Indonesia calls for Muslim representation on Security Council

Hassan Wirajuda, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia

27 September 2008 – The world’s estimated 1.1 billion Muslims deserve specific representation on an expanded Security Council, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister said today, calling for any reform of the 15-member body United Nations body to consider the need for a variety of constituencies as well as greater geographic distribution.

Hassan Wirajuda told the General Assembly’s annual General Debate that the Council was in urgent need of reform, saying that in a series of recent conflicts and tensions – over Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Iraq and Afghanistan, among others – the panel “should have been more decisTo make the Council more democratic, the application of veto power of the permanent five [members] must be regulatedive.”

Mr. Wirajuda said it was clear that the Council’s inability to deal adequately with these challenges was due mainly to what he described as its lack of democracy.

“To make the Council more democratic, the application of veto power of the permanent five [members] must be regulated,” he said, referring to China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. “The misuse of the veto by any one permanent member should no longer be allowed to paralyze the entire Council.”

He said that true democratization of the Council “also means an equitable distribution of its membership – not only in terms of geographical representation, where we already have imbalances – but also in terms of constituencies. Hence, the world’s major civilizations should be proportionately represented. The world’s community of 1.1 billion Muslims must be represented on the Council if it is to be truly democratic.”

Meanwhile, Zambia’s Foreign Minister stressed the need for two permanent and two non-permanent seats on the Council for African nations, given that the continent comprises the second largest bloc of UN Member States.

Such a move would help to redress “the historical injustice against Africa,” Kabinga J. Pande said.

Uruguay’s External Relations Minister, Gonzalo Fernández, told the Assembly that his country would not support reform of the Council if it meant the creation of new members with veto rights.

Mr. Fernández said the veto right “constitutes a privilege that goes against the democratization of our Organization” and would in any case not be allowed under any intergovernmental negotiations package.

Earlier this month the General Assembly adopted a decision to begin intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform in informal plenary by February next year.

However, Mr. Fernandez said he was disappointed that countries have not yet reached consensus on reform, and taken on “timid steps forward” on changes to the UN Secretariat and the General Assembly.

Paula Gopee-Scoon, Foreign Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said reform of Council was indispensable to the wider transformation of the UN.

“Failure to reform the Security Council could serve to undermine that organ’s authority as the agency with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” she said.

Mrs. Gopee-Scoon said small States such as her own deserved “equity of access” on any expanded Council and she added that there was a need for all the world’s regions to be represented in the permanent membership.

For his part, Pham Gia Khiem, Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam, said reform of the UN should not be confined to just the Security Council, but include the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and specialized agencies as well.

Such reforms “will make this Organization more effective and efficient in the areas of work mandated by the [UN] Charter,” he said.

Reforming the world body could also bolster its ability to alleviate the suffering resulting from the current food crisis and propel globalization to help ensure peace and development for all, Tunisia’s Foreign Minister, Abdelwaheb Abdallah, said.

He called on international financial institutions to create and implement agricultural and production policies that would guarantee the fundamental right to food security for all.

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