‘OUT OF DATE AND OUT OF TOUCH’, SECURITY COUNCIL REQUIRES URGENT REFORM, ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT SAYS, URGING DELEGATIONS TO MOVE SWIFTLY TO END IMPASSE
‘OUT OF DATE AND OUT OF TOUCH’, SECURITY COUNCIL REQUIRES URGENT REFORM, ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT SAYS, URGING DELEGATIONS TO MOVE SWIFTLY TO END IMPASSE
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
53rd & 54th Meetings (AM & PM)
‘OUT OF DATE AND OUT OF TOUCH’, SECURITY COUNCIL REQUIRES URGENT REFORM,
ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT SAYS, URGING DELEGATIONS TO MOVE SWIFTLY TO END IMPASSE
35 Speakers Weigh In on Making Security Council More Representative;
Assembly also Approves Arrangements for Doha Development Financing Conference
“Peace and security cannot be maintained by a Security Council that is out of date and out of touch,” General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto of Nicaragua declared in a statement opening today the Assembly’s annual debate on reform of the Council, a topic whose resolution has been hamstrung for nearly 15 years by entrenched differences over the best way forward.
In remarks delivered by Assembly Vice-President Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan, Mr. d’Escoto urged delegations to step up their efforts to “rebuild the horseshoe table [into] a circle-shaped one, with room for extra seats”, referring to the renowned design of the Council’s working Chamber. With intergovernmental negotiations on expansion of and equitable representation in the Security Council slated to begin early next year, he promised that his efforts would be fuelled by ambition to not waste time, and to finish ahead of schedule. In ensuring an efficient process, he would engage all past efforts in the upcoming negotiations, which sought to iron out wrinkles among various Security Council reform proposals.
Presenting the Security Council’s annual report, Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica, which currently holds the Council’s rotating Presidency, said the report provided insight into how the 15-member body had addressed a wide array of issues. During the past year, the Council had adopted 58 resolutions and 50 presidential statements. It had also held 219 formal meetings, of which 191 were public, 18 meetings with troop contributing countries and 177 consultations of the whole.
From developments in Africa and Asia, to Europe and the Middle East, the report detailed regular briefings by Secretariat officials, interventions by countries or concerned parties, and communications with troop contributing countries, among other issues. General topics taken up by the Council such as terrorism and protection of civilians in armed conflict were also covered. Finally, the report provided a detailed account of meetings, the outcomes of those meetings and the documentation which provided the basis for them.
However, true consideration of the report required a critical approach to the Council, and observation of both its mandate and relationship to the Assembly, he said, speaking in his national capacity. He acknowledged that the report did not “lift the veil” that cast a shadow over the Council’s work, and noted that it should also analyze achievements and failures. It also said little on Charter Articles 31 and 32, which outlined participation of non-members in the body.
During an all-day session that heard more 35 speakers take the floor, the representative of Mauritius, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the African common position, as detailed in the “Ezulwini Consensus”, called for not less than two permanent seats on the Security Council with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto, and also five non-permanent seats, respectively.
He said the African position sought to ensure that the continent was fully represented in all decision-making organs of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council. Even though Africa was opposed to the veto, it believed that mechanism should be made available to all new permanent members as long as it existed. Further, the African Union should be responsible for selecting Africa’s representatives and determining the criteria for selection.
As a member of the “Group of Four” (G-4), the representative of Germany pointed to the G-4 proposal as a successful approach to guarantee the substance of reform efforts. He reminded delegates that the goals for reform were “a more legitimate Council […] not just a larger Council”. Member States should strive for a body that was more transparent, effective and reflective of today’s political realities.
He also observed frankly that the potential of the Open-Ended Working Group, created to achieve tangible results, had been exhausted in its 15-year tenure, and he did not see the value in a timetable for intensive discussions in the Working Group, as proposed by Mexico and other members of “Uniting for Consensus”.
As one of the five main members of the “Uniting for Consensus” group, the representative of Pakistan said the approach that truly reflected new realities was one of regional representation. While Africa was united in its position, the G-4 had created “serious rifts” in Asian, the Western European and Others Group, and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries. The African model of regional representation, if applied to all other regions, could garner reciprocal support and thus promote feasible compromise.
Further, ground rules for transparent intergovernmental negotiations were needed, which was why Uniting for Consensus had proposed that the Working Group address the preparatory framework. Through the negotiations, Pakistan would advocate a reform model that included seat allocation which corresponded to the interests of small and medium States; accommodation of positions of all States and Groups, particularly Africa; and consensus-building within and between regions, among other issues.
For their part, the “Small Five States” (S-5) had constructively engaged with the Council, Liechtenstein’s representative said, pointing to the Council’s “landmark” open debate on its working methods in August 2008, as suggested by his Group. On the issue of sanctions, his delegation had proposed the creation of an expert panel to review decisions on the listing and delisting of persons in the framework of the Al Qaida/Taliban sanctions regime.
The Council had adopted resolution 1822 (2008), which renewed and updated its Al Qaida/Taliban sanctions region, without taking into account those ideas, and had held no consultation with the proponents of a review panel, he said. Liechtenstein would continue to work towards improving the current sanctions regime, and also hoped for inclusive discussions on other issues where non-members were affected, such as the International Criminal Court.
The representative of the United Kingdom -- one of the five permanent Council members along with China, France, Russian Federation and United States -- said his Government continued to support reform that would lead to a body more representative of today’s global realities, but no less effective or capable of taking tough decisions to tackle threats to international peace and security. To that end, the United Kingdom was fully committed to intergovernmental negotiations and would engage in them constructively with the aim of securing a model of reform capable of garnering the widest possible support.
However, an intermediate solution should be considered if that proved to be a rallying point for the membership’s greater majority. The global financial crisis had thrown the need for reforming the international architecture into stark relief, underlining the need to take a fresh look at the effectiveness of the Bretton Woods institutions.
In other action, the Assembly adopted five decisions recommended to it by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) in its report on the follow-up to, and implementation of, the outcome of the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development and the preparation of the 2008 Review Conference” (document A/63/413).
It also adopted a resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (document A/63/L.26), which underscored the important role of world parliaments in the work of the United Nations. Namibia’s representative, who introduced the text, said it was important to engage more closely with national parliaments and parliamentarians, as that would provide better understanding of translating international commitments into national legislations and policies.
The representatives of Nigeria, Barbados (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Cuba (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), France, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Japan, United States, Bahrain, Russian Federation, Italy, Switzerland, Tunisia, Bahamas, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Canada, China, India, Brazil, Kuwait, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Iran and Mexico.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of Morocco.
The General Assembly will reconvene Wednesday, 19 November, at 10 a.m. to continue its joint debate on Security Council reform.
The General Assembly met today for its annual joint debate on the question of the equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters. It also plans to consider the report of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) on the follow-up to and implementation of the outcome of the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development and the preparation of the 2008 Review Conference.
For its debate, the Assembly has before it the Report of the Security Council (document A/63/2), which covers the 1 August 2007 to 31 July 2008 period, and details activities relating to all questions considered by the Council under its responsibility of international peace and security; questions considered by the Council under that same responsibility; and other matters considered by the Council. In addition, that report contains an update on the work of the Military Staff Committee, matters brought to the Council’s attention but not discussed at Council meetings, and work of the Council subsidiary bodies.
Also before the Assembly is the report of the Open-ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters related to the Security Council (document A/62/47), which contains proceedings of the Working Group during the sixty-second session.
The report was adopted by the Working Group on 15 September 2008, and recommends the adoption of a draft decision, by which the Assembly would decide to continue to immediately address, within the Group, the framework and modalities to prepare and facilitate intergovernmental negotiations on the question of equitable representation. The Chair of the Working Group would present the results of such consultations to an informal plenary session no later than 31 December. It would also decide to begin intergovernmental talks in an informal plenary no later than 31 January 2009, in good faith, with mutual respect and in a transparent manner.
Since its last session in April, the four Vice-Chairpersons of the task force designated by the Assembly President reached out to all Member States, through their regional groups, major interest groups or individually, and listened to their recommendations on how to move forward in the process of Security Council reform. According to the report, many reaffirmed their original positions, while some had evolved or refined their stands, including through public statements at the highest political levels. All expressed their dispositions to enter into intergovernmental negotiations, with some expressing that their preferred positions could lead to compromise options.
In the present state of play, however, the report notes that after intense rounds of consultations, the task force concluded that none of the written contributions offered thus far has gathered sufficient support as a basis for launching intergovernmental talks. Positions among major interest groups have not moved significantly, despite stated expressions of disposition to act with flexibility, and a general recognition that Council reform would require compromise.
The report contains a summary of original positions presented by regional groups and major interest groups, the first of which is outlined for the African Group (document A/60/41). It proposes granting Africa two permanent seats, including the right to veto, and five non-permanent seats, thus increasing membership from 15 to 26, with the 11 additional seats distributed as follows: two permanent seats and two non-permanent seats for African States; two permanent seats and one non-permanent seat for Asian States; one non-permanent seat for Eastern European States; one permanent seat and one non-permanent seat for Latin American and Caribbean States; and one permanent seat for Western European and Other States.
The “Group of Four” (G-4) -- Brazil, Germany, India and Japan -- proposed (document A/59/L.64) that the Council’s membership be increased from 15 to 25 by adding six permanent and four non-permanent seats. The six new permanent members would be elected as follows: two from African States; two from Asian States; one from Latin American and Caribbean States; and one from Western European and Other States. The four new non-permanent members would be elected as follows: one from African States; one from Asian States; one from Eastern European States; one from Latin American and Caribbean States. New permanent members would not exercise the right of veto until the question of extending that right to them had been decided.
A proposal put forward by “Uniting for Consensus” (document A/59/L.68) would expand Council membership to 25, including the five permanent members. The 20 non-permanent members would be elected as follows: six from African States; five from Asian States; four from Latin American and Caribbean States; three from Western European and Other States; two from Eastern European States. Each of the five groups would decide on arrangements among its members for immediate re-election or rotation of its members on the allotted seats.
The “Small Five States” (S-5) proposal (document A/60/L.49) suggests measures for the Council to enhance its accountability, transparency and inclusiveness, notably through more substantive exchange of views among the Council, the General Assembly, and the Economic and Social Council.
The S-5 believe the Council should explore ways to assess the extent to which its decisions have been implemented, while its subsidiary bodies should include, on a case-by-case basis, non-members with relevant expertise. Permanent members using veto should explain reasons for doing so, and the Council should ensure all States are fully informed of developments regarding its missions. Finally, the Secretariat should disseminate a briefing packet on the Council’s procedures, practices and work.
Under the transitional approach, an intermediary arrangement would be assumed, and should have, as an integral component, a mandatory review to take place at a predetermined date. Without prejudice to the prospect of creating new permanent seats, States could explore the creation of non-permanent seats and an intermediate category. They might consider extended seats to be allocated for the full duration of the intermediary arrangement; extended seats for a period longer than the regular two-year term, but with possible re-election; extended seats for a period longer than the regular two-year term, without possible re-election; and non-permanent two-year seats with the possibility of immediate re-election.
The report concludes that “Security Council reform is at a crossroads”, and that, to move forward, compromise is needed. A “big bang” all-encompassing solution would not be possible, and only a realistic approach allowing agreement on what is achievable in the near term is the way to move forward.
The Assembly also has before it the report of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) on the follow-up to and implementation of the outcome of the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development and the preparation of the 2008 Review Conference (document A/63/413), which contains five draft decisions, including: arrangements and organization of work of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus; and provisional rules of procedure for the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus.
A draft decision on the provisional agenda for the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus calls for the inclusion of six round table discussions on: mobilizing domestic financial resources for development; mobilizing international resources for development; international trade as an engine for development; increasing international financial and technical cooperation for development; external debt; and addressing systemic issues.
Draft decisions IV and V cover accreditation of intergovernmental organizations to the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus; and accreditation of non-governmental organizations to the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, which lists 46 organizations.
Action and Introduction of Draft Decisions and Resolutions
The Assembly began its work today by adopting without vote five draft decisions contained in the report of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial), on the follow-up to and implementation of the outcome of the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development and the preparation of the 2008 Review conference (document A/63/413).
By draft decision I on “arrangement and organization of work of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus ( Doha, 29 November-2 December 2008)”, the Assembly decided that the arrangements of work of the Doha Conference will be as set out in the note by the Secretary-General (document A/63/345).
By draft decision II on the “provisional rules of procedure for the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus”, the Assembly decided to recommend for adoption by the Doha Conference the provisional rules of procedure for the meeting, as contained in the annex to the present decision.
By draft decision III on the “provisional agenda for the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus”, the Assembly decided to recommend for adoption by the Conference, the provisional agenda set out in the annex to the present decision.
Approving draft decision IV on “accreditation of intergovernmental organizations to the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus”, they decided to accredit the following organizations to participate in the work of that Conference: Global Digital Solidarity Fund; The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and UNITAID, an international drug purchase agency.
By draft decision V on “accreditation of non-governmental organizations to the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus”, the Assembly decided to accredit 46 non-governmental organizations to participate in the work of the Conference. The list is annexed to the present resolution.
Introducing the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (document A/63/L.26), KAIRE M. MBUENDE ( Namibia) said the text highlighted the important role of world Parliaments in international affairs and the work of the United Nations. Special attention had been given to cooperation between the Organization and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) for promoting peace and security, conflict prevention, gender and human rights, good governance, and social and economic development.
To bridge the implementation gap of various United Nations decisions and resolutions, and to ensure greater democratization of the United Nations system, it was important to engage more closely with national Parliaments and parliamentarians, as that would provide better understanding on the importance of translating international commitments into national legislations and policies. Appealing to States that had not co-sponsored the resolution to do so, he hoped the resolution would be adopted by consensus.
The Assembly then adopted by consensus the draft resolution.
Speaking after action, the representative of Pakistan wished to see an addition to operative paragraph 4, explaining that, after the word “governance” in line four, the words “capacity-building and development” should be added.
The General Assembly then concluded its consideration of the agenda item.
Introductory Remarks of General Assembly President
Assembly Vice-President ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan), speaking on behalf of Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, observed that the reasons for the historic renovation of the United Nations building -- among them faulty ventilation, leaky roofs and asbestos -- were metaphors for a needed renovation of its institutions, in particular the Security Council. The “early reform of the Security Council”, called for at the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit, was essential to the overall reform of the United Nations. Although the Summit outcome did not define “early”, it was clear that convening another World Summit without substantial action to that end was not acceptable.
He urged the Assembly to move swiftly in its efforts to “rebuild the horseshoe table [into] a circle-shaped one with room for extra seats,” and he lauded the intergovernmental negotiations during the sixty-third session, and the hard work of Ambassador Tanin, in his capacity as Vice-Chair of the Open-ended Working Group and Chair of the upcoming intergovernmental negotiations.
“Peace and security cannot be maintained by a Security Council that is out of date and out of touch,” he continued. With plans to present to the Working Group a work plan, he promised the Assembly that his efforts would be fuelled by ambition to not waste time, and to finish ahead of schedule. In ensuring an efficient process, he would utilize, incorporate and engage all the past efforts in the intergovernmental negotiations. The factual report of the Council’s work, including its 219 formal meetings, 58 resolutions and 50 Presidential statements, had shown its efforts to fulfil its mandate to maintain international peace and security.
However, he pointed out that [former Assembly President] Srgjan Kerim’s own assessment was that the report might be viewed as needing to be more analytical and substantive. He stated that, if indeed the report lacked evaluation and analysis, then “the Assembly should make its own.” “A General Assembly that truly engages the Council at the same time engages in self-renewal,” he said in conclusion.
The renaissance of the General Assembly was as important as the reform of the Security Council, and the rebuilding of the United Nations was not just the rebuilding of its roofs and walls and offices, but a rebuilding of its institutions and its work. It was “the difference between an open-heart operation and a facelift”. In going forward into true reform, renovation and rebuilding, the United Nations would become “a world body with a new lease on life”.
Introduction of Report
Introducing the Security Council report (document A/63/2), JORGE URBINA (Costa Rica) said the multidimensional character of the international situation had created increased demand for United Nations conflict prevention, mediation and resolution. Against that backdrop, the Council faced increasingly complex responsibilities in shouldering its mandate. To better reflect the Council’s increased involvement in such circumstances, the quality of its annual report should be further consolidated in all related aspects.
He was particularly honoured that the Council was paying special attention to States’ requests regarding its working methods. “There is always room to improve on this matter,” he said, noting also that, as the act of agreeing might be easier to explain than the road towards that agreement, it would be wise to consider how much more analysis could be expected from a Council report.
With that, he said the report provided insight into how the Council addressed a wide array of issues during the 1 August 2007 to 31 July 2008 period. During that time, the Council had adopted 58 resolutions and 50 Presidential statements; held 219 formal meetings, of which 191 were public, and 18 meetings with troop-contributing countries. It had also held 177 consultations of the whole.
Regarding developments in conflicts in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Balkans, the introduction detailed regular briefings by the Secretariat, interventions by countries or parties concerned, and communications with troop-contributing countries, among other issues. General issues, such as terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, protection of civilians in armed conflict, and children and armed conflict, were also covered. He said the body of report included a detailed account of meetings held, the outcomes of those meetings, and the documentation which provided the basis for them. It also stressed issues brought to the Council’s attention but were not discussed.
Speaking next in his national capacity, he said the presentation of the Council report should not be “a mere exercise of rhetoric; neither should it become a mere statement of facts”. A true consideration required a critical approach to the Council, observation of its mandate and its relationship to the Assembly. Despite efforts made and a desire to include, in the report’s introduction, circumstances in which the Council had been unable to act, he agreed with the assessment that the report must be improved. He urged following Viet Nam’s practice of having consultations on the report, as its presidency had come to an end. He urged continuing that improvement.
Acknowledging that the report was limited to some extent, descriptive in nature and did not “lift the veil” that cast a shadow over the Council’s work, he said it should analyse the Council’s achievements and failures. He reiterated that attention be given to its core mandate.
Turning next to the United Nations Charter, he said Article 26 had, over the years, become “a dead letter”, and the Council must look to situations that constituted a threat to peace. Silence had been kept, regarding exercising powers called for under that Article, which constituted an abandonment of duty. The report made no reference to the lack of will, or inability of the Council, to fulfil a mandate that was still not being observed, per Article 26. Further, Article 25 had not been observed by various States, and it appeared that, in certain cases, that article, whereby all States agreed to implement Council decisions, was being undermined. That was worrying, and such matters should be thoroughly analysed in the report.
Another remit in the Charter pertained to the presentation of special reports, pursuant to Articles 15 and 24, he said. Those articles had “fallen into disuse”. The Council had been unable to present reports on matters on its agenda, notably on the imposition of sanctions, adoption of measures of implementation pursuant to Chapter VII, where there was a threat of veto. In such cases, it would be appropriate to present a special report, he added. Situations in Kosovo, Zimbabwe, and the Oil-for-Food Programme would have merited submission of reports to the General Assembly.
Costa Rica sought the correct implementation of parameters established for States’ participation, he said. It was appropriate to adhere to the interests of those most affected. The report said little on Articles 31 and 32, but he congratulated Belgium for providing information. Closed meetings had fallen to 44 per cent in 2006. That figure had increased slightly in 2007, and then declined to 41.4 in the first six months of 2008. While not all consultations could be held in public, private consultations should be the exception to the rule. To make the Council’s work programme public, he thanked States for their support and trusted that publicity would mean that subsequent Presidents would continue practice.
Turning to Iraq, he said the Oil-for-Food Programme had not been reflected in the report. Considering the credits for pay, the established rules should be followed. “We are not willing to repeat the mistakes of the past,” and Costa Rica had interrupted the “silence procedure”, whereby an attempt was made to implement the Programme without the required documents. Many undertakings were expressly questioned, and given such doubts, Costa Rica, in August, distributed a note requesting the Council to coordinate with the Secretary-General to ensure the Programme ended with all due prudence. It had sent a second note requesting information on companies and people with outstanding invoices, and was awaiting a reply. In closing, he reiterated that Costa Rica was at the Assembly’s disposal to provide information on the Council’s work.
BAGUDU MUTLE HIRSE, Honourable Minister of State ( Nigeria), said reform of the United Nations would not be complete without the fundamental reform, and increase in size and composition, of the Security Council to reflect current global realities. While respecting the viewpoints of Member States who insisted on consensus before deciding on the framework and modalities of reform, the search for consensus should not inhibit making crucial decisions, he said.
A speedy and successful conclusion to the reform process could entail flexibility, but flexibility that was informed by a shared view that Council reform was long overdue. Reform would help rekindle confidence in the United Nations and prove wrong the critics who argued Members States were not ready for the challenges of multilateralism. “Let us send forth from this hallowed hall, a clear message of our common resolve not to let slip yet another opportunity to address this matter once and for all,” he said.
Nigeria restated that the past approach of “tinkering” with the Council’s working methods would not address the fundamental issue of inequity that the Council, as now constituted, represented. Nigeria strongly believed that Africa’s legitimate aspirations should be addressed, as it was the only region without representation in the permanent membership category of the Council, even though 60 per cent of the issues addressed by the council are on the continent. The Council’s permanent membership should reflect cultural and geographical diversity.
Nigeria was encouraged by the unanimous adoption of decision 62/557 of 15 September 2008, in which the Assembly mandated that intergovernmental negotiations should start at the informal plenary of the Assembly, no later than 28 February 2009. He believed that the decisions should be democratic in nature, respecting consensus as an ideal and, if necessary, a majority decision.
CHRISTOPHER HACKETT (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), urged reform of the Security Council, saying that sixty years after the founding of the United Nations, the composition of the Council no longer reflected political realities. Despite a nearly four-fold increase in the Organization’s membership, the size and composition of the Council had remained almost unchanged since its creation in 1948, except for an increase in non-permanent members in 1965.
In that regard, he reiterated CARICOM Member States’ belief that a reformed Security Council needed an increase in membership, in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, and further believed that additional permanent members should come from both the developed and developing worlds. Further, the arrangements for that increase must allow for greater representation from small island States. He said the use of the veto had to be limited to actions taken under Chapter VII of the Charter, with a move towards its eventual abolition. A review mechanism, after a reasonable period, would also be essential.
Comprehensive reform of the Council should fundamentally include reform of the working methods of that body, he continued. Thus, CARICOM saw the need for greater transparency and openness in the working methods of the Council. Specifically, he suggested more frequent open debates to allow for greater inclusiveness and participation of non-member States, which would provide national and regional perspectives that could assist the Council in effectively addressing the crises and issues before it.
“We also believe that more comprehensive Council briefings to non-members should be held in order to keep all delegations fully informed of the activities of the Security Council,” he stated, adding that he was heartened that there was greater acceptance of the view that the Council should be accountable to the General Assembly. To that end, he repeated CARICOM’s request that the Council’s reports to the Assembly be more substantive and analytical, thus providing a basis for a more interactive and meaningful debate by the Assembly of the work of the Council.
Achieving success in those intergovernmental negotiations would require the strong commitment of all Member States, and CARICOM believed that consultations conducted over the past 15 years provided the critical elements needed to serve as the basis for those intergovernmental negotiations. He added that creating a reformed organ with an expanded membership, that better reflected contemporary world realities, would make the Council more broadly representative, thereby increasing its legitimacy and making it a more effective body that was responsive to the views and needs of all Member States.
SOMDUTH SOBORUN (Mauritius), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Council report was more a statement of events in chronological order than an analytical document that could give Member States an opportunity to assess its strengths and failures in conflict situations. The African Group shared the growing concern about the Council’s gradual encroachment on the powers and mandate of the Assembly. In that context, it was necessary that Assembly resolutions 51/193, 58/126, and 59/313, which aimed to facilitate the Council’s accountability to the Assembly, were implemented without delay. In addition, the rules of procedure that remained provisional over six decades urgently needed to be formalized.
The African common position, as detailed in the Ezulwini Consensus, called for not less than two permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto, and also five non-permanent seats, respectively. He said even though Africa was opposed in principle to the veto, it believed that it should be made available to all new permanent members of the Council as long as it existed.
He said that relevant paragraphs of the Ezulwini Consensus stated that the African Union should be responsible for the selection of Africa’s representatives to the Council, and the question of criteria for the selection process was a matter for the African Union to determine. The African position was to assert unequivocally the legitimate claim of Africa and ensure that Africa was fully represented in all decision-making organs of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council.
The African Group welcomed the Assembly President’s decision to begin, in the informal plenary of the Assembly, the intergovernmental negotiations in accordance with Assembly decision 62/577. The Group looked forward to the start of constructive negotiations in compliance with the unanimous United Nations General Assembly decision, at the soonest possible date, but no later than 28 February 2009, he said.
ILEANA B. NÚÑEZ MORDOCHE ( Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Council should submit comprehensive and analytical annual reports to the Assembly. The reports should be assessments of the Council’s work, including in cases where the Council had failed to act, and the views expressed in consideration of issues. Special reports should also be submitted and monthly assessments should be comprehensive and analytical as well, issued in a timely fashion. The Assembly may consider proposing parameters for the elaboration of such assessments.
Continuing, she said the Council should not encroach on issues that fell within the functions and powers of other principal organs and their subsidiary bodies. A decision by the Council to initiate formal or informal discussions on a State situation or issue when it did not constitute a threat to international peace and security was contrary to the Charter. The lack of progress in the Assembly on Council reform was of concern, as was the Council’s resort to the sanctions provisions of the Charter rather than its provisions for the peaceful settlement of disputes.
She said the Council’s open debate about reform had been a step in the right direction, but it had come nearly 15 years after the last such debate. Hopefully, that had been the first step towards a regular consideration of the important issue with the views of Council non-members. The reform, which should be addressed in a comprehensive, transparent and balanced manner, should: ensure that the agenda reflected the needs and interests of both developing and developed countries with equal even-handedness; ensure that enlargements led to a more democratic, representative, accountable and effective Council; ensure that the Rules of Procedure were formalized after more than 60 years of remaining provisional, so as to improve transparency and accountability; and democratize decision-making, including in relation to the veto.
Furthermore, she said there were actions the Council should take immediately to improve its working methods. It should increase the number of public meetings; more closely associate concerned States in discussions of matters affecting them; ensure that the views of States expressed in public debates about cross-cutting thematic issues were reflected in resolutions and Presidential statements; allow briefings by Special Envoys or Representatives to take place in public meetings; enhance its relationship with the Secretariat and troop contributors; and finally, establish subsidiary organs in a manner that non-member States were given access to them and their discussions.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) underscored the high quality of the Security Council report, which had met expectations. The President of the Assembly had made Security Council reform a priority, and in that context, France urged “bold reform” for the United Nations’ central organ for international peace and security matters. France was attached to improving the Council’s working methods, with a view to achieving heightened transparency and better interaction among Member States, without putting into question the body’s autonomy. France was also attached to reform of the Council’s composition, and its commitment remained “unswerving”.
Explaining that one could not govern a twenty-first century world with twentieth century institutions, he said, to those who hesitated, expansion was a question of quality. “It cannot wait any longer,” he said, urging that the Council become more cohesive, stronger and better. As for achieving that, States must bear in mind the need for expansion and strengthening effectiveness. France favoured expansion in both categories of membership, with new permanent membership for Germany, Brazil, India and Japan, and permanent representation for Africa.
Second, it must be acknowledged that, thus far, no definitive reform proposal enjoyed two thirds of the Assembly’s support, and to transcend such an impediment, he pointed to interim reform recommendations, which enjoyed support. France and the United Kingdom had voiced their readiness to reflect on an interim solution. France was open to considering solutions that provided for a new category of seats that would be renewable. At the end of the initial phase, they could be transformed into permanent seats. He urged rapidly considering such issues within the framework of intergovernmental negotiations. The Assembly’s decision taken on 15 September was important in that regard, and its implementation would testify to the body’s democracy.
The Assembly had agreed to spell out a timeframe for negotiations to take place no later than February 2009, he said. France would participate in talks within the framework of the Open-ended Working Group, which itself could not impose conditions for such negotiations. Indeed, only in a climate of trust could progress be achieved, and France backed the Assembly President’s actions. His country counted on the President’s full involvement to breathe new life into the Assembly’s work, and he cautioned against any approach that would lead to division. Political commitment at the highest possible levels was needed to achieve effective reform, he added.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said the Council should retain and explore the practice of organizing briefing sessions, so non-member countries could be aware of its issues. She also urged more frequent presentation of special reports by the Council. While noting the importance of this report to the Assembly, she said it should contain more analytical information, not just chronological facts, and show the interaction among Council members.
This was a very important moment, as the intergovernmental negotiations to begin Council reform were set to start. The Open-ended Working Group had helped with that process. The reform process was imperative to correct the inequities of the Council’s workings. A comprehensive reform that produced a more democratic, representative and transparent Council was necessary. The Council also needed to be more accountable and efficient, she said.
Right now, the Council did not fit today’s world, and it needed to expand its membership and improve its working methods. The number of non-permanent members should be increased, with the goal of turning the Council into a more democratic and transparent organ. Extending only the permanent membership would be detrimental to small- and mid-size States.
Colombia supported a balanced and fair reform that produced more equitable representation, including through geographical representation, and room for all those whose interests were not represented. It was very important to improve the working methods of Council. That meant greater transparency with more frequent open meetings and greater access for non-member States, especially if the discussions affected such States directly, she said.
Colombia strongly opposed the veto, and any reform would be incomplete without examining alternatives to curtail its use, with a view to abolishing the veto. Alternatives might include restricting its use to Chapter VII of the Charter, for example, she said.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said United Nations reform would be incomplete without achieving reform of the Security Council’s membership and working methods. That effort should be made with a view to rapidly addressing Africa’s “serious historical injustices” due to its lack of permanent representation and the negative impact, of that continuing situation, on the Council’s ability to deal effectively with that continent’s many conflict situations. In that regard, he associated his remarks with those made on behalf of the African Group, stressing particularly the African common position outlined in the Ezulwini Consensus, and the Sirte Declaration, which had called for not less than two permanent seats and two non-permanent seats on the Council.
General Assembly decision 62/557 of 15 September 2008 had constituted a breakthrough, he said. To ensure the success of the intergovernmental negotiations agreed in that decision, Member States should abide by that agreement’s letter and spirit by undertaking talks on all procedural and substantive aspects of such reform during the current session. He noted that the agreement on a timeline, as reflected in the decision, had “not been made in a vacuum”. Indeed, negotiations should begin no later than 28 February 2009.
Further, the sequencing of the paragraphs clearly reflected procedural precedence of the Open-ended Working Group’s work in preparation for the intergovernmental negotiations. It had also been agreed that the Working Group would continue to address the framework and modalities to prepare and facilitate these negotiations, presenting the results of its consultations no later than 1 February 2009. He said there was, therefore, no need for further procedural debates on whether the negotiations should start in parallel with the Working Group’s work.
He stressed that pursuant to the General Assembly decision, intergovernmental negotiations could not start unless a proposal from a Member State or a group of Member States had been submitted. That clearly precluded any proposals by a group of representatives acting in their personal capacity, or by the President of the General Assembly or any of his facilitators. Egypt believed that to ensure success during the negotiations, the Open-ended Working Group should address, among other things, the conditions required to reach a solution that would garner the widest possible political acceptance. That had to be balanced against the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, which could allow a resolution of such importance as Security Council reform to be adopted with only a two thirds majority –- a figure that could easily exceed the membership of a complete regional group, such as Africa or Europe. Discussion was also needed on how negotiations in the informal plenary should be managed, as well as the appropriate time to move from the informal to the formal plenary, he said.
He went on to say that improving the Council’s working methods was also important. Further implementation of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document was needed to make the Council more efficient, transparent and accountable. For Africa, that was as important as enlarging the Council’s membership. Further reforms should be based on the inevitability of achieving real balance of power between Council members. It was also time for the current provisional rules to be replaced by permanent rules of procedure.
As a starting point, the Council should observe institutional balance and refrain from exceeding its mandates as outlined in the Charter. He reiterated support for the S-5 initiative to improve the Council’s working methods, particularly restricting the use of the veto in cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, until that right was eliminated. Until the veto was eliminated, however, it should be granted to all permanent members joining the Council. He also stressed that the Security Council’s annual report should be more explanatory.
While thanking the Council for its report, R.M. MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said that a more comprehensive and analytic report could provide a deeper understanding of the context, dynamics and nature of the issues within the Council’s purview. It would also be useful if the report included the status of the implementation of Council decisions.
The urgency for reform of the Council was beyond doubt, and the Open-ended Working Group had been the primary vehicle to promote that objective. By February, an intergovernmental negotiation in an informal Assembly plenary was set to begin, about 45 years after the Council’s last reform in 1963. Today, the United Nations was marked by greater diversity and pluralism, he said, adding that, along with globalization that meant the Council was grappling with far more complex issues.
Democratic responses were the most efficient way to meet today’s challenges, and at a global level, a reformed Council offered the promise of a body truly able to act on behalf of a United Nations, he said. Substantive changes in the Council’s composition, whether through additional permanent members or, more likely, through more elected, non-permanent members, were necessary. What was most important was that the Council be made more representative of the contemporary world, of its geographic regions, and the rich diversity of views and constituencies.
To achieve tangible results, it was necessary to emphasize the collective interest of Member States, rather than engage in an endless pursuit of individual national interests, he said. After years of debate within the Working Group, it might be time to emphasize consensus and build bridges over past divisions. The common elements of various past proposals should be sought. Agreement must first be obtained on a reformed Security Council; how a reformed Council would be constituted. The selection of States that were to serve in such a reformed Council was for a subsequent decision, he said.
HOANG CHI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) noted the 219 meetings and 177 consultations the Council had held in the one year period ending in July, as well as the 17 operating missions on the ground, plus those being deployed to strengthen local peacebuilding efforts. The Council’s peacemaking efforts, including in preventive diplomacy and conflict prevention, had yielded encouraging tangible outcomes, even as conflicts and deadly violence had continued in Iraq, Afghanistan, the occupied Palestinian territories, the Balkans and the Caucasus. There had been encouraging signs that the Council was becoming more transparent in the growing number of open meetings being held and in the more intensive participation by non-members in the Council’s work.
However, he said the Council should be made more accountable for its actions, in line with the expectations of the wider membership of the United Nations. As the component of the reform of the Organization, Council reform should be expedited to make a modern Security Council that was more representative and democratic, with enlarged permanent and non-permanent memberships. The Council’s agenda, working methods and decision-making should also receive attention, to bring them in line with the principles of transparency, openness and consistency.
Towards that end, he said opportunities should be created for Member States to express their views and propose issues of which the Council should be seized. Frequent consultations with concerned parties would help garner support for the work. The Council, however, should not overlap the work of other United Nations bodies, such as the General Assembly. The Council should also reserve its efforts for facilitating dialogue and mediation, rather than abusing its powers by invoking sanctions under Chapter VII of the Charter.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said that, for the Council to reflect the requirements “of the world of today, not the world of yesterday”, reforms of its composition were urgently needed, and he stated that Council members responsible for implementing that body’s decision should occupy their seats permanently. The desire for that, and other reforms, was clearly manifested in the tireless efforts of the Open-ended Working Group and the unanimous adoption of decision 62/557 by the Assembly. It was now time to “speedily proceed to the intergovernmental negotiations”.
Through improving the balance of analysis and information in its reports, the transparency and accountability of the Council should be enhanced. He noted that the current report made strides towards presenting that balance, as well as candidly addressing what the Council had and had not been able to achieve. He observed areas of improvement, one being the regular communications between the President of the Council and the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as the participation of the Chairs of the country-specific configurations in relevant Council meetings.
Continuing, he said another had been the participation of Member States in the informal meeting for the preparation of the draft report of the Council, a consultation that had taken place for the first time in a decade, and which addressed Member States’ concerns expressed in the General Assembly. He suggested that, in the overview section of the report’s introduction, changing trends and significant events, as well as any improvement in working methods and discussions on cross-cutting operational and strategic issues, also be included.
Other areas of improvement worth noting were the clarifying of meeting formats, the increase of public meetings, and expanded accessibility of information to non-Council members, among others. However, even in light of those dramatic improvements, important recommendations, as stated in the open debate in August 2008, had not been implemented, and he urged the Council to continue to improve its working methods. He stressed the importance of the Council speaking in “one voice” when responding to emerging risks and threats to international peace and security. To that end, he pledged, as a newly elected non-permanent member of the Council, Japan’s commitment to support the continuing efforts towards accountability and transparency reform.
ALEJANDRO D. WOLFF ( United States) said the Security Council report, drafted by the Vietnamese delegation’s presidency, provided a transparent and comprehensive review of the Council’s work. As called for in General Assembly decision 62/557 of 15 September, he looked forward to continued discussions within the framework of the Open-ended Working Group, regarding the start of intergovernmental negotiations no later than 28 February 2009.
The United States was open to a modest expansion of the Council, he said, as only a small expansion would ensure the Council’s ability to respond credibly to international peace and security threats. That was essential for it to discharge its mandate under the United Nations Charter, and it must guide discussions on Council expansion
Qualified candidates for permanent Council membership must have demonstrated the ability to deal with global -- not just regional -– challenges, he said. They must also have strong commitments to human rights, democracy and non-proliferation, and provide substantial peacekeeping to the United Nations. Japan was qualified for membership on such grounds, and the United States would consider other qualified candidates.
Though the Charter was clear, the United States continued to believe it was wise to achieve the broadest possible support for Council expansion, and that it constitute an improvement over the status quo. He was pleased that Assembly resolution 62/557 had included the political goal of a solution that would achieve widest possible political acceptance.
Further, the United States believed that any reform must be undertaken in a manner consistent with the Charter and as part of a comprehensive effort to improve the United Nations system, including other areas that needed reform, including General Assembly financing and decision-making. He had yet to see significant movement on such issues, and urged a parallel process to be started related to that of the Council. In closing, he said the United States looked forward to hearing others’ views, and working collaboratively to move forward the issue of United Nations reform.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON ( Pakistan) said “with responsibility comes accountability”, explaining that the purpose of such was an objective assessment of the Council’s performance. The Charter had envisioned for the Council “special reports”, which the Assembly had not yet received.
Despite its shortcomings, the Council was doing important work, and Pakistan had made tangible contributions to those efforts, he said. However, it must do more to prevent conflict, notably by devising and implementing comprehensive strategies, and working more closely with other bodies, including the Peacebuilding Commission and the Assembly.
The Council’s poor record in handling inter-State conflicts had eroded its credibility, and major issues remained unresolved due to non-implementation of its resolutions, including those on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and the Palestinian issue. On its working methods, he pointed out that Charter Articles 11, 15, 24, 31 and 32 were not being implemented. The Council’s agenda depended on the priorities of permanent members, and while there was often inaction in the face of obvious aggression, there was also interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States. Indeed, the Council remained a “closed club”, controlled by the few.
Pakistan sought to address most problems through reform of the Council’s permanent membership, he said. Strengthening the democratic representation, role and influence of the general membership was the only feasible approach, and the majority of the membership should support that approach, despite some who had been made to believe otherwise.
The views of two specific groups were opposed to genuine reform, he said, pointing first to the permanent Council members who did not want to reform their use of veto. He noted a second group of “aspirants” whose goal was only to promote self-interest. They wanted permanent membership at any cost, and were at the forefront in criticizing permanent members, whose power they claimed to challenge. However, it was clear that the bargains involved in that “grand game” would be inferred as ambition that continued to block reform.
Still others had evolved their positions, he said, noting that expansion of non-permanent seats was an option supported by all States and Groups. Many States had shown flexibility in exploring new ideas such as intermediate options.
However, the approach that truly reflected new realities was that of regional representation, he asserted, underlining the Arab States’ call for a permanent Arab representation in any future expansion. The African position would see the African Union responsible for selecting its representatives, which, the G-4 said it supported, yet was unwilling to accept for itself. While Africa was united in its position, the G-4 had created “serious rifts” in Asia, the Western European and Others Group, and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries. The African model of regional representation, if applied to all other regions, could garner reciprocal support and, thus, promote feasible compromise, he said.
The challenge lay in reconciling various positions, he said, insisting on a step-by-step approach outlined in General Assembly decision 62/557. Ground rules for transparent intergovernmental negotiations were needed, which was why the Uniting for Consensus, and others, had proposed that the Working Group address the framework to prepare for such talks. He urged constructive participation when talks started in February, noting that Pakistan’s proposals would conform to the principles of sovereign equality of States and equitable geographic representation. “We seek a comprehensive reform, not a quick fix,” he said.
Through the negotiations, Pakistan would work for a model that would entail allocation of seats that corresponded to the interests of small and medium States; priority for regional interests over individual interests; accommodation of positions of all States and Groups, particularly Africa, the Organization of Islamic Conference and Arab States; consensus-building within and between regions; and enhanced accountability. That was the only way to restore the Council’s credibility, he concluded. Reform must protect the future for all States, not through the “double speak of diplomacy and neverland”, but through realization.
TAWFEEQ AHMED ALMANSOOR ( Bahrain) said today’s session was an important opportunity to discuss two extremely important issues. The Council’s annual report took into account neither the 15-member body’s analytic work nor the areas of its agenda that had not yielded progress. The Assembly needed to know why the Council had not performed on certain issues. Both organs needed to study together and help the Council find solutions to such matters, he added.
The discussion of those items enhanced the relations between the Assembly and the Council so they could promote the values of the United Nations and its underlying principles. World leaders gathered at the 2005 World Summit had recognized the importance of Council reform as a part of wider United Nations reform. The Council needed to become more representative, efficient and transparent, so as to enhance the credibility of its resolutions, he said.
Reform of the Council was an important part of the need to make the Organization more effective. The Council needed to be more cautious when discussing new topics that did not represent a threat to international peace and security, he said, adding that the Council should not take up issues that were in the purview of other organs. He reaffirmed the importance of cooperation and coordination in that regard.
He said past attempts to study the expansion of the Council’s membership had not yielded practical results. There was general agreement that the Council needed to be rebalanced and readjusted, and its working methods reformed. Bahrain supported the principal of enlarging of the Council with fair representation, whether speaking of permanent or non-permanent membership, so that all countries were represented in a balanced fashion. Moreover, there should be an increase in representation of the Arab States, with rotation among that group. There should be an effort to resolve disputes peacefully. There should be a move to limit the use of the veto, he said.
VITALY I. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that the legitimacy of Security Council decisions was at the heart of its ability to regulate problems of peace and security. Over the past year, there had been improvement in the openness of the Council’s working methods, he continued. However, transparency must be balanced with increasing the Council’s potential to fulfil its mandate, namely, maintaining international peace and security.
As a permanent member of the Council, the Russian Federation was for improving the Council’s effectiveness by making it more representative, but efforts to that end must not reduce its ability to function. He supported keeping the Council compact and maintaining the prerogatives of the permanent members, including the veto. The formula for Council reform must ensure the broadest possible support within the Organization, even more than the requirement of a two-thirds majority of Member States.
Current proposals did not enjoy support from a dominant number of States, he continued, and should not be pushed to a vote, to avoid polarizing the General Assembly. Passing by a mere two-thirds majority risked alienating the minority, among whom were likely to be highly influential States, thus, reducing the Council’s prestige. The Russian Federation was prepared to consider any proposal, including an interim decision, that was based on broad agreement and would not lead to a schism among Member States, thus, weakening the Organization overall. He supported the idea of the Working Group on the matter, to devise a “road map” for its work leading up to intergovernmental negotiations.
GIULIO TERZI ( Italy) said, as an elected member of the Security Council, Italy fully supported the goal of working for greater openness and transparency of that body. At the same time, the imbalance between the General Assembly and the Council should also be addressed.
Areas of improvement included fuller access to the Council, better and more regular communications from the Council to the general membership; more thematic debates; more detailed annual reports to the Assembly; more frequent and substantial public meetings; and a system to prevent overlap and assured transparency in the subsidiary bodies. He said, together with a significant group of countries, Italy had for three years now been a promoter of “Uniting for Consensus”, because Italy believed that reforms, which amended the Charter, altered binding agreements on peace and security, and modified or created key United Nations bodies, could only become a viable reality if every Member State had ownership.
On the need to consider the regional dimension in Security Council reform, he noted that he was fully aware of the complexity of the process of reform. Nevertheless, to enact a Security Council reform that did not address the issue of regional representation would be to miss a great historical opportunity. Indeed, Italy did not think that the mere addition of national permanent seats with one variable or another, as was being proposed by some countries, would make the Council more representative or effective.
“A reform centred on national permanent seats would be, in my opinion, more divisive for the membership, provoking national rivalries”, he said, adding: “Every country counts. We must not perpetuate a Security Council of the few. We want a new Security Council in which every country can recognize itself and feel a sense of ownership”, he declared.
GÜNTER FROMMELT ( Liechtenstein) recalling that his country had called for deeper analysis in the report, realized that “this may be too tall an order for the Security Council”. He was aware of the magnitude of effort to achieve even modest results. Nonetheless, he continued to believe in the need for in-depth consideration of Council activities and genuine political analysis of its work, which was perhaps not best done on the basis of an assessment of the Council itself. It might be useful to have informal summaries of debates, such as today’s, drawn up by the General Assembly President. Formats of analytical discussions outside the United Nations might also be explored.
As a member of the so-called S-5 Group, Liechtenstein believed the Charter required the Council’s accountability for its decisions vis-à-vis the rest of membership. The S-5 had constructively engaged with the Council. While the relationship between the Council and the Assembly left “much to be desired”, improving it was not a one-way street, and a Council that fulfilled its functions in line with the Charter was in the interests of all members. Strengthening the Council and the Assembly in parallel was needed.
Calling the open debate the Council held in August on its working methods, as suggested by the S-5, “a landmark event”, he said the Council should focus on the systematic implementation of decided reform measures, and design mechanisms to ensure their consistent application. On the issue of sanctions, his delegation had proposed (document A/62/891-S/2008/428), with other States, the creation of an expert panel to review decisions on the listing and delisting of persons in the framework of the Al Qaida/Taliban sanctions regime.
The Council had adopted resolution 1822 (2008) without taking into account those suggestions, and more importantly, had no consultation with the proponents of a review panel. Liechtenstein would continue to work towards improving the current sanctions regime, and also hoped for inclusive discussions on other issues where non-members were affected, such as the International Criminal Court. He hoped for informative discussion on issues in connection with the ad hoc tribunal, established by the Council, that could have a bearing on the Court, including its budget.
In closing, he said the General Assembly had a direct role in Security Council reform, which flowed directly from the Charter. Ideally, he saw a complementary function for conceptual texts, such as the 2006 S-5 draft resolution. There was much promise in such efforts, and his Government would continue to pursue them with its partners.
THOMAS MATUSSEK (Germany), noted that the commitment to reform the Council was clearly illustrated in the discussions in both the Open-ended Working Group and the General Assembly this week, as well as Member States’ willingness to enter into intergovernmental negotiations. However, he regretted that those negotiations, scheduled to be launched this coming Friday in the Assembly, had been removed from the agenda -- an unwanted postponement, judging from the response in the Working Groups, and one announced before all speakers on the speakers’ list could be heard.
He also observed frankly, that the potential of the Working Group to create tangible results had been exhausted in its 15-year tenure, and he didn’t see the value in a timetable for intensive discussions in the Working Group, proposed by Mexico and other members of “Uniting for Consensus”. According to the format and modalities already determined in the decisions and rules of procedure of the General Assembly, every Member State was ensured full participation in that process, and he had trust that Ambassador Tanin (of Afghanistan) would ensure that. Furthermore, the Assembly’s framework offered the “widest possible agreement for a sound reform that corresponds with the needs and challenges of the twenty-first century”.
Going forward, he stated his belief in the G-4 proposal as a successful approach to guarantee the substance of those efforts towards reform. And he reminded the delegates that the goals for such reform were “a more legitimate Council […] not just a larger Council […] but a different Council; more transparent, more representative, more effective and more reflective of today’s political realities”.
PETER MAURER ( Switzerland) pointed out that in adopting the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, Member States had committed themselves to early reform of the Security Council. However, after three years of discussions in the Open-ended Working Group, what had been achieved on enlargement of the Council had been disappointing. As long as the issue was approached with what he termed “a defensive mindset” and a “Zero-sum-game mentality”, “we will get nowhere”, he stated, adding: “If we are serious about wanting reform, all of us have to adopt a more flexible spirit of compromise and look for ‘win-win’ options.”
Switzerland believed that the creation of a third category of seats could provide such an option and had the potential to bridge the different positions on enlargement as it did not prejudge the final outcome of the reform effort, but allowed Members to advance a step forward. He explained that if Member States were not capable of more flexibility, they would remain stuck at the current impasse, and for that reason, he welcomed the Assembly’s decision to begin intergovernmental negotiations during the current session.
Pledging that Switzerland would engage constructively in that process, which had to be transparent and inclusive, he said together with its partners in the so-called S-5 Group, his country had primarily focused on the issue of reforming the working methods of the Council. Such changes had to be part and parcel of a comprehensive reform process, but should not be taken hostage by it. Progress in the area of working methods must take place in any scenario, whether Members agreed on an expansion of the Council or not, he said.
HABIB MANSOUR ( Tunisia) addressed both the report of the Security Council and the equitable distribution of membership on the Council. Regarding the annual report, he observed that it offered the sole opportunity to Assembly Member States to evaluate the Council’s work and to address needed improvement to the Council’s methods. That particular report was factual and offered concise description of the Council’s work during the past year. However, it did not offer an analytical approach, as requested by the General Assembly. In addition, the Assembly also requested that the Security Council submit thematic reports on issues of concern, but to date, no reports had been submitted.
He did note that the Council had held a number of important thematic debates and, in that regard, he urged the strengthening of relationships between the respective presidents of the United Nations’ agencies and organs, and the Council members. Continuing, he commended the numerous field visits of Council members to various areas of conflict, as well as the Council’s resolute actions to address the large number of areas of conflict around the world, and in particular Africa. However, efforts still fell short in regards to the Middle East and the Palestinian issue. That lack of progress reflected poorly on the authority and effectiveness of the Council.
He went on to call for the access of information being discussed in the Council to be made available to Member States, especially those States under consideration by the Council. That would engender the Council’s accountability and transparency. Thanking the former President of the sixty-second session of the Assembly for commencing the process towards reforms of the Council, the equitable distribution of membership in the Council and the enlargement of the membership, he affirmed that, with the work of the Working Group, Member States would be able to embark on intergovernmental negotiations in an open and transparent manner.
Implementation of the goals and the efforts of Ambassador Tanin would ensure that the Council reflected the political and economic realities of the world and thus expressed its mandate to the fullest. Involving developing countries and ensuring the Council’s efforts reflect the concerns and needs of all Member States would only help achieve those objectives. In that regard, he believed the inclusion of a permanent presence of the African Group on the Security Council would address the “ingrain injustice” of the current membership’s composition.
PAULETTE A. BETHEL ( Bahamas) said the Council’s work had been obviously increasing in both volume and scope, but its report still needed to be more analytical and substantive. It should present a reflective assessment of the Council’s activities for the period under consideration. Even so, the Council’s actions, with regard to Haiti, had been heartening. It was absolutely imperative for the international community to provide Haiti with the required assistance and support for its stabilization and reconstruction. The setback suffered by the Haitian people, in the wake of recent successive storms and hurricanes, was a stark indication of how tenuous and precarious the situation was there. She expressed condolences to the people and Government for the loss of life and the destruction of property, due to both the natural disasters and the recent collapse of a school.
Moving on, she condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and said her delegation was keenly supportive of the Council’s counter-terrorism bodies. However, efforts should be more coordinated, and more emphasis should be placed on providing technical assistance to States for implementation of measures and to meet reporting obligations. Further, the recent initiative by the Secretary-General to hold a symposium on support for the victims of terrorism was commendable. Bringing perpetrators to justice was important, but it was no less important to remember the victims of heinous action and seek to support them in the many ways that may be required.
Finally, she said all States with the capacity to serve on the Council should be given the opportunity to do so. Therefore, expanding the Council’s membership in both categories was both appropriate and long overdue. The Council’s working methods must also be made more transparent, inclusive, accountable and effective. The call for intergovernmental negotiations in an informal plenary format during the current Assembly session was welcome. It was the only way forward in advancing the process towards the next important step.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said the Council report was factual and lacked analytical information. He said security issues in Africa occupied an important part of the Council’s work as the region was prone to instability. There was a need for more cooperation in Africa. The report indicated the deterioration in conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and showed the importance of cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union. There had been many joint initiatives and the creation of common projects. In Somalia, the Council had to decide on the deployment of a peacekeeping mission. The commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of Nakba was under way, and the Council had not repaired that historical injustice. That was the largest failure of the Council and United Nations since its creation, he said.
Algeria believed transparency should be an ongoing objective of Member States and the Council itself. The Council should not impinge on other organs, including the Assembly and Economic and Social Council. The current membership of the Council reflected the world in 1945, and reform should seek to correct that situation, he said.
Algeria stressed the value of the Working Group, which had rejected hasty decisions and made sure imbalances did not become worse, particularly in connection with Africa. Algeria welcomed the Working Group’s report, and looked forward to participating in negotiations on Council reform. Algeria reaffirmed its willingness to work with all delegations to advance the reform process and was committed to a negotiating process with “clear contours”. Algeria agreed with the African position that reform should include no less than two permanent seats with veto power and two new seats that were in the non-permanent category.
JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) said the debate on Security Council working methods, of 27 August, had seen broad consensus on the need for the Council –- and, indeed, all organs of the United Nations -- to do more to ensure they worked effectively and transparently. Clearly, many would like to see further discussion about the Council’s annual report, and his delegation would listen carefully to the views expressed in that regard. He also reiterated his delegation’s support for Security Council reform, noting that, with the imminent start of intergovernmental negotiations, today’s discussion came as a new phase in the reform process was beginning. The September decision to start negotiations had been the clearest indication to date of the collective desire for concrete progress towards agreement on the Council’s reform.
He stressed that the international community’s ever-increasing interdependence and shared global risks, and responsibilities highlighted the need for strong, representative and effective international institutions. As Prime Minister Gordon Brown had said in September, the world community had an “opportunity to reframe the international architecture to make it fit for the challenges facing us in the twenty-first century.” The United Nations was at the heart of that architecture, and reform of its major organs, including the Security Council, was an indispensable part of such an effort.
The United Kingdom continued to support Security Council reform that would lead to a body that was more representative of today’s global realities, but no less effective or capable of taking tough decisions to tackle threats to international peace and security, he said. To this end, it was fully committed to intergovernmental negotiations, and would engage in them constructively with the aim of securing a model of reform capable of garnering the widest possible support.
However, an intermediate solution should be considered if that proved to be a rallying point for the Membership’s great majority. The global financial crisis had thrown the need for reforming the international architecture into stark relief, underlying the need to take a fresh look at the effectiveness of the Bretton Woods institutions. The Group of 20 (G-20) had responded decisively. Likewise, it could not ignore the need for Security Council reform to better address the modern world’s many challenges.
OMAR ALI SALEH AL OYAIDI ( Saudi Arabia) stated his full support of working towards the equitable and increased membership of the Security Council, and he reminded the Assembly that such reform had long been called for by the Arab Group and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Noting that those Member States comprised some 30 per cent of the United Nations General Assembly, a permanent seat on the Security Council would be appropriate. He went on to say that the results of the discussions of the Council’s reform at the World Summit in 2005 did not reflect the narrow concerns of a few, but the real concerns of the broader international community.
Emphasizing the need to continue efforts to reform the Council, he said that the right of veto should be used in a just manner that protected rights and punished the aggressor, thus respecting the principles on which the United Nations had been founded. He observed that current use of the veto had hampered the work of the Council and had reduced the credibility of its mandate. He offered hope that all the efforts being made towards reform would end in a satisfactory result. However, he remarked in conclusion, in order to do so, the cooperation of permanent members of the Council would be required.
JOHN MCNEE (Canada), noting the Council’s central role in collectively responding to today’s security challenges, said its annual report made clear that the complexity -– and volume -– of its business continued to expand at a “dramatic” pace. While commending peacekeepers and others serving in the field, he said the world could not fail to notice that peacekeeping missions were under strain. In critical theatres, United Nations forces were over-deployed, over-stretched and, too often, under-resourced -- at times, with tragic results. A growing agenda, coupled with growing stress on existing missions, presented a challenge, and he urged the creation of a Council that was more representative, transparent, accountable and legitimate.
Canada strongly supported enlarging the Council, and drew attention to addressing the underrepresentation of Africa. Any enlargement should be achieved in line with the principles of democracy, equality and accountability, and, as such, Canada was opposed to adding new permanent seats, he continued. That position did not oppose any of the declared aspirants, but rather reflected Canada’s belief that the creation of new permanent seats undermined the principles on which “accountability” was based: fairness and democracy.
Canada respectfully disagreed that new permanent seats were needed because elected members could not be effective in relation to the “P-5” (Permanent Five), particularly as elected members had broken new ground on thematic issues directly relevant to peacekeeping mandates. While Canada agreed that legitimacy was tied in part to Council composition, it believed that was best achieved by ensuring the broadest possible representation of world regions.
Discussing three areas where change would increase effectiveness, he said working methods should be improved to enhance transparency, participation should be widened, and veto use should be limited. The Council should manage its agenda in a way that allowed for attention to emerging crises before they erupted, and it should update its normative framework to ensure it was better equipped to meet evolving security demands.
On working methods, he said briefings on the monthly programme of work should become systematic, and consultations with the broader membership should be increased. Consultations with troop-contributing countries, among others, should be strengthened, and the Council would benefit from serious consideration of the use of veto. There had been several regrettable occasions on which the “spectre” of veto had dampened debate. Any use of the veto should be publicly explained and justified, and had no place in deliberations on situations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. He reiterated support for the S-5 proposal for a General Assembly resolution.
On agenda management, he said the Council could not meet the test of effectiveness if it did not consider the full range of current crises. He urged the Council to consider developing guidelines for entry and exit strategies as called for in the Brahimi report.
Moving on, he said the Council’s legitimacy could be improved by updating its normative framework, explaining that it was important to deepen -– and operationalize -- the “protection of civilians” and related norms. Urging the Council to implement resolutions 1265 (1999) and 1674 (2006) on the protection of civilians, he said the Council must also demonstrate the political will to draw upon the full range of levers at its disposal towards that end. Adoption of the Secretary-General’s proposals on the use of force must be done without delay.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said that, over the past year, the Council had tackled a wide-ranging agenda, continuing its unremitting efforts to maintain international peace and security. It had achieved certain success. Meanwhile, it had also increased its transparency and effectiveness. Underlining the Council’s primary role in peace and security, he stressed that Member States expected it to boldly undertake its responsibilities.
Those Member States closely followed the Council’s daily activities to gauge how it was fulfilling its duty –- which was not to serve the interests of a small number of States but the entire world community. In that effort, there was no excuse for complacency. The Council should continue to go “all out” in its endeavours. For its part, and as a permanent Council member, China would make every effort to do so, he said. While it was true that the Council members were working hard, it was also undeniable that there were gaps in the body’s work. Some issues had been on the Council’s agenda for years without resolution, he said. Non-Council members sometimes felt sidelined, and some issues that fell under the Council’s mandate had been repeatedly submitted.
He stressed that the issues being debated today –- expansion of the Council’s membership and reform of its working methods -- were closely related. The work of the Council had been exposed. Necessary and reasonable reform was needed. The Council must adapt to changing international circumstances, including the entire Organization’s expanding membership and the subsequent changes in its political ecosystem. At the same time, the work of regional organizations had grown, as had regional cooperation, making those organizations some of the primary means of maintaining peace and security. Equally important was the fact that democratization and international rule of law had become irresistible global trends. Faced with such trends, people around the world had every reason to question the logic behind the Council’s current configuration.
China firmly supported carrying out “necessary and responsible reform”, he went on to say. Geographic representation should be accomplished through a membership expansion, with primary consideration given to developing and, particularly, African countries. Any reform plan that did not have the support of the African countries would not have China’s support. The reform should also ensure that smaller countries had more opportunities to participate more substantively in the Council’s deliberations. It was also necessary to enhance the Council’s accountability to the United Nations Member States.
Stressing that Security Council reform was a major event, he said decision 62/557 had demonstrated the determination of Member States to move forward. Indeed, the Organization faced an important, watershed moment that would give Member States the ability to find a meaningful reform plan. Nevertheless, this should not merely be question of numbers.
VIJAY BAHUGUNA, Member of Parliament of India, said the report remained a largely statistical compilation of events, a bland listing of meetings and outcome documents. The report should include an analysis of the issues on the Council’s agenda. The report revealed that only half of the formal meetings and consultation sessions had been held in open format. That showed the need for greater transparency in the Council’s functioning. The report did not indicate how frequently non-Council members, immediately concerned with a particular issue, had been consulted. The Council remained insufficiently representative, its working methods non-inclusive, and its activities were extremely opaque.
India was convinced that the only remedy was a comprehensive reform that involved the Council’s permanent and non-permanent categories. He urged the Assembly not to forget that in 1964, the Council expanded only its non-permanent members, and the problems with the Council had only been exacerbated. Non-permanent members had not been able to implement their ideas, to prevent the encroachment of the Council beyond its competence per the Charter, or even to improve the access of non-members, especially small States.
It was evident that real change and improvement could come only by inducting new permanent members through the principles of election, and subsequent accountability to the wider membership, through an appropriate review mechanism. Without expansion of the permanent membership, the real problems could not begin to be addressed, nor could the political culture begin to be transformed.
Attempts to portray an “interim model” as a solution were inherently flawed and would increase the numbers without addressing the real issues. It would be the worst of both worlds, he said, reiterating India’s demands for Council reform, including, equitable geographical distribution, expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories, and greater representation for developing countries, including better access for small island, landlocked and other vulnerable States.
India welcomed the unanimous decision 62/557, adopted by the Assembly on 15 September 2008, which was unambiguous in its decision to start intergovernmental negotiations in the informal plenary of the Assembly. India was intrigued by a development, in which the Assembly President indicated at Monday’s meeting of the Open-ended Working Group, that the informal Assembly plenary would probably not be held on 21 November 2008.
PIRAGIBE DOS SANTOS TARRAGÔ ( Brazil), speaking on the issue of transparency and access, focused, first, on the report’s information on public and closed meetings. The inclusion of such statistics was noteworthy, since it was a barometer by which the Council’s openness to non-members could be gauged. The comparative data for 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 had shown a welcome improvement in the ratio between public meetings and closed consultations. That trend was to be encouraged, as was the holding, in August 2008, of a public meeting to discuss implementation of the Council President’s note S/2006/507.
However, truly significant measures had not been taken, he said, including full implementation of Charter Articles 31 and 32, non-member access to subsidiary organs, and meaningful consultations with troop-contributing countries. A robust, but realistic, reform of working methods would be facilitated by the Council’s expansion. On the link between democratization of the United Nations and Council reform, he said simply adding non-permanent members would not solve the problem of the legitimacy the Council had lost in recent years. Thus, the Council must count on the permanent contribution of countries whose presence on the international scene had become more decisive in the implementation of decisions.
Brazil favoured expanding both permanent and non-permanent categories, he said, adding that democratic reforms would only be possible through the addition of permanent members. Indeed, new members could be “effective agents of change”, through both vote and persuasion. To restrict reform, to the mere addition of non-permanent members, preserved the status quo and would further distort the proportion of members in both categories, he said.
On the nature of an expanded Council, he said the body must be more representative and effective, and balancing composition was crucial to that end. While a more diverse set of countries was needed, so was a larger core group willing to take up accrued responsibilities associated with maintaining international peace and security. That could be done through the reform proposed by Brazil and others, including small States, which understood that they would gain improved representation and better access.
Reform could not wait, he said, and he urged the Assembly not to delay the start of intergovernmental negotiations on the basis of presented proposals. Attempts to undo the decision of September, through procedural discussions, should not prevail, he added.
SHAIKHA MAJED ALAJEEL ( Kuwait) said the reform of the Council “is stuck in its tracks”, despite the fact that years had passed since the Assembly had adopted a resolution to create an open-ended working group to consider the issue. Yet, Kuwait could not ignore the progress made during the Working Group’s discussions, and she welcomed the general agreement to initiate intergovernmental negotiations during the current Assembly session, with a view to making the ideas of Council reform, subject to numerous discussions over the years, a reality. The hope was that a conciliatory agreement could be reached that would strengthen the Council’s role and effectiveness.
Kuwait supported the reform of all United Nations bodies, especially the Council. Any change in the composition of the Council’s membership should not affect its capability and efficiency in making decisions to confront international threats, but lend more credibility to its decisions, she said. Kuwait supported proposals to ease the flow of information to and from Member States, and supported, as well, the need to fully respect the functions of other organs, particularly the Assembly. She stressed the need to adopt a list of permanent procedures to enhance and codify its work, the Security Council’s actions and methods.
Concerning the veto right, Kuwait saw a need to place limits and controls on the scope of that mechanism, such as excluding it to matters that fell under Chapter VII of the Charter. If agreement was reached on the number of non-permanent seats, distribution among regional groups must consider the increase in Member States of the Asian Groups, he said.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS ( Belarus) noted that the Council report was largely a statistical journal, and his delegation would have wanted to see some analysis of different hotspots. He called on delegations to consider increasing the quality of the monthly assessment reports of the Council Presidency. They should be more analytical and prepared more promptly, he added.
He went on to say that the themes of Council meetings should be made more contemporary rather than items dictated by issues of priority. The Council should not go beyond its competence and consider issues not relevant to it; only the items detailed in the Charter. The recent intergovernmental negotiations had achieved concrete progress and should determine the framework for negotiation, which should take place in an environment of more trust. There should be a careful search for a balanced approach to Council reform. Designation of any new Council members should not divide Member States, but bring them together to counter global threats in areas of international security.
The Council had to broaden its numerical membership and improve its working methods. It needed to be a compact and capable body that could react to emerging threats. He supported those that had called for one more elected Eastern European member as a non-permanent member. No less attention should be paid to the Council’s methods of work than to enlarging the membership. For example, he said, the Council should eliminate double standards in its decision-making process.
AIDA ALZHANOVA ( Kazakhstan) welcomed the measures taken by the Security Council in recent years to ensure its openness to non-members. Open thematic debates and interactive briefings were now held more frequently. Efforts to take further steps in that positive direction should be encouraged. Her delegation believed that several issues recently debated in the Council -- such as non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, protection of civilians in conflict situations, children and armed conflicts, women, peace and security -- required further efforts.
Kazakhstan also took positive note of the fact that the issue of the Council’s coordination and collaboration with other United Nations bodies, and with regional and subregional organizations, was being discussed regularly, and fully supported holding open debates on such cooperation, she said.
Yet, while maintaining a busy agenda on Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Afghanistan and other important issues, the Council sometimes failed to adequately react to serious challenges that directly threatened international peace and security, she said. In fact, it had been unable to agree even on press statements on topics like Georgia and Kosovo, much less come up with a common position on the situation in those regions. Meanwhile, it was clear that demand was growing for United Nations participation in conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. To adequately address such challenges, the world needed new thinking in the Council.
She thanked the President of the sixty-second General Assembly and his four facilitators for the report that had finally been approved on that session’s last day. The report had embraced the progress achieved to date. As a result, 15 years of deadlock had been broken down by the historical decision of Assembly resolution 62/557, which had opened the door to intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform.
The chance for change –- and the possibility of having a more representative, legitimate and transparent United Nations body responsible for maintaining international peace and security -- should not be missed. Equitable representation in the Council of Asian, African and Latin American, as well as developing countries could strengthen its ability to effectively face future challenges. She appealed to Member States to conduct negotiations in a spirit of cooperation and in pursuit of a compromise that would speed up the reform process.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE ( Philippines) called for the Security Council to be fully democratized so that, among other issues, the lack of small developing Member States in its composition and membership could be rectified. As described by the report of the Austrian Initiative 2005-2008, the Security Council as “legislator, judge and executive” caused the Rule of law to be sacrificed. Noting small changes in the Council’s Annual Report, he urged the 15-member body to continue to investigate other options for improving future reports to make them more analytical, comprehensive and informative.
Furthermore, it was crucial that the two deadlines, 1 February 2009, for the Working Group submission of its decision, and 28 February 2009, for the commencement of the intergovernmental negotiations, be reached. However, if the Working Group did not meet its deadline, the submission of its report was not a condition to beginning the negotiations, he said.
Continuing, he said that the reform of the working methods of the Council were the least controversial, and called for the condensation of its Rules of Procedure, by noting six points of reference, including the deletion of the word “Provisional” from the title of its Rules of Procedure; presence of non-Member States during procedures regarding them; draft proposals and resolutions by non-Security Council Member States be considered without the request of a Council member; an increase of meetings, including informal ones, to hear the views of Member States; access to full information to Member States on issues, as well as the portrait of how Council members voted; and periodic reports and substantive summaries of issues and work the Council was currently addressing.
He fully supported the enlargement of the Council, both in permanent and non-permanent membership, and he called for those seats to be based on equitable geographic distribution, especially in view of the increase in the membership of the United Nations over the years. The character and make-up of the Council needed to reflect its mandate to maintain peace and security, and be an example of the ideals of the Charter. He also said that the misuse of the veto needed to be curtailed so that it would no longer be the “exercise of the special privileges reserved for a few”.
Furthermore, he called for the restructuring of the vote on the International Court of Justice, so that Member States sitting both in the Council and the General Assembly would not get two votes. Not doing this put the outcome of such important decisions in the hands of 15 Member States. He concluded by noting that the reform of the Council was paramount to the overall health of the entire Organization. He called for the Working Group to execute its duties to the fullest so that intensive discussion could usher in “[a] reformed and democratic Security Council before the end of the sixty-third session”.
SEYED MOHAMMAD REZA SAJJADI ( Iran) noted that impartiality, transparency, accountability and fairness were key requirements on which the Security Council needed to fulfil the responsibilities of its mandate, and that, in order to do so, it needed to clarify its relationship to the General Assembly, as well as other organs within the United Nations system. The past year had offered no significant improvement on the part of the Council, in the reporting practices or its annual report, which only referred to cases in which the Council took action, while failing to mention its inaction in certain cases, one being the Israeli regime’s crimes against the Palestinian people that continued to pose a regional and international threat to peace and security.
There were many suggestions and approaches from many sources of how to improve and enlarge the Council, but it was clear that the current Council was “not responding to the needs, concerns and realities of the world today”. Citing it as one of the “most anachronistic international bodies”, he called for urgent reform that would address its working methods, decision-making process, its composition and its structure.
There had been a few significant steps made towards this reform, the Council’s open debate in August 2008 being one. However, further requested improvements had not been honoured, among them, the disregarding of Article 31 of the Charter by refusing to allow Member States to participate in discussions concerning them, as well as refusing on many occasions, in direct contradiction to paragraph 29 of the note by the Council’s President on improving the Council’s working methods (document S/2006/507), the chance for concerned countries to speak before the vote on matters concerning them and, in fact, making them wait until after decisions had been made by the Council. That reflected an alarming trend, he continued, of the Council involved in law-making and norm-setting practices.
He also stated that the Security Council’s actions on Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme had been unwarranted and had contradicted the provisions of the Charter, as a peaceful nuclear programme did not constitute a threat and therefore did not fall within the Council’s jurisdiction. He stressed, in conclusion, that a meaningful reform of the Council would only be possible if those many shortcomings mentioned were addressed, and if developing and Muslim countries were appropriately represented. He offered his unwavering support and commitment to the President of the General Assembly, offering his “sincere help and constructive support”.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said that, while his delegation viewed favourably the improvements in this year’s report on the work of the Security Council, that report continued to suffer from some defects that undermined its usefulness and ability of the Assembly to effectively evaluate that work. The lack of certain details greatly restricted analysis and offered little scope for the effective participation of Member States in the exercise.
Traditionally, the Security Council had been reluctant to inform the General Assembly about its activities, he said. Yet, as its gradual movement towards providing a more analytical document suggested, the Council was slowly adopting a more open and transparent posture. Further movement in that direction would be among Mexico’s objectives as it began its membership in the Council.
He noted that a sequence for beginning the reform work and the intergovernmental negotiations had been arrived at and set out in the General Assembly’s decision 62/557. The chairman of the Open-Ended Working Group would present his findings in February and the intergovernmental negotiations would be launched. Respect for the timeline contained in the decision would help ensure genuine reform that matched the general will of Member States. Mexico was firmly committed to that process. The spirit of compromise exhibited during the negotiations leading up to the Assembly’s decision suggested it would be possible to achieve widespread agreement on reform.
Stressing that Security Council reform should be undertaken within the general reform of the United Nations, he said the broadest possible agreement should be paramount. Mexico favoured expansion of non-permanent membership, whichwould make it possible for smaller States to participate. Meanwhile, an increase in permanent seats would serve to generate fresh inequalities in the Organization and negatively affect its effectiveness. His delegation continued to be in favour of the principle of re-election which would guarantee the presence of those States most ready to aid the Council’s work. Yet reform should be welcomed with compromise and caution. Indeed, the work must be fundamental if true reform was possible.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Moroccosaid Algeria’s representative had given a biased viewpoint on Sahara that “bordered on the ridiculous”, was deliberately selective and in bad faith. Regarding the Sahara, the Moroccan delegation had presented a proposal to the Security Council on how to resolve the dispute. The Council had subsequently adopted three resolutions, in which it welcomed Morocco’s position on the issue and had called on the parties to accelerate the process of political negotiation. It had also urged the parties to be realistic and open to compromise to achieve a final resolution of the dispute.
He said Assembly resolution 62/116 and the current resolution shared the same approach as the Council and adhered to the same path. The current dynamic had led to four rounds of negotiations and the process was being supported by the international community. The international community also had the moral duty to support that process as it was important to regional stability and addressing new threats of terrorism.
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