‘Opaque, Non-inclusive’ Security Council Must Pursue Lasting, Candid Interaction with Entire United Nations Membership, General Assembly Delegations Say
‘Opaque, Non-inclusive’ Security Council Must Pursue Lasting, Candid Interaction with Entire United Nations Membership, General Assembly Delegations Say
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
50th & 51stMeetings (AM & PM)
‘Opaque, Non-inclusive’ Security Council Must Pursue Lasting, Candid Interaction
with Entire United Nations Membership, General Assembly Delegations Say
Assembly Takes Note of Annual Report of Council’s Work, Also Opens
Debate on What Many Speakers Call ‘Urgent’ Issue of Security Council Reform
Calling for expansion of the Security Council and effective negotiations on Council reform, as well as greater input from non-members and transparency in reporting on its deliberations, the General Assembly in two meetings today took up the Council’s annual report and began its debate on reform of that 15-nation body.
Opening the debate, Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser said that he was devoting an entire meeting to the examination of the report — separating the item from discussions on Security Council reform so that each issue might be considered thoroughly. On certain matters, including peacekeeping, post-conflict peacebuilding and counter-terrorism, it was crucial that the Council and Assembly work together to ensure success of the Organization’s endeavours. It was also crucial to ensure that the Council and the entire United Nations system were working in the same direction on such cross-cutting issues as the protection of civilians in armed conflict, children and armed conflict, and women and peace and security.
Taking the floor to introduce the report, current Security Council President José Filipe Morales Cabral of Portugal described efforts to enhance the participation of the wider membership and the international community in the work of the Council, as well as to improve its working methods. He noted region-specific work detailed in the report and said that new topics and their impacts on peace and security — such as HIV/AIDS, climate change and transnational crime — had also been discussed.
When delegations took the floor, speakers called for greater transparency in Council deliberations, noting that it was not enough for the report to present the results of deliberations. One speaker said the report was a manifestation of the underlying problems surrounding the Council’s representation and working methods, which remained “opaque and non-inclusive”. Switzerland’s representative noted that in a corporate environment, most shareholders would expect some analysis in a company’s report on how management had navigated recent turbulence. As stakeholders in the United Nations, Member States had the same expectation. However, those expectations were not met by the current report.
Similarly, the representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, called for a more explanatory, comprehensive and analytical annual report which included cases where the Council had failed to act on the views expressed by its members. He further called on the Council to elaborate the circumstances under which it adopted its different outcomes. Indeed, the Assembly must understand the rationale behind decisions taken, he said.
Transparency was also critical to countries whose national policy was affected by Council decisions, such as extending the mandate of peacekeeping operations, as noted by the delegate of Ukraine. He also sought effective ways to channel the contributions of the Council’s non-permanent members, as did many other speakers. Further, numerous delegates said that thematic debates should provide essential input for country situations. Many speakers also expressed differences of opinion on the Council’s decision to integrate the principle of the “responsibility to protect” into some decisions it had taken during the past year.
Zimbabwe’s representative said that the Security Council had been most effective in recent years, in addressing internal conflicts, mostly in Africa. Peacekeeping efforts had been deployed to good use in several complex crises, but other situations had been “grossly neglected”. The ability of the Council to act effectively and responsibly in the future would provide important reassurances for the international community.
That not only called for political will, but also for enhancing the perception that the Council’s decisions reflected the concerns of the United Nations general membership. He called for the views of the Organization’s wider membership to be heard on important issues and for greater democratization as reflected in a reformed Council membership, increased transparency and incorporation of different ideas.
In the afternoon, President Al-Nasser said Security Council reform was central to reform of the United Nations. There was international consensus on the need for the Organization, and particularly for the Council, to adapt to changes that had been taking place continuously since 1945. “I am sure that we all agree on the urgent need to bring the United Nations closer to the realities of the twenty-first century,” he said, stressing that it was reform that would make the Council more efficient, transparent, universal and democratic.
The responsibility for that reform lay with Member States, he said. Chances for success would be improved by collective will and by putting to good use the points on which agreement had been reached during intergovernmental negotiations. Recognizing “genuine differences” in the positions of different parties, he hoped that those negotiations would lead to the crystallization of well-defined steps in the reform process that would garner the broadest possible acceptance by Member States.
During the ensuing debate, delegates recognized the need for flexibility and compromise if the nearly 20-year effort towards reform was to bear fruit. Speaking on behalf of the African Group, Sierra Leone’s representative, Coordinator of the African Union Committee of 10 said: “After nearly two decades of debate, we seem to be gradually approaching a point where the United Nations will lose its credibility if we fail to generate the necessary political will to advance progress on this very crucial issue.” He urged Member States to be flexible in the quest for a global governance system that was more representative and democratic.
A representative of India said that his delegation, as part of the Uniting for Consensus Movement, had helped originate a recent resolution calling for expanding both the Security Council’s permanent and non-permanent members and improving the Council’s working methods. Over 80 delegations had expressed support for that same approach, which should be considered as a basis for further negotiations. He further pointed out that there were a number of commonalities among groups and Member States and that those convergences, particularly with the African Group, should be enhanced during the current General Assembly session.
Of permanent Council members speaking today, the representative of the United States said her Government was open “in principle” to a “modest” expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members, but that expansion must be “country-specific”. In assessing which countries would be allowed to participate, the ability of the country to contribute to the activities of the Security Council, to preserve international peace and security, and to provide financial support must be considered. She added that her delegation was not in favour of any proposal that changed the current veto structure.
China, too, supported a “reasonable” reform. Noting that the five core issues of Security Council reform were interrelated, its representative stressed that a “step-by-step, or piecemeal, approach” to reform would not work, while the delegate of France supported permanent membership for the so-called “G-4” nations, Germany, Brazil, India and Japan.
Many delegates called for underrepresented groups to receive a place on the Security Council, including developing countries and small island developing States, and suggested a variety of configurations for enlarging both permanent and non-permanent membership. A number supported abolition of the veto.
Liechtenstein had advocated a compromise enlargement model — six members serving well beyond the current two-year term, with eligibility for re-election. That approach could lead to some States serving permanently on the Council — but without the privilege of permanent members — and to the rotation of powerful States. Those rotating States could divide new seats among themselves with consent from their respective regions. In his view, that approach would safeguard the interests of small States and avoid difficulties associated with expanding the permanent member category “which is the core conundrum of Security Council reform”.
With so many alternatives being put forward, Singapore’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the “Small Five Group”, recognized the difficulty in finding the perfect solution. There were, however, efforts that could be undertaken now to make the Council more inclusive, transparent, accountable and effective, including changes to its working methods. “In the absence of agreement on comprehensive Council reform, we should not shy away from picking the low-hanging fruit”, he said, warning Member States not to “let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.
The Assembly took note of the annual report on the work of the Security Council.
Also speaking today on the subject of the report of the Security Council were representatives of Costa Rica (on behalf of the Small Five Group), India, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Spain, Ireland, Chile, Venezuela, Tunisia, Liechtenstein, Pakistan and Singapore.
Participating in the debate on equitable representation in and increase in membership of the Security Council, where representatives of Egypt (also on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Jamaica (on behalf of the “L69” Group), Barbados (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Netherlands (also on behalf Belgium), Mongolia, Italy, Brazil, Indonesia, Germany, Spain, Dominican Republic, Japan, Algeria, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Venezuela, Tunisia and Cuba.
The Assembly will reconvene on Wednesday, 9 November at 10 a.m. to continue its debate on Security Council reform.
Before the Assembly today was a note from the Secretary-General (document A/66/300) which notified it of a wide range of matters relative to the maintenance of international peace and security that were being dealt with by the Security Council.
Also before the Assembly in advance of its annual joint debate on the “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters”, was the Report of the Security Council (document A/66/2). It is divided into six parts. Parts I and II cover activities relating to all questions considered by the Council under its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, while part III enumerates other matters that it had considered. Part IV describes the work of the Military Staff Committee. Part V of the report covers matters that had been brought to the attention of the Security Council but that had not been discussed at its meetings during the period under review, and Part VI discussed the work of the Council’s subsidiary bodies.
During the reporting period, the report states, the trend towards an increase in the workload of the Security Council continued. The Council held 231 formal meetings, of which 204 were public. It adopted 68 resolutions and 30 presidential statements, and issued 67 statements to the press. Many of the 15 nation body’s activities and efforts focused on Africa. It conducted two missions to Africa, in October 2010 and May 2011; it remained engaged in the situation in Sudan while focusing on the referendum on the independence of South Sudan in January 2011. The situation in Darfur remained a reason for concern. The Council also reacted to the post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.
The developments in North Africa and the Arab world since January 2011 also figured prominently on the Council’s agenda, the report says. The Council reacted to the situation in Libya through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1970 (2011) and the subsequent adoption of resolution 1973 (2011). It also followed the situations in Syria and Yemen.
The Council regularly considered post-conflict situations such as those in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone. For the first time, the Chairs of the country-specific configurations of the Peacebuilding Commission delivered a joint statement to the Council, suggesting closer cooperation between it and the country configurations. The Council adjusted several peacekeeping mandates and sanctions regimes. Also, the United Nations peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) and in Sudan (UNMIS) were terminated.
The Council continued to consider the Palestinian question on a monthly basis, and to monitor the situations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Nepal and Timor-Leste. The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) ended on 15 January 2011. The Council paid close attention to the post-earthquake stabilization efforts and the presidential elections in Haiti. The Council also followed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Cyprus, and received quarterly reports of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) — a territory on whose status the Council members held varying views.
Thematic, general and cross-cutting issues, including on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, children and armed conflict, women and peace, and security and peacebuilding, constituted another priority in the Council’s work. The issue of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction also figured prominently on its agenda.
The Council continued to improve its working methods, in particular by making its debates and consultations more interactive, and engaged in efforts to increase the transparency of its work. Council members also agreed to enhance the body’s engagement in conflict prevention by establishing a monthly briefing by the Department of Political Affairs, among other efforts.
Annual Report on Work of Security Council
Opening the debate, NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER, President of the General Assembly, said that genuine efforts had been undertaken to strengthen the relationship between the Assembly and the Security Council. During his Presidency, he wanted to continue and accelerate that process. The Security Council’s report was one of the main instruments for cooperation between the two bodies. Therefore, he was devoting an entire meeting of the Assembly to the examination of the report — separating the item from discussions on Security Council reform so that each issue might be considered thoroughly.
The Council had faced tremendous challenges during the reporting period, among them, the post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, the declaration of the State of South Sudan, and developments in the Arab world, particularly in Libya, Yemen and Syria. On certain issues, including peacekeeping, post-conflict peacebuilding and counter-terrorism, it was crucial that the two bodies work together to ensure success of the Organization’s endeavours. It was of crucial importance to ensure that the Council and the entire United Nations system were working in the same direction on such cross-cutting issues as the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, children and armed conflict, and women, peace and security.
He had met, he said, with each Council President since having taken office as President of the General Assembly, to better coordinate and improve cooperation between the Council and the Assembly to ensure the smooth conduct of work in both organs, prevent conflicting agendas and find ways to work in the same direction, and intended to continue that practice.
Taking the floor to introduce the report of the Security Council (document A/66/2), JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal) the body’s current President, said today’s discussion marked one of the most important moments in the relationship between the two principal organs of the United Nations. The report before the Assembly — which covered the period between August 2010 and July 2011 — contained statistical and other data useful to the Assembly.
During that period, the Council had undertaken efforts to enhance the participation of the wider membership and the international community in its work, he said. It had held a considerable number of its meetings in public and held monthly briefings, as well as meetings with troop-contributing countries to collect input. He encouraged Member States to contribute to such interactions.
The Council had also worked to improve its working methods, and had continued to streamline its work with an eye towards improving efficiency. He said that the Council’s work had become more interactive and more flexible, with a reduced emphasis on speakers lists and more interactive dialogues. Conflict prevention was also an increasing focus of the Council’s work.
He went on to describe the region-specific work of the Council throughout the reporting period, which was detailed in the report, as well as work conducted in a number of thematic areas. Among others, those included including post-conflict peacebuilding, non-proliferation and threats to international peace and security caused by terrorism.
Continuing, he said that new topics, such as the impact of HIV/AIDS on peace and security, the impact of climate change on peace and security, and transnational organized crime, had also been discussed. In addition, an open debate had been held marking the tenth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) on “women, peace and security”. “I could go on and on”, he said, emphasizing the Council’s heavy workload over the period under review. “There is obviously always room for improvement,” he concluded, adding that he would be pleased to bring any ideas or suggestions back to the Council.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that while the Security Council had primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, under the Charter, it was acting on behalf of the general Membership. He welcomed the informal meeting, regarding preparation and presentation of the report, convened by the Council President for July 2011, with the general Membership, as had been done for four years, and encouraged Council Members to continue that practice. It was important to allow sufficient time between the Council’s adoption of the report and the Assembly’s debate on the matter, to give Member States the time to thoroughly analyze it.
He also noted the Council’s increasing workload, which reflected increasing challenges, on most continents, but with Africa representing over 70 per cent of situations considered. The report’s introduction should be analytical and seek to capture the most important deliberations in the period under review and assess the Council’s ability to deal with problems at hand and identify areas for improvement. The Non-Aligned Movement continued to call for a more explanatory, comprehensive and analytical annual report, including cases in which the Council had failed to act on the views expressed by its Members, and called on the Council to elaborate the circumstances under which it adopted its different outcomes. The Assembly must understand the rationale behind decisions taken.
Comprehensive monthly assessments would improve the quality of the annual report. The report should also contain concise, analytical information on the Council’s subsidiary bodies. Further, he said that in future reports, the Movement expected a more detailed presentation on measures taken to improve the Council’s working methods. Noting the increase in quantity of public meetings, he said their quality should also be improved by taking into account the views of non-Council Members, particularly those whose interests were affected. Those views should also appear in the report. Welcoming continued briefings and consultations by the Council with troop-contributing countries, he said that such cooperation should be ongoing, including during the implementation of mandates. The Council’s working group on peacekeeping operations, in particular, should more frequently involve troop-contributing countries.
The Movement also suggested monthly briefings from the Department of Political Affairs, supported increased cooperation between the Council and the African Union, and emphasized the need to equip the Union through capacity building and adequate, predictable resources to deal effectively with conflicts on the continent. He expressed disappointment and frustration that the Security Council had failed to successfully address the long-standing question of Palestine, or even to take meaningful action. In the same vein, the Movement regretted that the draft resolution calling for immediate cessation of all settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had not been adopted. In conclusion, he said that much room remained for improvement in the Council’s annual report, where the challenges, assessments and rationale of its actions should be reflected.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI (Costa Rica), on behalf of the S-5 (Small Five) Group — Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland — said that the report of the Security Council and its debate had become “a rather ritualistic exercise with modest relevance”. To reverse that situation, both the Council and the General Assembly should take bold steps that might make better use of the annual report. If such steps were taken, greater and more tangible benefits would be drawn from its content and subsequent discussion. He offered comments on how the report could be drafted, the nature of its content, and ways to improve discussion of it.
He said that one step would be the substantive involvement of all Member States at an early stage during its drafting. It could be done through an interactive open debate, with its exchanges reflected in the report. Given the length of the report, the lack of analytical perspective and the usual delay in making it available well in advance, delegations were severely restricted in their capacity to make their own analysis and meaningful contributions. He went on to say that the S-5 would have welcomed more highlights on the links between thematic, regional, and country-specific issues. He welcomed the consideration of the working methods of the Council, especially the manifest determination to make its work more transparent, and the debates and consultations more open and interactive. He suggested that discussions should be conducted in a more inclusive and interactive way.
Clearly, he continued, the Charter delegated the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security to the Security Council. A more substantive and interactive dialogue between the two main bodies of the United Nations, and among Member States, based on the annual report was not meant to undermine that prerogative. However, the Council could benefit from the wider membership’s inputs on this matter to help it better discharge its function. In conclusion, he highlighted the increase in the number of open debates organized by the Council’s rotating Presidents. At the same time, he reminded delegations that such meetings did not by themselves translate into meaningful discussions. In that context, it was necessary to put in practice procedural changes that would make debates less formulaic, more spontaneous and lively.
N K SINGH (India) said the Security Council report facilitated interaction between the most representative United Nations body and its “most empowered brethren”. The report should therefore inform, highlight and analyze measures taken to maintain international peace and security during the reporting period and the rationale, efficacy and impact of those measures. In that regard, the Council’s annual and monthly reports should include points made by briefers and Security Council members, and should highlight elements of convergence and divergence. Unfortunately, the report, in its current form, continued to be a statistical compilation of events and a “bland summary” of meetings and outcome documents.
Continuing, he said the report would benefit from an assessment of international peace and security issues within the wider geopolitical context. This assessment, if it included the reasons why particular events had occurred, could create an enabling environment for handling the various situations. The Council should, in particular, undertake an examination to grasp the security implications of socio-economic challenges. That type of analysis would benefit the Assembly, the Security Council, and Economic and Social Council, and their inter-relationship. The report was a manifestation of the underlying problems surrounding the Council’s representation and working methods, which remained “opaque and non-inclusive”. The real solution for a more credible, legitimate and representative Council, as well as a more thorough report lay within the comprehensive reform of the Council.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) said that during her country’s tenure as President of the Security Council, Brazil had made a conscious effort to involve each and every member of the Council in its deliberations, kept them permanently informed of the developments and helped build unity of purpose. Brazil had been fully aware of the pressing issues the Security Council addressed at this crucial juncture of its history. One of the major challenges for the international community was seeking to ensure a holistic approach to conflict and post-conflict situations. She said she believed the Council should make better use of the resources at its disposal, including preventive diplomacy mechanisms, to tackle the root causes of problems and empower local actors to help build sustainable peace and development.
She said coercive measures and the use of force should not be the primary method of responding to crises that are mainly of a political nature. When diplomatic means have been exhausted and the use of coercive measures was deemed necessary, the Council must be attentive to the need to avoid harm to the population and to vulnerable groups. Military action should be a measure of last resort. When employed, the observance of proportionality and the definition of clear parameters were necessary so as not to further aggravate the conflict it was trying to solve. She said authorization by the Security Council to use force should never be seen as a blank check.
CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI (Italy) said this year would go down in history for the events that had marked the “Arab Spring”. The people in numerous countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean had made their voices heard, demanded freedom, justice, participation in the political process, and a more equitable distribution of wealth. The Security Council reacted to the developments through focused debates and decisions that often helped shape the path towards freedom and democracy. By resolution 1970 (2011), the Council had voted unanimously to bring the Libyan situation before the International Criminal Court. The Council had continued to monitor the situation in Lebanon, where the United Nations was playing a key role in bringing stability. Italy remained deeply engaged in assisting the Lebanese Authorities and in supporting United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), to which Italy contributed with a significant force.
The Council was called to act in other hotbeds of change; it had manifested its solidarity for the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian and Tunisian peoples; it had raised its voice over the situation in Yemen, although the desired political transition in that country was still pending. At the same time, he regretted “the silence that has greeted the repression in Syria”. That silence was in fact as loud as it was inconsistent with the overall effectiveness the Council has shown in other circumstances, making good use of the broad range of instruments at its disposal to assure that the peaceful demands of the civilian population received the hearing they deserved.
Peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding were critical elements of the Organization’s agenda to advance peace and security in Africa. Italy was proud to be a major contributor to peacekeeping operations, not only in the definition of doctrines and procedures but also in terms of financing, training, logistics, and especially presence on the ground, standing as the top Western contributor of troops. Italy appreciated the Council’s attention to the Balkans, particularly the unanimous adoption of resolution 1948 (2010) on Bosnia and Herzegovina/EUFOR, as well as the role it has played in Kosovo. Italy said it shared the Security Council’s concern over drug trafficking and organized crime and the growing challenge they posed to security and stability in Afghanistan and in other regions of the world. Italy also encouraged the increasing engagement of the Security Council in addressing the plight of children affected by armed conflict.
TSUNEO NISHIDA (Japan) said that the report before the Assembly not only strengthened ties between itself and the Security Council, but also played an important role in ensuring the Council’s accountability. Japan had served as a non-permanent member of that body through 2010, he said, and wished to share several relevant insights and contributions. As the lead country for Afghanistan and Timor-Leste, Japan had advanced the Council’s consideration of those countries by organizing consultations, and drafting and adopting relevant resolutions and presidential statements.
He said Japan remained committed to those countries even after its departure from the Council as a member of their respective Groups of Friends. Japan had further announced its willingness to contribute an engineering contingent to the new United Nations Mission in South Sudan, and had helped to expand the logistical support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM); the efforts of the international community in that area had led to the eviction of Al-Shabaab forces from Somalia’s capital.
Despite those accomplishments, however, there had been areas in which the Council had not met Japan’s expectations. Those included the uranium enrichment activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Yeonpyeong Island incident, as well as the situation in Syria, he said. In the field of peacebuilding, the Presidential Statement that had been adopted under Japan’s presidency in April 2010 had served as the basis for the growing recognition of the importance of peacebuilding, as well as the strengthening of ties between the Peacebuilding Commission and the Council. Finally, with regard to non-proliferation issues, Japan had been actively engaged in the discussions in both the 1718 and 1737 Committees concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran, respectively. Along with Turkey and Poland, it had co-organized a seminar on non-proliferation, and planned to organize a similar event in December 2011.
THOMAS GÜRBER (Switzerland) said that, as a member of the Small Five (S-5) group, his delegation aligned itself with the statement delivered by the representative of Costa Rica on behalf of that group. He recalled at the outset that the maintenance of international peace and security was the first goal listed in the Charter, adding that “the primary responsibility for this task is conferred on [the] Security Council, which acts on behalf of us all.” While hardly a year went by without events of historic proportions, the period covered by the Council’s current report seemed to be of particular historic and political significance, he said.
The world had been shaken by unforeseeable events of great relevance to peace and security, some of which had turned into violent conflicts and some of which had become “peaceful vectors of change”. He said that some had been addressed immediately and efficiently by the Council, while others had escalated over months without an adequate response. Nonetheless, he stressed, the changes witnessed were irreversible and would “shape tomorrow’s world decisively”.
In a corporate context, most shareholders would expect some analysis in the company’s report on how management had navigated through its recent turbulences. As stakeholders in United Nations, Member States had the same expectation. However, those expectations were not met by the current report. The Small Five group had consistently suggested ways to make it more relevant, including the timely use of monthly presidential assessments as opportunities for analytical assessments of the Council’s work, which could serve as a basis for the report. The document could further link thematic and cross-cutting issues with deliberations on geographical situations, and could mention points of disagreement in a “factual way”. Additionally, informal venues of exchange should be offered between the first draft of the report and its adoption by the Security Council.
He went on to describe a number of relevant contributions made by the Council over the period under review, as well as areas in which it could have further improved its work. Among those, it should have acted much earlier to prevent the escalation of conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, he said, adding that he regretted that a member of the Council had vetoed a resolution on illegal settlements in the Middle East. He also encouraged the Council to return to the practice of using expert panels, whose reports to the Council should be public. Finally, progress in the area of the Council’s working methods had been slow and the implementation of Presidential Note 507 was “far too modest”.
ROMÁN OYARZUN (Spain), noting the analytical approach taken in drafting the report, suggested that that trend continue to allow for more qualitative information to be included in the future. It was imperative to improve the interaction and cooperation between the Council and the Assembly through greater transparency and accountability, which would, in turn, benefit the adoption of more useful methods to prevent and eliminate threats to international peace and security. To that end, the Charter provided guidance on such interaction, particularly in Articles 15 and 24.3, which foresaw the submission of annual reports to the Assembly along with a special report. The Council’s cross-cutting issues — such as the fight against terrorism, non-proliferation and disarmament, the protection of civilians in armed conflict, women in armed conflict, security-sector reform, combatant disarmament and conflict prevention — were of special relevance to the Assembly, and greater coordination and interaction on those issues, including through the submission of specific reports, would be desirable.
Open meetings in the Council should be the general norm, he stressed, adding that greater intervention by States interested in the issues during the Council’s debates was also desirable. Increased interaction with troop-contributing countries was also needed, and their viewpoints should be taken into account in the approval and extension of peacekeeping mandates. Spain believed the Council should reinforce its efforts in the field of preventive diplomacy, while taking more dynamic action in the face of conflict. This dovetailed with the increasing importance of mediation, he said, and called for greater interaction between the Council and the Assembly on this front as well.
ANNE ANDERSON (Ireland) said the Security Council’s performance in 2011 had a particularly strong claim on everyone’s attention. In addition to its ongoing heavy agenda, the “high-profile” Council had to confront the tectonic shift in the region triggered by the Arab Spring. The United Nations membership as a whole had engaged in a serious collective reflection on what lessons could be drawn, though it was probably still too early for such a considered reflection. However, in-depth analysis would be needed soon. She noted that the Security Council had scheduled more thematic debates, but that opinions varied about their relevance. However, the Council must recognize the increasingly complex security challenges of the twenty-first century and adapt its deliberations.
Some were concerned about a possible blurring of the dividing line between the business of the General Assembly and Security Council. She applauded the decision to hold thematic debates which examined, for example, the interdependence between security and development or climate change. Turning to the issue of peacebuilding, she noted that a coherent approach was of growing importance. In terms of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine, the past year had been a significant one, as the situation in Benghazi, Libya, had provided a dramatic illustration of what the responsibility to protect meant. All recalled the gross violations of human rights committed by the Libyan regime, and the widespread condemnation.
Following years of debate on the doctrine, and faced with the imminent threat of slaughter in Benghazi, the Security Council had been moved to act. Subsequently, there was disagreement amongst Council members on whether the mandate set out in resolution 1973 (2011) had been exceeded, in particular regarding clauses on the protection of civilians. Libya offered lessons to be learned, she said, adding that a working consensus on implementation of the responsibility to protect must be established. It was clear during the General Assembly debate that regional organizations could play a role in that matter. As incoming Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Ireland would seek to support implementation of the responsibility to protect agenda.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile) said that the Security Council’s report was important, among other reasons, because it was a complete record of its work during the period under review. Its analysis provided better management and helped to identify procures that needed greater improvement. Chile had a great interest in creating a more efficient and transparent Security Council, and believed that there was “room for the report to grow and become a more substantive document”, in particular with regard to the sensitive issues it addressed. The report in its current form did not seem to be an appropriate instrument for understanding the development or evolution of a subject. Nonetheless, progress had been made in recent years, and “we must not be complacent”. It was necessary to stress the connection between the Council and other United Nations bodies, as well as regional groups, and to do so in a more timely manner. Improving the quality and speed of the Council’s reaction to situations would increase its agility and make it a better tool for the prevention of conflicts, he added.
In that respect, he appreciated that Brazil, during its presidency of the Council, had invited Member States to an event to discuss all matters considered during its tenure. Chile regretted that such an initiative — which truly represented the concept of “coordinated work with the presence of other relevant actors” — had not been repeated. Chile saw with satisfaction that the concept of the “responsibility to protect” had been included in the Council resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011), as well as its wider work.
However, the terms of those texts left room for improvement. Indeed, the terms of all mandates must be clear, precise and for a limited period of time; otherwise, he said, they could awaken reticence on the part of some Members States. Additionally, an adequate and fluid relationship between the Council and the General Assembly — respecting their relevant purviews — was essential. Noting finally that “hope and signals” in favour of democracy and the rule of law were being seen around the world, he stressed that such changes should spark new mechanisms to improve greater transparency and accountability in the Council’s work.
JORGE VALERO (Venezuela) said that it was necessary to democratize international relations and to transform the “unfair balances of power currently reflected in the united Nations”. His delegation had repeatedly called for the Council, which was becoming increasingly “decrepit”, not to usurp the responsibilities of other bodies, and for Member States of the General Assembly to have a greater impact. “Voices are clambering around the world that the Security Council has collapsed as a voice of the will of nations”, he stressed. While that body said it was defending the principles of the United Nations Charter, it really had acted to weaken them. As a result, the United Nations, rather than becoming more democratic, had actually increased its “elitist tendencies”.
Recalling the words of President Hugo Chavez, he said that a first and decisive step towards reforming the United Nations would be to eliminate the Council’s categories of permanent and non-permanent membership, as well as the veto power. It was alarming that the report of the Council discussed the expansion of peacekeeping mandates, the purview of which supposedly belonged to the Security Council, when many dealt with subjects that were in fact the purview of national institutions. Similarly, “mediating” efforts on behalf of the United Nations frequently took place on behalf of one party. General Assembly resolutions should be binding in nature, he stressed, and should be complied with in a compulsory way by all countries.
Moreover, the Council could not continue to allow some of its ambitious members to expand their interests in countries of the Global South, including Syria, Libya, Sudan and Yemen, to name but a few. Venezuela was concerned that nothing was done to prevent the actions of Israel against civilians. Venezuela supported the aspirations of all those legitimate struggles for freedom and independence around the world. However, it was important to reject ongoing foreign interventions in demonstrations of countries of the South. It was deplorable that, rather than supporting dialogue, fratricide and civil wars were being encouraged. The “imperialist wars of today” were being privatized, he noted, and some Council members supported such interests. It was therefore necessary to build a broad alliance between people and Governments in favour of the democratization of the international system.
OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia), associating with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the need to improve the reporting process and methodology of the Security Council’s annual report. Commending the four-year practice of interaction between the Council President and the general Membership, he noted the continued lack of an analytical approach in the reporting process. The current descriptive approach made the report a good source of information, but did not reflect the Council’s dynamic, or the context for deliberations or decisions. Member States wanted the report to tackle the Council’s internal methods in dealing with sensitive issues, he said, as called for in assembly resolution A/RES/51/193 of 1997. The report should also reflect the specific events, apart from the traditionally predominant issues, that marked the reporting period.
Noting the demands of the Council’s increased workload, he nonetheless expressed frustration and disappointment at the “paralysis” caused by mutually exclusive interests that “made the Arab-Israeli conflict a permanent, unsolved issue on its agenda”. The Council’s effectiveness was of common concern to all, he said. While acknowledging the areas still needing improvement, he also recognized that some areas had been enhanced. To move further toward that end, the Council and the Assembly, together, should evaluate their permanent quest for improvement on a yearly basis.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said the point of departure in considering the Council’s annual report was the Charter of the United Nations, which stipulated that the Council carried out its work on behalf of all Member States. Given the absence of other opportunities, the debate on the annual report would in principle be the best moment for a dialogue on the performance of the Council and its perception by the wider membership. At the same time, the report in its current format, and the way the debate was held, were not conducive to “real dialogue.” That was why the S-5 Group had made suggestions to improve the process of preparing and discussing the report.
Liechtenstein was well aware of the limitations of the tool and he viewed the efforts of the past year as work in progress, noting options which included the possibility of discussing the report in more informal formats. As for the actual format of the report, of particular interest was working methods. But the report only mentioned that the Council had made its debate and consultations more interactive. There was a “cryptic statement” that the Council aimed at increasing transparency, without elaborating on it. What was missing was a systematic effort to link up the thematic discussions with the consideration of country situations within the Council. That seemed indeed part of a problem that went far beyond the actual format of the report.
Continuing, he said that thematic issues were dealt with as stand-alone discussions rather than conceptual debates that should provide essential input for country situations. A more accurate record could be established by having those discussions reflected in a very factual manner, on which the Council did in the end not find agreement. That could be done by giving equal weight to all opinions expressed, without judgment. On the substance of its work, Liechtenstein congratulated the Council for its work on South Sudan, and the successful holding of a referendum and admission as a member of the United Nations. He commended the Council for its unanimous decision to refer the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court. That had been a strong expression of the willingness to fight impunity. Finally, he welcomed the continued progress of the Council with respect to the sanctions regime established in resolution 1267 (1999), and late as those measures came, they were of the essence to put the Council’s action on the right track.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR (Pakistan) said the responsiveness of the Security Council to Member States was measured by its openness and transparency. In that context, Pakistan welcomed the greater number of public meetings and open debates during the reporting period. That trend should be augmented by more meaningful exchange with non-members, especially those States directly affected by a specific Council decision. Transparency in decision-making process was another area that merited close attention. It was a widely held view that decisions were taken mostly behind the scenes by a few major players. Such decisions, accordingly, lacked transparency and inclusiveness. Transparency of the Security Council was also related, to a large extent, to improvement in its working methods and comprehensive reform. Pakistan encouraged introspection by the Council to improve its working methods. The inclusion of a chapter in the report on working methods was a step in the right direction.
He said the Security Council had shown varying degrees of effectiveness in dealing with different stages of conflict. Indeed, while the Council had been effective laying down peacekeeping mandates and helping to keep post-conflict countries from relapsing into war, its efforts to prevent conflicts had elicited considerable criticism. During the reporting period, Pakistan had not seen anything that might change that perception. Unresolved disputes bred discontent, and any unforeseen spark could ignite violent conflicts. That was particularly important in cases of inter-State disputes.
He said major unresolved issues, including the dispute regarding Jammu and Kashmir, had been on the agenda of the Security Council for decades — awaiting settlement. Preventive strategies to address long-standing disputes should entail greater recourse to mediation and pacific settlement under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter, with a view to addressing root causes of the conflict. The Security Council’s greater reliance on preventive diplomacy augured well for international peace and security.
CHITSAKA CHIPAZIWA (Zimbabwe) said the Security Council had been most effective in recent years, in addressing internal conflicts, mostly in Africa. Peacekeeping efforts had been deployed to good use in several complex crises, but other situations had been “grossly neglected”. Much more needed to be done to prevent conflicts from erupting in the first place and prevent relapses. Hence, it was important to address the underlying causes of conflict. The ability of the Council to act effectively and responsibly in the future would provide important reassurances for the international community. That not only called for political will, but also for enhancing the perception that decisions taken by the Council largely reflected concerns of the general membership. Greater democratization as reflected in a reformed membership of the Council, increased transparency, and incorporation of different ideas, would be essential.
He called for the views of the organization’s wider membership to be heard on important issues, and he was concerned that the Council was not dealing directly with some of the major threats in international security. The implementation of some resolutions was pursued and others ignored. There was inaction in the face of the most obvious acts of aggression; while on the other hand, there was even interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. The provisions for pacific settlement of disputes remained grossly underutilized.
He urged the Council not to abuse the responsibility to protect to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states. He was also concerned by the Council’s increased involvement in norm setting and establishing definitions which fell within the purview of the General Assembly. He noted the importance of regional organizations, as they were better placed to deal with challenges. The true effectiveness of the Council, as well as respect for that body’s work, would only be forthcoming if it was judged to be representative of all. The Council’s agenda contained a majority of issues in Africa, but its representation on the Council was a mere fifth of the membership. “We do not wish it upon ourselves that the UN was established to discipline Africa,” he said, and added that the Council needed to cultivate respect and “must not be seen as the irresistible disciplinarian for any particular region of the world”.
ANDRIY BESHTA (Ukraine) said that, over the reporting period, the Security Council had faced a combination of traditional, new and emerging challenges to international peace and security, as well as transformation in the geopolitical landscape of whole regions. Acknowledging that it was premature to aim at a credible assessment of the Council’s performance, he noted the need to enhance the 15-nation body’s engagement in conflict prevention and mediation and welcomed strengthening of the prognostic component of the Council’s work. Further he noted the benefit of regular, substantive, open updates by the Council for the general membership, which would encourage the overall culture of prevention. Shedding light on the Department of Political Affairs monthly briefings, mentioned in the report, would be a first step.
Welcoming greater emphasis on thematic issues on the Council’s agenda, he cautioned against overburdening the Council with cross-cutting issues that were best tackled in other United Nations forums, in particular in the Assembly. One area that had benefitted from thematic open debates in the Council was peacekeeping. In that context, the gap between the Council and troop- and police-contributing countries, of which Ukraine was one, needed to be bridged, particularly regarding transparency in decision-making. Whenever feasible, decisions on extending peacekeeping missions should be made in advance so that contributors could bring needs in line with national legislation. He further expressed satisfaction at the closer cooperation between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. Finally, he favoured formalizing effective ways of channelling the contributions of non-permanent Members.
ALBERT CHUA (Singapore) said that his delegation had mixed feelings about the Security Council’s annual report. On one hand, he saw encouraging steps, and on the other, the report could have been more analytical, and he emphasized that “it could have been more than just a laundry list of what statements were issued, and when decisions were made.” It was unfortunate that there were missed opportunities for regular dialogue with the wider membership during the report’s preparation process. Sustained and candid interaction between the Council and other Member States would have helped to sharpen the focus of deliberations, bring clarity to many of the issues at hand, and build trust between the Council and the General Assembly, he said.
Although his delegation appreciated efforts to improve the report’s content, it would have been useful if a section of the document included some insights as to how the report had been prepared and improved, in view of prior suggestions by Member States. More specifically, he pointed out that the chapter on the work of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions simply listed that panel’s main activities, without going into its actual deliberations or conclusions. He welcomed a more substantive and analytical account and concluded by saying principles such as transparency, accountability, and trust must be translated into concrete action and the annual report was a good place to begin doing that.
Question of Equitable Representation in Membership of Security Council
Opening the afternoon debate, Assembly President AL-NASSER said that Security Council reform was central to reform of the United Nations. There was international consensus on the need for the Organization, and particularly for the Council to adapt to changes that had been taking place continuously since 1945. He had made Security Council reform one of the pillars of his presidency and he expressed the hope that Member States would adopt a flexible and constructive approach during the forthcoming round of negotiations.
Recognizing “genuine differences” in the positions of different parties, he hoped that those intergovernmental negotiations would lead to the crystallization of well-defined steps in the reform process that would garner the broadest possible acceptance by Member States. Achieving genuine progress in Security Council reform would increase the capacity and effectiveness of the United Nations in responding to global challenges.
“I am sure that we all agree on the urgent need to bring the United Nations closer to the realities of the twenty-first century,” he said, stressing that it was reform that would make the Council more efficient, transparent, universal and democratic. The primary responsibility for realizing the aspiration to reform the Council lay with Member States. The chances for success would be improved by collective will and by putting to good use the points on which agreement had been reached during intergovernmental negotiations.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, attached great importance to achieving concrete results on Security Council reform, through intergovernmental negotiations carried out in accordance with General Assembly decision 62/557. The Movement believed that reform should be addressed in an early, comprehensive, transparent and balanced manner, without setting artificial deadlines, in order to properly reflect the needs of developing and developed countries. That should occur while addressing all substantive issues relative to the question of membership, regional representation, the Council’s agenda, its working methods and decision making process, including the veto.
He said that the Movement’s Ministers reiterated that Assembly decision 62/557 was and shall be the basis of the intergovernmental negotiations on the matter. And in that context, Ministers acknowledged historical injustices against Africa with regard to representation in the Security Council and expressed support for enhanced representation for the African Content. Improving the Council’s working methods was of significant importance to the Movement as it was crucial to the body’s effectiveness. Transparency, openness and consistency were key elements that the Council should observe in all activities.
In that regard he said there was an urgent need to adhere to the powers and functions accorded to the Council by the Member States under the Charter. Therefore, the Council should stop encroaching on the functions of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. The Security Council should also avoid resorting to Chapter VII of the Charter as an umbrella for addressing issues that did not pose a threat to international peace and security. Further, Council-imposed sanctions remained an issue of serious concern to the Non-Aligned Countries, and raised fundamental ethical questions
Speaking next in his national capacity, he reiterated Egypt’s longstanding position towards achieving tangible process and reaching concrete results in intergovernmental negotiations on reform. The rationale was to avoid jeopardizing the neutrality and impartiality of the President of the General Assembly and Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations. He noted the five key issues of those negotiations, defined in paragraph (e) of decision 62/557. Efforts should be directed to reach an agreement that would have an effect on the power structure of the Security Council and allow for equal representation regionally. Despite continued efforts within the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions of the Security Council to improve its working methods, it did not meet the aspirations of the larger majority of Member States. Enhanced representation of developing countries and small States remained a fundamental pillar of the reform process.
RAYMOND O. WOLFE (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the “L69 Group” — which he said was comprised of 40 diverse countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific — stated that both the permanent and non-permanent membership categories of the Security Council needed to better reflect contemporary world realities. The L69 Group — so named after the 2007 Assembly resolution on the “United Nations Security Council Reform Process” — called for expanding the Council from the present 15 members to 25/26 members.
Continuing, he said that new permanent members would include countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America, while the new non-permanent members would be from Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, as well as from Africa, taking into account the need to ensure representation from developing countries, including small island developing States on a rotating basis. The Group also called for improvements in the working methods of the Security Council, as well as in the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly.
The Group would continue to work with Ambassador Tanin, the Chair of the Open-ended Working Group on Security Council Reform, in an active and constructive manner. It had been instrumental in starting the intergovernmental negotiations, he said, appealing to that official to convene a meeting of those negotiations as soon as possible. After some text-based negotiations, States had reached an impasse in March 2011 when a small group of delegations had expressed their opposition to the third revision of the text. To break the existing deadlock, a broad coalition of Member States undertook an initiative aimed at taking the process forward. The results of that effort indicated that the proposition enjoyed broad support from delegations across various regions. The Group therefore believed that such strong support for the initiative should be the basis for further discussion in the intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform.
SHEKOU M. TOURAY (Sierra Leone), Coordinator of the African Union Committee of 10, and speaking on behalf of the African Group, thanked those Member States that had sent in documents outlining their respective initiatives on Security Council reform to be circulated to the entire membership. That would help move the process forward. He was also gratified by the support for the African cause as documented in the outcome and principles of the Ministerial level conference on Global Governance and Security Council Reform held in Rome this spring and attended by 123 delegations. Citing that document, he said it expressed the common will to “correct […] the injustice done to the continent, subject of 70 per cent of the Council’s decisions but at the same time underrepresented in it.”
He underscored that the reform process was membership-driven and required the broad support of Member States to translate and implement the common will of nearly two-thirds of the membership into action by factoring the special needs of Africa in the reform process. What was needed was realistic reform that took into account the core values of the Organization: inclusiveness, democracy, accountability and transparency. “After nearly two decades of debate, we seem to be gradually approaching a point where the United Nations will lose its credibility if we fail to generate the necessary political will to advance progress on this very crucial issue,” he said, urging Member States to be flexible in the quest for a global governance system that was more representative, democratic and for a more secure world.
In accordance with the Ezulwini and Sirte Declarations, full representation for Africa in the Security Council meant not less than two permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto, and five non-permanent members to be selected by the African Union, he said. Correcting the present imbalance in the Council’s composition was a collective responsibility. He hoped the current session would set the pace for a more frank and lively debate in the intergovernmental negotiations, which would be more flexible, compromising and decisive.
JOSEPH GODDARD (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said his delegation’s vision of a reformed Security Council was a body that provided for equitable representation for developing countries in general; gave continued and heightened priority to accommodating and responding to any complaint made by developing countries with regard to threats to their security; commanded, to a greater degree, the respect necessary to be able to discharge its mandate for the maintenance of international peace; be guided by working methods that were demonstrably flexible and transparent; and be more responsive and accountable to the entire membership.
After almost two decades of discussions on reform it was understandable there was a growing impatience for action. “We share the impatience. As small vulnerable states and strong proponents of multilateralism and the principle of equality of states, we have reiterated time and time again our principled position on this issue,” he said. CARICOM supported expansion of the Council in permanent and non-permanent categories. In that regard, he was of the view that expansion should take particular account of regions that were underrepresented or not represented at all.
He believed that special provisions must be made for small island developing States to serve on the Council in the non-permanent category, and supported an increase of the reformed Council from 15 to the mid 20s. In addition, he supported comprehensive improvement of the working methods of the Council, including its relationship with the General Assembly, and supported abolition of the veto, which he called “an anachronism, which has no place in a United Nations of the twenty-first century [which] undermines our efforts to make the Council more transparent and accountable”. In spite of impatience for change, he believed in due process, and looked forward to the early resumption of intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council Reform and assured the Chairman of full cooperation in carrying the process forward.
ALBERT CHUA (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the “Small Five” (S-5) Group, emphasized that, since talk of reforming the Security Council first began, the Organization’s membership had increased by nearly 20 per cent and the complexities of maintaining international peace and security had multiplied. As a result, the need for a more representative and effective Council only continued to grow. “We all risk irrelevance if the Council, a leading organ of the United Nations, does not evolve to reflect the realities of the twenty-first century,” he said.
It was necessary to remain steadfast in efforts to agree on a comprehensive reform, covering all five aspects of the negotiations. While, such negotiations take considerable time, there were efforts that could be undertaken now to make the Council more inclusive, transparent, accountable and effective. Basic changes in that body’s working methods would make a practical difference and substantially benefit all Member States. For that reason, he said, the S-5 Group had consistently advocated improving the Council’s working methods, independently and without prejudice to the other aspects of Council reform.
“In the absence of agreement on comprehensive Council reform, we should not shy away from picking the low hanging fruit,” he said, warning Member States not to “let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. While the Council had taken some steps to improve its working methods, they were insufficient, and the current implementation of the measures contained in both the original and the revised Notes 507 remained inconsistent and unsatisfactory.
In that regard, the S-5 had circulated a text on “improving the working methods of the Security Council” which set out specific measures for the improvement of working methods. It had held open consultations on that text and had taken onboard many good suggestions from Member States. Moreover, the S-5 believed that, as a “master of its own procedures”, the Council could take decisive steps to continue improving its working methods. The Group hoped that members of the Council would seriously consider the suggestions put forward in its text.
HERMAN SCHAPER (Netherlands), also speaking for Belgium, noted that some 20 years ago, he had represented his country in ongoing discussions on Security Council reform. Although the options for enlarging the Council remained the same today, few could agree on an approach to enlargement. Member States’ failure to concur undermined the Council’s legitimacy, as well as the United Nations credibility as an efficient institution. Over the past couple of years, Belgium and the Netherlands had tried to stimulate discussion among Member States, particularly by making concrete suggestions for a shorter and more focused text that could be the subject of negotiations.
Belgium and the Netherlands held the majority opinion: that the Security Council should be reformed to better reflect current geopolitical realities. Emerging economies were ready to “step up to the stage with global ambitions” and future global responsibilities; this was a reality that must be reflected in the Council. In that regard, it was now time to start negotiations. If negotiations did not begin, that “increasingly irrelevant process” should be put to an end. The five permanent members of the Council, he said, had not been given incentive to play an active role. A concrete proposal, in that regard, should be drawn up from which negotiations could emerge. In addition, the “G-4” proposal, which had the support of more than 80 Member States, should be put on the agenda. The G-4 ministers were prepared to take a flexible approach to the matter and other groups should do the same. In closing, he thanked both Ambassador Tanin and the General Assembly President for their commitment to the issue.
H K DUA (India) emphasized that India had played an important role in the initiation of and continued deliberations on Security Council reform. Expressing his support for “text-based negotiations”, the logical next step was to narrow options in the third revision of the text to make it a two- to three-page document. India had been one of the originators of the recent resolution calling for expanding both the Security Council’s permanent and non-permanent members and improving the Council’s working methods. More than 80 delegations had expressed their support for that same approach, which should be considered as a basis for further negotiations.
He pointed out that his country was a member of the G-4 and L69 groups, both of which were devoted to early reform. These groups’ positions had a number of commonalities with other groups and Member States. Those convergences with like-minded groups, particularly the African Group, should be enhanced during this General Assembly session. Reform and expansion of the Security Council, he said, were essential if the Council was to reflect contemporary reality and to act with credibility and effectiveness.
BATTUNGALAG GANKHUURAI (Mongolia) aligned her delegation with the statement made by the L69 Group. She said that at a time of global uncertainty, the urgency of Security Council reform remained as compelling as ever. Member States had been engaged in intergovernmental negotiations established by historic General Assembly decision 62/557 since 2009. However, genuine negotiations were yet to start. While the third revision of the negotiation text and the shorter document prepared by distinguished Ambassador Zahir Tanin could be further improved, they provided a good basis for genuine negotiations.
In that respect, she called for convening the intergovernmental negotiations as soon as possible. Mongolia’s position was to arrive at a decision on the categories of Council enlargement, and she noted that overwhelming support for the initiative made a compelling basis for further discussion in the ongoing negotiations. It was imperative that enlargement of the permanent category of the Council membership derived from the principles of justice and equality, reflecting contemporary world realities, and ensured due representation of developing and developed countries. Equitable geographic distribution was also essential.
Mongolia, she said, shared the view of the majority of Member States that the veto right needed to be abolished eventually. Until that time, however, its use should be restricted so that it could not be activated in certain circumstances, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and terrorism. Yet, while the right of veto existed, it must be extended to any new permanent members to avoid creating a third category of members which would entail overruling Article 23 of the Charter. There was a critical need for improvement in working methods, to ensure transparency, accountability and enhanced participation and access for non-Council members, she added.
CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI (Italy) said his delegation, along with its fellow members of the “Uniting for Consensus” Group, identified with the call for negotiations in a spirit of consensus, openness, and good faith. Negotiations in the Assembly had “broken off suddenly” last March, he recalled, as confidence-building had been interrupted by a “partial and divisive initiative launched by a few Member States”. Transparency had been lost, and support for an “ambiguous and overly simplistic” text had put stress on the membership. “While the Arab Spring was blossoming, Security Council reform was entering its Fall”, he said. However, Italy and its partners had refused to accept that development; they had begun a dialogue with Member States in an effort to continue negotiations on all five pillars of the reform.
Aware of historical injustices to the African continent, the Group had built bridges with the African Group of States, and the positions of the two were compatible in many ways. In two widely attended meetings, in Rome and Mexico City, respectively, a majority of Member States had worked to launch an appeal to resume intergovernmental negotiations. Nonetheless, the sixty-sixth session of the Assembly approached; Member States were gathered together today to resume negotiations.
The lessons of the past should show the way to the future, he stressed, adding: “Artificial accelerations block the process and cannot achieve the majorities required by the Charter”. The Uniting for Consensus Group was the only one to have entered the negotiations with a new proposal, which had changed over time. It now proposed a solution of longer-term seats for a mandate of up to six years, with two different options to achieve that aim: short-term seats with immediate re-election or long-term seats without immediate re-election. “Our proposal is not, of course, ‘take it or leave it’”, he said, but instead represented a step towards the middle of the aisle.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) said the majority view was that expansion in both permanent and non-permanent seats was a necessary step in the direction towards ensuring that the Council reflected today’s realities. The current permanent members were limited to those existing by the end of the Second World War. She said if the United Nations was serious about bringing the Security Council into the twenty-first century, that state of affairs must be changed. More non-permanent seats were needed, in particular for developing countries. Brazil had been reaching out to other Member States to discuss the idea of a draft resolution, in order to open a door for genuine reform and generate momentum to start real negotiations. The proposal was concise and straightforward. It was a constructive attempt to complement and facilitate the ongoing process of intergovernmental negotiations, launched by Assembly decision 62/557 of 2008.
She said that Brazil’s initiative had garnered cross-regional backing, including over 80 written expressions of support, in addition to a substantial number of strong verbal commitments, reaching well above 100 countries. No other proposal on the table has been able to amass such numbers so far. In Brazil’s assessment, should that draft resolution be tabled and put to a vote, many more countries would join the collective endeavour to move the process forward. If Member States kept their focus on that common goal, she said: “We could quickly move to the next stage, discuss the remaining issues and achieve a successful reform without further delay.”
HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia) said that in order for the Security Council to play its crucial role, it was critical for that body to be democratic, accountable and representative of all regions and civilizations. Council reform had been discussed for nearly two decades, but divisions continued and progress had been slow. However, progress would materialize when the formula of the Council’s reform was such that it was acceptable to the widest majority of countries. On categories of membership, he said Indonesia was among those that believed expansion in both categories offered the potential to address the fundamental shortcoming of the Council as presently constituted, namely its lack of representation.
However, he said that the middle ground would garner the widest possible political acceptance, and that an “intermediate approach” would move things forward with a clear review mechanism occurring after the intermediate model coming into force. The General Assembly should explore what type of intermediate approach would be best for the widest majority. That would not rule out the possibility of extending permanent members in the future, but a piecemeal approach that focused on merely one or two key reform issues risked accentuating differences and affecting the overall process. Rather, it was important to abide by decision 62/557, and consider all five key issues of the Council’s reform.
The Council’s size should also be considered within a middle ground approach, falling somewhere between the mid 20’s and 31, he said. Further, the right of veto had no place in a world that was becoming more democratic. Until the abolition of the veto, it should not be exercised in serious violations of international humanitarian law and cases of genocide. The Council’s working methods should be improved to be more transparent, efficient and accessible to a wider membership. There should be an effective implementation of Articles 31 and 32 of the Charter by consulting with non-Security Council members on a regular basis, especially those with a special interest in substantive matters. For its part, Indonesia remained determined to engage constructively with all countries for finding ways to realizing a tangible and comprehensive reform of the Council.
PETER WITTIG (Germany) said today’s debate provided a good opportunity to further build on the momentum achieved during the past session of the General Assembly. In that regard, he highlighted three lessons learned from last year. First, there had been progress, and he noted that the intergovernmental negotiations had continued in an important session. However, when it came to concrete and forward-looking initiatives, one lesson was clear: only one concrete proposal had received the support of a large majority of Member States from all regional groups. That had been the initiative taken by the G-4 countries for an expansion of the Council in both permanent and non-permanent seats, as well as for an improvement in its working methods. He said that initiative should be the centre of discussions in the ongoing intergovernmental talks.
Secondly, he said that a number of meetings on reform were held within and outside the United Nations, clearly demonstrating that Member States were eager to achieve progress on the issue. To ensure substantive discussions among the entire United Nations membership, intergovernmental negotiations needed to take place more frequently. Thus, he urged the Chair of the informal plenary on reform to resume negotiations as soon as possible and to maintain a regular meeting schedule. Thirdly, he agreed the process for reform should be membership-driven. But negotiations during the last session of the General Assembly had demonstrated that reform could not be negotiated on the basis of a 30-page document.
The assistance of Ambassador Tanin was needed in focussing discussions on a realistic range of options. As a first step, he suggested continuing discussions based on those options that had proven to reflect majority positions. In September, during the opening of the session, the majority of Heads of Delegation had called for reform of the United Nations system, including Council reform at its core, which was urgently needed, not least because other institutions of global governance were gaining influence such as the G-8 or the G-20. The Security Council must adapt to remain the centrepiece of the international peace architecture in the twenty-first century.
WANG MIN (China) said that Security Council reform was an important part of the reform of the United Nations. China supported a “reasonable” reform in order to enable the Council to better fulfil the responsibility of ensuring international peace and stability entrusted to it by the Organization’s Charter. Reform should give priority to increasing the representation of developing countries, particularly in Africa, and should allow small and medium countries to participate on a rotating basis. The five core issues of Security Council reform were interrelated, he stressed, adding that a “step-by-step, or piecemeal, approach” to reform would not work. True reform required in-depth participation by all Member States in order to reach the widest possible consensus.
China was opposed to setting artificial timelines for reform. Since the launch of the intergovernmental negotiations, he said, Member States had had profound consultations on the five core issues. The negotiations had emerged as a main channel for pursuing reform. Therefore, any acts that ran counter to the negotiations were detrimental, and China did not support any separate tracks to pursue reform outside the negotiations. Openness, inclusiveness and transparency should drive the reform process, which should serve both the interests of Member States and the long-term interests of the United Nations.
MARTIN BRIENS (France) said that Member States needed to “move beyond words” if they wished to see a Security Council that was fully capable of shouldering its responsibilities when confronted with crises that threatened international peace and security. Since 2009, strides had been made in identifying elements of convergence, including on the enlargement of the two categories of membership of the Council. It was now time, therefore, to “be bold and move to the heart of the matter”.
France supported permanent membership on the Council for Germany, Brazil, India and Japan — the so-called “G-4 nations” - as well as representation for the African countries. Representation for Arab countries was also on the table, he said. Meanwhile, an interim solution could be used, as suggested by France and the United Kingdom several years ago. Furthermore, the modalities of that solution were not yet “set in stone”. Reform must not be allowed to fall off the priority agenda, as it might then stay off entirely. New impetus was needed in those discussions, and truly far-reaching reform of the Security Council required “audacity and perseverance”. France, for its part, stood ready to provide its support to that objective.
ROMAN OYARZUN (Spain) said he was sure everyone agreed that it was necessary to put an end to the present situation of deadlocked negotiations and to make progress towards a concrete proposal. It should be recognized that the third revision of the negotiating text had not been accepted by all, and that, consequently, it should be revised again. Otherwise, he believed there was no other alternative but to go back to the second revision of the text, which was the only one endorsed by all groups and countries. He reiterated his delegation’s full support of flexibility and constructive spirit, and of its support of the Uniting for Consensus group, which he said continued to be the only one so far that had presented an alternative model of its original position. It also contained elements of what he called an intermediate model, such as the creation of a new category of non-permanent members with longer-term seats.
He said the Uniting for Consensus proposal was a comprehensive model with realistic suggestions for each of the five key issues of the Council’s reform including categories and veto, size, regional representation, working methods, and the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly. One of its main characteristics was a provision to enlarge the Council exclusively in the category of non-permanent members. Spain’s delegation believed that only an expansion in the number of elected seats could ensure the preservation of democratic principles that he said “should lie at the heart of the legitimacy” of any Security Council reform.
VIRGILIO ALCANTARA (Dominican Republic) welcomed the sense of urgency with which the General Assembly had dealt with topic of equitable representation in the Security Council. The Dominican Republic also valued the leadership of Afghanistan on Security Council reform. Security Council reform was a topic that has been on the agenda for 18 years. However, he was struck by the fact that there had been no conclusive results. It would clearly be a very bad example of how the General Assembly worked.
He said the Dominican Republic was committed to constructive reforms along with other delegations so that the body would be more compatible with today’s geopolitical realities. The world in 2011 was very different from the world in 1963 when the Security Council grew from 11 to 15 members. There had been 115 Member States then; now there are 193 states, he said. A reformed Security Council would have greater authority to face the challenges that we now faced.
He believed that given the time that has gone by and the “meagre” results achieved, it was important to step up talks on reform including the increase of members, of membership categories and of working methods. That formula would enhance the wider organization. The Dominican Republic would be complying with the request for reform that had been consistently demanded. It had always pleaded for a fair and equitable increase, including proper representation of developing countries, particularly those from under represented regions. “There have been a few significant improvements in the Security Council but we must foster additional change to make council more inclusive, and to increase its legitimacy,” he said.
TSUNEO NISHIDA (Japan) said various efforts have been made to reform the Security Council so that it would better reflect the realities of the twenty-first century, and not the world of 60 years ago. Japan believed that all Member States were committed to realizing early reform, so that the United Nations could address present challenges with greater representativeness, legitimacy and effectiveness. He said all Member States must proactively commit to the reform effort and take steps to accelerate the process with a sense of urgency. Japan, for its part, was sparing no effort to promote substantive discussions with like-minded members, with a spirit of openness, transparency, honesty and realism.
In that regard, the Japanese Government was organizing a dialogue in Tokyo on Security Council reform to be held on November 14, 2011. The aim was to open a new chapter for an honest, open and substantive dialogue, which was essential in order to explore achievable reform. Japan said it would highly appreciate the participation of the Security Council President at the meeting. It was Japan’s hope that this dialogue would stimulate fruitful discussions, in continuity with the previous efforts, to generate a further dynamism for meaningful progress, and he said Japan was ready to share the results with all interested Member States.
Now was the time to take concrete action. Japan welcomed the next round of the intergovernmental negotiations to be held at the end of the month, and hoped that the Tokyo dialogue would add impetus to the discussions in the negotiation. Japan said it strongly wished to see more frequent and substantive negotiations and welcomed any initiative from Member States which could generate momentum towards a real solution. Japan believed that the streamlining of the negotiation text Rev. 3 to include narrowed-down options would help move the negotiations forward.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) aligned his delegation with the statements made earlier on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, and said he was committed to the African aspirations on the Security Council, asking for no less than two permanent seats with all rights including the right of veto, plus two non-permanent seats. That position was aimed at correcting Africa’s injustice of not being represented in the permanent category.
He said that the comprehensive nature of Council reform and all its themes were inter-related and thus, dealing with the body’s working methods required an integrated approach that took into account other clusters. Algeria would consider Revision 3 of the compilation text, provided it was crafted in the spirit of Assembly decision 62/557. It needed to reflect all proposals, and Member States needed to agree before narrowing down decisions. Once a set of principles was reached it would be easy to identify positions and proposals.
KIM SOOK (Republic of Korea) noted that his country had constructively taken part in the ongoing intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform during the past few years. As a member of the Uniting for Consensus group, he noted that those countries had been the only bloc to show flexibility by modifying their initial stance of 2005. Yet, such efforts were not reciprocated and a unilateral initiative was made outside of the Group during the last Assembly session. The only reasonable way to produce a more accountable, transparent and efficient Council was by holding periodic elections.
“Only through periodic election in an enlarged council of a reasonable size will we be able to attain a more democratic and equitable representation,” he said, adding: “Only then will the members of the Council be subject to performance and contribution reviews to determine if an additional term is warranted for a respective member”. Reaching some sort of middle group through an “intermediary solution” was the only way to break the current deadlock in the negotiations, he said. The most serious obstacle on the road to reform had been a lack of trust or willingness to compromise, he said, calling the process “sometimes frustrating”. He looked forward to the upcoming intergovernmental negotiations, and reiterated that his Government would continue to exert consecutive efforts to realize the goal of establishing a more accountable, efficient, and democratic Security Council.
ABDULAZIZ S M A ALJARALLAH (Kuwait) said it was natural that the item currently before the Assembly would be considered one of the most important on its agenda. A “decisive” position was needed today. Despite the consensus of Member States on the principles of change, they had remained incapable of carrying out the basic steps of Security Council reform. Enlarging the Council enjoyed the support of the majority of States, he noted but added that the question remained complicated, and political will was needed to bring the individual positions of States closer together. The final objective concerned the international community as a whole.
Kuwait’s position with regard to reform remained unchanged, and was based on the fact that a comprehensive vision must underlay reform. He believed that coordination and balance between United Nations organs and bodies must be stressed. Reform must reflect the current international situation, which had changed since 1945. He went on to note that the working tools of the Council must be improved, with an increase in transparency and accountability. Also, the question of the veto must be considered and a “reasonable” control of its use mandated. Finally, an increase in the number of seats of the Council should give a greater opportunity for small States to participate in the Council’s work. Additionally, the rights of Arab States and Muslim States to participate must be promoted, in keeping with their importance to the defence of the principles of the Charter.
ROSEMARY DICARLO (United States) said her delegation fully supported Ambassador Tanin’s efforts as the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform went into their eighth round. She said that while genuine disagreements remained, the United States hoped that those talks would serve to “bring us together”. Her delegation would continue to make serious efforts to help the Security Council reflect the world of the twenty-fist century and to carry out its mandate and effectively meet the challenges ahead.
Highlighting its position on several key issues, she said the United States was open “in principle” to a “modest” expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members. That expansion must be “country-specific”. In assessing which countries would be allowed to participate, she said all delegations must consider the ability of the country to contribute to the activities of the Security Council, to preserve international peace and security, and to provide financial support. Moreover, the United States supported a Council that protected human rights and the rule of law. The United States was not open to an enlargement that changed the current veto structure. Finally she said that her delegation wanted to find a way forward that enhanced the ability of the Council to do its job effectively.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela) reiterated several aspects of his delegation’s position on Security Council reform, noting, among others, that it supported the enlargement of both the categories of permanent and non-permanent membership. Based on a mathematical model, a representative enlargement could result in a Council of 25 or 26 countries, he said, adding that the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America had long been deprived of the right to participate in the that body’s work, and that such an asymmetry needed to be corrected.
The use of the veto was “anachronistic and anti-democratic”, he continued. It went against the independence of States and Venezuela therefore hoped to work towards its total elimination. In recent years, some small strides had been made, but they had been insufficient, since the pleas for greater transparency and accountability had not yet been addressed. He noted his country’s rejection of attempts to make closed sessions of the Council “a rule”, and stressed that they must instead be the exception. Moreover, in the spirit of transparency, the Council must hold frequent meetings with affected countries, and should invite States who were not members of the Council to take part in relevant discussions.
An overwhelming majority of countries would like to attain a reform of the Council that would convert it into a more representative body. That call was “practically universal”, he said. There was also a consensus on the need to alter the working methods of the Council in an effort to make it more transparent. His delegation therefore hoped that reform would not continue to be delayed.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that although significant geo-political changes had taken place over the past eighteen years, little progress had been made in concurring on an approach to enlarge the Security Council. He therefore expressed support for any initiative that could lead us out of the “ongoing impasse”. There was now a real risk that the deliberations on the matter might be taken outside of the Assembly. “This could lead to a politically dangerous showdown in the Assembly and it would certainly undermine its authority — an organ often criticized for its inability to take decisions on essential issues,” he said.
For some years, he continued, Liechtenstein had advocated a compromise enlargement model: six members serving well beyond the current two-year term, with eligibility for re-election. That approach could lead to some States serving permanently on the Council — but without the privilege of permanent members — and to the rotation of powerful States. Those rotating States could divide new seats among themselves with consent from their respective regions. In his view, this approach would safeguard the interests of small States and avoid difficulties associated with expanding the permanent member category “which is the core conundrum of Security Council reform”.
Reforming the working methods of the Council was also essential. He said the far-reaching decisions of the Council could only be effective if they found broad political support, noting that some States, such as his, had never been on the Council and, as things stood, would have “great difficulties” getting an opportunity to do so. The measures decided and implemented by the Council on its working methods had been uneven, inconsistent and at times arbitrary. The S-5, which Liechtenstein was a member, had circulated a new resolution for the Assembly’s consideration on its working methods and he looked forward to continued dialogue on how to pursue the initiative therein. The text addressed some of the main political challenges, including use of the veto and provided for an ongoing dialogue between the Assembly and the Council.
OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia), aligning with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed a Council reform process that was open, inclusive and transparent and which would garner support of Member States. Security Council reform must reflect political and economic realities, in order to give it legitimacy and to enable it to effectively discharge mandates. The ultimate aim was to strengthen equitable representation, to strengthen credibility. The Security Council must not be allowed to become a “closed club” with special privileges. Such an occurrence would endanger its credibility. Further, the world was changing, and the “Arab Spring” was one of the most visible reminders of such change.
The Security Council was at the helm of maintaining international peace and security, and the world situation as it was in the 1940s when the Charter had been adopted no longer prevailed. New realities had taken root even as the Council had not changed its working methods or composition. Hence, reform was a necessity not a luxury. He said that reform was key to secure political consent of all countries, and the Council must reflect the sensibilities of the international community. He was of the view it was necessary to redress the issue of Africa not getting a permanent seat on the Council. Indeed, Africa had “a rightful place” in such affairs, and as an example, he said that Tunisia, since the 1960s, had been involved in peacekeeping operations, and had helped resolve conflicts. A Council with such a small membership could not intervene rapidly, and if it was to continue to benefit from global public opinion, it must be able to effectively tackle the most important questions.
OSCAR LEON GONZALEZ (Cuba) welcomed efforts to improve the quality of the report, but said that it was “a descriptive document which lacked analytical focus”. Continuing, he said that thorough and true reform of the Council was needed, and “can not be put off time and time again”. The United Nations needed a more transparent Security Council to properly tackle global challenges, and he was in favour of an immediate enlargement of the body’s permanent and non-permanent membership. Such growth would include ensuring that developing countries had greater representation.
He said that Cuba was not in favour of discrimination of sovereign States, just that all members new and old must have the same rights and responsibility. All must have veto power, if it remained in effect, and to do otherwise would mean the introduction of a new category of membership. At the same time, Cuba believed the veto was anachronistic and anti-democratic and should be eliminated. In terms of the size of the Council, an enlarged Council must be no more than 26 members, and with that figure, the proportion would be similar to the ratio when the Council was first established. A thorough reform of working methods was needed, he continued, and the majority of changes in past years dealt with “style rather than substance”. The Council was currently neither democratic nor efficient, and he called for the creation of a body that took into account the opinions of the Organization’s wider membership; which guaranteed “real access” for non-members; and which had real legitimacy in tackling existing global peace and security challenges.
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