|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
46th & 47th Meetings (AM & PM)
Calling for Security Council Reform, General Assembly President
Proposes Advisory Group to Move Process Forward
Speakers Urge Expanded Permanent, Non-Permanent
Membership to Reflect Geopolitical Realities, Regional Representation
Overhaul of the Security Council must include streamlined working methods and a broader, more representative membership that reflected geopolitical realities and prepared the body to fulfil its mandate of maintaining global peace and security, said delegates as the General Assembly began its debate on Council reform.
With next month marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Assembly’s first call for Council reform through resolution 1991, an overwhelming number of some 50 speakers called for stepping up negotiations. Delegations focused on categories of membership, the veto question, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council, working methods and the relationship between the Assembly and the Council.
General Assembly President John Ashe ( Antigua and Barbuda) recalled that on his election for that post, he had emphasized the need to reinvigorate and advance the question of reform, and that he would make it a priority, including with the creation of an advisory group to help him identify ways to move the process forward.
“While this commitment remains solid, the extent of the challenge is not lost on me,” he said. “The essence of the process of negotiations is compromise. Each and every side on this question must make concessions if we are to find an acceptable common ground.”
A common view envisioned a democratic, representative, accountable and effective Council, with many delegations supporting an expanded membership that included seats for African States, Arab States and other under-represented groups.
Speaking for the African Group, Sierra Leone’s representative said the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration on the continent’s inclusion on the Council called for no less than two permanent seats and two additional non-permanent seats. Summing up a common view of Africa’s inclusion, Guyana’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said “there cannot be a reformed Council without Africa as a permanent and equal member of the Council.”
Weighing in with their views were all Security Council permanent members — China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States — who agreed on expanding the Council, with the United States’ delegate favouring a “modest” expansion.
The representative of China, which held the Security Council presidency this month, introduced the report to the Assembly and, in his national capacity, said priority should be given to increasing the representation of developing countries, in particular African countries.
Still, the Russian Federation’s delegate said his country favoured a compact body of no more than 20 members and cautioned that more voting members could make decision-making more complex. He also emphasized that, despite politicized criticism of the Council, objective analysis demonstrated that it was one of the most effective international institutions.
Looking ahead, the United Kingdom’s representative said the key to unlocking progress to reform was establishing a common position. Many speakers agreed, expressing appreciation for the advisory group’s contributions.
However, a number of speakers said their delegations were frustrated by the decades-long process that had yet to produce results, with some underlining the need for text-based negotiations as a forward step towards real reform. Referring to the nine rounds of intergovernmental negotiations since 2009 which had been conducted without any text, India’s representative said anyone who opposed text-based negotiations was a naysayer to any forward movement.
“For if we don’t negotiate on the basis of a text, then on what basis do we conduct negotiations?” he asked, urging Member States to not see “text-based negotiations” as inimical to diluting any position of any group or as being the final word.
Some speakers took issue with the question of veto power, which only permanent Council members were permitted to use when voting on resolutions. Some called for its elimination and others supported establishing clearer guidelines. The representative of France said that limiting the veto power would involve the five permanent Council members suspending that power voluntarily and collectively when addressing mass crimes. Such a proposal, if accepted, would not require revising the United Nations Charter.
Some non-permanent Council members also spoke, with representatives of the Republic of Korea, Pakistan and Argentina delivering statements.
Also delivering statements were representatives of Egypt (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Japan (on behalf of the Group of Four), Saint Kitts and Nevis (on behalf of the “L.69 group”), Italy, Netherlands (also on behalf of Belgium), Switzerland (on behalf of the Group ACT), Kuwait, Tunisia, Libya, Germany, Ukraine, Singapore, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Zambia, Thailand, Venezuela, Mongolia, Denmark, Brazil, Hungary, Maldives, Indonesia, Nigeria, Greece, Spain, Lesotho, Malaysia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Micronesia, Philippines, Turkey, Ecuador and Colombia.
Algeria’s representative spoke on a point of order.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 8 November to continue its debate on the reform of the Security Council.
The General Assembly met this morning to consider the Secretary-General’s note titled notification by the Secretary-General under Article 12, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations (document A/68/300) and to convene a joint debate on the Report of the Security Council (1 August 2012-31 July 2013) (A/A/68/2) and the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters.
In other business, it met to consider a letter by the Secretary-General (document A/68/250/Add.1), that contained the Second Report of the General Committee on the Organization of the sixty-eighth regular session of the General Assembly, adoption of the agenda and allocation of items.
At the outset of the meeting, the Assembly, acting on the recommendation contained in the Second Report of the General Committee, agreed to the inclusion of an agenda item entitled “United Nations University” as agenda item 174.
The Assembly then took note of the Secretary-General’s note (document A/68/300) on the notification by the Secretary-General under Article 12, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations.
The Assembly then turned its attention to the Report of the Security Council (document A/68/2) and the Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters.
Opening Remarks by General Assembly President
Assembly President JOHN ASHE recalled that on his election for that post, he had emphasized the need to reinvigorate and advance the question of Security Council Reform and that he would make it a priority. “While this commitment remains solid, the extent of the challenge is not lost on me,” he said. Fully committed to invigorate the established intergovernmental negotiating process on that question, he and his team had held consultations with every interest group, to ascertain the thoughts and, more importantly, expectations. Based on the feedback, he had set up an advisory group to help him identify ways to move the process forward.
The advisory group comprised the Permanent Representatives of Belgium, Brazil, Liechtenstein, Papua New Guinea, San Marino and Sierra Leone, he said, clarifying that its membership was not chosen on the basis of geographical representation. Rather, there were three primary areas of consideration: size; representation of the various interests in the debate; and that its members, ever mindful of their individual or “group” positions, would seek to look past such interests and provide him with advice on how to move the discussions forward.
He further stressed that the advisory group was not, nor could it be, a formal part of the established intergovernmental process. Similarly, it did not have a negotiating mandate, which belonged to the Member States, in the format of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Group. Neither did it have a mandate to draft any resolution or declaration or document of any kind. Rather, it had been tasked with providing ideas to him as Assembly President to help start negotiations that would begin on or about November 15, under the auspices of the appointed Chair, Ambassador Tanin of Afghanistan. “It will be my prerogative whether or not to accept the ideas of my advisory group and I hope that your deliberations here today will provide them with food for thought,” he said.
“The essence of the process of negotiations is compromise,” he said. “Each and every side on this question must make concessions if we are to find an acceptable common ground.” He would do his utmost to be resolute, fair, even-handed and unequivocal, but the success or otherwise of the intergovernmental negotiations would ultimately depend on the Member States. He therefore challenged delegates to stay focused on the long-term goal and be flexible in the process.
Introduction of Report
LIU JIEYI ( China), President of the Security Council, introduced that body’s report (document A/68/2), which highlighted activities between 1 August 2012 and 31 July 2013. With the support of the whole United Nations membership, the Council had sought to actively discharge its responsibilities and had responded to a variety of security threats, leading to some positive results and playing a central role in efforts to maintain international peace and security. “Hot-spot” issues in Africa comprised most of its agenda items and half of the United Nations peacekeeping operations were deployed on the continent. The Council had cooperated with regional and subregional organizations and played an important role in maintaining peace and stability in Africa.
Turning to its work in the Middle East, he noted activities that included promoting the advancement of the peace process and the convening of 28 meetings on the situation in Syria. Asian and European issues on its agenda, including the Timor-Leste situation, were also considered. Thematic issues included the adoption of actions promoting international cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and combating transnational organized crime. Other topics considered included women and peace and security, piracy and the rule of law. The Council had worked to strengthen cooperation with regional organizations. Attaching great importance to improving its working methods, the Council also held 174 public meetings.
VANDI CHIDI MINAH ( Sierra Leone), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said a reform model should take into account the United Nations core values. The African common position emphasized the need for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations system based on universalism, equity and regional balance, a view that enjoyed broad support. Correcting the historical injustice suffered by the African continent as the only continent not represented in the permanent category of the Council and at the same time under-represented in the non-permanent category was imperative, long overdue and must be addressed here and now. Africa must be fully represented in all decision making organs of the United Nations, including the Council. According to the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration on the matter, that meant not less than two permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership including the right to veto if that continued to exist, and two additional non-permanent seats.
Five key negotiable and linked issues were: categories of membership, the veto question, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council and working methods and the relationship between the Assembly and the Council, he said. He expressed hoped the current Assembly session would build on progress thus far and increase the pace to secure concrete gains ahead of the post-2015 World Summit. He called on the Assembly’s “unbiased conscience” to continue to embrace Africa’s aspirations for an equitable representation with an effective voice on the Council.
MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said that the reform of the Council should be addressed in an early, comprehensive, transparent and balanced manner, without setting artificial deadlines. It should address all substantive issues relating, among others, to the question of membership, regional representation, the Council’s agenda, its working methods and decision-making process, including the veto. It should also garner the widest possible political acceptance by Member States. The enlargement of the 15-member body and reform of its working methods should lead to a more democratic, representative, accountable and effective Council. In that regard, the Sixteenth NAM Summit held in Tehran had acknowledged the historical injustice against Africa with regard to its representation in the Council and expressed support for increased and enhanced representation for Africa.
The Movement continued to call upon the Council to uphold the primacy of and respect for the Charter in connection with its functions and powers, he said. The Council’s decision to initiate formal or informal discussions on any issue that did not pertain to its mandate, or on a situation in any Member State that did not constitute a threat to international peace and security, was contrary to Article 24 of the Charter. Sanctions imposed by the Council remained an issue of serious concern. The objectives of sanctions regimes should be clearly defined. Their application should be set for a specific timeframe, and should be based on tenable legal grounds. Having examined the Council’s annual report, the Movement acknowledged the improvement in quality. Nevertheless, further steps were still needed in order to make the report more explanatory and analytical in assessing it work of the Council. It was also imperative that future reports should reflect the general views expressed by non-Council members during its open debates.
Speaking then in his national capacity, he said his delegation had received the Assembly President’s letter of 22 October, which had proposed the way forward for the intergovernmental Negotiations on the reform of the Security Council during the 68th session, including the establishment of an “advisory group”. Having taken note of the clarification in the letter about the mandate of that Group, he stressed that the basis for the negotiations was the collective will of all Member States. A “top-down” approach would only further complicate the process. In reference to another letter of the President dated 6 November, which invited Member States to identify the directions in which the search for common ground in the negotiations, he believed that in order to facilitate a smooth start for the negotiations, Member States should begin by addressing all concerns raised with regard to Rev.3 of the Compilation Text.
He noted the repeated concerns raised by the African Group on merging language and streamlining positions without agreeing first on principles and criteria regarding the five key issues. The Arab Group had voiced similar concerns, stressing that merging positions and proposals on the reform and expansion of the Council should be done after consulting with and the approval of the concerned state or group of states. “We are mandated to seek a comprehensive agreement that allows for equitable and effective representation for all regions and groups,” he said. In that regard, he recalled the African Common Position of rectifying the historical injustice regarding the continent’s representation in the Council, as well as the Arab position requesting a permanent seat for the Arab Group in any future expansion in the permanent membership category.
The representative of Algeria, raising a point of order, asked the Assembly President to explain to the delegates speaking on behalf of groups that they should not take the opportunity to express their national views. He said the remarks made by the representative of Egypt in his national capacity had distorted the position of the Arab Group. He would make further clarifications when he spoke in Algeria’s national capacity.
The Assembly President took note of the point of order raised.
MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA (Japan), speaking on behalf of the Group of Four, known as “G-4”, comprising Brazil, Germany, India and his country, said the G-4 anticipated active participation in the negotiations. As the United Nations approached its seventieth Assembly session, it was time to assess achievements and address challenges. Severe shortcomings included the lack of a reformed Council that reflected contemporary realities. The G-4 had reached out for reform leading to an expansion of permanent and non-permanent members. There was a need for increased representation, especially of African countries, and for reformed working methods. Despite differences among Member States in the context of reform, common ground must be found on text-based negotiations to engage in a real “give and take” process. He welcomed the establishment of an advisory group to lead the way forward.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said next month marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Assembly’s adoption of resolution 1991 (1963) on the question of equitable representation on the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Reform of the Security Council was without question the greatest imperative for the future of the United Nations. World leaders had pledged during the Millennium Summit and the 2005 World Summit to support its “early reform”. Yet that would be meaningless statements unless the Assembly translated the consensus of intent into a meaningful plan of action.
The world had changed immensely over the past five decades, making it imperative for the Council to reflect current geopolitical realities, he said. For its part, CARICOM supported the expansion of both categories of membership and called for an increase from 15 to 27 members. The role of developing countries must also be enhanced in both categories with the inclusion of Africa because “there cannot be a reformed Council without Africa as a permanent and equal member of the Council,” he said. He called for the provision of a special seat for small island developing States, the elimination of the veto and improved working methods. He hoped that the Assembly would be able to “cross the Rubicon” in the quest for Council reform.
DELANO FRANK BART (Saint Kitts and Nevis), speaking on behalf of the “L.69 group”, called for expansion of the Council’s permanent and non-permanent membership to better reflect contemporary world realities. He welcomed the convening of an advisory group on Council reforms by the General Assembly President which, in the form of a text on the subject, could provide the “missing link” in inter-governmental negotiations. Because inter-governmental negotiations had been unable to take the process forward, the advisory group offered a real chance to align negotiations with their mandate and provide a basis for real “give-and-take” discussions. However, a select few continued “holding the larger membership hostage”, he said, adding that they challenged the collectively and unanimously elected President’s authority.
He pointed to a “bizarre situation” in existence, where the majority of the Security Council’s work focused exclusively on Africa but not one of its permanent members came from the continent. A results-based timeline was needed to prevent further stalling and 2015 was the right target for the delivery of concrete outcomes. It was eight years since Member States were mandated to achieve reforms to improve the Council’s effectiveness, legitimacy and implementation of its decisions. In September of this year, 79 leaders addressed the general debate calling for reform. The mandate to deliver a text-based process delivering concrete outcomes by 2015 was strong. Noting that the “L.69 group had put forward several proposals to improve negotiations, he affirmed support for the African Group’s position on reforms.
ANTONIO BERNARDINI (Italy), speaking on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group, said the creation of new permanent individual members would not be in line with the interests of the vast majority of Member States. Also, as such a move would benefit only a handful of Member States, it would not be a step towards a more democratic Council. Such an outcome would add another “unjustifiable layer of hierarchy”, not only within single regional groups but also in the larger international community, exacerbating rather than reconciling severe differences and divisions. On the creation of an advisory group to the President of the General Assembly, he stressed that such a group should not bypass the intergovernmental process and the framework provided by Assembly decision 62/557 (2008) or jeopardize the membership-driven nature of the process. In that regard, he did not recognize the advisory group as entitled to perform a drafting role on behalf of other Member States or impose any kind of negotiating text on behalf of others.
KAREL VAN OOSTEROM ( Netherlands), also speaking for Belgium, supported the Assembly President’s idea to produce a basis for intergovernmental negotiations, and welcomed the establishment of an advisory group. The main ideas about Council reform in those intergovernmental negotiations were shared by a vast majority of Member States, including the expansion of the Council in both categories of membership: permanent and non-permanent. As well, the more recent ideas and proposals deserved careful attention. In particular, he supported the French proposal of a code of conduct for the voluntary limitation of the use of the veto right in case of mass atrocities, and encouraged the other permanent Members of the Council to consider it with an open mind. Whatever the proposals on the table, he stressed that all Member States should be genuinely willing to engage in a process of “give and take”. Compromises would be required of all sides.
THOMAS GUERBER ( Switzerland), speaking on behalf of ACT, a cross-regional group of 21 States, said the recently created Group aimed at promoting better working methods of the Council. Its name — from the abbreviation of Accountability, Coherence, and Transparency — reflected the common conviction that those attributes were needed in the Council’s work. The ACT Group believed that the Council’s annual report contained content of high importance, and welcomed the opportunity for Member States to examine the report in depth before commenting on it. In that regard, he welcomed the decision to have a separate meeting on that topic at the end of November this year, thus giving Member States more time to analyse its content and thus enhance the quality of discussion.
MANJEEV SINGH PURI ( India), aligning himself with the G4, the “L.69 group” and CARICOM, stated he would “set the record straight” on some of the key issues regarding Council reform with a few “myth busters”. Referring to nine rounds of intergovernmental negotiations since 2009 which had been conducted without any text, he said anyone who opposed text-based negotiations was a naysayer to any forward movement. “For if we don’t negotiate on the basis of a text, then on what basis do we conduct negotiations?” he asked. He urged Member States to not see “text-based negotiations” as inimical to diluting any position of any Group or as being the final word. Every Member State would have the full authority to propose additions, deletions or amendments. Another myth was that “complete consensus” was the only way forward, as put forth by the “same set of naysayers”. Pointing out that an overwhelming majority had supported expansion in both categories of membership, he expressed hope that the advisory group would consider that element into consideration.
MANSOUR A.S. ALOTAIBI ( Kuwait), pointing out such discussions had been ongoing for two decades, stressed that political will was needed to bring views together. Challenges in the global political arena made it necessary to achieve higher and nobler goals in the international community. Reform must include fair representation. Any ideas to be debate on reform should stem from a keenness to make the Council more representative of the world. Working methods must also be improved and the veto must be defined in accordance with specific Chapter VII-based guidelines. The rights of Arab and Islamic countries must not be excluded, he said, adding that his delegation shared Saudi Arabia’s resentment of the Council for not fulfilling its mission in equal representation. Rapid challenges and issues witnessed by the international community made it imperative to make the Council face those challenges in a transparent, credible and impartial manner.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said despite politicized criticism of the Council, objective analysis demonstrated that it was one of the most effective international institutions. To avoid disappointments in the future, it should not be assumed that an expanded Council would come up with easier solutions, as more voting members could make decision-making more complex. He championed making the Council a more representative body. However, efforts should not hamper its actions in responding to crises. He advocated keeping a compact membership, with not more than 20 members. He also supported the veto, which was an important factor that prompted the Council to find balanced solutions.
In terms of negotiations, he said closed groups would lead to divisive lines in moving discussions forward. Further, the issue of reform could not be resolved arithmetically by votes; results achieved in that manner would not be supportive of the Council’s work. Approaches to negotiations continued to vary, he said. Yet it was important to note that ownership of the negotiation process rested with Member States and reform hinged solely on the political will of those States.
MOHAMMED K. KHIARI (Tunisia), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that at a time of profound changes, the Council must be reformed to strengthen its capability to deal with complex challenges. In that regard, he welcomed the efforts by the Assembly President to step up the process. The issue of reform should be addressed in a comprehensive, transparent and balanced manner. The process should reflect views of all States. In particular, he supported the African position, as reflected in the Ezulwini Consensus, as well as the position of the Arab Group. The reform should address all substantive issues relating to the Council’s membership, regional representation, its agenda, its working methods and decision-making process, including the veto.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said the vast majority of countries shared the aim of creating a more representative Council. However, the shape of that reform required constructive negotiations. He supported the expansion of members in both categories and welcomed new initiatives that could provide momentum to the debate. The key to unlocking progress to reform was establishing a common position. It was essential that the Council be able to continue to act to stop crimes against humanity. He said his country, as a permanent member, would continue to work within the Council and with the wider memberships to ensure that the body was more representative.
Turning to reform for working methods, he said much had been achieved in recent years to enhance transparency, including convening more public meetings and increasing the use of video conference facilities. His delegation had suggested further improvements in a Council debate last month and would continue to make such proposals that were in the interest of all Member States.
OH JOON ( Republic of Korea) said that African issues remained at the forefront, representing the majority of the Council’s work. Regional efforts should be strongly supported in resolving issues. Commenting on a number of activities, he highlighted that the Council’s work on completing the Timor-Leste mission last year was an example of success as a result of the international community working towards common goals. Turning to the Middle East, he expressed concerned about the Syria situation, with hopes that the peace process would move forward. On the situation with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said the Council had adopted resolutions on several issues involving that country. On thematic issues, he said Council priorities should include protecting women and children in times of conflict.
There had been a number of encouraging developments in the Council, which included using informal inter-active dialogues and holding more frequent meetings with troop- and police-contributing countries. In pursuing reform, the only way to make a more democratic and effective Council was through periodic elections. Reform should also be based on a membership-driven approach, he said, with the intergovernmental path being the only way forward.
ROSEMARY A. DICARLO ( United States) said this year her delegation was responsible for preparing the introduction of the Council’s annual report. One of its goals was to make it as concise and readable as possible, while also summarizing the large amount of content. Today’s meeting was held shortly before the twentieth anniversary of the creation of the Open-ended Working Group on the reform of the Council by Assembly resolution 48/26. Since then, 79 different States had served as non-permanent Council members; each had contributed to its important work. Those contributions demonstrated the need for a Council that could better reflect the realities of the twenty-first century and meet the global challenges.
The United States was open to a modest expansion of both categories of permanent and non-permanent members of the Council, she said. Any consideration about which countries merited future permanent membership should take into account their ability and willingness to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and to other purposes of the United Nations, and to exercise the heavy responsibility that came with the Council membership. Her delegation welcomed the reappointment of Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan to chair the intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform and looked forward to resuming those meetings this month. All should approach the upcoming sessions on the reform constructively. Many States had felt that that issue had been studied for far too long without action. Hopefully, by working together, Member States could consider a way forward that was agreeable to the broadest majority of countries and could best promote the council’s primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and other purposes of the United Nations.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) noting progress on the Council’s working methods, proposed that communications between the “permanent five”, non-permanent members and the general Membership be improved during serious crises through the office of the President. On issues unrelated to the Middle East, he said that the Council’s results ranged from good to outstanding. New paradigms had emerged from Council resolutions on peacekeeping, namely, a region-wide approach, such as in the Sahel and the Great Lakes Region; robust peacekeeping manifested by the induction of an intervention brigade in MONUSCO; deployment of unmanned aerial systems; and the Council’s growing cooperation with regional and subregional organizations, especially in Africa.
Turning to Council reform, he associated himself with Uniting for Consensus the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. He also expressed respect for the Ezulwini Consensus. Opposing the notion of new individual permanent members, he said that it ran counter to the objectives of transparency, democratization and inclusive decision-making. Noting that it was the sixth year of intergovernmental negotiations on reform, he said that a solution could only be found through flexibility. That had been demonstrated by Uniting for Consensus, while the joint position of Brazil, India, Japan and Germany, had remained “stuck” and seemed anchored in power politics. In that regard he said, “We cannot precipitate decisions by mounting political pressure before important anniversaries.” There were no procedural shortcuts. He also expressed dismay at the General Assembly President’s wish to formulate an advisory group on Council reform and asked for his private assurances that the group would not be authorized to draft a document that would serve as a basis for negotiations in writing.
LIU JIEYI ( China) said that as the Organization’s main organ charged with maintaining international peace and security, the Council must adapt to the changed international situation to fulfil its mandate and enhance its authority and efficiency through reasonable reforms. In that regard, priority should be given to increasing the representation of developing countries, in particular African countries. Further, reforms should be conducive to providing more opportunity to small and medium-sized countries to participate in its decision-making. Such reform could only be achieved through democratic discussion and patient consultations among Members to build upon common understanding.
He went on to emphasize that the purpose of such reforms should be to safeguard the Council’s authority, increase efficiency, expand representation and strengthen its role, in order to better meet the expectations and trust of Member States. Currently serious differences still existed and should be settled through continuous, extensive and democratic consultations. Progress could not be achieved at the expense of the solidarity among Member States. Only consensus decisions could win the unanimous trust and support of States and stand the test of time and history. He also cautioned against setting arbitrary timelines or pressing forward specific projects when the conditions were not mature. The intergovernmental negotiations must be guided by the principle of ownership of Member States and based on the positions and ideas of them. Noting the creation of the advisory group, he said that body could advice informally the Assembly President on the issue in his personal capacity, but would not have negotiating mandate or drafting role. The reform must be strictly advanced in the intergovernmental negotiations framework.
IBRAHIM O. DABBASHI ( Libya) said Member States had made great efforts to expedite the reform process. However, no tangible progress had been achieved. Recent events demonstrated the importance of the Council’s quick response to maintain peace and to protect people facing threats to their lives. Reform efforts should be aimed at making the body more just and more consistent to contemporary realities in a manner that would enable it to respond more quickly to crises. Any expansion of the permanent category should include a seat for Africa and for the Arab States. Reform should also included improved working methods, including restricting the use of the veto power, as well as ultimately being abolished. Further, non-members of the Council should be able to contribute to its work. He hoped the reports of the Council would include the reasons that had prevented the Council from fulfilling its mandate. He further hoped that the General Assembly would be able to fill in the gaps caused by the use of veto power over that last few years.
ALEXIS LAMEK ( France) said intergovernmental negotiations had been ongoing for 20 years without concrete results. He hoped the advisory group would present a pragmatic and realistic summary. He also hoped that there was a text upon which to negotiate. Member States had a heavy burden to ensure the Council represented the world and could fulfil its mandate. His country backed an expanded membership, including the inclusion of Germany, Brazil India and Japan and a strengthened presence of African States.
He went on to say that limiting the veto power would involve the five permanent Council members suspending that power voluntarily and collectively when addressing mass crimes. Such a voluntary suspension would not require revising the United Nations Charter. However, definitions must be clear on mass crimes. His delegation had proposed that 50 Member States seize the Council when a mass crime was involved.
HANS PETER WITTIG ( Germany), reflecting on the Council’s work during the reporting period, said that one issue certainly stood out in his memory: the long deadlock in the Council caused by three double-vetoes, and the terrible impact that had for the Syrian people. While the Council had found a common voice again, it was too little and too late for those affected by the conflict. “Is the Security Council as we see it today still able to effectively address current and future challenges?” he asked. “You know our view: No, it is not.” After many years of discussions and despite all stated commitment to reform, the process was still being held at a stand-still. Germany remained convinced that only a real, structural reform of the Council could make it more effective and representative of the world today. In that regard, he welcomed the Assembly President’s decision to establish an advisory group to provide input on the issue and indicate options as a basis for the resumed inter-governmental negotiations process. He also appreciated the President’s explanation of the purpose of the group, which showed that the criticism regarding this initiative was indeed unfounded. Member States had said repeatedly that they stood ready to actively contribute to genuine negotiation in a spirit of flexibility, he recalled, declaring: “Enough talk, let’s see some action”.
YURIY SERGEYEV ( Ukraine) said he favoured strengthening the Council’s use of themes when developing its agenda. Some of the challenging trends that had yet to be brought to the Council included sustainable energy and water security. Consolidation during the reporting period of cooperation between the Council and regional and subregional organizations was also welcomed. His delegation would contribute to that endeavour, inter alia, as the current chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. As well, he strongly supported the Council’s role in conflict prevention and mediation. That role had been significant during Ukraine’s non-permanent membership in the Council in 2000-2001, and would remain so if his country were to be elected to the Council in 2016-2017. He stated his support for all steps — procedural or substantial — that would lead to Council reform, and backed both directions of reform: expansion and the improvement of working methods. Any increase in the Council’s non-permanent membership should ensure improved representation of the Eastern European Group, with the allocation of at least one more non-permanent seat.
KAREN TAN ( Singapore) said that although the number of Member States had grown by 65 per cent over the last 50 years, the size of the Security Council had stayed the same. Further, despite the many changes in the international landscape and the emergence of new challenges, the Council was trying to play an increasingly complicated game of chess with the same 15 pieces. Even in the midst of differences on ways to increase Council membership, the world could agree on the urgent need to reform. The process should be accelerated and include an expansion of seats in the permanent and non-permanent categories without an extension of the veto. The goals of increased representation in and effectiveness of the Council were not mutually exclusive. Countries that had or were seeking greater voice and representation must accept greater responsibilities, including ensuring more effectiveness, inclusiveness, transparency and accountability to non-members. As well, it was important to ensure the representation of small States, which found it increasingly difficult to commit the resources needed to secure election to the Council. The reality that such reform might take considerable time made it all the more important to improve the Council’s working methods independently and without prejudice to the other aspects of reform, she concluded.
SAUL WEISLEDER ( Costa Rica), recognizing some improvements in the preparation and content of the Council’s annual report, said the report should better reflect the motives of the Council's actions during the period under review. As well, it should contain an evaluation of the Council’s work, including those cases in which the Council did not act. A more analytical and interactive approach should be taken, not only referring to the past, but looking to the future. The reform of the Council should be conducted in the framework of intergovernmental negotiations and with 193 members present. The advisory group should provide purely consultative opinions. The reform could not be effective if it was simply to extend the privileges enjoyed by some and add a few permanent seats for others. His country supported a modest increase in the number of non-permanent members, which would allow better representation of regions of the world, particularly poorly represented regions, such as Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. He also supported the principle of re-election. Election into the Council was not a privilege, but a global responsibility.
JASSER JIMÉNEZ ( Nicaragua) said the reform of the Council was an important element in strengthening the United Nations. Member States had exchanged all possible views for 20 years and had gone through nine rounds of intergovernmental negotiations. The time had come for all countries to step up efforts in a more structured way. His country supported an increase in both categories of permanent and non-permanent members of the Council. The reform should lead to equitable representation of regions, particularly Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. He also welcomed the reappointment of Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan as Chair of the inter-governmental negotiations process and pledged his country’s full support.
SIN SON HO (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the current composition of the Council did not reflect the will of all States. The United States had taken to the Council a matter stemming from his country’s satellite launch in December 2012. As a result, his country’s sovereignty had been infringed. Twenty years had passed since the agenda of reform had been raised in the General Assembly; still, there had been no progress. The Council had largely been manipulated by the United States. Concrete measures for reform should include impartiality and democracy, with the body reflecting the demands and interests of all States.
KASWAMU KATOTA ( Zambia), aligned with the African Group, added his voice to the call for African representation on the Council. Comparing the pursuit of peace and security to a game of chess, he stressed the need to pay attention to all pieces, with Africa one piece that had been “discarded and long-forgotten”. But to win the game and achieve real peace and security, everyone had to be involved, “no matter how small, poor or rich” they were. The Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration called for two permanent seats with veto power, if that privilege was continued, and for two additional non-permanent seats. With so much of the Council’s focus falling on Africa, it needed to represent the people it served. The intergovernmental negotiations should continue in order to build alliances, compromises and convergence in proposals. Negotiations should be allowed to continue through the current Assembly session but should not become a drawn-out, open-ended process.
CHAYAPAN BAMRUNGPHONG ( Thailand) was willing to listen to any proposal aimed at a comprehensive reform of the Council. Priority should be given to improving working methods, expansion and ensuring that a transparent, effective and accountable Council reflected modern reality. Equitable geographic representation was essential and he supported Africa’s call for representation. He was optimistic about reforms but pragmatically willing to consider interim or intermediate solutions, like the proposed idea of a new membership category, which he said should be considered seriously. Noting appointment by the Assembly President of an advisory group, he sought further clarification on its mandate and role and looked forward to it providing a basis for the next round of intergovernmental negotiations.
SAMUEL MONCADA ( Venezuela), endorsing the position of the Non-Aligned Movement, said, “We are at a crossroads in the negotiation process.” Some countries were still entrenched in their positions, and the text guiding negotiations was too long. Guidance was needed on how to proceed. In that context, he called the President of the Assembly’s decision to convene an advisory group of diplomats able to build bridges “timely and courageous”. Addressing the reform itself, he favoured adding more permanent and non-permanent members, and rectifying the historical injustice done Africa, with regard to representation. Developing countries from the Latin American and Caribbean region should also have permanent representation, and small island developing States should be represented as well. An expanded Council should be composed of 25 or 26 countries incorporating different geographic, political and cultural realities, mainly from the developing world.
OCH OD (Mongolia), noting improvement in the Council’s cooperation with troop-contributing countries and the Secretariat, said further exploration was needed on inter-mission cooperation, and the safety and security of peacekeepers. On Council reform, he stated that both membership categories should be increased, offering his support to Japan, Germany and India for permanent seats. As well, Latin America and Africa should also be permanently represented. Enlargement, however, was not a goal in itself. The expanded Council must be equipped to react coherently and effectively to crises and conflicts and be able to make decisions, particularly as to Chapter VII-related matters. Further, the veto power should be thoroughly reviewed and the Council be made more democratic.
IB PETERSEN ( Denmark) said that the Security Council must continue to play a decisive global role in promoting peace, security, human rights and democracy. To that end, it required broader representation. With the goal of enhancing the Council’s legitimacy, both permanent and non-permanent members should be expanded, including both developing and developed countries among the new permanent members. Small States must also have the opportunity to serve on the Council. That was relevant to improving working methods. He was encouraged by the Assembly President’s initiative to establish an advisory group of permanent representatives, which could provide substantial and tangible recommendations on how to move the process forward.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA ( Brazil) aligned himself with India, Japan and Germany and the “L.69 Group”, saying that the President’s advisory group, of which he was part, was working to produce “a basis for the start of intergovernmental negotiations”. The Council had faced several serious, diverse and complex challenges in the preceding year, and its inability to provide a concrete solution to the deadlock in Syria, as well as the decision of a Member State to decline the seat to which it was elected were worrying reminders of the need to update the operational framework for collective security. The United Nations risked becoming “inconsequential” if it did not strengthen, and it was time to address its deficit in representativeness and legitimacy. He said 2015 had been identified by many as a suitable date by which a suitable outcome should be achieved. He said he would support the options for reform that enjoyed support of the majority, noting that an overwhelming majority of Member States supported enlargement in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.
ZSOLT HETESY ( Hungary) said that the Council had to be enlarged to better reflect the political and socioeconomic changes in the world. That enlargement should be guided by the principle of equitable geographical representation of all regional groups, including the Eastern European Group. Countries that had indicated their readiness to shoulder higher responsibilities, such as Germany, India, Japan and Brazil, should be granted such an opportunity. The Council had to become more accountable, with its work more coherent and more transparent. There should be improved interaction between the Council and other United Nations organs. The Council and its working methods could not stay static. “The mere fact that after more than sixty-seven years the most powerful international body still uses its provisional rules of procedures confirms that there is room for improvement,” he said.
MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina) stressed that membership in the Council should not be based on gross domestic product or military power, but equality of all Member States. She also cautioned against simply increasing the number of Council members without changing the way they conducted work. Negotiations on the reform should cover all five agreed areas. Also, the newly created advisory group should not have any negotiating role. The intergovernmental process should remain the only forum for negotiations. The Council should be more representative, democratic and effective, with Africa being properly represented. Furthermore, Argentina did not favour an extension of the permanent membership in the Council. Instead, the reform should eliminate the privileges of a few.
AHMED SAREER ( Maldives) said the biggest challenge for the Organization today was to remain relevant because the power dynamics within the United Nations governance system failed to represent its advanced membership and to reflect the realities of the world. The expanded membership should reflect the Organization’s diverse Member States. Accountability, coherence and transparency were key traits that needed to be reflected in the Council’s work. He was pleased with the increased number of open meetings. However, he asked members and non-members to critically and proactively assess the Council’s work in wrap-up sessions. He also asked for the elimination of the disparity between permanent and non-permanent members. It was a fundamental flaw that some negotiations and briefings were limited to permanent members only. For the United Nations to live up to Member States’ expectations to deal with the complex challenges of the world today, the Organization must take drastic measures to remain relevant and to reform.
DESRA PERCAYA ( Indonesia), associating his delegation with the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was “high time” that the Council fairly addressed the question of Palestine. The Syrian conflict was another very serious situation needing immediate Council action. As detailed by global leaders at the 2005 World Summit Outcome, the Council’s early reform was an essential element of overall reform to make the Council more representative, efficient and transparent. Every State’s voice was equally important in all reform matters and the positions of all Member States, not just those of groups, needed to be reflected in any negotiations. Decision 62/557 needed to be upheld to ensure that reform was comprehensive. Further, reform should be by consensus, or at least through the greatest political acceptance that was well beyond the two-thirds majority. The sixty-seventh session deliberations were essential, but fundamental differences on membership categories, size and veto remained. He said Mr. Tanin’s proposal to discuss intermediate models should also be considered.
USMAN SARKI ( Nigeria) said the majority of Member States craved timely reform. The under-representation of Africa was a lucid demonstration of the lack of equity in the Council. The inclusion of other regions, including Latin American and Caribbean States, Asia and small island developing States should also be considered. The negotiating process should remain open, transparent and inclusive. Turning to working methods, he supported an enhanced relationship between the Assembly and the Council. Cooperation with the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations should be ongoing and dynamic, in the interest of maintaining international peace and security.
MICHEL SPINELLIS ( Greece) said reform efforts must move forward, as discussions had become repetitive. It was high time for the process to move forward so that reform efforts would become an objective within reach. The stalemate must stop, he said, noting his country’s support for the Assembly President’s advisory group. Reforming the Council was more urgent today than ever before as the body must meet global challenges. Flexibility and pragmatism was needed to get the job done.
FERNANDO ARIAS ( Spain) said there should be a high level of transparency in the Council. Reform should not take much longer. The Council must adapt to the realities of the twenty-first century. While the principles of the United Nations remained unchanged, the world had changed, and the Council needed to reflect those changes. All Member States must work through the process of negotiations with a spirit of convergence. One of the key elements was ensuring African countries had a place on the Council. A more democratic and more inclusive Council was the goal that must satisfy all Member States, he said.
KELEBONE MAOPE (Lesotho), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, proposed that the Council consider utilizing other platforms such as Arria Formula meetings as a way to improve engagement with the general United Nations membership and other stakeholders, promote transparency and help bridge differences between Member States and the Council. Noting that the Council’s agenda continued to be dominated by peace and security issues in Africa, he called for it to increase partnership and collaboration with the African Union. On Council reform, he said it was time to correct the historical injustice done to Africa by creating new permanent seats for the continent, as well as increasing its seats in the non-permanent category in line with the Ezulwini Consensus.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia), aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement, referred to the Razali proposal, the first comprehensive proposal for Council reform introduced in 1997 by Malaysia’s former Permanent Representative and a former Assembly President. Since many Member States considered the Council’s veto power to be anachronistic and undemocratic, veto power should not be extended to the new members. At the same time, current permanent members also were urged to refrain from using their veto power. The main reason the Razali proposal was not successful was the different positions that Member States held toward reform. The Razali proposal formed the basis of Malaysia’s position on Council reform. Malaysia believed the Council should be reformed in a comprehensive manner, including its working methods and the expansion of its membership. The question of veto was a cardinal issue that impinged directly on the Council’s decision-making process. “The veto power negates the principle of sovereign equality and is anachronistic,” he said, stressing that he was open to any proposal that would spark progress on the veto issue. Malaysia welcomed the increase in the number of public meetings and the Council’s readiness to accept the views and contributions of non-members as well as regional and subregional organizations. Another area of concern was the Council’s continual encroachment in matters that clearly fell under the Assembly’s prerogative.
EVGENY LAZAREV ( Belarus), stating that the modern world needed an effective Council, underscored that all the delegates knew the value of carrying out reforms. Yet the Assembly had been unable to move closer on those issues over a decade. Political will and flexibility were needed to create a more balanced and fair diplomatic landscape. All regional groups needed an additional seat on the Council. Furthermore, there was an under-representation of the Eastern European Group, which should be given an additional non-permanent membership seat. Greater transparency would provide greater respect for the Council’s work. He called for more open meetings and a review of the preparation process for Council reports. More so, the process of Council reform needed to be reset and begin today. It was time to move forward from words to deeds.
MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said the global geopolitical situation had been significantly reconfigured from the time when the current composition of the Council had been established. Such a change also affected the Eastern European Group, which had a complex and diverse composition and comprised 23 Member States. Therefore, her country firmly believed that the Group needed one more elected seat in the Council in order to respond adequately to its geographic and political demands. Bosnia and Herzegovina was ready to work with other Member States on the issue of enhancing the transparency and efficiency of the Council’s work. She welcomed the establishment of the advisory group, but said the group lacked regional balance and that it should by no means substitute the intergovernmental negotiations.
JEEM LIPPWE (Micronesia), associating himself with the “L.69 group”, said it was regrettable that 10 years after the World Summit where Heads of State and Government had made a commitment to early Security Council reform, very little had been done towards that end. However, fatigue and frustration must not derail efforts. “Even the hardest rock will melt by persistent droplets of water,” he said. In that regard, he expressed support for the Assembly President’s suggestions to jumpstart intergovernmental negotiations in earnest. It was high time for them to move forward on a negotiation-based text. A key parameter in that text should be expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent categories, with Brazil, Germany, India and Japan included in the permanent category. The African continent should also be represented.
EDUARDO JOSÉ DE VEGA ( Philippines) said that, despite a range of offered proposals and initiatives, the process of reform had not advanced. Symptomatic of the sentiments on the issue was Saudi Arabia’s decision to forego serving on the Council. His country recognized its principled position and shared disappointment over the failure to establish a Middle East region free from weapons of mass destruction. Intergovernmental negotiations had provided a venue for discussions. Agreeing on the need for an expanded and more representative Council, he also supported several other reform measures, among them, a restriction on the use of the veto that would include the establishment of procedures for a veto override.
HALIT ÇEVIK ( Turkey) called for a more analytical, less descriptive report on Security Council activities. Outlining the positive aspects of reforming the Council, he stressed that intergovernmental negotiations offered the only platform to achieve that change. States were united behind reform but divided on the means to achieve it, and avoiding steps that might widen existing gaps would be important. In that regard, the recently appointed advisory group should not “overstep, bypass or replace” the intergovernmental negotiations by entering into any writing exercise. He favoured the compromise proposal outlined in the Italy-Colombia paper that called for a new, longer term membership category, with an increase in the number of non-permanent seats. He did not support additional permanent seats but did support the “United for Change” position on provision of a non-permanent seat for small and medium-sized States. In addition, he said he hoped for reforms that covered all five key areas outlined in General Assembly Decision 62/557 and reiterated the need for a substantially expanded representation for African States.
XAVIER LASSO MENDOZA (Ecuador) associated himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, and said the democratic deficit of the bodies making up today’s international system, especially the Council, had to urgently be adjusted if the United Nations was to respond to the objectives that led to its creation. Ecuador supported the creation of new seats in the Council’s permanent and non-permanent categories. In addition, it supported a deep revision of the Council’s working methods — including the veto question, transparency in its deliberations and the re-equilibrium of the relationship between the Assembly and the Council. “If the reform that is achieved at the end of our negotiations is not complete in its scope, it will be of little, or of no use,” he said. In the meantime, Ecuador welcomed the initiatives, promoted by some Council members, which had sought an improvement in mechanisms related to transparency and accountability. Yet Ecuador remained concerned about the Council’s tendency to discuss agenda items that veered further away from its mandates and which properly belonged to the Assembly or other United Nations organs.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUÍZ BLANCO ( Colombia) said because of the reform’s clear complexity, his delegation advocated for a process carried out with transparency, integrity and open communication, regardless of what mechanisms were chosen to pursue that goal. Colombia believed that the functioning of the recently created advisory group should be limited to providing advisory opinions to the Assembly President, without denoting that the group had the mandate to prepare documents or draft resolutions. In that regard, he appreciated the President’s explanation regarding the purely advisory character of that group and that its activities would not affect the intergovernmental negotiation process. Colombia advocated for a Council that was representative of regional dynamics, and whose composition was flexible to global changes. It called for a Council that did not extend or perpetuate privileges, and that addressed the underrepresentation of Africa, a continent with its own perspective on the challenges to international peace and security.
Right of Reply
A representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in exercise of the right of reply, said the remarks made by the representative of the Republic of Korea were totally absurd, groundless and provocative. That country was not speaking for itself, but representing the interest of the United States, which was its master. Resolutions adopted by the Council regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were results of a double standard and reflected that body’s highhandedness and arbitrariness. They only aggravated the situation and made it more complex. The United States’ hostility towards his country had caused the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula. The continued existence of the so-called United Nations Command disrupted peace in the Peninsula. He urged the Republic of Korea to perform its duty as a United Nations member and help preserve international peace and security, instead of blindly following the order from the United States.
Responding to his counterpart, a representative of the Republic of Korea said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was blaming others for its illicit activities and provocations. The alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea was defensive in nature and contributed to the deterrence of war on the Korean peninsula. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s argument was nothing more than an irresponsible response. The international community had seen three nuclear tests by that country which was the only country that had run nuclear tests in the twenty-first century. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was breaking its promises. It incorrectly invoked the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It had withdrawn from applicable treaties and was not entitled to such a right. It had to abide by all Council resolutions.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the Republic of Korea’s regime had introduced nuclear weapons and the United States was responsible for threatening his country. He was sorry to say that the Republic of Korea was a servant and blind slave to its United States master. In the Republic of Korea, no political figure had any courage to read anything without consulting its United States master.
The representative of the Republic of Korea recalled that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had launched disturbing propaganda against the United States. It had also cut off the military hotline with his country and declared war. From those facts, it was clear who was truly responsible for the situation in the Korean Peninsula. That country had repeatedly rejected unanimously adopted Council resolutions and was not bound by any obligations. It was a great pity that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had abandoned its responsibilities for its people and wasted the limited resources on the development of nuclear weapons instead of improving people’s living conditions. He urged that country to give up developing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, and return to the international community as a responsible member.
* *** *For information media • not an official record