Convinced That Expanding Size of Security Council is an Absolute Necessity Member States Discuss Ways to Carry Out ‘Delicate Engineering Project’
Convinced That Expanding Size of Security Council is an Absolute Necessity Member States Discuss Ways to Carry Out ‘Delicate Engineering Project’
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
45th & 46th Meetings (AM & PM)
Convinced That Expanding Size of Security Council is an Absolute Necessity
Member States Discuss Ways to Carry Out ‘Delicate Engineering Project’
Wrapping Up Two-Day Debate on Security Council Reform, General Assembly
Delegates Also Weigh Options to Limit, Abolish ‘Anachronistic’ Right of Veto
While near-consensus had been reached on many issues that had stymied reform of the Security Council for years, questions about exactly how to expand the 15‑member body in a way that guaranteed its effectiveness remained a stubborn snag in building on progress, General Assembly delegates said today as they wrapped up their two-day joint debate on those and other security matters.
Breaking the stalemate in what some called a “delicate engineering project” required, among other things, flexibility on the part of permanent Council members -- China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States -- to reconsider the merits of their privileged veto use, and that the various reform proposals be compiled into one text by Afghanistan Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Chair of the intergovernmental negotiation process launched earlier this year, to serve as a basis for the next round of talks.
In today’s discussion, many speakers favoured expanding both permanent and non-permanent Council seats, but differed on what rights or privileges should be accorded to those categories.
For its part, the United States was open, in principle, to a limited expansion in both permanent and non-permanent Council seats, that country’s representative said. However, any consideration of permanent seats had to be country-specific. In determining who could gain that status, it would be important to take into account a nation’s ability to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security. His Government was not open to enlargement through a United Nations Charter amendment that changed the veto structure.
To that point, the delegate of the Solomon Islands said his Government would like to see the veto abolished as it too often had been used as a tool for non-action. Should veto powers be retained, all its prerogatives and privileges should be extended to new permanent members. The veto should not be applied in instances of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, he added.
Conversely, Uruguay’s delegate opposed granting the veto to any new permanent members, as well as the establishment of veto, directly or indirectly, through moratoria. That position dated back to the United Nations’ founding, at the San Francisco Conference, when countries were given permanent seats -- but not in perpetuity. The creation of new privileges would undermine the original basis of the United Nations Charter. Uruguay would propose a vote on any paragraphs that put forward alternatives to the veto for any newly elected members.
While Bolivia’s delegate agreed that “expansion was a necessary fact”, he said broadly the Council should comprise 25 members that had neither privileges nor permanent status. Every member should have the same rights and obligations, in order to restore a balance of power between the Council and the Assembly. The veto paralysed the Council’s ability to take decisions and contravened the sovereign equality among Member States. It was unacceptable to supersede that sovereignty with norms that were not democratic.
The representative of Costa Rica also remained cautious about expansion, especially as it was already difficult to reach consensuses among the current Council members. Costa Rica had been flexible in accepting discussion of the “intermediate formula” that would create a new category of elected members, with longer terms, although not exceeding three years, and with the possibility of a one-time re-election. That was, in his view, the only realistic proposal for expansion.
In a similar vein, many speakers linked the Council’s reform to the urgent need for it to both handle entrenched problems and confront new twenty-first century realities. On a few critical occasions, regarding recent situations in Georgia and the Gaza Strip, for example, the Council had failed to adequately react to serious events that directly threatened international peace and security.
The delegate of the Dominican Republic said such challenges had also been laid bare by the coup d’état in Honduras. It was regrettable that the Council had not addressed the inadmissible rupture of a Member State’s political–democratic system, so that democratic and constitutional order could be rapidly restored. The Council could indeed act with a “greater energy” in such circumstances.
Another problem, Venezuela’s delegate pointed out, was the Council’s tendency to take on issues that fell outside its scope. The Council could not continue to follow an outdated map derived from agreements developed after the Second World War.
To remedy that situation, several speakers noted that Council reform was a component of overall United Nations reform and should complement simultaneous revitalization of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
Much more should be done to improve the level and quality of dialogue between the Council and the Assembly, Singapore’s representative said. Although created as a body of action, the Council was not an autonomous organ beholden to no one. It existed in “dynamic symbiosis” with the Assembly. That relationship thrived when both bodies had frank, regular, and candid dialogue, but shrivelled when interaction was choked off or conducted at arms length.
Worse, either side’s refusal to engage with the other had bred suspicion and mistrust, and thereby complicated the task of keeping the peace. Singapore urged all Council Presidents serving when the Report was produced to continue holding informal dialogues with Member States. “Let us prevent the devolution of authority from the United Nations by working to strengthen the effectiveness, transparency and legitimacy of this principal organ”, he declared.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Colombia, Slovakia, Iran, Malaysia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Slovenia, Jamaica, Netherlands, Argentina, Canada, Ukraine, Morocco, Italy, Malta, Maldives, Jordan, China, Mauritius, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkey, Libya, Australia, San Marino, Nicaragua, Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Czech Republic and Bhutan.
The Permanent Observer of the Holy See also spoke.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 16 November, for its joint debate on: the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields; follow up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit; strengthening of the United Nations system; and United Nations reform measures.
The General Assembly met today to continue and conclude its annual joint debate on the question of the equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters. (For more information, please see press release GA/10886).
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said the three rounds of intergovernmental negotiations had let Member States exchange their views on matters related to the reform of the Security Council and understand the visions of different members of the Organization. The Assembly needed to tap into this clarity and advance a process that was necessary to correct the inequities and inefficiencies that affected the Council’s workings. This process, continued today, had created a momentum that had to result with a comprehensive reform of the Council. The intergovernmental negotiations had exposed differences, as well as the areas of reform supported by an ample majority of Member States. With regard to the Council’s working methods, she said there was a need for greater access to information: more open meetings, special sessions and better interaction between the Council and other Members States.
Turning to the veto, Colombia had opposed that privilege since the Organization’s creation and had pushed for its elimination. Limiting the veto’s use only to situations under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, creating mechanisms to revert or neutralize its application, or an increased threshold for its use were options for consideration, she said. The greatest efforts had to be placed on the discussions of categories of membership, where there was the greatest divergence. It was necessary to look for democratic alternatives that guaranteed transparency and strengthened accountability and the representation of all States.
GUSTAVO ÁLVAREZ ( Uruguay) said late access to the Security Council’s report made analysis difficult. Further, the report made for rather “dull reading”, as it lacked substantive information. As to Council reform, Uruguay had always taken a flexible position. His Government supported increases in both permanent and non-permanent categories and the proposals put forward by Brazil, Japan, Germany and India. However, Uruguay opposed granting the veto to new permanent members, as well as the establishment of veto, directly or indirectly, through moratoria. Uruguay’s position dated back to the United Nations’ founding, at the San Francisco Conference, when countries were given permanent seats on the Council, but not in perpetuity. The creation of new privileges would undermine the original basis of the Charter.
He said many items had been discussed in intergovernmental negotiations for more than 12 years and it would not be useful to continue discussing matters that would not enjoy the majority of support -- the veto among them. Uruguay would present texts for amendments, or propose a vote on paragraphs that put forward alternatives to the veto for any newly elected members. On reform of the Council’s working methods, Uruguay supported working methods reform, in keeping with its proposal submitted in negotiating forums.
MANUEL KORČEK ( Slovakia) observed that since the question of size and categories of membership of the Security Council had proven to pose the greatest challenge to reform efforts, he believed time was ripe to start narrowing the scope of negotiations and engage in a serious attempt aimed at defining concrete and precise parameters of the next steps. That meant eliminating those steps that did not enjoy sufficient support and elaborating further on those ideas to which majority of Member States expressed readiness to consider favourably.
He said it was essential to build on the positive momentum created so far and avoid “having a new round of restating well-known positions.” To facilitate movement towards more substantial and concrete deliberations, Slovakia would be in favour of getting a negotiating document from the Chair to serve as a basis for the next debates. Slovakia believed that States capable of assuming the global responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security had to be eligible for filling the posts of potential new permanent members of the Security Council provided that the right of the veto was not further extended. Indeed, the right of veto also needed to be subjected to a serious reform as to the scope and the manner it was being applied, he explained.
Continuing, he noted that even though a majority of Member States supported the expansion of the Security Council in both categories, the inability to agree on that option had resulted in a stalemate Members States had not been able to overcome in years. Any prolonged hesitation to act and reach tangible results in the reform of the Security Council would have further negative consequences on the overall reputation of the United Nations, he cautioned. Thus, in order to make the Organization truly trustworthy and relevant, Member States had a duty to reform the Council without further unnecessary delay. As for regional representation, it was essential to ensure equitable geographical distribution of posts within the non-permanent category of the Security Council, he added, with the observation that the regional group of Eastern European States needed to be allocated at least one additional non-permanent seat.
ESHAGH ALEHABIB (Iran), associating with the statement made by Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said five key issues of the reform process -- new categories of membership, the question of the veto, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods, and the relationship between the Council and the Assembly -- had been well developed in the Assembly since last year. It was also necessary to think critically at this point to avoid repeating the annual pattern of traditional reports that did not reflect necessary changes to make them more useful for all Member States.
He went on to say that the Council’s composition was anachronistic and the underrepresentation of developing countries, including the Muslim world, needed to be addressed. Gradual elimination of the veto power was an ideal for nearly all delegations and the encroachment of the Council on the work of the other main organs of the United Nations, particularly the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and technical bodies, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), under the pretext of security, had to be abandoned.
Regarding relations with the Assembly, he said norm-settings and law-makings by the Council ran counter to the letter and sprit of the Charter, which had designated the Assembly as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ. The report could show the ways in which the general membership, particularly concerned countries, were informed of talks on resolutions or statements directly affecting them.
JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) said the Council had experienced “great failings” in dealing with the situation in the Middle East and the question of Palestine. Its reform was the keystone to strengthening the United Nations and aligning the Organization with changes that had taken place in the international system. United Nations democratization must be assured, notably through the exercise of a genuine culture of democracy. “No country can be overlooked.” United Nations reform involved the Security Council, General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and it must result in boosting the Assembly’s role in performing its functions in the areas of peace and security, in line with the Charter. Those areas were not under the exclusive purview of the Security Council.
He called for curbing the Council’s tendency to take on issues that fell outside its scope -- it could not continue to follow an outdated map derived from agreements following the Second World War. He welcomed that intergovernmental negotiations would continue during the sixty-fourth session and requested the Facilitator to produce a text for future rounds. Council reform should include expansion of permanent and non-permanent seats and reform of its decision-making procedure, through elimination of the veto. Venezuela shared the view on equitable representation, as expressed in 1999. Council reform was linked to the question of the veto, an “anachronism” which jeopardized the very democracy the United Nations sought to promote.
Moreover, he resolutely supported inclusion of developing countries from Africa, Asia, Latin American and Caribbean in permanent seats, and an increase in the Council’s overall size to 25 or 26 members. Open meetings should become the rule, not the exception. The Council must hold consultations more frequently with countries that it discussed, invite non-permanent members to participate in informal consultations and submit periodic reports to the Assembly. Indeed, United Nations reform would be possible only if Charter principles were fully respected.
KENNEDY JAWAN ( Malaysia), noted that that the Council had held 228 formal meetings and 141 consultations during the year and it was unclear how so many meetings had been summarized in a report of merely 51 pages, with an additional 20 pages on the work of subsidiary bodies. The remaining 202 pages were facts and figures, which did not seem like a balanced reporting of discussions. States should be kept informed of the Council’s deliberations, especially those held in closed sessions. Malaysia also wished to see concerned countries included in the Council’s deliberations, rather than informed after the fact.
While the intergovernmental negotiations represented a “breakthrough” and had taken off to a “brilliant” start, they now seem to have fizzled. Malaysia wished to see expansion of permanent and non-permanent seats, without expansion of the veto, and with a view to ending the right to veto. Enlargement should consider that United Nations membership itself had grown, and Council seats should be held by countries with regard for equitable geographical representation. The Council should also interact more with the Assembly.
He said the second and subsequent negotiating rounds lacked the “sterling” quality of the first because States did not have a negotiating text. The Chair should be given the mandate to produce a composite text, which should include all options proposed for each of the five key issues. The list could be trimmed down by eliminating proposals that did not enjoy minimum support. Among the proposals to be put forth should be the “intermediate approach” which appeared to have gained interest in the last weeks of the sixty-third session. Success would be measured by flexibility and Malaysia affirmed its strong support for the process of Council reform.
SIN SON HO (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said although Security Council reform had been on the Assembly’s agenda for 15 years, discussions continued spinning with no results. No progress was achieved with regard to adequate representation of developing countries within the body, and recently specific countries abused it for political purposes by forcing it to unlawfully deal with issues beyond its mandate. That had led the international community to discredit the Council.
He said that a typical example of such abuse was the Council’s move to call into question his country’s satellite launch last April. To date, no other such launches had been debated at the Security Council. “The Council has singled out and debated the DPRK’s peaceful satellite launch, which is lawfully conducted pursuant to all international legal procedures,” he said, adding that such action was clearly selective and arbitrary. It was also a wanton violation of international space treaties which stipulated that all States were free to explore and use the outer space in accordance with international laws, on equal footing and without discrimination.
In all that, the Security Council’s high-handedness had reduced the body to tool used by some to override international laws. It was also a clear testament to the international community’s need to press for -- and demand -- the Council be reformed to correct its democracy deficit. As for the Council’s working methods, he discouraged informal consultations and called instead for fair deliberation, and open-ended and full participation of all stakeholders in the issues on its agenda.
Continuing, he said non-aligned and other developing countries, including Africans, which constituted the overwhelming majority of Membership, needed to be adequately represented on the Security Council. Japan, however, should never be granted a seat, since “it revives militaristic ambition by persistently denying the history of aggression, instead of recognizing and repairing its crime-woven past.” Any discussions on Japan’s status based on its contribution to United Nations activities were a dangerous move and a shame of the international community. This would only instigate Japan’s unaccomplished ambition for realizing the “Great Asia Common Prosperity Sphere.”
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) reiterated calls by Member States for greater transparency, accountability and wider participation of the general Membership in the work of the Security Council in order to enhance the implementation of that body’s responsibility to maintain international peace and security. Once again confirming its commitment to the United Nations reform and, above all, the Council, Kazakhstan clearly reaffirmed its position on increasing the Council’s membership in both permanent and non-permanent categories in order to improve regional representation, she said.
For Kazakhstan, it was more preferable to increase Security Council membership from the current 15 to 25 through adding six permanent and four non-permanent seats in that body. The six new permanent members would be elected along the following lines: two from the African states; two from Asia; one from Latin America and the Caribbean and; one from the Eastern European states. The four new non-permanent Council members would be chosen as follows: one from Africa, one from Asia, one from Latin America and the Caribbean, and one from the Eastern European states, she explained.
Also, she was of the view that the present state of the negotiation process should consider a new formula that would narrow convergences between the majority of the Member States in favour of increasing the Council’s membership in both categories, and the “Uniting for Consensus” Group that was insisting on expansion only in the category of non-permanent member seats. She felt that it made sense to thoroughly consider an intermediate approach. But such an option did not have to be accepted as a starting point for a new round of negotiations. It was also her country’s view that new permanent members should not exercise the right of veto until a decision on extending the veto right for them was taken by the review conference that would estimate the work and contribution of potential permanent members into strengthening peace and security.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia) said the reporting period showed the Council’s increasing workload and the wide range of complex issues it handled. She said reform of the 15-member body was long overdue. Such change was necessary for fairness and to improve the Council’s effectiveness and make it more representative. Regardless of its size, there needed to be an improvement of its working methods and its relations with all the membership.
There had to be more work done in the five key working areas of reform. Slovenia was convinced that there had to be expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories of membership. She said that Africa and Latin America were underrepresented so far, and the enlargement should provide for all small- and mid-size members. The Assembly had to preserve the momentum and move forward. While the support was strong for reform, there was still much divergence. The Assembly needed to narrow its focus in order to advance on reform, she said.
VANU GOPALA MENON ( Singapore), welcoming several qualitative improvements to the expanded introduction to the Council’s report, said more could still be done to improve the report’s substance and clarity. More specificity was needed on the year’s achievements and the lack thereof. Quantity should not be mistaken for quality and additional information should be substantive. If the Council was unable to produce a collective analysis of its work, its 15 members could reflect on the past year and share their assessments with the Assembly, including why some “legacy” resolutions were adopted year after year with no apparent progress. Those individual national assessments could then be shared with the Assembly.
He stressed that much more should be done to improve the level and quality of dialogue between the Council and the Assembly. Although created as a body of action, the Council was not an autonomous organ beholden to no one. Rather it existed in dynamic symbiosis with the Assembly. That relationship thrived when both bodies had frank, regular, and candid dialogue, but shrivelled when interaction was choked off or conducted at arms length. Worse, either side’s refusal to engage with the other had bred suspicion and mistrust, thereby complicating the task of keeping the peace. Singapore urged all Council Presidents serving when the Report was produced to continue holding informal dialogues with Member States.
Turning to Security Council reform, he said deep divisions remained despite the last session’s hotly debated intergovernmental negotiations. Singapore had consistently supported an expansion in both permanent and non-permanent seats. Few concrete details were offered on suggestions for “intermediate seats” and negotiations should be continued. Further, the “Small Five States Group” (S-5) believed improving the Council’s working methods to make it more efficient and transparent were integral to overall reform and would enhance its legitimacy. He called on the permanent members to exercise leadership and to work closely with the Assembly towards reform, underlining that their special responsibilities carried a price those States must be willing to pay. It was also in the interest of all Member States that the Council and the Organization as whole be kept relevant, particularly in the face of alternative groupings taking root. “Let us prevent the devolution of authority from the United Nations by working to strengthen the effectiveness, transparency and legitimacy of this principal organ.”
FEDERICO CUELLO CAMILO ( Dominican Republic) said the Council’s fundamental need to adapt to today’s present realities had been exposed by the coup d’état in Honduras. It was regrettable that the Council had not addressed the inadmissible rupture of a Member State’s political–democratic system, to rapidly restore that country’s democratic and constitutional order. Leonel Fernandez, President of the Dominican Republic, had questioned the mechanisms used by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations to restore Manuel Zelaya to power. The Council had the competency to act with a “greater energy” in such circumstances, he said, urging its member States to restore the democratic order in Honduras.
Turning to the right of veto, he said that issue should not be a part of the reform process and should be discussed at a review Conference of the Charter in 10 years. The reform should, however, cover the Council’s methods of work and ensure a more active dialogue with the Assembly to provide greater transparency and legitimacy. There was no justification for the current representation scenario in which the interests of countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean had been marginalized. He urged that Latin America and the Caribbean be equally represented in relation to other regions when the number of Council positions was increased.
RAYMOND O. WOLFE ( Jamaica) pointed out that the Security Council remained an essential pillar of the United Nations system, especially since it was charged with the responsibility of maintaining and countering threats to international peace and security. Its work was of tremendous importance, and its decisions impacted the daily lives of all across the globe. The Council’s most recent report was only an account of its many activities, and needed to contain a higher level of qualitative and analytical content, including such cases in which the Council had failed to act, as well as the views expressed during the consideration of agenda items. The continued absence of a methodical and systematic diagnosis of the Council’s work remained symptomatic of the much-outdated and discredited working methods the majority of Member States continued to deplore.
Equitable representation remained an issue, and unquestionably, decision 62/557 was the correct direction and steered away from a cycle of endless consultations and repetitions of established positions. Jamaica welcomed the decision to continue intergovernmental negotiations in an informal plenary of the General Assembly this year. He supported expansion in the permanent and non-permanent categories of Council membership, as that would make it far more democratic. It was important to note that in statements made by permanent members of the Security Council, there had been a general acceptance of the need for expansion in the permanent category as a means to make the Council more inclusive and representative. He reiterated his delegation’s call for a compilation document containing the proposals and positions of all Member States as the basis for conducting open, inclusive and transparent negotiations, in a very focused, constructive and orderly manner.
HERMAN SCHAPER ( Netherlands) said that in 1946, the first year of the Council’s existence, it had adopted 15 resolutions. Over the past year, the Council adopted 53 resolutions, along with 43 presidential and 35 press statements. Those figures were an expression of how the role of the Security Council in its primary responsibility for international peace and security had expanded over the years, especially since the end of the Cold War two decades ago. All the while the Council acted on behalf of all members of the United Nations; therefore, it was a matter of legitimate concern to the entire membership that the composition of the Council appropriately reflected present day international realities. In the discussion on enlargement of the Council, the membership should be guided by the criteria laid down in Article 23 of the Charter, in particular the contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security, and equitable geographical distribution. Those were criteria the membership could also take into account more often when electing non-permanent members.
He said that for more than 15 years, the General Assembly had discussed Security Council reform. Against that background, the progress made during the sixty-third session had been no mean feat, as the process had moved from endless deliberation to intensive negotiation. Hopefully, that momentum could be maintained in the coming year. He expressed happiness at learning that Ambassador Tanin would chair the meetings.
After looking at five key issues from all angles, the next logical step was a text to provide a basis for negotiation. Member States needed to take on the task of providing that, which in all fairness could not be asked of Ambassador Tanin right now. The main contender to break the current logjam in negotiations was the intermediate approach. That inventive solution continued to raise questions in certain quarters, but the solution was not more plenary meetings, but only “putting pen to paper” in jointly drafting a composite negotiation text. Some delegations accepted the intermediate model exclusively as a potential outcome, not as a point of departure. But for it to be a potential outcome, it needed to be on the map as a point of interest. The only alternative to exploring inventive solutions was the status quo and all Member States had declared a desire to move beyond that. Such declarations created obligations, as subsequently doing nothing led only to the conclusion that the United Nations was broken and incapable of repairing itself -- the worst possible outcome for everyone.
ALEJANDRO D. WOLFF ( United States) said the Council’s annual report gave non-Council members a comprehensive view of that body’s work and he hoped it would enhance cooperation between the Council and the Assembly. The United States took seriously the importance of all States being involved in the Council’s work and there had been efforts to hold more formal meetings. There had been 228 such meetings between August 2008 and July 2009. Regrettably, those meetings had not been attended by many States and he hoped others would avail themselves regularly to the opportunity to learn about the Council’s work. For those States that could not do so, he urged reviewing the Council’s website for further in-depth information.
He welcomed the Assembly President’s appointment of Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan as Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations and pledged the United States’ full support for his leading productive talks. As the United States had stated in the three previous negotiating rounds, it supported expansion of the Council. However, that expansion should not diminish the Council’s effectiveness or efficiency.
Indeed, the United States was open, in principle, to a limited expansion in both permanent and non-permanent seats, he said. In terms of categories, his Government strongly believed that any consideration of permanent seats must be country-specific. In determining that, the United States would take into account a country’s ability to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security. The United States was not open to enlargement through a chartered amendment that changed the veto structure. Whatever form that emerged should have in mind Charter requirements for ratification. His Government would work with others to find a way forward that enhanced the Council’s ability to effectively meet the challenges of the new century.
JORGE ARGUELLO ( Argentina) said it was concerned by the global conflicts created by a lack of resources. The tragic situations in Somalia and Sudan were examples of such conditions. He also criticized the terrorist attacks that he termed attacks on the principles of the United Nations. Yet the Council’s statements on such issues were frequently regarded as banal. The Council should decide what political actions it should take, working with the Assembly, to end the scourge of terrorism. He supported the Council’s efforts to stop crimes against humanity and genocide. The international community had a responsibility to act when the States involved did not, or could not, act.
There was a crisis of relevance in the Council in the areas of peace and security. Argentina wanted a comprehensive reform to make the body more democratic and legitimate and let it adapt to future changes in the international scene. It had to be made more representative so, for example, small- and mid-size states could make a contribution to lasting peace and security. A reform of its working methods was also necessary, as was rehabilitating its relationship with the Assembly. An increase in the number of non-permanent members was necessary to make the Council more democratic, he said. The proposed intermediate solution could be a compromise that would lead to a lasting solution. Argentina was keen to continue the intergovernmental process.
JOHN MCNEE (Canada) said the Council had taken important decisions in the last year on peace support operations in places like Haiti, Afghanistan and Sudan, as well as launched a review of peacekeeping issues more generally, an undertaking that Canada strongly supported. His Government was encouraged by the pledge to improve consultations with Troop- and Police-Contributing Countries and hoped that proposals for follow-up would be coming shortly. While consultations on the mandate generation process had to be improved, Canada was encouraged that the Council was working closely with the Peacebuilding Commission.
At the same time, the Council’s report failed to provide an analysis of how and why its decisions had been made. Transforming the report in that way could be part of the follow-up to the open debate on the Council’s working methods, held last August and a long overdue event. He reiterated the request that the Working Group on Council Documentation be mandated to review Presidential Note 507 and present its findings to the Council as soon as possible.
In other areas, he said intergovernmental negotiations to date had shown convergence in many areas: there was broad agreement on the need to increase the Council’s size in a way that ensured it remained effective. There was also overwhelming support for improved working methods and restraint on use of the veto. However, there was serious disagreement over membership categories and Canada believed the Council could not be reformed by simply extending the privileges of a few to “a few more” through the addition of permanent seats.
His Government supported a modest increase in the number of elected, non-permanent seats, which would allow for better representation of all regions, preserve the oversight role of the broader membership, increase the proportion of elected members and provide an opportunity for small- and medium-sized States to serve. However, no proposal had anywhere near the support necessary to be adopted. As such, Canada supported the decision to hold a separate debate on intermediate options. Adding elected, extended-term seats would satisfy the need to recognize the contributions that some States had made, while maintaining accountability to the broader membership. More exploration of the intermediate option offered the best chance for unlocking the stalemate.
YURIY VITRENKO ( Ukraine) said he encouraged the Council’s permanent and non-permanent members to compromise on the many difficult issues -- such as terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and stabilization of the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur -- that faced the United Nations. On a few critical occasions, such as topics of Georgia and Gaza, it had failed to adequately react to serious challenges that directly threatened international peace and security. The world needed a more modern Council as demand for United Nations participation in conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding was growing.
Council reform was an issue of exceptional international significance. The expansion of its membership was a matter of fairness and a precondition for its effectiveness. Enlargement of the Council and improvement of its working methods were both needed. As a compromise decision, Ukraine viewed the adoption of the intermediate model as a first step forward and a compromise decision. Ukraine was open to discuss all possible options and new creative approaches to reform. Yet any increase in the non-permanent membership should ensure greater representation of the Group of Eastern European States, he said.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said there was a need for action on the Council’s working methods, with view to improving its cooperation with the Assembly and other bodies. Improving its working methods should compliment, not substitute, broader Council reform. The various matters that the Council had addressed showed its attention to situations that threatened international peace and security, notably the situation in the Middle East, including Palestine, and the tragic events in Gaza at the beginning of the year. Despite the unanimous adoption of resolution 1860 (2009), Palestinians were still awaiting its full implementation.
As to other matters, he said Africa was at the heart of the Council’s peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts. Citing a special debate that took stock of progress made in Sierra Leone, Burundi and Guinea-Bissau, he noted the Peacebuilding Commission’s contributions. The debate also underscored the need to boost the peace process in other parts of Africa and demonstrated the importance of regional stakeholders in promoting solutions.
On the question of the Sahara, he said the Council had called on all, including Algeria, to cooperate with the United Nations to achieve a realistic political solution. Morocco had presented an “open autonomy” initiative, which was open for negotiation. That text would be presented to the populations concerned for approval and showed that his Government was committed to moving beyond deadlock. Other parties, however, were using “deviant manoeuvres” that would harm the negotiation dynamic. Morocco had given guarantees of its wish to settle that dispute and he hoped others would show the same political desire for the good of all people in the Maghreb.
CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI ( Italy) said there had been tangible signs of renewed efforts towards a comprehensive reform over the past year, including the start of intergovernmental talks in February. Sharp differences still existed between the parties and no proposal on the “categories of membership” question had the necessary support. The goal was to identify a road towards a compromise solution that had the necessary support in the Assembly.
There were three roads ahead that could be helpful. One was building on the areas of convergence, such as the reform of the working methods and updating the decision-making mechanisms. Another prerequisite for progress was the abdication of extreme positions. Thirdly, it was essential to move towards innovative solutions to bring the parties closer together, he said. The first avenue could be the so-called intermediate solutions. Italy did not have a definitive position in favour of, or opposed, to intermediate approaches. Another innovative solution that deserved deeper exploration was regional representation, a new approach that was gathering growing interest from various groups. He was thinking of Africa, whose underrepresentation in the Council was an urgent reason for reform. An increased regional dimension, in contrast to an increase in seats for a tiny group of countries, would automatically assure greater representation of all Member States.
PABLO SOLÓN ( Bolivia) said intergovernmental negotiations should continue, building on progress achieved in the three previous rounds. Reform was directly linked to the abolition of the veto and he reaffirmed the centrality of that issue for authentic reform. It was also linked to Council’s expansion and working methods, especially its decision-making measures. The veto paralysed the Council’s ability to take decisions and contravened the sovereign equality among Member States. It was unacceptable to supersede the concept of equal sovereignty with norms that were not democratic or that represented a grave offence to the international community.
“Expansion is a necessary fact,” and it should apply to one category only, he said. There should be 25 Council members, without privileges, without permanent members. All should have the same rights and obligations to restore a balance of powers between the Security Council and the Assembly. Council reform should also include a transformation of its working methods. Transparency and accountability should be incorporated into the Council, as well as into its subsidiary bodies, including the Sanctions Committee. Finally, he said it would be useful to compile various proposals to date into one text and for the Assembly President to issue a calendar of work for discussions during the sixty‑fourth session.
COLLIN BECK ( Solomon Islands) welcomed the Assembly President’s engagement to facilitating the process to build on progress made, and his Government would work with him to make the Council more representative, efficient and transparent. He echoed support for increased membership of permanent and non-permanent seats, and wished to see equitable geographical representation, in particular, regions not represented or underrepresented in the permanent category: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
On the veto, his Government would like to see it abolished, as it too often had been used as a tool for non-action. Should the right of veto be retained, all its prerogatives and privileges should be extended to new permanent members. But, it should not be applied in instances of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Reform of the Council’s working methods had received overwhelming support. The S-5 proposal would provide a good basis to begin real negotiations.
As for the Council’s relationship with the Assembly, he said the Assembly should make the Council accountable for its actions, or lack thereof. There should be more effective participation of Small Island Developing States in a reformed Council. In closing, he expressed hope for upholding the integrity of the process and asked the Chair to develop a text of proposals that had been put forward thus far.
SAVIOUR F. BORG ( Malta) noted the increase in open debates and briefings at the Security Council, which had increased transparency and openness and enhanced access to participation by all Member States. The situations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East continued to create concern for the entire United Nations Membership, and he specifically mentioned African conflicts, which occupied a considerable portion of the Council’s work.
Considering that half the current United Nations peacekeeping operations, political offices and missions were in Africa, and 70 per cent of the United Nations peacekeepers and 4 per cent of the peacekeeping budget went to Africa, he said that relevant partnerships and cooperation initiatives needed strengthening. Malta welcomed the missions undertaken by the Security Council members to Africa, Asia and Haiti, which continued to bring the work of the Council closer to Governments and those in conflict areas.
The Middle East continued to present a formidable challenge and the grave loss of life emanating at the beginning of this year in and around the Gaza Strip had aggravated the deteriorating humanitarian situation, which required a more decisive contribution of the Security Council in implementation of resolution 1860 (2009), he said. The progress of the last year on the reform had been the result of healthy and proactive exchanges that took place in the intergovernmental negotiations on five key issues. Those issues were linked, and thus, needed consideration as a whole. He emphasized the significant increase of small States that had become United Nations Members, and thus they needed to be taken into account when discussing the proposed expansion of an enlarged Security Council. That would be a just approach to dealing with the claims of over 40 small Member States for full recognition of their legitimate concerns being integrated into the intergovernmental negotiation process.
ABDUL GHAFOOR MOHAMED ( Maldives) said comprehensive reforms were at the heart of greater efforts to revamp an international structure that had come into being more than 60 years ago. For the United Nations to progress in that manner as an effective institution, the Council had to be expanded and restructured to reflect the present geopolitical realities. The inclusion of India and Japan in any future composition of the Council was a fundamental mechanism for future reform and the Council’s effective functioning in the twenty-first century.
The recent positive efforts achieved during the intergovernmental talks had to be maintained. While the composition of the Council was a key area of reform, efforts to improve its working methods were also necessary to restore its credibility, authority and legitimacy within the United Nation system. The Council’s expanding membership should include the participation of small islands, landlocked and other vulnerable States. He emphasized the need to reconceptualize the veto institution in order to strengthen the present architecture of both responsive and preventive measures to maintain international peace and security.
JORGE URBINA (Costa Rica) stressing the importance his country attached to the issue of the Security Council’s working methods, and its well known position regarding the non-extension of the use of the veto and the limitations its use needed to have, said that Costa Rica maintained the opinion of not allowing admission of more permanent members, arguing that such an increase in that category would diminish even more the degree of influence of elected members within the Council. It would also prove detrimental to the Member States that would never be part of the Council and would reduce access to the process of decision-making by means of the “cascade effect”, as demonstrated by Costa Rica some time ago.
With regard to the increase of members of the Council, Costa Rica remained cautious, in view of the fact that experience had confirmed that with the current number of members, it was difficult to reach the necessary consensuses. At the same time, he recognized the need for equitable geographic representation. Costa Rica wanted reform and had shown flexibility in accepting to discuss the intermediate formula, that would create a new category of elected members, with longer terms, although not exceeding three years, and with the possibility of a one-time re-election. That was, in his view, the only realistic proposal for expansion, capable of generating broad and viable consensus with the necessary consent of the permanent members. In that regard, he urged the small group of countries that aspired to become permanent members to engage in an equally flexible behaviour and make efforts to contribute to the decision-making that would allow the Organization to better achieve its objectives of peace and security.
MOHAMMED F. AL-ALLAF ( Jordan) said the Council’s report was important and the discussions were a healthy endeavour. The report showed the Council’s accomplishments and he hoped the document could become more analytical in nature and be drafted in a comprehensive manner. But the Assembly needed to be realistic. There were great distances to cover and important issues to address. For example, the report had to deal with how the Council dealt with peacekeeping operations and lessons learned from positive steps that had been taken.
An accurate description was important to maintain the institutional memory. The Council was tasked with maintaining international peace and security, tasks that were tied to non-Council members. That required effective communication with the Assembly. Today’s world required efforts to guarantee a more effective role. for the United Nations and democratize its proceedings to reform the Council. Jordan regarded reform as an important issue and would continue to take a constructive role, he said. Reform on certain issues should not be held hostage to other elements, such as the use of the veto and expansion of membership.
Zhang Yesui ( China) said the Security Council had deliberated on a host of issues concerning international peace and security, and made tireless efforts to facilitate settlement of regional hotspot issues, promote regional stability and assist post-conflict countries in peace-building endeavours. The United Nations Charter entrusted the sacred responsibility of maintaining international peace to the Security Council. The Council needed to put more energy into addressing the major, pressing issues that threatened international peace and security. It needed to refrain from discussing issues that in essence belonged to the internal affairs of a country and posed no threat to international peace and security. The Council needed to strengthen its capacity for peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
In addition, he said the Council needed to strengthen its dialogue and cooperation with other United Nations organs and agencies as well as regional and sub-regional organizations. United Nations peacekeeping needed reform, and now it faced new challenges and circumstances. Thus, the Council needed to improve its working methods and decision-making mechanisms and facilitate the peacekeeping operations to carry out its missions more effectively. China supported the Council’s aim to increase representation of developing countries, especially of those in Africa.
He said any reforms undertaken needed to reflect the trend of democratisation in international relations and give medium-sized and small countries greater access to the decision-making process of the Council. The five issues involving reform were interrelated and should not be addressed piecemeal. Only an integrated approach and package solution could accommodate the interests of Member States on different issues. Security Council reform was complicated and delicate, and aimed not just to strive for progress, but also offered a flexible approach that accommodated the interests of all parties and stressed democratic consultation.
SOMDUTH SOBORUN ( Mauritius) said there could be no meaningful reform of the Security Council without an expansion in the categories of both permanent and non-permanent members. Indeed, he charged that the perpetuity and the veto right conferred on the permanent members had made them a category of members who were more equal than the others in an Organization whose Charter was based on equal sovereign rights. That being the case, and since in all likelihood that situation would continue for decades to come, one of the ways to remedy it was to enhance the legitimacy, equity and effectiveness of the Council by adding new permanent members.
In any case, he believed that, after nearly 64 years since the establishment of the United Nations, it was high time that the powers of the present permanent five members of the Security Council were shared with the newcomers -- those who were ready to shoulder their fair share of the responsibilities in accordance with the Charter and in the larger interest of the international community.
While improvements in the working methods of the Security Council were essential for more transparency and accountability, the key to the comprehensive and meaningful reform of the Council remained in its expansion, particularly in the category of permanent members, he declared. Decisive action on the expansion of membership in the permanent category would in turn unleash the dynamics to address the issues of common concerns such as regional representation, equitable geographical distribution, the small and medium States and a devoted rotational seat for the small island developing States, as suggested by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the right to veto power.
ZACHARY MUBURI-MUITA ( Kenya) thanked the President of the Security Council for the report he had presented yesterday, and took note of the attention the Council paid to situations of conflict in Africa, including the high-level debate on situations of conflict on the continent. He was pleased to note progress made in improvement of the Council’s working methods. The report fulfilled the Council’s obligation under the Charter and constituted part of its commitment towards increasing transparency and accountability. He welcomed the measures the Council took to conduct its business in a more open manner. Turning to equitable representation and increasing the Council’s membership, he said that issue had been on the agenda for more than 10 years, and thus, the Council needed to be enlarged and be made more democratic.
As the Prime Minister of Kenya noted during this year’s general debate, the world could no longer marginalize a continent which was home to nearly a billion people. That was wrong in principle and wrong in practice. The international community could not find sustainable solutions to its challenges when such a large part of humanity was given so little voice and role in the quest of peace. Member States had demonstrated a keen interest in the reform process, as evidenced by the robust engagement throughout the first, second and third round of intergovernmental negotiations. He believed the spirit for further debate was still alive and burning. The momentum generated during the course of the Assembly’s sixty third session must be maintained, and indeed there was a need to move forward towards concrete proposals that were intended to democratise the United Nations.
BUKUN OLU ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) lauded the precedent set by Viet Nam in July 2008 when non-Security Council members had taken part in informal consultations while its annual report was being compiled. He praised the attention that Africa and peace keeping and conflict resolution efforts there had been receiving. He also appreciated the fact that relations between the African Union and the United Nations had been bolstered. He thanked Council members for their efforts to maintain international peace and security. Turning to the Council’s latest annual report, he said that it had not changed in years and that it would reflect issues that had been discussed yet not concluded.
With regard to reforming the Council, he said that during the Assembly’s sixty-third session, great strides had been taken to usher in intergovernmental negotiations, after the Open Ended Working Group’s sluggish attempts to do so. Reforming the United Nations would have to include increasing the size of the Security Council in order to reflect current global trends and shifting power relations over the past 60 years. That would make the Council more representative, transparent and legitimate, especially with the emergence of new political and economic players that could contribute to maintaining peace and security. The Security Council would thus have to make it possible for small and large States to participate on an equal footing.
Although Nigeria supported ongoing intergovernmental talks on Security Council reforms, it deplored “the foot dragging approach of some members” that had been distracting and detracting from that process. The time had come to work together towards reaching concrete goals on common concerns, he stressed. Africa’s absence from the Security Council’s permanent slots had demonstrated how inherently inequitable that organ was. It hadn’t even fared better in the non-permanent category, with merely three seats. To rectify that injustice, he insisted that the continent would have to be given at least two constant seats and five rotating seats. Given its far-reaching impact, the Council’s working methods had to be more inclusive of the Organization’s other organs he said, calling for its decision-making process to be more transparent and accountable. In that regard Nigeria endorsed a growing relationship between the Assembly and the Council, one in which the Council would not encroach upon the Assembly, he added..
ERTUĞRUL APAKAN ( Turkey) said the Council’s annual report had shown the heavy workload undertaken by that body, as well as the importance of African issues, particularly within the context of peacekeeping and peacebuilding. As an elected member of the Council for the 2009-2010 term, Turkey would continue to provide its own perspective and contributions to address the Council’s challenges. Turkey remained fully committed to the Council’s reform, which was closely related to the revitalization of the Assembly. The two processes should continue to proceed simultaneously.
While the past three rounds of intergovernmental negotiations had been useful, the membership remained divided on such issues as the categories of membership and the question of the veto. He did not see much merit in dwelling too much on those issues. Instead, divergent views should be set aside and the Assembly should concentrate on ideas that could potentially secure the widest possible political support. Member States endowed with the means to provide peace and stability in their region and beyond should be allowed to take a more active part in the Council.
As a Council member for nearly half a century, Turkey had benefited immensely from the unique experience and responsibility. That experience should not be the sole prerogative of a privileged minority, but be available to all aspiring Member States. Turkey would support the extended representation of such Member States. The intermediate approach, consisting of renewable or longer term seats, could provide this extended representation, he said.
ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM ( Libya) felt it was important in reform of Security Council, especially since its current set up reflected the balance of power as it was after the Second World War when most countries were still under colonial domination, particularly those on the African continent. He decried the fact that today, when Africa represented more than one fourth of membership of the United Nations, it continued to be unrepresented in the Council. It was only right to give the continent its fair representation by giving it two permanent seats including the veto privilege.
Continuing, he said that the present set up of the Council had been unsuccessful. It was not democratic and was not achieving international peace and security by means expected of its members. In his view, that had been because a few members of the Council were interested only in pursuing their own narrow national interests. In that context, it was the duty of all Member States to work together in order to change the present make up of the Council and turn it into a credible body. In order to do that, there was need to give more attention to the regional and other groups, he explained, noting that all States should be equal and the veto right should be “to all or not at all”. To that end, the General Assembly was the real and true representative of all members. As the ‘world’s parliament” the Assembly was the right body to discuss and bring about that change.
ANDREW GOLEDZINOWSKI ( Australia) said while the exchange regarding Security Council reform to date had been interesting and important, little progress had been made and the Assembly had not engaged in substantive negotiations. Australia supported the enlargement of the Council in both categories of permanent and non-permanent seats. Japan should be included as a permanent member, in recognition of its major financial contribution to United Nations peacekeeping missions and the role in developing peace-building activities. An expanded Council would include appropriate representation of Africa, a region making up more than one-quarter of Member States. It also supported redressing the absence of permanent representation of Latin America.
The reform of the membership and its working methods was vital to enhance the United Nations credibility and its capacity to fulfil the goals set out in the Charter. “We are concerned that the credibility of the UN and its effectiveness will be harmed if we remain entrenched in the current impasse and permit the challenges of the Security Council reform to impede progress more broadly in the work of the UN,” he said, encouraging delegations to show flexibility. He looked forward to contributing to the next round of intergovernmental negotiations.
DANIELE D. BODINI ( San Marino) said there had been substantial improvement in the negotiating process of such fundamental reforms and he strongly believed that the Assembly had to renew its efforts to achieve, in a reasonable period of time, a satisfactory compromise on Council reform. The difficulty in reaching a comprehensive agreement lied in the Assembly’s inability to subordinate national interest to the international ones. The Assembly had to work towards a compromise solution that would not please anyone on a national level, but would enhance everyone’s confidence in the Council and its crucial role in the United Nations. San Marino was ready to do its part.
Hermida Castillo ( Nicaragua) opened by discussing the issue of intergovernmental negotiations and noted that many countries had called for them for many years. There was a universal consensus in favour of the abolition of the veto right and it was necessary to proceed accordingly. He said the threat of the use of veto was anachronistic and needed to be corrected under these forms. In addition, the General Assembly should have the right to revoke the use of the veto by any members if it was abused.
Enlarging membership in the Security Council was very important, in order to make it and the wider United Nations more democratic and effective. If true reform of the Council desired, then there needed to be a democratization of the process of the election of the body’s members. Turning to the issue of intervention by the Security Council, he said that it shouldn’t intervene in matters that were under the mandate of the General Assembly. Changes in the methods of work of the Council were needed to transform it and make it more transparent and more accountable to the General Assembly. The historical demands of Africa, Caribbean, and Latin America, should not be hindered or denied, and thus he called on the immediate continuation of intergovernmental negotiations.
PAMPHILE GOUTONDJI ( Benin) said the annual report showed the Council’s work over the past year in tackling serious activities, including peacekeeping. It had adopted two resolutions to combat sexual violence against women. It showed the importance of its work with regional groups. There were critical situations in which the expectations of Members had not been met. It was important for the Council to find the right methods to react to dangerous situations, such as the conflict in Gaza. When lives of civilians were endangered, one day of dithering had serious results.
Benin agreed with the Council’s efforts to make its methods more open and it encouraged the Council to continue to examine its working methods. A revision of its working methods could help counter the inappropriate representation of the Council. The indefinite postponing of reform was fraught with risks. Benin supported expansion of both categories of the Council’s membership categories. Now was not the time for experimentation and the intermediate or transitional solution pushed in that direction, he said. Implementing that approach could lead to an erosion of the Council’s authority. Benin wanted a representative council and believed that by continuing to exclude Africa from permanent membership, that body would perpetuate historical injustices. Africa needed at least two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats. The Assembly had to adopt the best methods for negotiations, he added.
ALFREDO LOPES CABRAL (Guinea Bissau) said there was a degree of prudent optimism in the debates on the reform of the Security Council and everybody knew the degree of determination needed to accomplish the task of reforming that body. But the Assembly needed to recognize that as the body where all members were considered to be on equal footing, it had a particularly important role to play in that process. Therefore, in considering the reforms, it was important that the Assembly kept in mind its responsibility to move the reform of the Council forward.
Stating that African members had a particular and specific responsibility to contribute to the process of council reform, he said it was vital that African countries were involved at every level of the process, and encouraged members of the Council to breathe more dynamism into the progress being made by reporting on issues brought before them. He further highlighted the need for members to be more reasonable when dealing with the fundamental question of council reform, and not just present entrenched positions, but instead to be open-minded in listening to what was being said around issues. He urged members to come in a spirit of give and take.
He said that the council as it existed today could not continue and the world is not the same as it was in 1945 and ensures that other members could come along and play their role, stressing that it was necessary to point out that the Security Council could be reformed into a more efficient body that could better meet the challenges facing members of the Organization today.
PETR KAISER ( Czech Republic), noting that there was broad agreement that the Council reform was long overdue and that there was need to redouble efforts to fulfil the task of attain that goal, said it was crucial to resume the intergovernmental process without unnecessary delays. The debates held over past years had provided an ample opportunity for clarification of the positions of all actors.
While the Czech position on Security Council reform was well know, he underlined that his country shared the conviction of a vast majority of the Member States that the basis if a genuine reform of the Council was its expansion in both categories -- permanent and non-permanent. The reform of the Council also had to redress under-representation of some regional groups, namely, Africa. In that regard, he endorsed allocation of two new permanent seats, each to the regions of Africa and Asia, one each to Latin American and Caribbean States, as well as Western European and Other States. However, the enlargement need not be done at the expenses of the small-and mid-sized countries that represented the majority of the United Nations. Therefore, the enlargement had also to involve the addition of non-permanent seats, including one seat for the Eastern European Group, he added.
NIMA OME ( Bhutan) offered appreciation for the extensive work carried out by the Security Council. The Council’s achievements were impressive and contributed greatly to maintenance of international peace and security. The Council was the principal organ in the United Nations with the primary responsibility towards maintaining international peace and security, in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations. Therefore, it was important to give priority to bring about the much-needed reform of its composition and working methods. That would make the Council more representative, accountable, and reflect the changing international scenario.
On the issue of equitable representation and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters, in the one last year, much had been achieved. Three rounds of intergovernmental negotiations had been conducted and the member countries, regional groups and other groups had made known their positions and proposals. The five key issues and a number of options had been debated. What was important now was to build upon the progress achieved and work toward moving onto the next stage by narrowing down the commonalities. Some that could be considered were those that had overwhelming support for expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent membership categories, and the representation from underrepresented regions and developing countries in both categories.
In closing remarks, General Assembly President ALI ABDUSSALAM TREKI said Member States had again shown the importance they attach to the Council’s work and shown they would like to see it perform even better, in a more transparent and effective manner. That would help the Council promote international peace and security, its primary responsibility. The many valuable suggestions for improving the Council report would receive due consideration. The debate had reaffirmed Member States’ commitment to achieve an early and comprehensive reform of the Council in all its aspect. There was strong interest in the intergovernmental negotiations process and the statements made over the past two days would contribute to the process, he said.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Japan said his comments were related to the comments made earlier by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It was regrettable that Japan had to respond to such comments when other delegations were seriously engaged in the debate of today’s topics. Japan firmly believed that the qualifications of a given country for permanent membership in the Council should be based on that country’s real contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security. Japan was committed to peace and had been trying its best to live up to this standard.
Regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea delegate’s reference to the “unfortunate past”, Japan could not accept those references by that delegation because Japan had been facing up to its past with sincerity and consistency since the end of World War II. Japan had been consistently dedicating itself for more than 60 years to promoting international peace and prosperity and demonstrating respect for democracy and human rights.
In this context, Japan wanted to reiterate its intention to seek normalization of its relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in accordance with the Japan-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Pyongyang Declaration. That would be done through comprehensively resolving the outstanding issues of concern with that country and sincerely settling the “unfortunate past,” as Prime Minister Hatoyama had stated during his address at the sixty-fourth Assembly session.
Responding, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said Japan was not qualified for a permanent seat in the Security Council. In order to clarify the issue, he said Japan had killed one million Koreans, and provided “comfort women” for the Japanese army. While Japan said that it had done all it could to rectify that situation, Japan used the word “apology” only when it felt it needed to redress the political situation. In addition, he said Japanese officials explained away the incidents by saying that comfort women were sold by their parents and they were prostitutes. He called those “inhumane and insane remarks.”
Fearing their crimes would be revealed, he said the Japanese had destroyed evidence and deleted facts from school textbooks under official connivance of the Government. Well known political figures had honoured war criminals and human slaughter. Such ceremony was emblematic of Japan’s “blood stained past crimes.” Most victims of sex slavery still lived in suffering. He added that Japanese denials of its criminal history meant it could repeat its crimes and potentially attempt another “old fashioned mission for a Great Asian Prosperity Sphere.” He said that it wasn’t the money that counted, but the sincere manner that one conducted itself as a Member State of the United Nations.
Responding, the representative of Japan strongly asserted that his country would not accept “baseless allegations” levelled by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and described those allegations as being “full of foul language”. He said it was reprehensible that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea representative could use the forum of the General Assembly as a platform to direct unsubstantiated allegations against his country.
He went on to say that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, without any regard to Security Council resolutions and the negative reports of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, had acted at variance with all international norms both in terms of human rights and its nuclear weapons programme. He charged that it was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that pursued heinous violations of human rights in its own country against its own people. It was therefore that country, not his, that needed to change totally its basic policies on nuclear weapons before it began to talk about other countries.
Responding, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation had raised the subject during the debate on Council reform because it had wanted to clarify the issue. Japan had destroyed the strategic balance of the region and refused to apologize for its past crimes. It had joined the United States system of the balance of power. “Who was the agent that threatened the peace and stability of the region?” he asked. Japan had used outer space for military purposes. It was worth noting that Japan had persisted in its ill-minded behaviour by condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea satellite launch in April. Japan had knocked at the door of the Council to adopt a resolution against his country. Japan was not in a right position to blame any other countries. Japan had committed crimes of the past and the present.
A bid for a permanent council seat did not match with Japan’s true picture. It was more advisable that Japan should do more to liquidate its bloody past and act accordingly. So the issue would never be debated at the Assembly.
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