INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY
PRESIDENT OF THE FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE UNITED
NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
H.E. MR JULIAN R. HUNTE
OPEN-ENDED INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS
OF THE PLENARY ON AGENDA ITEM 56
(QUESTION OF EQUITABLE REPRESENTATION
ON AND INCREASE IN THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
AND RELATED MATTERS)
30 JANUARY 2004
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
me first take this opportunity to wish you all a very
Happy New Year.
me also express my deep appreciation to all of you for
the support and cooperation you gave to me and to members
of my Cabinet during the initial part of the Fifty-eighth
Session last year. I believe that together, we carried
out the work of the General Assembly in a business-like
manner, which bodes well for our future work.
I think that it is generally acknowledged that the General
Assembly took a major step forward in reforming itself
when we adopted resolution 58/126 on the Revitalisation
of the Work of the General Assembly. This is, above all,
a comprehensive resolution which sets out courses of action
that address many of the obstacles to progress on our
path to reform.
recall that when we began the revitalisation exercise
last year, it was generally held that action needed to
be taken to advance the process of revitalisation of the
General Assembly. However, there was some doubt about
what we could actually achieve. It is a tribute to you
all that you were able to put differences aside and, in
a relatively short space of time, come to the agreements
that we did.
we begin the process of considering the question of Security
Council reform. I am pleased that there is such good attendance
today. I am particularly pleased that so many Permanent
Representatives have found it possible to attend. Let
me say to you, and to all participating in this informal
meeting, that I find myself in a somewhat similar position
to that of last September. It is generally agreed that
after ten years, something must be done, but some have
sounded a note of caution that it would be unrealistic
to expect that much, if any progress, can be made on this
We are all well aware that the question of reform of the
Security Council - enlargement of the Council and related
matters - has been discussed for a decade in the Open-ended
Working Group. While some valuable ideas have emerged
from the discussion on Cluster II matters, it has proved
extremely difficult to proceed beyond the stage of analysis
of issues and collation of positions where Cluster I issues
are concerned. Since Cluster I issues are the most important
issues, it seems to me that before beginning another series
of Working Group meetings, we should pause to reflect,
and to take stock.
The first question that we should ask ourselves is a rhetorical
one: "Has the Working Group succeeded in fulfilling
the tasks assigned to it?" It seems to me that it
is not an unreasonable assessment that the outcome of
the Working Group's deliberations to date has been somewhat
of a disappointment, when reviewed in the context of its
mandate. While the Working Group has identified the main
problems that need to be resolved, it has had only limited
success in doing so.
The second question we must ask is this: "Is reform
of the Security Council a matter to be settled by the
Working Group, or is the main impetus to come from elsewhere
- specifically, the capitals of member states, and particularly
influential Member States?" The provisions of the
Charter give a very small number of Member States an important
role to play in Security Council matters, and they will
have a particular say in the outcome of this exercise.
is, however, a democratic age and at a time when membership
of the United Nations has expanded from 51 to a remarkable
191. The generality of the membership of this Organisation
would, no doubt, want to continue their involvement in
the question of Security Council reform, and would want
to see it resolved to the satisfaction of all. I am confident
that even the most influential Member States would wish
to listen, and in fact, pay heed to the views of others.
A third question we must ask is, "What is the role
of the Secretary-General's Panel of Eminent Persons and
the impact, if any, that the setting up of the Panel should
have on our deliberations?" Again, a note of caution
has been sounded, and it has been suggested that the General
Assembly should essentially suspend its deliberations
on Security Council reform until the Panel delivers its
report to the Secretary-General.
The Panel was not set up by the General Assembly nor did
the Assembly determine its terms of reference. I can say
that I have not been asked by the Secretary General -
or for that matter by the distinguished Chairman of the
Panel who was kind enough to call on me in late December
last year - to delay the General Assembly's consideration
of Security Council reform until the Panel has reported.
am sure that we are all aware that the terms of reference
of the Panel, as announced, makes no specific reference
to the issue of Security Council reform. Currently, it
is unclear when the Panel's discussion and conclusions
will be received by the General Assembly. It seemed, at
one time, that the Panel's work would be before the Assembly
in summer of this year. More recently, it began to appear
that the Panel might need more time to finalise its report.
I am sure that I speak for all Member States in commending
the Secretary-General for his important initiative in
establishing the Panel. I certainly look forward, with
keen interest, to examining its conclusions and recommendations
when they are made available.
determining the extent to which the fact of the existence
of the Panel should affect the manner and timing of the
General Assembly's consideration of Security Council reform,
Member States will need to bear the foregoing issues in
mind: that we have not been asked by the Secretary-General
to suspend our work while the Panel deliberates; that
it is unclear if and how the Panel will specifically deal
with issues of Security Council reform; and that it is
uncertain when the Assembly will receive information on
the deliberations and conclusions of the Panel.
A decade has passed since the General Assembly decided
that enlargement of the Security Council to make it more
representative was a desirable objective and set up an
institutional mechanism to consider this and other matters
related to the Security Council. In the ensuring period,
a view has emerged that given the prevailing political
circumstances, it is doubtful whether Security Council
reform can be effected. Another view that has emerged
is that any reform is likely to have counterproductive
aspects, thus calling the efficacy of the exercise into
question. Nonetheless, the majority of member States seem
to still view Security Council reform as a goal worth
striving for and continue to maintain that efforts towards
that end should be pursued.
As your President, I am in your hands. I need to receive
indications from you as to how you would wish me to proceed.
In order to facilitate the shaping of the guidance that
I require from you, I have had prepared and have circulated
to you an Informal Note on the matter. The Note traces,
in brief, the history of the deliberations of the activities
of the Working Group and the results registered to date.
It concludes by outlining courses of action for us to
consider with respect to next steps.
look forward to your reactions to the Informal Note. Based
on those reactions, I believe we will be in a better position
to collectively decide on the way forward.
Thank you for your attention.