that had requested an analytical annual report”, he said. Thematic reports had been requested but none had been submitted. It also would be useful to strengthen consultation mechanisms to ensure no encroachment of United Nations bodies.
The report showed the Council had acted with determination to resolve conflicts around the world, he said, which enhanced its authority, but efforts had fallen far below what could have been hoped for in the Middle East, notably on the Palestinian question. Much had to be done to improve transparency and access to information. To address the question of equitable representation, he noted the launch of transparent intergovernmental negotiations and he assured the Chair of Tunisia’s full cooperation.
The Council should reflect the economic and political realities of today, he explained. Equitable representation could only be attained by increasing the membership of developing countries. Tunisia strongly supported the African Consensus, as it was time to correct the fact that Africa had never had a permanent presence in the Council. His Government would support any formula that gave developing countries and Africa in particular, their rightful place in the Council.
JOSÉ ANTONIO DOS SANTOS ( Paraguay) said the Council’s report was substantive. Reform of the Security Council was essential to that of the United Nations, and Paraguay would do its utmost to fulfil the mandate of the 2005 World Summit. His Government was committed to multilateralism and insisted that the maintenance of international peace and security be based on collective well-being, rather than transitory individual interests.
He said Paraguay had followed the intergovernmental negotiations with interest. The Council’s rules of procedure should be definitive, not provisional. Its legitimacy would reflect its democracy. In addition, he was concerned at the Council’s growing extension of competencies into other spheres, which would undermine the Assembly’s authority. Paraguay also supported the gradual elimination of the veto and more effective communication with the Assembly. In closing, he said his Government believed that the Council would adapt to the new needs of today’s age, as well as the numeric reality of the Organization.
JOEL MUSA NHLEKO ( Swaziland) said the fact that Security Council reform negotiations had taken 15 years showed a “laggard” commitment to progress. The world had evolved since 1945 and a modern United Nations needed to represent a “holistic citizenry”. Swaziland added its voice to the call for Security Council reform with unfailing resolve. As the only continent without a permanent seat, Africa felt frustration “from Cape to Cairo”. The ad hoc approach to Africa reflected a situation where the tail was wagging the dog. The “Ezulwini Consensus” was succinct in its call for at least two permanent seats for Africa. Whether they came with veto power depended on whether negotiating partners yielded on that issue.
Swaziland lamented the direction that the intergovernmental negotiations were taking. Despite a near convergence of views on issues around working methods and the Council’s relationship with the Assembly, there had been no initiative to synchronize views and work on a concrete trade-off to move the process along. An intermediary approach to membership categories had arisen and Swaziland had both rejected it and its undue advancement by the Chair, as it simply did not reflect what the entire membership wished to “narrow into”.
Regarding regional representation, he made clear that Africa did not want a regional seat; rather, Africa would only help determine which African nation would occupy a sovereign, national seat. The idea that Africa wished to rule “en mass” in the Council was misguided and he encouraged other African delegations to explain what regional representation meant for the continent. He called on States to negotiate robustly to bring closure to the membership issue. “It is not a world of the middle ages anymore”, he said.
SUSAN WAFFA-OGOO ( Gambia) said that it was no secret that the Council addressed a lot of situations on its agenda, the bulk of them in Africa. There was greater engagement of the Security Council and the African Union, especially in the implementation of the United Nations-African Union 10-year capacity-building programme. She wanted to see a more meaningful cooperation between the Council and the African Union, as they both grappled with finding lasting solutions to conflicts in Africa.
In that vein, African efforts in the maintenance of international peace and security ought to be supported, especially in those situations where individual African countries already gave troops or were willing to do so. Moving on to issues of the Middle East and the Palestinian question, she expressed worry that the issue had received attention for decades but defied solution. For the Palestinians, the unending settlement and land-grabbing activity was the greatest threat to a two-state solution. “What is worrying here is the Council’s failure to insist on respect for its numerous resolutions on the situation. We urge the Council to see to the implementation of its long-standing resolutions on the Palestinian question,” she said.
In the protracted debate on reform of the Security Council, one of the issues that enjoyed general agreement among all Member States was that of relations between the Security Council and the General Assembly and the improvement of the Council working methods. The Council needed to engage in more introspection with a view to finding more innovative ways to engage the larger membership of the United Nations. In the continuum of reforms made by the United Nations, that of the Security Council had been elusive. “What we continue to find untenable is the delay in reaching a final solution,” she said, and added that there needed to be a resumption of the intergovernmental negotiations in the informal plenary of the Assembly leading to more formal intergovernmental negotiations without undue delay.
YAQOUB YOUSEF ALSANAD ( Kuwait) opened by thanking the President of the Security Council, the Permanent Representative of Austria, for presenting the Council’s report, wherein he asserted the previous year witnessed significant activity in the volume of the Council’s work. The item on the question of equitable representation and an increase of membership were the most important items on the Assembly’s agenda. Despite that, more than 17 years passed since the Assembly adopted a resolution establishing an open-ended working group to consider the issue of equitable representation and the increase in the Council’s membership.
However, there had been progress and consensus on proposals to be introduced. He welcomed the agreement to begin international negotiations between Governments that would aim to translate ideas into realities. There was no doubt that an agreement on any of the issues related to the matter of expanding and reforming the Security Council needed to ensure real reform. That should also involve observing the need for transparency and goodwill and avoid moves in narrow self-interest. Kuwait supported the reform and activation of all United Nations bodies to enable it to carry out its functions as mandated by the Charter. Any change in the composition of the Council could not affect its capability and effectiveness in taking decisions to confront international threats and dangers.
He supported proposals that gave more transparency and clarity and supported the need to respect the functions and competence of other main bodies especially the General Assembly. He stressed the importance of codifying the measures taken by the Security Council to improve its working methods without waiting for agreement on other issues such as the size and composition of the Council. What was worrying was that the item had received attention over decades, the conflict in the Middle East continued to defy solution. The Council needed to adopt a permanent list of working methods to improve and codify its measures and working methods.
PARK IN-KOOK (Republic of Korea) greatly appreciated the Council’s work on a wide variety of challenges. In the past year, important milestones had been achieved, most notably, the “historic” launch of intergovernmental negotiations in February on Security Council reform. Through three rounds of talks, States examined the five key issues laid out in Decision 62/557: category; veto; regional representation; size and working methods; and the Council’s relationship with the Assembly. An understanding had emerged that each of those issues were closely interconnected and it would be almost impossible to take them apart arbitrarily.
While pleased with the insight of many delegations and the frank exchange of views, his Government was disappointed that too little substantive progress had been made in terms of the positions of major groups. The increased willingness to consider the intermediary solution as a realistic compromise, however, was encouraging, and he expressed hope that that avenue would be further explored. Council reform, above all, should aim to strengthen democratic underpinnings, and his Government, thus, supported periodic elections as it provided the most potent incentive for Council members to continually improve their work. Flexibility was also a crucial requisite.
In that context, he said an increase in elected seats would help meet the goal of granting equitable access to all qualified States, large or small, to serve on the Council. Every State had something to offer and the opportunity to do so should not be limited outright at a static juncture. Promoting balanced representation among regional groups was another important goal best achieved by freeing up as many elected seats as practicable. Regarding working methods, he welcomed initiatives put forward thus far to improve transparency. In closing, he expressed his Government’s confidence in the Chair to steer a path that was progress-oriented and stressed the importance of modalities that would unite. Successful reform must have the support of an overwhelming majority of membership.
SIMONA MICULESCU (Romania) said that her country appreciated the Assembly’s decision to place Security Council reforms high on its agenda and for appointing Afghan Ambassador Zahir Tanin to facilitate intergovernmental negotiations, whose perseverance and resolution she admired. She reiterated that Romania had been among the supporters of a meaningful Security Council reform, to ensure that it reflected current global political realities. In that regard, her country thought it was crucial to improve its working methods, its transparency and its decision‑making in line with what Member States had desired.
To ensure a solid political foundation, the reform had to include expanding both categories of membership -- permanent and non-permanent. In order for such a move to garner the support of Member States, it would have to be geographically balanced and include additional members from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Romania was adamant on ensuring that the Council should only grow by 10 further seats and that its prospective size should be determined by equitable geographic distribution. Maintaining the Council’s effectiveness was vital and potential members should be able to prove that they could bolster the Organization in reaching its goals.
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