Fifty-ninth General Assembly
24th & 25th Meetings (AM & PM)
SPEAKERS IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY STRESS NEED FOR MORE REPRESENTATIVE,
DEMOCRATIC, ACCOUNTABLE SECURITY COUNCIL
The General Assembly today turned its spotlight on the work of the Security Council, with delegations expressing determination to untangle some of the more complex issues that have deadlocked Council reform efforts for more than 10 years -- from making the Council's work more open and transparent to expanding its membership and reforming the veto.
During a joint debate, which included consideration of the Council’s annual report, nearly all speakers emphasized the need for a more representative, democratic and accountable Council. Some delegations felt that the Council’s working methods tended to preclude the Assembly’s consideration of important international issues. There was also a consensus among developing countries that the Council’s structure did not reflect current realities. While developing countries now made up more than two-thirds of the total United Nations membership, they were sorely underrepresented on the Council, they said.
For many, expanding the 15-nation Council -- responsible for maintaining international peace and security –- was critical. The majority of States were divided into two camps -– those favouring expansion of both categories of membership and those favouring expansion only in the elected category. And while some declared that a Council in which Africa, Latin America and the Arab World had no permanent voice could not realistically speak for the international community, the question of who would get a seat on an expanded Council, and with what powers, remained wide open.
Peru’s representative said that, after 10 years of stagnant debate, there were apparently as many positions on the matter of reshaping the Council as there were Member States. It was clear that there was no consensus. The more reform was debated the more differences arose. What was clear was that no process of reform could be conducted without minimum commitment from the Council’s permanent members. They needed to make an effort, he said, and there must be transparent discussion and compromise, which could not be vetoed.
Picking up that thread, Pakistan’s representative said the only clear consensus on the matter was said that the Council’s composition and its working methods were not democratic, that decisions were taken by a few and that the five permanent members –- China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States -- exercised inordinate influence over those decisions. There was also concern over an increasing concentration of decision-making power in the Council, in relation to other United Nations organs. The Council could not exclude the Assembly from reviewing its work and decisions, nor arbitrarily acquire exclusive competence over issues not directly involving the maintenance of peace and security, he declared.
The representative of Syria said the Council’s deviation from principles of objectivity and its resort to double standards might undermine the role and international legitimacy it aspired to. Reform of the Council and the expansion of its membership should be part of a comprehensive, integrated project that took geographical representation into account. Syria believed that both the permanent and elected categories of membership should be expanded, taking into account the issue of equitable geographical representation.
South Africa’s representative lamented that the rise of the Council had coincided with the weakening of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). People outside the walls of the United Nations often mistook the Security Council for being the “sum total of the United Nations”. But he stressed that the Assembly was the only democratic and fully representative international organ of the United Nations, with the unique ability to forge genuine international consensus on sensitive issues, such as terrorism. Working through the Assembly was the only way to ensure that multilateralism protected the weak States from being overwhelmed by the powerful ones.
When he introduced the Council’s annual report, the representative of the United Kingdom, Council President for the month of October, detailed the wide range of conflicts the body had addressed from 1 August 2003 to 31 July 2004, including the development of strategies to deal with situations in west Africa, and the disarmament process in Liberia. The Council had also focused on Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and terrorism. The report made clear that achieving sustainable peace and development in post-conflict situations required a collective approach, and it was vital that the different parts of the United Nations family united to pursue common goals, he said.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said it was vital that the United Nations evolved to respond to the range of changing threats and opportunities that faced the whole membership, from HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. A responsive and effective Security Council was a vital part of that picture. His country had long supported the case for expanding both categories of the Council’s membership, including permanent seats for Germany, Japan, India, Brazil and an African country. An increase in the elected membership also offered the chance to enhance the voice of the developing world in the Council’s discussions.
Cuba’s representative had hoped for a report with higher analytical value, which portrayed the political and legal grounds of the most important decisions adopted by the Council. Such a report should reflect not only what had been done, but also what had not been attained and why, particularly in the cases in which the Council had failed to act or when it had visibly lacked unity. Member States had a legitimate right to expect appropriate accountability in that body -– even with its limited composition -- to which they had entrusted the prime peacekeeping and international security responsibilities and, which, under the Charter, acted on their behalf.
Also speaking today were the representatives of New Zealand (also on behalf of Canada and Australia), Algeria, Belarus, Namibia, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, Jamaica, Egypt, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, Nigeria, Brazil, San Marino, Japan, Guyana, Ghana, Uruguay, Mexico, Tunisia, India, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Thailand, Belgium, Bahrain, Slovenia, Austria and Marshall Islands.
The Assembly will meet again tomorrow, 12 October, at 10 a.m. to continue its debate on matters related to the Security Council.
The General Assembly met today to take up the report of the Security Council and to hold a joint debate on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of that body and related matters. It was also expected to take up the report of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations.
Before the Assembly was the Security Council’s annual report on its work (A/59/2), detailing an “intense” late 2003-early 2004 session, and covering a wide range of issues. Iraq featured prominently on the Council’s agenda, with the adoption of five resolutions and the convening of four regular briefings by the American and British Ambassadors, in accordance with Council resolution 1483 (2003), and one called by the American Ambassador in accordance with resolution 1511 (2003), all on the activities of the multinational force.
The Council also continued to closely monitor the situation in the Middle East through its monthly open briefings, attention being given to the unilateral withdrawal plan. While attempts to adopt resolutions were thwarted three times during the year, the Council did adopt two texts, one of which, resolution 1515 (2003) endorsed the Quartet-backed Road Map. The Council also dealt regularly with Afghanistan, in particular the extension of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and welcomed the adoption of a new constitution and announcements on the holding of elections.
Kosovo (Serbia and Montenegro) also remained high on the Council’s agenda with regular quarterly consideration of the work of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and, in particular, in the context of the large-scale inter-ethnic riots that broke out in mid-March 2004 and the launching of a review mechanism for the standards for Kosovo policy.
The report also states that the Council gave great interest to African issues. It convened three public meetings dedicated to the region and responded to crises and outbursts of violence in Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Darfur region of the Sudan.
The Council established a 15,000 personnel-strong United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), authorized an Interim Emergency Multinational Force in Bunia, increased the authorized military strength of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), and authorized deployment of forces of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and France in Côte d’Ivoire. Council missions visited the western and central African regions. In a rare action, the body also removed the item of Libya from its agenda after it lifted sanctions against that country.
Throughout the year, the threat of international terrorism was addressed by the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee, established in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks. A Council meeting at the ministerial level on 20 January adopted resolution 1456 containing a declaration on the subject, and, on 6 March, the Council met with some 60 international, regional and sub regional organizations to encourage a coordinated approach to the problem.
The Assembly also had before it the Secretary-General’s note (A/59/335) relaying matters relative to peace and security that have been discussed since last year, as well as those with which the Council has ceased to deal.
In its report on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations (document A/59/421), the Fifth Committee recommends a draft resolution, by which the Assembly would agree that the failure of the Central African Republic, the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Niger, Republic of Moldova, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia and Tajikistan to pay the minimum amount necessary to avoid application of Article 19 of the Charter was due to conditions beyond their control, and would decide that those States should be permitted to vote in the Assembly until 30 June 2005.
Also by the text, the Assembly, taking note of information provided by Georgia and Liberia, would also conclude that the failure of those States to pay in full the minimum amount to avoid the application of Article 19 was also due to conditions beyond their control. The Assembly would decide that Georgia and Liberia should also be permitted to vote in the Assembly until 30 June 2005, and invite them to submit appropriate information to the Committee on Contributions if similar circumstances prevail in the future.
Introduction of Security Council
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), who currently holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council, introduced the Council’s report. The Council, he said, had addressed a wide range of conflicts during the period under review, which covered 1 August 2003 to 31 July 2004. Among the key issues on which the Council had focused was the development of strategies to deal with the situations in West Africa, and the process of disarmament in Liberia. The report made clear that achieving sustainable peace and development in post-conflict situations required a collective approach, and it was vital that different parts of the United Nations family combine efforts to pursue common goals. The strategy must encompass the transition from peace to peace building, if the United Nations was to create conditions for lasting peace. Much still needed to be done to bring tranquility to the African continent, and he highlighted the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, and the situation in Darfur as areas the Security Council had focused on.
Other issues the Security Council had concentrated on included HIV/AIDS; mine action; children affected by armed conflict; violations of human rights; the situations in Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East; and the threats of terrorism. One recurring theme, he said, was that there was a greater need for collaboration between the Security Council and other organs of the United Nations to ensure a coherent approach to establishing and maintaining peace and security.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said that because the Security Council’s primary role in maintaining international peace and security was as important as it had ever been, the United Kingdom believed it would be strengthened by an increase in its membership to ensure that it better represented the modern world. His country had long supported the case for expanding the Security Council in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of membership, and supported including Germany, Japan, India and Brazil among the permanent members. They also wanted to see a permanent member from Africa on the Council adding that an increase in the non-permanent membership also offered the chance to further enhance the voice of the developing world in the Council’s discussion.
Stating that the United Kingdom looked forward to the forthcoming report of the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, he said it was vital that the United Nations evolved to respond to the range of changing threats and opportunities that faced the whole membership, from HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation to terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. A responsive and effective Security Council was a vital part of that picture, he added.
TIM MCIVOR (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Australia and Canada, said open meetings and briefings were crucial to allowing information to flow between the Security Council and the wider United Nations community, improving both the quality of the Council’s decision making and the membership’s understanding of the Council’s work. Although there had been steps taken in the right direction, there was still a long way to go in improving the Council’s consultation with the wider membership. The Council must seek the views of Member States before taking decisions on issues that affected them, in particular those which imposed obligations on States to act. Reform of the Council remained a key issue, and while there was widespread support for expansion of the membership, there was no consensus on the issue of new permanent membership. He hoped that a proposal of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change would provide a basis for a successful negotiation on a more representative Council. Urging Member States not to pre-empt the Panel’s work, he said it was important to respect its independence and keep an open mind on possible ways to move forward.
Australia, Canada and New Zealand were prepared to be flexible, he said. They agreed that reform must involve an increase in non-permanent membership and that there could be no extension of the veto. He hoped the deep-seated differences on that matter would not hold up a package of reforms aimed at strengthening the United Nations and enhancing its ability to meet current and future challenges. Including Security Council reform within a broader package must increase, rather than decrease, the prospects of achieving consensus, he said, adding that the Council was at the core of the Organization’s response to threats to international security. The Council’s primary responsibility was for the maintenance of peace and security, which included the security of individual human beings, as well as nations. He added that the Council should allow non-members to make greater input to Council deliberations.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said the Council had become the United Nations body whose power had increased the most –- there were now 17 peacekeeping operations in play, with 11 of those having been set up since 1991. Those operations and the widening scope of the Council’s work now held sway over the Organization’s budget. The sphere of the Council’s purview had expanded beyond specific peace and security issues to include the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and the protection of children in armed conflict, and the role of women in peace-building efforts. He noted that the Council’s report, basically just a summation of subjects covered and resolutions passed, shed no substantive light on progress, setbacks and trends in peacekeeping or in resolving conflicts.
If the report was not analytical, no one would know whether the security conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had changed since the adoption of resolution 1565; whether illicit crop production and drug trafficking was having an effect on efforts to maintain stability in Afghanistan; or whether the present security situation in Iraq would have any affect on the United Nations plans to assist with the upcoming elections. If journalists read the report, he said, they would have no real idea about the state of international peace and security. Further, it was fair to say that no one was necessarily aware of the report except for the people in the room. It was necessary, therefore, to create a report that was not only more analytical, but which connected the Council and its work to the wider world.
He went on to say that the Security Council had been reacting better to new and complex crises, and making it possible for more non-members to participate in its work. The Council’s field missions to various States and regions had also been effective. But those missions should include more interaction with local civil society groups or religious organizations. The field visits should also be focused on prevention, perhaps visiting countries where conflict had not yet broken out and been resolved, but where tensions ran high. That would go a long way to show the world that the Council was dedicated to addressing the root causes of conflict. On Council reform, he said that, after 10 years of stagnating debate, there were apparently as many positions on the matter as there were countries. Clearly there was no consensus and without consensus, there could be no reform. The lesson was that the more reform was debated the more differences arose; for instance, there wasn’t even agreement anymore on what constituted a regional group. It was clear that no process of reform could be conducted without minimum commitment from the Council’s permanent members. They needed to make an effort, he said, and there must be transparent discussion and compromise, which could not be vetoed.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) noted that the report was far from being a substantive document, and said he would work to ensure that the analytical portion provided indicators as to the result of the work of the Council, along with proposals for improving its work. His nation was also working for great transparency and further democratization of decision-making. Council members had made efforts to improve exchanges with the wider United Nations community and to improve the dissemination of information on activities. He believed that consultations preceding meetings should be open to parties concerned with the question under consideration, allowing the Council to be better informed. In addition, it was important to open the wrap-up meetings to non-members, which would offer the opportunity for views to be expressed.
The Council, he continued, had taken direct action in dealing with problems affecting the world. He was pleased with the efforts it had displayed in areas of conflict or those emerging from conflict, particularly in west Africa. The mission to that region had had a positive impact, and he called for similar missions to other areas of conflict. In other situations that showed no threat to peace and security, the Council had transcended its mandate, such as in Resolution 1559, which dealt with the situation in Lebanon. At the same time, he expressed regret that the Council had not shown more determination in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Council had not been able to make progress to encourage the peace process and ensure the protection of Palestinians in the occupied territories. The credibility of the Council was in question, and would further erode if it did not show the world its capacity for the settlement of disputes on its agenda. The Working Group on Council reform had identified important questions including regional representation, conditions to be met for Council members and the responsibilities of the Council. During the general debate many delegations had reaffirmed their commitment to Council reform, advocating its expansion. Calling for the broadest possible representation in the Council, he emphasised that any expansion must take into account the need to give Africa two permanent seats, on a rotational basis, and two non-permanent seats.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) said he took note of the Security Council’s increasing responsibility and workload, and would stress the need to keep up that momentum. But at the same time, the Council should not stray from its mandate of dealing with issues related to the maintenance of international peace and security or infringe on the competencies of other United Nations bodies. He would also stress the need for the Council to increase its interaction with the General Assembly. The Council should also continue the practice of holding open meetings at the ministerial level on the most acute international problems, particularly the global fight against terrorism.
He went on to say that the matter of Security Council reform could not be reduced to merely changing its membership. There must be a review of how that body identified threats, as well as its reaction to them. In that regard, he looked forward to the suggestions of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. He stressed the Assembly’s special role in the process of Council reform, particularly in consulting with regional groups and organizations on the matter. The Assembly’s basic strategy should be aimed at the elimination of the current geographical imbalance on the Council. He agreed with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which favoured an expansion to 11 permanent Council members. He added that the views of all States should be taken into account. The overall expansion should seek to incorporate EasternEuropeanStates, as well as South Asian developing States. The success of Council reform would enhance the body’s overall reputation and credibility. Failure here would cast further doubt about the Council’s willingness to be more representative and productive.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said that there was no doubt that the Security Council had become the most active organ of the United Nations, and that the weakening of both the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the General Assembly had placed special emphasis on the work of the Council. People outside the walls of the United Nations, however, had often mistaken the Council for being the sum total of the United Nations. That was unfortunate, and must be corrected for the sake of the entire United Nations. The Security Council had adopted, in the past year, some measures aimed at improving its working methods, but as long as the rules of procedure of the Council remained provisional, the changes in the working methods of the Council would always seem inadequate. He highlighted the collaboration between the Security Council and the ECOSOC ad hoc advisory groups on Guinea-Bissau and Burundi as a good example of closer working relations between the major organs. He said South Africa was pleased that, over the past year, the Security Council had demonstrated an increased willingness to cooperate with other organs of the United Nations.
While the Council had been able to address some threats, he remained concerned at its inability to demonstrate the requisite political will and a commitment to effective decision-making that had prevented it from being able to address other challenges. In particular, he remained concerned that the Council was still unable to take a definitive decision on the conflict in the Middle East. The Council would soon have to transcend the division among its members and speak with one voice on that tragic situation, or face the erosion of its credibility as an organ mandated to maintain international peace and security.
Furthermore, he had seen the Council in recent months debate a number of resolutions that would appear to re-interpret treaty obligations or impose legislative demands on Member States. That demonstrated an unwelcome tendency by the Security Council to encroach on the work of the General Assembly. The Assembly was the only democratic and fully representative international organ of the United Nations, that had the unique ability to forge genuine international consensus on sensitive issues, such as terrorism. Working through the Assembly was the only way to ensure that multilateralism protected the weak States from being overwhelmed by the powerful ones. Finally, he said that South Africa was ready to serve as a permanent member of a restructured and expanded Security Council.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) was pleased to see improvements in the west Africa subregion but remained seriously perturbed by the continued violence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With regard to the Sudan, he felt the Security Council should assume full responsibility in accordance with the Charter. Recommendations from the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change added special significance this year to the issue of Council reform. Also, the establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union added a new dimension to the relationship between the Council and that group. With regard to increasing the Council’s membership, he wished to reiterate the decision of the African heads of State that Africa deserved at least two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats. The permanent seats, he added, would rotate among the African Member States, and Africa would decide on its own modality of rotation. Reform of the Council was a complex issue, and resolution 53/30 clearly laid out the circumstances under which a decision would be taken.
He was convinced that the work of the Working Group on Council reform had produced some results and useful suggestions. It was the task of the Chairman to facilitate deliberations but it was the responsibility of States to reach agreements. All that there was to say about Security Council reform had already been said, and it was time to put an end to those perennial discussions. In that respect, he supported the view of the Chairman as contained in document A/58/57, that the Working Group should set a deadline to conclude its work. The special anniversary event next year presented an ideal opportunity for world leaders to make good on their decision, taken at the Millennium Summit to achieve comprehensive reform of the Council.
ABDULAZIZ NASSER AL-SHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) reaffirmed his country’s support of the position of the Non-Aligned Movement on the issue of Council reform. Noting the progress made to date in the improvement of the working methods of the Council during the last few years, he said was nonetheless deeply concerned about the double-standard policy followed by the Council in considering some of the issues pertaining to the Middle East, such as the Palestinian question, which he said impaired the Council from discharging its responsibilities fully and appropriately. He urged the Council to act in accordance with the principles of the Charter, international law and relevant international resolutions.
He said that imbalanced representation in the Council and unequal distribution of powers and prerogatives among its members had resulted in impeding the Council’s ability to address some of the most important items on its agenda, specifically those pertaining to the maintenance of international peace and security. That had led to prolonging the duration of those issues, and creating human crises. He believed the enlargement of permanent and non-permanent membership should be consistent and approved by at least two-thirds of the members of the General Assembly, and based on equitable geographical representation. Any future composition of the Security Council, he continued, must reflect better representation of developing countries, based on equitable geographical representation, to enhance political balance in the Council.
He also reiterated his country’s support for the allocation of a permanent seat for the Arab Group, to be filled by Arab countries on a rotating basis, in accordance with the practices applied in the League of Arab States. Finally, he said controls and criteria should be established for the use of the veto to ensure the impartiality and objectivity of the Council in the decision-making process, and in the use of its prerogatives and powers while addressing pressing global issues requiring urgent intervention.
RICHARD GORDON, (Philippines) called once again for a more substantive consideration by the Assembly of key elements of the Council’s report. The Assembly President, in consultation with Member States, could determine what issues should be more intensively discussed. Those issues could be region -- or country-specific, or any of the general themes the Council had considered. Those discussions should be done in an open-ended manner, either as informal consultations or roundtables. An informal setting would provide for a more thorough analysis of the Council’s work. Over 120 countries had taken the floor during the general debate last month and called for Council reform. During its 10 years of work, the Working Group on Council reform had succeeded in crystallizing general agreement on two issues, namely: improving the Council’s decision-making process so that it would lead to open and more transparent conduct of its work; and the expansion of the body’s membership. There was, however, no agreement yet on the details of that expansion, in terms of size and category. The key to unlocking the ticklish issue was the criteria of balance in representation. That was a delicate and sensitive matter that had evaded any agreement despite the variety of formulas tabled so far on the matter.
The Philippines was advocating a holistic reform -- not only of the Council, but also of other relevant United Nations structures, he said. That would require a redefinition of their relationships and responsibilities vis-à-vis security. Such a recommendation implied radical reform of the Council and a strengthening of the Assembly’s powers. Poverty and pandemic diseases were not just economic and public health issues. They were also threats to security as spawning grounds for conflicts, which fell beyond the Council’s mandate. The Secretary-General was supposed to be the executive arm of the United Nations, tasked with the execution of directives from its parliamentary organs. Regrettably, he lacked the requisite authority, especially over the affiliated United Nations agencies that run by their respective governing boards, to exercise that power. Such examples underscored the need for a comprehensive approach to reform in the Organization’s response to security challenges.
Reform of the United Nations, he added, should be backed by consensus to promote collective ownership, while Council reform should give consideration to the views of the permanent members. If consensus were to be achieved, he cautioned against polarization by narrow national and group interests and urged unification through common and universal interests. The permanent Council members should also be engaged in constructive consultations on that body’s reform to bring the process to fruition. He also recommended Japan for a permanent seat.
STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica) said the Security Council had not reacted promptly and effectively to Haiti, and the results of its intervention were still inconclusive. Initially, it failed to respond to the request by the Haitian Government and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and had acted only in the wake of controversial political events which still had troubling implications. “We reaffirm the crucial importance of long-term social and economic development and of the fight against poverty in Haiti to sustain stability and peace”, he said. On the Middle East, he highlighted that the Council had been unable to act to curtail the escalation of violence and that political realities restricted that body’s options and ability to be unified, authoritative and decisive. It was evident that the Quartet and its Road Map were going nowhere. A bolder approach was needed which constrained the parties to respect the will of the international community for a comprehensive settlement. Although an effective role for the United Nations in Iraq had proven difficult, in the face of a volatile security situation, he was confident that the Secretary-General was still ready to do what was possible to assist in rebuilding a stable environment and restoring Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Addressing counter-terrorism, he said it was important that the Committee tasked with that issue, avoid being overly bureaucratic and work with States to provide practical assistance wherever implementation difficulties arose. “We continue to feel the need to urge the Council to ensure that it applies equal standards to the conduct of all States”, he said. There should be no double standards or selectivity where there were violations of the Charter and international law. The Council should act judiciously in upholding legality and also be objective in the settlement of disputes. “It should not only be developing countries which must always face the prospect of sanctions and enforcement action”, he said, adding that if that was the pattern of Council action, there would be continued erosion in its credibility and legitimacy. Jamaica continued to oppose to the holding of thematic debates in the Council -- a practice which had increased in the last year -- since such activities went beyond the Council’s mandate, which was to consider threats to international peace and security, and encroached on the Assembly’s authority.
On the other hand, he noted that it was becoming increasingly rare for the Council to hold debates on actual situations affecting international peace and security. Such debates allowed that body to hear the views and recommendations of Member States, as well as the positions of the parties. “Regrettably, even when such debates are held, the Council members give their views before hearing those of the wider community”, he said. That was a practice which should change. On reform, he said it was not surprising that, once again, no consensus was possible and that various issues were again debated with fervour. “What is clear now is that some decision has to be taken. Debate and discussion cannot go forever”, he said. And although a final determination need not be made at the current Assembly session it could not be delayed beyond the sixtieth session. “It is time for action. Decisions have to be taken which are vital for the legitimacy and authority of the Council”, he said. The question of representations and the abolition of the veto were foremost and should be decided by the Assembly, proceeding on the basis of the rules of decision-making set out in the Charter.
AMR ABOUL ATTA (Egypt) said the Council’s report indicated that the majority of the issues the body had dealt with concerned the African continent. He praised the Council’s attention and hoped that its emerging body of work could lead to a broader understanding of the challenges facing all African countries. The report also showed that the Council had been unable to stem the tide of violence in the Middle East. He added that the Council must undertake its wider peace and security duties, in consultation with regional groups and the other main bodies of the Organization –- the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
On Council reform, he said he would not rehash his delegation’s position on enlargement of the Council, which had been expressed during the general debate and which followed the general suggestions put forward by the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement. Nonetheless, overall reform must reflect current political realities and not lead to the marginalization of particular parties or States. He added that Council reform could not occur in isolation from a wider review of the body’s working methods, transparency and accountability. Egypt, along with many others, was awaiting the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and would urge Member States not to lose sight of what must be achieved: equitable and balanced representation on the Council, that could address the needs of developed and developing countries alike. There must be parallel reform and expansion -- not just one or the other.
PETER MAURER (Switzerland) said he was in favour of an increase in the number of members of the Security Council, declaring that such an increase would strengthen the legitimacy of the decisions taken and compliance by Member States. The composition of the Council had to more accurately reflect changes that had taken place since the founding of the United Nations. More weight needed to be given to developing countries, where the majority of humankind now lived. Also, more account needed to be taken of the specific financial and material support of individual countries to the United Nations system.
While he favoured an increase in Council membership, he was opposed to the creation of new seats with the power of veto, explaining that the present use of the veto was not democratic and its use affected the Council’s ability to act. While the Council’s enlargement, in his view, was the most visible and the most discussed aspect of Security Council reform, it was not the only aspect. He was also keenly interested in reforms that might be less spectacular, but which were nonetheless just as crucial to the working of that organ. Significant improvements could be made without any formal revision of the Charter. In addition to calling for greater restraint in the use of the veto, he said that ensuring wider participation in the decision-making process was another way of strengthening the legitimacy of the decisions taken.
He hoped the Council’s working methods would continue to move towards greater transparency and increasing participation by countries which were not members of the Council. In particular, consultation mechanisms with countries directly concerned by areas of tension and with States that contributed to peacekeeping operations had to be strengthened. Underscoring the need to maintain institutional balance, he believed that the General Assembly, in which all Member States were represented, needed to regain a central role in the working of the Organization. The current reform of its working methods would, he hoped, revitalize that body.
AKRAM ZAKI (Pakistan) said there was a general consensus that the Security Council’s composition and its working methods were not democratic, that decisions were taken by a few and that the five permanent members exercised inordinate influence over the Council’s decisions. In addition, there was concern over an increasing concentration of decision-making power in the Council, in relation to other organs. He said the Council could not exclude the General Assembly from reviewing its work and decisions, nor arbitrarily acquire exclusive competence over issues not directly involving the maintenance of peace and security. Both the Charter and the Council’s provisional rules of procedures provided for discussion and decisions in open meetings and in a transparent manner. Unfortunately, most of the Council’s deliberations and decisions had taken place in closed “informal consultations”. The right of veto was usually exercised informally and invisibly and, more infrequently, openly, to ensure that the Council’s decisions did not infringe the interests of the permanent members.
Reform of the Security Council must prescribe ways to introduce greater democracy and due process in its deliberations and decision-making, he said, adding that open meetings should be a rule, not an exception. The exercise of the veto must be fully justified, including a possible review by the General Assembly and even by the International Court of Justice. It was evident that the Council’s composition was not representative of the general membership. While the five permanent members could be considered a separate and exceptional category, the proportionate representation of the rest of the United Nations membership had become progressively worse over the last few decades. It was clear that the size of the elected members of the Council should be enlarged, and expansion should reflect the regional composition of membership, according larger representation to Asia, Africa and Latin America.
It was also important, he continued, that expansion accord representation to those States that had entered the Organization after the last enlargement in 1996, which pointed to small and medium States. The addition of new permanent members would further complicate decision-making in the Council, and such a decision would have to accommodate the interests of nine or 10 permanent members rather than the present five. On the other hand, enlargement in the category of elected members would adhere to the principle of sovereign equality, greater representation and great accountability in the work of the Council.
KIM SAM-HOON (Republic of Korea) commended the efforts of the Security Council to combat terrorism and said that the Council had taken an increasing role in filling the gaps within the existing international legal regime on the issue of weapons of mass destruction. Noting that the Council had focused much of its work on Iraq over the last year, he said that as the Council took on an increasingly crucial and extensive role in maintaining peace and security, the matter of reform had become all the more important.
He strongly believed that the Council should be reformed to make it more representative of international realities, more accountable to the general membership, and more effective and operationally efficient than it was today. He shared the view that an increase in non-permanent membership was the most realistic formula for meeting those criteria. An expansion of permanent membership would weaken the institutional vitality of the United Nations by alienating and marginalizing a significant number of countries that possessed the willingness and capabilities to contribute substantially to international peace and security. By contrast, an increase in elected members would make the Council more accountable, while strengthening the sense of shared ownership of the United Nations and the Security Council by the general membership. He also attached great importance to rectifying existing imbalances among regional groups, in terms of an individual country’s average chances of being represented in the Security Council.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said the Council’s annual report was the main tool defining the relationship between the two main bodies of the United Nations. It was worth mentioning that the Council had increasingly opened up to the Organization’s wider membership, in particular through the holding of more open debates. Nevertheless, Liechtenstein was under no illusions as to the impact those debates had on the Council’s decision-making. Also, there were no recognizable criteria governing the convening of those open debates. For example, this past Friday, the Council adopted a resolution on international terrorism during what many felt should have been an open meeting, but for reasons of both substance and procedure was not. The Organization’s wider membership would now only have the chance to comment on that action after the fact.
He added that the Council’s report lacked the necessary analytical depth and failed to address any relevant questions. The Council had expanded its activities into the field of lawmaking, which, under the Charter, was reserved for the Assembly. Since the Council engaged in that practice during the current reporting period, fundamental questions had subsequently been raised about the Organization’s institutional balance. But the report remained silent on the matter.
The momentum for Council reform was growing, he continued. Liechtenstein shared the view that the Council needed to be more modern if it was to truly represent the entire international community. Also, enlargement was only one –- though central –- element of Council reform. A truly representative Council must represent the membership not only geographically, but also in substance. He added that, while awaiting the High-level Panel’s report, everyone should be aware that that body could not reform the Council on Member States’ behalf. Neither was Council enlargement the Panel’s sole mandate. It had been a true crisis of the Council and of multilateralism that had led the Secretary-General to set up the Panel. No one would doubt that it had been the Council’s size that had been at the heart of that crisis. Therefore, he believed that the Panel’s conclusions must be that only comprehensive reform –- going far beyond membership enlargement –- could create a more effective and credible Security Council.
AMINU BASHIR WALI (Nigeria) said that while there was hardly any doubt that the report of the Security Council to the Assembly provided a comprehensive picture of the Council’s decisions, what was not clear was an assessment of the success or otherwise of those decisions. As it was now, he said, Member States could hardly properly evaluate the workings of the Council or its shortcomings on the basis of the report, with a view to recommending remedial action. There was a need, therefore, for more details by the circumstances that influenced the passing of resolutions and decisions by the Council.
Turning to the challenges faced by the Council, he said that Nigeria appreciated the role of the Council in the search for solutions to the crises in Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Sudan, and commended the support the Council had given the subregional and regional organizations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union. He also hoped that, despite the setbacks reflected in the violence and heavy death tolls on both sides of the Middle East crisis, the Council would continue to lend its weight to a permanent solution that recognized the existence of two States, living side by side.
Regarding the Council’s working methods, he appreciated recent positive trends, including regular consultations between the Council and regional and subregional organizations. Clearly, however, a lot more needed to be done to improve knowledge of the Council’s work methods and appreciate the basis of its decisions. As an example, he said that closed meetings of the Council and informal consultations should be reduced to a minimum, while more open meetings should also be conducted to demonstrate the transparency and accountability of the Council. He added that the Council should be expanded in the permanent and non-permanent categories to make it more representative, effective and acceptable.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said the Council’s agenda had become increasingly complex, as it dealt with post-conflict peace building, promotion of justice and the rule of law, national reconciliation and conflict prevention, among other issues. The agenda now consisted of more than 70 items; meetings were held everyday; and the monthly programme of work did not allow for enough in-depth analysis. There was also an increasing liberal reference to Chapter VII, which affected multilateral efforts.
Brazil was directly confronted with questions about today’s challenging agenda, he said. It seemed clear that, in many conflicts, action to restore peace must be combined with efforts to promote economic development. In the case of Guinea-Bissau, Brazil had sought to work with the Transitional Government for growth and prosperity to avoid another conflict. In Timor-Leste, Brazil had actively urged the Council to provide support for institutions, which would result in prosperity, and insure peace and security. It was necessary, he continued, that the Council interact with other United Nations organs. The General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council could do much to contribute to assessments, and to the challenges which confronted the Council. The Charter already provided for that institutional partnership.
He welcomed regular meetings between the three Presidents, and open sessions were highly useful to encourage wide opinions. In addition, briefings by the presidency for troop contributing nations added greater focus to those deliberations. All possibilities for reform should be explored and a decision taken without further delay. Regarding the Council’s composition, he was convinced that Africa should be represented in the permanent membership. He expressed thanks to States who supported a permanent seat for his country. It was necessary to adequately assess Member States’ expectations, in particular with regard to permanent and non permanent seats. Nearly all States supported expansion, and a new permanent seat for developing nations was necessary. Developing nations had become important actors and had taken on crucial roles in peace building. He concluded by saying better representation conferred greater legitimacy.
ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said that without disregarding the value of the current report as part of the Security Council’s institutional memory, Cuba still hoped for a text with higher analytical content, which portrayed the political and legal grounds of, at least, the most important decisions adopted by the Council. Such a report should reflect not only what had been done, but also what had not been attained and why, particularly in the cases in which the Council had failed to act or when it had visibly lacked unity. The annual report should also include detailed information on the discussions carried out at closed-door meetings, as long as changes in the current practice were not achieved. Member States had the legitimate right to expect appropriate accountability by the body, of limited composition, to which they had entrusted the prime peacekeeping and international security responsibilities and, which, under the Charter, acted on their behalf.
There would not be true reform of the United Nations, he continued, without reform of the Security Council, a body “where the principle of sovereign equality is institutionally and flagrantly violated on a daily basis”. The rule of international law could not be re-established, particularly that of the Charter, nor could there be democracy in the Organization as long as the Council exercised totalitarian powers, he said. The Council should also be broadened to include new permanent and non-permanent members, who should be entrusted the same prerogatives the current ones had. Two or three developing countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, two or three from Africa, and two or three from Asia should join as permanent members, and the number of non-permanent members, at least, should be increased if an agreement was not reached on other categories.
It was not only necessary to increase the number of open meetings of the Council, he said, but also to turn them into actual opportunities to properly take into account the opinions and contributions of States that were not members of the Council. He added that no logical reason could give grounds to the fact that the Council’s rules of procedure continued to be provisional, after so many years of being in force.
GIAN NICOLA FILIPPI BALESTRA (San Marino) said that while an increase in Security Council membership was necessary, it must be carefully evaluated, as there were enormous interests at stake. The lack of readiness of the international community to take a decision on that extremely sensitive matter underlined the danger of wrong reform, not suited to the international standards of democracy and equitability. He favoured increasing the number of non-permanent members, as that enlargement would assure better participation by all countries in the work of the Council, with greater equitable geographical representation through democratic elections in the General Assembly. Seventy-eight Member States had never served in the Security Council. For those countries, participation in the democratic election was the most important contribution they could bring to the work of the Council.
The extension of the privileges of permanent membership to other countries would mean creating additional injustice, discrimination and inequality, he said. San Marino also favoured gradually restricting the right of the veto, with a view to its eventual elimination. He believed that the majority agreed on the fact that the use of the veto should be limited under Chapter VII, and that it should be the object of further limitations such as suspension, abolition of single-veto, and abolition of its use against reforms. It was important that permanent members of the Council be able to cast a negative vote without resorting to the veto. It was also indispensable to introduce a concept of accountability on the veto.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said the United Nations was confronted with new threats, such as internal violence, infectious diseases, terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as conflicts it was originally intended to address. Reform of the Council had to be in line with the reality of international politics at the beginning of the twenty-first century because the Council was the organ with the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. In order for the Council to effectively address new threats and challenges, countries with the will and resources to play a major role in international peace and security must be allowed to do so. As such, the Council needed to be expanded both in its permanent and non-permanent membership, and new members from both developed and developing countries should be added. While Japan had a sufficient basis for becoming a permanent member of the Council, it also supported Brazil, Germany and India as legitimate candidates for permanent membership. Africa must also be represented in the permanent membership, he added.
It was incumbent on the General Assembly, he continued, to seriously discuss ways to adjust the Council to the ways of the world, particularly since next year marked the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. There was substantial impetus among Member States in support of expanding both categories of membership, and it was necessary to translate that sentiment into the realization of true reform. The frequency of open briefings and debates among non-Council members had increased, he said, which enhanced the transparency of discussion in the Council. It was essential for the Council to provide Member States with opportunities to listen and speak in the Council, especially with regard to those matters in which they had major stakes. Since decisions were generally binding on all Member States, it was vital that the views of those States were reflected in the decision-making process.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana) said it was now four years since world leaders at the Millennium Summit resolved to intensify efforts to achieve comprehensive reform of the Security Council. To date, that resolve was yet to be translated into definitive progress. While reform of the Council was arguably the most complex and difficult decision that the Organization had to face, without minimizing those complexities, it was a decision that could not be escaped. “The alternative is to maintain the status quo and risk the loss of what the Secretary-General has described as the great strength of the United Nations –- its legitimacy”, he said. Such a loss of legitimacy would be detrimental to the Organization and undermine its effectiveness. The risk of such a loss had grown with a Council that that remained essentially wedded to the past.
His country was steadfast in its view that the veto should be eliminated or at last seriously curtailed. Its limitation to matters under Chapter VII of the Charted would be a first step in that regard. He also called for expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories. His Government had decided to support the aspirations of Brazil, India and an African country to permanent membership. Their participation as developing countries in the work of the Council would help make that body more balanced, representative and more accountable to the Assembly for the maintenance of international peace and security. He also believed that, in an expansion of the category of permanent members, there should be no distinction with respect to rights and privileges between current and new permanent members. He also underlined that any agreement reached on reform of the Council should be subject to review in perhaps 10 to 15 years.
NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said he appreciated the Council’s attention to peacekeeping, conflict prevention and resolution, and hoped it would continue to focus on those issues. He urged the Council to enhance its cooperation with the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. Welcoming consultations with regional and subregional institutions, he said such partnerships, such as those with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), could go a long way to resolving conflicts in Africa. The leadership and membership of the Organization should remain committed to engagement. He called for more information to be provided in the report, in particular with regard to conflicts, but added that improvements had been made. He commended the Council for an improved, more readable format.
He stressed that open meetings should not be seen as “going through the motions”. There were overdue reforms to the Council, which needed to be resolved in a democratic manner. He was concerned that, after 10 years, much progress still needed to be made. Increasing the membership of the Council was necessary, with Africa gaining two permanent seats. He endorsed the proposal that a periodic review of the structure of the Council be implemented. He also welcomed improvements in the public meetings and the quality of consultations between troop-contributing nations, the Secretariat and the Council. Looking forward to the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, he restated the need to enhance credibility through reform and equitable representation.
FELIPE H. PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said that despite genuine efforts for several years on the part of the chairman of the working group on Council reform, negotiations thus far had proved fruitless. That was due mainly to the fact that the objective declared from the outset, to adjust the Council’s composition to the current political realities, had been losing clarity. A second objective had now emerged, he said, and that was that some countries wished to be given a bigger role and have more influence in the work of the Council and in its decisions. Member States had to be very careful with the means through which the two objectives were achieved, because sometimes one might interfere with the other. The simultaneous pursuit of those objectives had yielded a number of paradoxes and contradictions.
It was constantly being said that States wanted to make the Security Council more democratic, but some States were working toward the second objective, namely seeking to increase permanent members, which implied extending permanent membership to just some States and thereby extending the right to veto, which was most undemocratic. While Member States spoke of the urgency of increasing the number of Council members, they had refused to move ahead with one idea that would undoubtedly achieve that objective, and on which all agreed. That idea was to increase the number of non-permanent members. But despite a general agreement and the need to give the Council greater legitimacy, to make it more representative, it had been held hostage to other, infinitely more controversial ideas.
Uruguay, he added, was pleased that some new ideas had arisen lately, which allowed for hope that an agreement on Council reform might finally be achieved. His country was ready to consider proposals not only to increase the democratic representation of the Council, but also satisfy the aspiration of those States willing to undertake greater responsibilities by increasing their presence and participation in the Council. That was provided that the democratic nature of the Council and the principle of sovereign equality of all Member States were not affected. The selection of the new members, he added, should take place within the context of their respective regions.
ENRIQUE BERRUGA (Mexico) said the importance of the responsibility conferred to an organ of a limited composition, such as the Security Council, had to be sufficient reason for the existence of an effective accountability system. Otherwise an impression would be given that Council members did not need the collaboration and cooperation of the rest of the membership. He supported a regionally equitable and balanced expansion of elected seats, with full respect to the competences of the regional groups and a guarantee of equal opportunities for all. In that context, he favoured proposals to increase the number of elected seats with longer mandates and with the possibility of an immediate re-election. That would positively strengthen the accountability which he considered indispensable in the work of the Council. Such a proposal would also require modifying article 23 of the Charter.
Security Council reform was a necessary component of a larger process: the reform of the United Nations, he noted. An effective collective security system included the strengthening of multilateralism and of the United Nations. Council reform did not have to be centred exclusively on increasing the number of its members. That issue, important as it was, did not address the greater challenges and dilemmas that the Organization faced. It was obvious that the debate of the Working Group on Council reform had reached a point of saturation, and he believed that a new methodology needed to be designed in order to continue the debate.
ALI HACHANI (Tunisia) said the report of the Security Council still seemed like a compilation of resolutions and decisions, as well as other factual inputs. And even though there had been a number of public meetings, much still had to be done to make the Council’s work more transparent. The Council had not lived up to expectations on the Middle East, while the selective use of Chapter VII was a matter of concern. The crucial importance of reform had been reiterated since 1993. His country was well aware of the delicate and complex nature of the process, but there must be a comprehensive reform of that body, as soon as possible. The United Nations was still the source of international legality and given that, the Council must immediately win back the trust of States and public opinion. It must also become more representative of the international community, as well as geo-political realities. While there had been a variety of proposals offered, an acceptable formula had not yet been drafted.
It was recognized that some progress had been made and some elements were even widely supported by Member States, he said. But although those elements were there, and ideas and proposals were not lacking, what was missing was the political will to carry the process forward. He believed the goal was to make the Council more democratic and fair. That could not be done unless there was an expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories. His country resolutely supported Africa‘s unchanged position in the Harare Declaration of June 1997 –- the number of council members should be increased to 26 with Africa having five non-permanent seats, as well as two permanent ones. Those rotating non-permanent seats would be decided by the African Union. Africa would prove able to reach agreement on the allocation of seats and would do so without undue haste. Also, the new permanent members must have the same powers as the current ones. In addition, the veto should be limited under Chapter VII of the Charter.
E. AHAMED (India) said the Security Council’s decisions reflected increasingly appropriated legislative and treaty-making powers. Resolutions 1373 and 1540 were exceptions, and such actions should remain so and not develop into norms. The Council could only succeed in the implementation of its actions when its decisions were taken through due process of consultations with the wider membership. India had spoken against the distinct lack of transparency in scheduling open and public meetings of the Council. With the exception of unforeseen developments, the Council had little reason not to disclose its full intentions for public and open events at the start of every month. He once again called attention to the increasing resort to thematic debates in the Council on issues that fell within the purview of the Assembly or the ECOSOC. The true effectiveness of the Security Council, and respect for its decisions, could only be forthcoming if the Council was adjudged by the larger membership. A look at the Council’s agenda revealed that a majority of issues under consideration pertained to the developing world, yet developing nations accounted for less than half of the Council’s membership during the best of times.
As currently configured, the Security Council was not representative of contemporary realities, he said. There had been a four-fold increase in the membership of the Organization since its inception in 1945, including an increase in the number of developing nations. With regard to the Council’s permanent membership, he said that without the inclusion of developing nations in the Council, all other reform elements aimed at restoring authority would be unavailing. That the vast majority of the general membership found no place as permanent members, and was inadequately represented in the non-permanent category, was an anomaly needing to be rectified. He called for an expansion of the Council in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, and the inclusion of both developing and developed nations as new permanent members. Any attempt to limit expansion to the category of non-permanent members alone would not introduce the required representation in the Council’s composition. For its part, India was ready to undertake its responsibility as a global player in an expanded Council.
PAK GIL YON (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) stressed the importance of the Security Council seeking measures that would eliminate unilateralism, if it were to fulfil its Charter mandate of maintaining international peace and security. Unilateralism was a dangerous doctrine pursued by “the super Power” and it trampled down the most universal interests of the international community. That super Power sought to establish a polar world order that would subordinate all countries to its own interests.
He urged the Council to observe impartiality in all its activities, and not become an organ that resorted to sanctions and the use of force. The overwhelming majority of Member States were disheartened because the prospect of Council reform remained gloomy. That reality required each MemberState to put aside its interests and give priority to the common goal of Council reform. He hoped the current General Assembly session would take the steps necessary to make substantial progress in that area. Given the present prospects for reaching agreement on the enlargement of the permanent membership, a realistic approach was to increase, for the time being, the non-permanent membership.
That would help correct the current imbalance in the Council’s composition and give equal opportunity to all Member States to participate in its activities. Further, priority should be given to ensuring the full representation of developing countries, who constituted the majority of the United Nations membership, in the expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent categories.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said that the Assembly’s consideration of the report of the Security Council reaffirmed the vital role it played in all issues under the Charter, and was also an opportunity for Member States to express their views on the work of the Council in maintaining international peace and security. Given the importance of regaining stability in conflict areas around the world, African issues had perhaps taken up much of the Council’s time. It was necessary to hold public meetings of the Council in order to achieve more credibility for its work and to give an opportunity for Member States to express their views. He said the Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territories were a manifestation of the Council’s inability, at times, to maintain international peace and security and to put an end to Israeli policies, due to the impunity Israel enjoyed within the Council.
The deviation by the Council from principles of objectivity and its resort to double standards might undermine the role and international legitimacy that was aspired to. The Council, he said, also failed to adopt important resolutions due to the unnecessary use of the veto power. It was even more worrying that the Council tended to play a role in legislation in a manner that contradicted its responsibilities. The reform of the Council and the expansion of its membership should be part of a comprehensive, integrated project that took geographical representation into account. Syria believed that both permanent and non-permanent members should be expanded, taking into account the issue of equitable representation of countries. He reiterated the importance of allocating a permanent seat to the Arab Group in any future reform in addition to two non-permanent seats.
YERZHAN KH. KAZYKHANOV (Kazakhstan) commended the Security Council for maintaining a busy agenda regarding Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as on other important issues. Noting that the Iraq file stayed in the Council’s focus during the year, he praised its efforts in assisting the Iraqis in rebuilding their country and creating a stable and secure environment. Describing the 9 October elections in Afghanistan as another landmark on the way to democracy and stability in that country, he believed that the success of the political process depended on the United Nations preserving its coordinating role in the country.
He endorsed the Council’s continuing efforts to address ongoing conflicts, and believed the Organization’s peacekeeping operations constituted one of the main elements of the maintenance of international peace and security. Those operations were key instruments available to the Security Council in the settlement of conflicts and disputes. Also, he took positive note of the fact that the Council had shifted its debate from the issues of peace and security to a much broader context of security, attaching special importance to the questions of human rights, rule of law, role of regional organizations, and HIV/AIDS.
KLÁRA NOVOTNÁ (Slovakia), expressing her country’s support for the expansion of the Security Council to the maximum number of 25, said it was clear that the Council needed to be made more democratic, consistent, effective and open. It had to function less as a geo-political instrument of major powers and more as a transparent and legitimate organ accountable to the wider membership of the United Nations. She believed there was near-universal agreement that the Council had to be enlarged to be able to become more diverse and more representative of different regions and countries of different size. Such an increase in membership would enhance its capacity to be a credible source of international peace, security and justice. That would consequently lead to more active support for its decisions, as well as greater participation in the operations arising from its decisions. Ultimately, it would encourage responsible leadership from countries in the world’s more volatile regions.
She believed that the Council needed to be enlarged in both permanent and non-permanent categories. Such a move would ensure the Council’s dynamic adaptation to the evolving international realities that had occurred since the drawing up of the Charter in 1945. The present membership structure was, in her view, clearly unbalanced and did not truly reflect the wider membership. With four-fifths of mankind living in developing countries, but having only one vote among the permanent members, it seemed only appropriate that the enlargement in the permanent category include countries of the South. Only expansion could rectify the existing imbalance in the Council’s composition. She concluded by imploring Member States not to relent in their efforts to achieve meaningful reform of the Security Council, despite the obstacles to be overcome.
KHUNNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) said the number of consultative sessions on Council reform was not as important as the progress that had been made. Her delegation welcomed the move away from the consideration of two clusters to deliberation of five pertinent topics: the size of the enlarged Council; regional representation; criteria for membership; the relationship between the Assembly and the Council; and accountability. The current world situation did warrant enlargement of the Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories. Expansion of the Council, however, should take into account issues of manageability and efficiency. While the 191 Members States needed more representation in the Council, that representation needed to be geographically equitably and include both developed and developing countries. New Council members must also fulfil certain established criteria before membership was granted –- such as the country’s ability and commitment to discharge its responsibilities in the safeguard of international peace and security.
She said that given the primary role of the Council was to safeguard global peace and security, the ability to perform that function to any degree could become essential factors. In the current era of United Nations reform, the Council must connect more significantly with the Organization. There must be greater interaction, coordination and coherence among the Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. Regular meetings with the Presidents of those organs could provide a good starting point. Moreover, such meetings should also provide opportunities to address, in a more unified manner, a wider range of issues such as post-conflict peace building, as well as reconstruction and development. The latter was the best means for conflict prevention and was thus inextricably linked to the issues of world peace and security. Noting that more than 200 decisions, since the inception of the Council, had been vetoed, and mostly by a single vote of a permanent member, she said such a practice should be reconsidered in light of the expansion of Council membership. In that context, a new approach to enhance the credibility and legitimacy of veto use might have to be introduced.
JOHAN VERBEKE (Belgium) said that while the report was a useful instrument, efforts were needed to make it more analytical. The increasing role of the Security Council in new areas, and its legislative trend, were all developments that raised the need for interaction of the Council with the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. He said the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change would address that issue. Turning to reform issues, he said that, for a number of years, the composition of the Council had no longer corresponded to geo-political realities, and the legitimacy of the Council was at stake. The Working Group was in a deadlock. Belgium was in favour of balanced reform, which would reinforce representation and, therefore, legitimacy without compromising the Council’s effectiveness.
His delegation had offered proposals on expanding membership in both permanent and non-permanent categories, and on limiting the exercise of the right of veto. Belgium was in favour of enlarging the Council with regard for regional balance. It was necessary, he continued, to consider representation of the European Union. Because geo-political realities were in constant flux, it was appropriate to provide for a review of the Council every 10 or 15 years.
TAWFEEQ AHMED ALMANSOOR (Bahrain) welcomed the report of the Council to the Assembly, which provided an overall picture of the work done in discharging its mandate for the preservation of peace. It was also an opportunity for Member States to review the work of the Council and present observations on that matter. Although the report was comprehensive, it should focus more on analysis. Since it contained documents and resolutions that had been issued and that Member States had already seen what Member States were looking for was an evaluation of the Council, and a discussion of the impediments it had encountered, as well as proposals on how it could enhance its work. The report also seemed to come out late every year, just a few days before the General Assembly opened, and that created difficulties for Member States, as they had only just a short time to study it.
All Member States must be kept informed of the activities of the Council, he continued, which acted on behalf of members and whose work affected member interests. He also stressed the importance of the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly, which was governed by provisions in the Charter. The Security Council must have greater transparency in its work, while the General Assembly must be more efficient and active to tackle issues in a new spirit so as to restore the balance between the two organs. The question of Council reform was fundamental. There was a need for equitable representation in the Council, so as to take into account the interest of all Member States. Bahrain welcomed the improvement in the working methods of the Council, including the increased transparency in its work and the larger number of public meetings and briefings. That should prompt Member States to make further efforts. The cooperation of all was needed to ensure that the Council represented the interests of all Member States; so that all States requesting its assistance could have recourse to it; and so that it was a defender of law and represented justice.
ROMAN KIRN (Slovenia) said that the Council’s wide-ranging workload over the past year was a stark reminder of the need to adapt its permanent and non-permanent membership, as well as its methods of work –- including the right of veto –- to cope efficiently with modern geopolitical realties. Any increase in the Council’s non-permanent membership should include the allocation of a seat to the Eastern European region, alongside those that would be allocate for African, Asian and Latin American and CaribbeanStates. He said that despite the innovative attempts to foster some progress in the negotiations on the matter in the open-ended Working Group on Equitable Representation on the Council, another decade could not be lost debating the same points.
Slovenia therefore looked forward to the upcoming report of the High-Level Panel, which should provide recommendations that would enable the wider Organization, including the Security Council, better able to address today’s threats and challenges. While he expected the question of Security Council reform to be among the Panel’s recommendations, he hoped that it would not overshadow other issues that would make the United Nations better able to respond to crisis situations. He added that greater opportunities should be given for the wider United Nations membership to participate in the Council’s deliberations, particularly when they yielded “semi-legislative” decisions under Chapter VII of the Charter, effectively binding all Member States.
GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria) said that an adequate flow of information to non-members was a necessary prerequisite to understand and assess how the Security Council was dealing with political issues. The increase in public meetings underlined the willingness of the Council to take into account the views of Member States and to use it as a basis for the Council’s decision-making process. The experience of peacekeeping operations had clearly underlined that the Council could only act successfully if it was engaged in a substantial dialogue with Member States. The cooperation between the Council and the troop-contributing countries at an early stage was essential when considering mandates of new peacekeeping missions.
He was concerned about the growing gap between the Security Council’s current composition, on the one hand, and the changing political, economic and social reality of the community of nations, on the other. It was essential to enlarge and balance the membership of the Security Council, as well as increase its transparency. For all peoples to identify with its decisions, it must be ensured that the Council was a body that truly reflected the diversity of the world’s cultures and regions. The majority of delegations had advocated, during the general debate, a reform of the Security Council. Although the specific positions still diverged significantly, there seemed to be a gathering momentum for substantive reform.
ALFRED CAPELLE (Marshall Islands) called for urgent reform of the working methods and membership of the Security Council. In order for that organ’s decisions to garner the respect and support of the international community, its working methods must be made more transparent and inclusive, and its membership more representative.
Reaffirming his country’s support for the expansion of the Council in both categories of membership, he was also supportive of the idea of allocating a new permanent seat to Japan. Similarly, he urged that increasing the representation of developing countries on that body be made a priority. Those reforms were crucial if the Council was to retain its legitimacy in light of the political, economic and geographic realities of today’s world.
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