|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
50th Meeting (AM)
Concluding Annual Debate on Security Council Reform, General Assembly
Delegations Express Competing Views on Best Way Forward
On Second Day of Discussion, Small, Medium-Sized Developing States
Weigh Value of Swift, Decisive Action over Cautious, Inclusive Restructuring
The General Assembly wrapped up its annual debate on achieving equitable representation in the Security Council today amid competing calls from diplomats for pressing ahead swiftly with drafting a new negotiating text that genuinely analyzed proposals already on the table, on the one hand, and cautioning that any immediate solution which excluded major voices from decision-making would only deepen entrenched divisions, on the other.
Among those leading the charge to seize momentum gained in the last five rounds of intergovernmental negotiations on restructuring the 15-member Council was Peru’s delegate, who said States must act or they otherwise ran the risk of “getting stuck in the compilation of various positions expressed”. He urged moving to an informal drafting exercise that would lead to a new negotiation text that identified - and processed - options on the table. Commitment also should be made to assess limits on veto use, especially in cases of “genocide”, crimes against humanity and excessive, flagrant human rights violations.
Other speakers, however, cautioned that Council reform was not a problem to be solved in a broad stroke. Qatar’s delegate said it was not surprising that there were varying positions on the issue given that the United Nations was made up of 192 countries. It was important not to overlook any views, as the role of the Assembly President was to constructively create the appropriate conditions for consensus. Moreover, it was fair to recognize that the situation had indeed advanced since the start of the reform process in the mid-nineties, he said, especially as the exercise had moved from “a closed and informal path to an intergovernmental one” at the Assembly’s sixty-third session.
Whatever the pace, San Marino’s delegate, one of many small countries to take the floor in the half-day debate, cautioned that reform squeezed “from a fractured Assembly would be doomed from its inception”. The only solution was a compromise one that could generate the greatest common denominator of States’ aspirations.
To reach that goal, he supported an interim approach that would provide a “reasonable” enlargement. Small- and medium-sized States would gain more representation, as would those nations that were greatly contributing to world pace with financial aid, democratic leadership, growing economies and peacekeeping forces. “We must reengage in the intergovernmental negotiations, whose outcome, to be successful, must be reached by consensus or quasi-consensus”, he said.
[An interim measure would create a new category of seats with a mandate for more than the current two years. When that phase ended, following discussions by Member States a decision could be made to convert the seats to permanent status.]
To counter a “widely held” view that the Security Council’s decisions evolved “behind the scenes” or were crafted by a few major players, other speakers supported a newly revived “Uniting for Consensus” proposal. Pakistan’s delegate said that Group had shown the needed flexibility in moving from its 2005 position to a more recent model put forward by Italy and Colombia that allowed for variable arrangements and options, and representation for regions and small States alike.
The formula reflected the complex global political calculus, he said, which implied the presence of a few large States, several medium-sized States, a majority of small States and the emergence of regional organizations that were playing important roles in global and regional peace and security. It also took into account the concept of equitable geographic distribution, which itself would make little sense if a seat allocated to a region were to be occupied permanently by one country.
Malta’s delegate also backed that approach as the only proposal that would fulfil the aspirations of small States, which would be allowed to contest a regular non-permanent seat. He hoped that other Groups and countries would work in a spirit of flexibility and come forward with positions that could bridge differing views.
“It is indeed high time that [the Council’s] membership be increased [and] its methods of work improved,” stressed Sudan’s delegate. Instead of being exploited by some powerful Member States, the Council should be transformed to aid the equitable representation of all Member States. He backed the African Group’s common position of allocating two new permanent seats and five non-permanent seats to Africa. The selection should include Member States whose situations were under consideration by the Council.
Indeed, the Council also must recognize the growing role of large countries, alongside the permanent five members, as well as small and medium-sized countries, particularly in Africa, said Montenegro’s delegate, representing the youngest member of the United Nations. The Eastern European Group had grown from 11 to 23 members today and thus required another non-permanent seat on the Council.
In other business, the Assembly agreed to extend the work of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) until 16 November.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Tunisia, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Jordan, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Slovakia, Gambia, Chile, Ethiopia, Algeria, Nigeria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Portugal and Morocco.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 22 November to consider the follow up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit.
The General Assembly met today to continue and conclude its joint debate on the annual report of the work of the Security Council, as well as the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Council and related matters. (For more information, please see Press Release GA/11022).
SAHBI KHALFALLAH ( Tunisia) aligned his delegation’s statement with those made yesterday on behalf of the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement. He was of the view that there were indeed improvements to be made in the Council’s working methods, as well as in its reporting process. It was “high time”, to forego the report’s recitation of facts and figures and move instead towards a more analytical accounting of the Councils activities. However, the General Assembly should still expect to see periodic thematic reports from the Council.
He went on to take note of the Council’s important work throughout the period under review, in Africa and elsewhere, as well as several country visits carried out be Council members. While the Council had acted “with determination” to address on-the-ground issues and to maintain peace and security, its efforts nonetheless continued to fall short, especially in the Middle East. In particular, Tunisia was disappointed that the Council had refused to get further involved in resolving the Palestinian issue.
Additionally there remained a “long way to go” toward making the Council more transparent, he continued. The aim of the Council’s reform was to create a wider inclusion of Member States. Therefore, Tunisia believed that the Council must reflect the political and economic reality of today’s world, and needed legitimacy to act on the behalf of the international community as a whole. The final aim of reform should be to improve the Council’s credibility and efficiency. Tunisia firmly supported the African Union’s common position as set out in the Ezulwini Consensus, in particular with regard to the inclusion of an African representative in the Council’s permanent membership. Africa had long been denied a permanent seat, and he added that Tunisia supported any reform measures that supported increased representation of developing counties, in particular those in Africa.
CHEAH CHOONG KIT ( Malaysia) noted that over the past reporting period the Security Council held more closed meeting than it had in the previous year. Open debate allowed Member States not on the Council to air their views and hopefully be taken into account in the decision-making process. Thus more public meetings should be held, he said. To further disseminate information, transcripts of closed door briefings by Special Representatives of the Secretary-General to the Council should be made available to Member States. “After all, Article 24 empowers the Council to act on Member States’ behalf, and it follows by argument therefore, that the principal actor for whom the agent acts must also be kept within the information loop,” he said. Malaysia also suggested reinstating the Secretariat’s daily morning briefings on peace and security, and the discussion that used to follow them, to draw attention of the Council to potential hotspots.
Two years of intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform seemed to have reached an impasse, he said. This past year, Member States have been discussing the composite text, compiling all the various viewpoints regarding Council enlargement. “This is the United Nations, where resolutions are negotiated over time. Why should the reform of the Security Council be any different from the normal negotiation process, where elimination and compromise is key,” he said. “Enough is enough. We need to stop this rhetoric game we have been drawn into […] the United Nations was meant to correct injustice, not propagate it. If this is so, then the steps towards ensuring justice must begin at home, here at the United Nations Headquarters, by enlarging the Security Council to reflect the realities of the day, rather than the glory of history.”
C. CHIPAZIWA ( Zimbabwe) said that regional organizations, including the African Union, were increasingly becoming essential building blocks in the global security system, and therefore, should be supported – not undermined - in their efforts to deal with their own peace and security issues. The Council must ensure that its decisions largely reflected the concerns and aspirations of the general United Nations membership. In that regard, he called for democratization of the existing order; increased transparency in the Council’s work; and acknowledgement by the body’s members of a broader scope of ideas, interests and sensitivities. Further, he urged the Council to widen its membership, allow for more open debates, and increase its transparency and communication.
Expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent members would allow fresh perspectives and was essential to maintaining a balance in the Council’s membership. He underscored the need for the Security Council to reflect the current political realities, particularly by enhancing the presence of the African continent, whose representation was long-overdue. In that regard, he reiterated his country’s support for Africa’s unwavering demand for two permanent seats with the same powers and prerogatives as the current Members, and five non-permanent seats in the expanded Council. Africa’s membership would go some way in redressing the historic abuse to which the continent had been subjected, he said. In closing, he pledged Zimbabwe’s support and cooperation in achieving reform of the Council.
RASHA SHOMAN (Jordan), associating her delegation’s statement with those made yesterday on behalf of the Small Five (“S-5”) Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the importance of interactive dialogue between the Security Council and the General Assembly, and hoped that it would pave the way for fruitful discussions that would promote the mandate of the Security Council reform, particularly a wider membership of the Council.
Jordan stated that a comprehensive, transparent, all-inclusive balanced mechanism could ensure and reflect the needs of the United Nations members, especially developing countries, and would reveal an important part of the international architecture. Jordan supported transparent and complete interactive discussions between the Security Council and troop-contributing countries during the preparations of the Council’s Annual Report, and stressed the importance of intergovernmental negotiations. It called upon the Council to prioritize and further strengthen consultations and dialogue with troop-contributing countries as part of its endeavour to achieve peace, stability and security.
DANIELE D. BODINI ( San Marino) said the time had come to reconcile differences and, under the leadership of the General Assembly President and Ambassador Zahir Tanin, “we must reengage in the intergovernmental negotiations, whose outcome, to be successful, must be reached by consensus or quasi-consensus”. Council reform obtained from a fractured Assembly would be doomed from inception and would not carry the legitimacy that countries sought. The only solution was a compromise one that could generate the greatest common denominator of States’ aspirations. To reach that goal, an interim solution must be agreed upon, as that would provide a reasonable enlargement: half of the new seats should be allocated to the two years category and half to a new one of longer term.
In doing so, small- and medium-sized States would gain more representation, he said, as would those nations that were greatly contributing to world pace with financial aid, democratic leadership, growing economies and peacekeeping forces. Those countries would be elected by the Assembly and could present themselves for re-election at the end of their terms. States wishing to run for the longer term, if elected, could enhance the Council’s work and he had no doubt that countries that had contributed effectively to peace processes would be re-elected. Such reform would allow for a substantial enlargement and a Council with more transparency, a stronger relationship with the Assembly and more equitable representation.
SAVIOUR F. BORG ( Malta) said this year, the Council’s report revealed that the Council had held fewer formal meetings, public meetings and consultations, and had adopted fewer Presidential Statements than last year. The Council also had adopted fewer resolutions. Whether all such actions reflected the real urgency employed by the Council to deal effectively with unresolved situations in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe and Central America, they perhaps should raise concern among States and would require more analysis.
On the Middle East, he believed the Council had a “primordial” role in the Middle East peace process. Indeed, it should contribute to resolving that question and bring peace to a region that had been a theatre of conflict for over 60 years. The Council, backed by the Assembly, must work to resume peace talks leading to an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel. Endorsing the holding of sessions to address thematic and other issues, he said participation of States in such open debates enhanced transparency. He noted with satisfaction the briefing by the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the Council, adding that the Treaty of Lisbon had enhanced the European Union’s collaboration with the Council. He encouraged Council members to continue exploring how to improve working methods.
On Council reform, he said that throughout the negotiation process, Malta had provided the views and aspirations of a small State and believed that all five key issues identified in Decision 62/557 (2008) must be considered as part of one package for sound reform. He also reiterated Malta’s strong support for the “Uniting for Consensus” approach, providing for regular non-permanent seats, including for small and medium sized States, as well as longer-term seats. It represented a major compromise from the original 2005 position of the Group. It was the only proposal that would fulfil the aspirations of small States. He hoped that other Groups and countries would work in a spirit of flexibility and come forward with positions that could bridge differing views.
MUSTAFA ELHOSSEIN ELSHAREF ( Sudan) stated that it had carefully considered the Security Council’s report, as well as the topic of reform and the question of that body’s equitable membership. Sudan aligned itself with the statements made yesterday by the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement. He reiterated the African Group’s common position supporting the allocation of two new permanent seats and five non-permanent seats to the African continent, which contained a total of 53 Member States. Regarding the Council’s working methods and its decision-making processes, Sudan joined with the Non-Aligned Movement, which had called for more transparency and efficiency, and had also called for the further inclusion of a wider selection of Member States, including those whose situations were under consideration by the Council.
Sudan supported the abolition of the right of the veto on the Security Council, which the representative said ran contrary to the “noble” pillars of the United Nations - especially the concept of respecting the sovereignty of States. More cooperation between the Council and the General Assembly was needed, in particular because the Assembly represented all Member States. The Council should therefore work closely with the 192-member body and consult with it on important issues. Additionally, the Council should refrain from adopting resolutions on topics that did not pose threats to international peace and security under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. “It is indeed high time that [the Council’s] membership be increased [and] its methods of work improved,” he said, adding that, instead of being exploited by some powerful Member States, the Council should be transformed to aid the equitable representation of all Member States.
KOK LI PENG ( Singapore) said her delegation was encouraged by the Security Council’s latest annual report, which provided a good overview of the scope and issues tackled, most notably, the addition of the section on working methods under thematic considerations. She lauded the evolving practice of the Council to consult Member States before drafting its report, noting it was first introduced by Viet Nam, followed by Uganda and Nigeria. Such best practices inspired confidence in the Council and built trust between the Council and the Assembly. As a next step, she called for the author of the annual report to hold an informal session with Member States to discuss the issues, challenges and questions that had arisen during its preparation. Further, she reiterated Singapore’s belief that the intent was not to find fault, but to let Member States gain a deeper understanding of how the Council worked and engender buy-in for its actions.
She went on to commend the United Kingdom for promoting forward-looking and interactive discussion in the Council. In that regard, it was important to remain mindful of the Council’s “crisis-plagued” work and strict deadlines, and therefore, set aside the ritual of prepared speeches in favour of spontaneity and interactivity, which could enrich its deliberations and outcomes. Regarding the Council’s broader working methods, she said Singapore praised the revised Presidential Note 507, but remained concerned over the lack of a follow-up implementation mechanism. The election of India, Germany and South Africa had generated great anticipation of the Council’s performance in the coming year, regarding efficiency, interactions with Member States and adhering to its responsibilities under the UN Charter. Echoing the words of Mahatma Gandhi, she said, “We should be the change that we want to see in the world.”
PARK IN-KOOK ( Republic of Korea) praised the Council for its report but emphasized that any attempts to modify the current text should be thoroughly debated and fully agreed upon by all parties concerned. Moreover, the single most important guidelines should be the principle of “general agreement” as referred to in the 1993 resolution 48/26. Efforts to reform the Council should not lead to divisiveness among its Members; rather, it must make a contribution to a more cohesive and cooperative organizational body for all. The five rounds of intergovernmental negotiations held thus far had allowed the Member States to collectively identify key elements and issues to be duly incorporated in Council reform, he said.
Regarding reform of the Council, he reiterated the Republic of Korea’s position on five key issues, including the need for more equitable representation through more transparent periodic elections of Council Members. The rigid fixture of permanent membership undermined the agility that would be required for the Council to meet future challenges. Further, he said the veto must be exercised with the utmost restraint and timely explanation, and called for regional representation in the Council of African, Asian and Latin American countries. While Korea called for wider membership, it could not be specific on the number. Finally, with regard to its working methods, the Council should improve its transparency, effectiveness and inclusiveness. In closing, he echoed the remarks made by other colleagues in requesting the Presidency to provide Member States with a roadmap on the future course of action. His delegation believed the “Intermediary approach” with the establishment of longer-term seats would help break the “deadlock”.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia) said the Council’s report again showed that the variety and complexity of its workload continued to grow. However, she encouraged Council members to continue to strive for more analytical reports and engage more with United Nations members in an interactive exchange of views on the report’s preparation. Welcoming improvements to the Council’s working methods, she said recent years had seen more decisions that carried notable security, legal and financial implications for each Member State. Implementation without participation in decision-making required more transparency and engagement with non-Member States. She also supported more systematic consultations among the Council, troop and police contributors and the Secretariat on peacekeeping mandates.
On the reform process, she said it must address enlarged membership and improved working methods. In presiding over the Council as an elected member in 1998/1999, Slovenia had decided to make the provisional monthly programme of work available on the Internet for the first time. She was pleased that inviting all newly elected members to observe informal consultations during the month before their term had become a reality. The Council should be expanded in both permanent and non-permanent members, with special attention paid to African countries as well as small- and medium-sized States, which accounted for the vast majority of Member States. With the compilation text, many models for the Council’s expansion had been suggested, including one by Slovenia. She urged consolidating that text and moving forward negotiations on the question of equitable representation in the Security Council.
GONZALO GUTIÉRREZ ( Peru) said the Council’s report had room for improvement. It should include more substantive content about decisions taken and compliance with those decisions, as well as information on its working methods. Such input would allow the report to become more than a description of activities. The Council’s self-assessment could not be postponed. It was of greatest importance to reform working methods, with the addition of more open meetings, as well as timely and substantive meetings that updated members about issues under its discussion. Open consultations on the Council’s reports prior to its issuance had been beneficial, especially for the Council.
Turning to Council reform, he said the last five negotiation rounds had seen progress, thanks to the participation of the entire United Nations membership. Momentum gained should be seized to make the Council a more democratic and efficient body. Otherwise, “we run the risk of getting stuck in the compilation of various positions expressed,” he cautioned. “We need new impetus.” He urged moving to an informal drafting exercise that would lead to a negotiation text, and reiterated the request to provide a new text that identified - and processed - options on the table. To adapt the Council to a new reality, permanent and non-permanent members must be added. Peru also believed a commitment should be made to assess limits on veto use, a concept that existed in article 27 of the Charter. The veto should not be used in cases of “genocide”, crimes against humanity and excessive, flagrant human rights violations.
In a point of order, Venezuela’s delegate said the interpretation for Venezuela’s position as expressed yesterday did not match what had been said. As such, he wished to make a complaint that would be entered into the records.
AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL ( Pakistan) said the Council’s report, which compiled its meetings, correspondence and decisions, could be reinforced by analytical explanation of its work and decision-making. In reviewing the Council’s work, he focused first on its effectiveness, acknowledging its role in addressing violent conflicts, laying down peacekeeping mandates and ensuring their back up with logistic support, and noting that such work had been facilitated by troop-contributing countries. However, the Council must recalibrate its efforts to prevent conflict and take more recourse to settle disputes peacefully under Chapter VI of the Charter, especially important in cases of inter-State conflict. Unresolved issues, including that of Jammu and Kashmir, had been on the agenda for some time and awaited settlement.
Assessing the Council’s transparency, he said the report provided little information or analysis. It was a widely held view that decisions evolved mainly behind closed doors, “if not behind the scenes by a few major players”. Pakistan was committed to comprehensive Council reform. Today, Pakistan’s Prime Minister had made a statement in Parliament, underscoring that an effective, feasible reform could only be achieved through consensus decisions that were endorsed by the wider United Nations membership. Pakistan remained constructively engaged in ongoing negotiations, and its position was structured around four pillars: that reform should be comprehensive; based on principle of sovereign equality; should enhance the Council’s accountability to the general membership, and result in a more united, strengthened United Nations.
The document compiled by the Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations enjoyed State ownership, he said, pressing States to converge on the principles of the reform process, decided by consensus in Assembly decision 62/557. On 21 October, States had set out ideas on the way forward, and he believed real progress could be achieved through flexibility and compromise. The “Uniting for Consensus” Group had shown such flexibility by moving from its 2005 position to the endorsement of the Italy/Colombia paper. Its proposals allowed for variable arrangements and different options, providing relevance to representation for regions, as well as for small States. The proposal also took into account the concept of equitable geographic distribution, as envisaged in article 23 of the Charter. That concept would make little sense if a seat allocated to a region were to be occupied permanently by one country, which was why he respected Africa’s position as reflected in the Ezulwini Consensus.
MILOŠ KOTEREC ( Slovakia) stated that, having the hands-on experience of serving at the Security Council recently, his delegation understood that it was not feasible for the Council to compile a thorough political analysis of its proceedings. At the same time, while Slovakia did not wish to see the Council’s independence threatened, there were a few areas where improvements could be made, including a more comprehensive elaboration on cross-cutting issues, and the linking of specific country situations, especially those in areas where the Security Council encountered the greatest hardship. It would also be helpful to the wider membership to have a better understanding of, for example, the rationale behind the Council’s decisions or see in the report the Council’s own assessment of its successes and shortcomings.
Regarding reform of the Council, he said Member States had reached a “new stage of text-based negotiations.” Further, there had been recent movement in the positions of some countries. Slovakia believed that it was time to break the stalemate and to “start showing the world some tangible results”. To achieve that, he appealed to all delegations to show further flexibility and political will and to start narrowing down the wide pool of proposals on the table. “We need to let go of those proposals that enjoy the least support and concentrate on those that stand a solid chance of garnering the widest possible agreement,” said the representative.
As for Slovakia’s opinion, he said the Government was focused on five main points and believed: that States capable of assuming global responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security should become eligible for filling the posts of new permanent members provided that the veto right was not extended; that an intermediate solution merited serious consideration, and that calls for a Review Conference to that end should be addressed; that new permanent members to the Council should carry out their responsibilities for at least 10 to 15 years; that equitable regional representation was ensured through the fair geographic distribution of posts within the non-permanent membership of the Council, with regional group – including the Group of Eastern European States – allocated at least one additional non-permanent seat; and that the Council not become “ineffectively large” for the sake of broader representation.
SUSAN WAFFA-OGOO ( Gambia) said the continuing engagement of the Council in Africa had been a tremendous help in solving many of the conflicts across the continent. Much of that success was attributable to the increasing engagement of African leaders and institutions with international partners in search of lasting peace, and therefore, she encouraged the Council to continue to nurture such partnerships. The increasing involvement of the United Nations Office of West Africa (UNOWA) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had helped tackle much conflict and potential conflicts in that subregion.
Further, UNOWA’s involvement in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Niger were examples of successful conflict resolution and mediation. Preventative diplomacy should remain a core tool of the Council, regional organizations and other international partners, she said. In assessing threats to international peace and security, she said the twin threats of organized crime and illegal drug trafficking across West Africa should receive the Council’s constant attention. The West Africa subregion needed the support of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and INTERPOL in assessing those threats, in addition to new tools to combat them.
Turning to reform of the Council, she called for a more open dialogue, greater transparency, progressive working methods and increased visits to countries on its agenda. She went on to note that the report was a good starting point for intergovernmental negotiations, and she hoped the intergovernmental negotiations would soon begin in earnest. In closing, she called for fair representation of African in the Council. Gambia agreed with the Ezulwini consensus and would relentlessly pursue fair representation in the Council in the next round of negotiations. It was crucial for Africa to be a part of the decision-making process, she said, and Gambia could not continue to embark every year on “endless half-hearted negotiations” and expect reform without a timeline.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) stated that his delegation supported an integral reform of the United Nations that, reaffirming the principles of values of the Charter, would increase the Organization’s capacity and legitimacy. Chile believed the core issue was the development of an “inclusive multilateralism” able to address today’s multiple challenges and that recognized that development, international security, democracy, and human rights were interdependent and mutually reinforcing. The Council, as the body responsible for international peace and security, must be representative and democratic in order to adequately reflect the international reality of the twenty-first century.
In order to achieve that, he continued, there was a need to move forward with the Council’s enlargement, seeking a balance that considered an adequate participation of the developing world, including, for example, regional representation from under-represented nations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Improvements should also be made to the Council’s working methods so they became more transparent and inclusive.
Chile supported the expansion of the Council in both the permanent and non-permanent membership categories, recognizing that there were countries that should contribute as permanent members to the tasks the Council was called to undertake. He also reaffirmed Chile’s historic position against the veto. The Chilean Government had held that view since the creation of the United Nations; it was a consequence of the fundamental value that Chile attached to the principle of equality of States and the democratization of international organizations.
GRUM ABAY ( Ethiopia) said his country had always accorded great importance to the reform of the Security Council, which required the political commitment of all Member States. As for the Council’s annual report, he said that a streamlined and shorter text would allow Member States to engage in negotiations with a sense of responsibility, fairness and genuine commitment. Africa’s common position on Council reform was unambiguous and remained unchanged. The Ezulwini Consensus had clearly stated that the Council have wider representation of both permanent and non-permanent members. Despite Africa’s opposition to the right of veto, as long as it existed, “as a matter of justice,” it should be extended to the new permanent members. He reiterated that in such a scheme, the African Union would be responsible for the setting the criteria for and agreeing on the selection of Africa’s representatives.
The reform of the Council was of paramount importance to the African countries. Since the adoption of the Assembly’s resolution 62/557, Africa had engaged in intergovernmental negotiations. He stressed that due consideration should be given to the aspirations of Africa as no African State had ever been represented in the permanent membership of the Council. That call was not merely rhetoric, he said, but rather a well-reasoned and pragmatic argument to be considered from the historical view, as well as due to the nature of the Council’s agenda items, which focused a great deal on situations on the African continent. He stressed that enlargement of the Council only in the category of non-permanent seats and the creation of a new cluster of non-permanent membership would help progress and maintain international peace. Hence, improving the working methods of the Council should be given due consideration by all Member States.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) said his delegation aligned itself with the statement made yesterday on behalf on the African Group, and highlighted that the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly as essential in defining global governance. Issues concerning peace and security in Africa continued to dominate the Council’s agenda, and therefore improvements were needed in the relationship between the United Nations and the African Union. Algeria welcomed measures taken by the Council during the reporting period, especially the adoption of resolution 1904(2009), which set rules against the financing of terrorism. It further commended the creation of a mediation office by the same resolution, which strengthened the principle of the rule of law within the United Nations.
He went on to back Africa’s aspirations to gain no fewer than two permanent seats on the Council, with veto power, and at least two non-permanent seats. The two categories of membership should be respected, and third category created unless the Member States decided as such. He confirmed Algeria’s support for Security Council reform overall, especially comprehensive changes and a broad focus on the various themes and topical matters involved. Relevant Assembly resolutions should be kept in mind during the process. At the same time, all must work to protect the Council’s guiding principles, which, among other things, stated that any changes could only be made with the full support of Member States.
RAFF BUKUN-OLU WOLE ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) said his delegation expected substantial progress would be achieved on Security Council reform during the course of this session, since the time had come for concrete results on elements over which consensus had emerged during negotiations. A shorter text encompassing positions and proposals of Member States was needed to give clarity to the issues, as well as direction and guidance. The current under-representation of Africa was a clear demonstration of lack of equity that existed in the current Council and “we call for this historic injustice to be redressed,” he said. Of the some 26 Council seats proposed by the majority of Members, Africa should be given at least two permanent and five non-permanent seats. Other regions such as the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Counties, Asia and Small Island Developing States currently under-represented should also be given their fair dues.
Nigeria believed the current text-based negotiation held a lot of promise for achieving reform, he continued, and said stakeholders needed to strive to bridge apparent gaps on differing views through an open and flexible negotiating process to reach a compromise solution. “Our preference is for total abolition of the veto. However if it continues to exist, it should be extended to all permanent members of the Council,” he said. Nigeria would use its presence in the Council as an elected member to promote and maintain international peace and security, and believed through determination it could muster the desired political will to achieve a reformed Council in due course.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) said it was essential that the General Assembly stressed the need to upgrade the annual report on the Security Council from a procedural review of activities and decisions to an analysis and assessment of its work, as well as the obstacles it faced carrying out its mandate. On the other hand, he said, the report showed symbolically, regardless of political and practical changes, that the Assembly remained the highest and most inclusive body of the Organization. One of the most important factors to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the Assembly and the Council was permanent and periodic meetings between the Presidents of the two bodies, which must be maintained and stimulated and made to include discussion of practical issues.
The majority of Member States hoped for an update of the Council, and their varying positions on reform was logical and unsurprising given there were 192 countries. It remained important not to overlook any views, as the role of the President of the Assembly was to constructively create the appropriate conditions for consensus. “We appreciate how difficult this endeavour could be, but it is fair to recognize that there has been development since the beginning of the reform process in the mid-nineties, especially since [the exercise] moved from a closed and informal path to an intergovernmental one at the sixty-third session of the United Nations General Assembly,” he said. It would be useful to build on achievements while maintaining consensus, and Council reform needed to be a priority in the Assembly.
SIN SON HO (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that in spite of strenuous efforts by Member States to reform the Security Council in line with the world’s changed situation, debate on the issue continued without any tangible result. In particular, there was no progress on the issue of ensuring full representation of the developing countries on the Council. Additionally, the Council continued to be misused by specific countries pursuing their own political purposes, and continued to handle issues that went beyond its mandate, thus losing the credibility of Member States.
What was imperative in the reform process was to put an end to the misuse of the Council by specific countries and to end unjust practices, including creating “coercive measures such as sanctions”. It was therefore necessary to establish a mechanism to enable resolutions of the Council to be effective only when they were endorsed by the General Assembly, which had a wider and more representational membership. The Security Council should also make public all its meetings and end its tendency towards informal consultations. It should also ensure impartiality in its discussions by inviting all interested countries including concerned parties, to all of its consultations.
With regard to the enlargement of the Council, it was important to ensure the full representation of the Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement and other developing countries which constituted an overwhelming majority of the United Nations Membership, and to enlarge non-permanent membership first, which was easily agreeable. When permanent membership was to be enlarged, said the representative, countries – like Japan – which continued to “avoid admitting, apologizing and liquidating of past crimes” and resorted to “distorting and beautifying its past history of aggression”, should never be allowed to be a permanent member of the Security Council.
SEYED MOHAMMAD ALI MOTTAGHI NEJAD ( Iran) associated his statement with that delivered by the representative of Egypt yesterday on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, but wished to offer a few additional points as well. Noting that the matters of the Council’s report and reform of that body’s structure and working methods were being addressed jointly by the General Assembly, he said Iran believed that the links between the issues comprised the “basic objective” of a comprehensive reform towards a Council that was more democratic, inclusive, equitably representative, transparent, effective and accountable. However, the pace of progress in such reform was rather “sluggish”, he said, and action was needed.
In the history of United Nations reform, there had been only three amendments made to the Organization’s Charter, and all had dealt with “seat numbers”. In planning for the realization of another such historic reform, he said, a few points should be explored. First, it was important to take a comprehensive approach, and it was therefore reasonable to have a comprehensive study of the old as well, as the new possible elements that could better reflect the realities of the day. Second, the elimination of the veto power was needed. Member States, including those with permanent seats on the Council, had increasingly been distancing themselves from the veto. There was a strong sense that the veto - and above all the fear of its use - was an unjust and unconstructive instrument in the hands of a few Member States which in many ways undermined the Council’s ability to take meaningful decisions.
Third, he said a pattern of cooperation between the General Assembly and the Council was needed in order to avoid the old but continuing problem of the Council’s encroachment on the duties of the other main United Nations organs. Norm-setting and law-making by the Security Council ran counter to the letter and spirit of the Charter. That problem might be assessed according to an analytical assessment by the Secretariat to help appropriate the labours between the Assembly and the Council. Finally, to enhance the Council’s working methods, several actions were needed: permitting non-Council members to participate in discussions on matters affecting them and their interests; allowing concerned countries the right to brief the Council on their positions on issues having a direct effect on their national interests; providing non-selective notifications of meetings of the Council, and convening regular daily briefings; and considering the right of reply to countries against whom allegations were raised during certain formats of the Council’s meetings.
MILORAD ŠĆEPANOVIĆ ( Montenegro) said his country, as the youngest member of the United Nations, attached meaningful importance to the issue of reform, while fully respecting the importance of the process for all Member States. Security Council reform was a basic element of overall reform of the Organization so it could attain wider representation, legitimacy, responsibility, transparency and efficiency. In that regard, Montenegro called for multilateralism to remain a high priority.
He went on to say that Montenegro supported expansion of the Council with the aim of securing equitable representation of all regional groups as an authentic reflection of new global circumstances. Aiming to achieve consensus, the Council must recognize the growing role of large countries, alongside the “P-5” [permanent five] members, as well as small and medium-sized countries, particularly in Africa. The Eastern European Group, he noted, had grown from 11 to 23 members and therefore, required another non-permanent seat on the Council. Montenegro stood ready to support and contribute to the reform process, in light of its own candidature for Council term 2026 to 2027, he said. In closing, he said intergovernmental negotiations provided an opportunity for small countries to voice their opinions, however, he stressed it was time to take decisive action and find suitable modalities for conducting negotiations. Montenegro would certainly be a constructive and reliable partner along that path.
SUSANA VAZ PATTO ( Portugal) commended the Security Council for its annual report, which served as a formal expression of accountability. Despite great progress made during the reporting period, most notably, the documentation of the Working Group, the Council’s work was far from being completed. The level of interest by the Membership clearly reflected the importance of the Council’s work, however, Portugal, did not share the view that the working methods were solely the Council’s responsibility, he said.
In that regard, both the General Assembly and the Council could – and should – work together toward achieving their common goals. Further, accountability should be a constant concern and not one confined to a once-a-year, formal exercise, as it now was. In that regard, the President should be given more leeway to allow the report to reflect more of the substance of the Council’s work on a monthly, not annual, basis. Portugal was ready to assume responsibility of work in the Assembly and the Council to give more concrete meaning to accountability. Finally, she lauded the designation of intergovernmental negotiations and stressed Portugal’s full commitment to the “long-overdue” reform of the Security Council.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said that his delegation supported the statements made earlier by the Non-Aligned Movement and the Africa Group. Security Council reform was dictated by changes in the international community, he said, as well as by the need for the body to better discharge its duty to maintain international peace and security. It was imperative that more regions, and in particular States from the Arab and African regions, were better represented. That would enhance both the Council’s overall credibility and its moral authority. In addition to better geographical representation, reform should be based on the potential of States to build peace, maintain security, and achieve other United Nations goals. Furthermore, transparency and efficiency was needed in the Council’s methods. Morocco commended the Japanese delegation for its work serving as the Chair of the informal working group on that matter.
Regarding the report of the Security Council, Morocco said that the Council must continue to search for responses to new kinds of threats now facing the international community. In the area of peace and security, current peacekeeping missions continued to require clear workable mandates, the deployment of civil resources, and adequate financing. During the reporting period, the Council continued to address the question of Middle East, and in particular the Palestinian question. Morocco had closely followed the work of the United States Government, which led to talks between the Israeli and Palestinian sides in Washington D.C. However, the persistence of Israel’s continued construction of settlements in the region - including over 1,300 new units in east Al-Quds – was of serious concern. Morocco believed that only the establishment of an Arab State, with Al-Quds as it capital, would bring a solution to the problems in the Middle East.
African issues continued to dominate the Council’s agenda, he continued. Many African States had made great progress in drawing themselves out of conflict. In that regard, Morocco encouraged the Council to continue to support and encourage States in such efforts and to seek politically acceptable situations to all conflicts. It was undeniable that the contributions of neighbouring countries were essential to finding lasting solutions to disputes, particularly across entire regions in Africa. That was particularly relevant in the face of threats including in Western Sahara, where an inclusive approach must be taken, and efforts must be made to address terrorist groups still threatening that region. Morocco had never spared any effort in supporting peace and security in its home region, and would continue to remain steadfast in its support of the Council’s work there and elsewhere around the world.
Right of reply
Taking the floor in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Japan said his delegation was compelled to state that it could not accept the allegations made by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea regarding its history and current standing. Membership in the Council should be made based on a country’s ability to contribute to international peace and security, he said, noting that Japan had made continuous contributions in that regard.
Regarding the “unfortunate” comments about Japan’s past, his delegation could not accept such statements as those made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea during today’s debate. Japan had devoted itself for more than 65 years to the principles of democracy and human rights, among others.
Responding, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stated that Japan was the only county in the world that had not apologized for its past crimes against humanity. During wartime, it had killed one million Koreans, forced many into hard labour, and committed various other crimes. Moreover, facts about Japan’s history continued to be “widely distorted”.
Again taking the floor, Japan’s representative said his country should be considered for Security Council membership based on its ability to contribute to the protection of international peace and security, and not on “false allegations” such as the ones made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea the declared that countries that committed such heinous crimes “would once again commit those crimes”, and therefore Japan should not be considered for a permanent seat on the Security Council.
Responding, the representative of Japan said his delegation could not accept the baseless statements made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, using “unseemly expressions and vulgar language.” It was unfortunate that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had chosen to use the current debate as an opportunity to attack Japan in such a way.
Taking the floor for a last time, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reiterated that crimes committed by countries did not “disappear” until they were fully settled.
* *** *For information media • not an official record