Speakers Call for Permanent Africa Seat, Enlargement by 2015, as General Assembly Ends Debate on Security Council Reform
Speakers Call for Permanent Africa Seat, Enlargement by 2015, as General Assembly Ends Debate on Security Council Reform
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
48th & 49th Meetings (AM & PM)
Speakers Call for Permanent Africa Seat, Enlargement by 2015,
as General Assembly Ends Debate on Security Council Reform
Heated Debate over Existence, Use of Veto Power Draws Various Proposals
The expansion of the Security Council with more balanced and equitable representation, especially regarding Africa, had gained broad support among delegates, as the General Assembly concluded its debate on reform of the 15-member body.
Responsibility for protecting the world’s citizens should not be held hostage by the Council’s permanent members, said the representative of Rwanda. Negotiations on reform had been going on for too long, with some wondering if reform would be achieved in their lifetime. Reforms should be implemented by 2015, he stressed, expressing hope that the next step would be text-based negotiations in a quest for a common position.
The representative of Botswana said it defied human logic that Africa remained the only unrepresented constituency in a body whose legitimacy and strength must derive from the totality of its membership. “While all regions of the world are represented and have a footprint in the Council, Africa is still relegated to the back bench with no voice, no power and no presence to influence key decisions of this powerful institution,” he said.
Many speakers expressed support for the African countries. Saudi Arabia’s representative requested more permanent seats for Arab and African States, and other underrepresented regions, while the representative of Trinidad and Tobago backed the African Common Position as outlined in the Ezuliwini Consensus and the call for a special rotating seat for small island developing States.
Meanwhile, Poland’s representative said an additional non-permanent seat for the Eastern European States was needed due to its substantial enlargement in recent decades from 9 to 23 countries.
The delegate of Portugal noted that proposals to increase numbers in both categories of Council membership had come to some common ground, including the African position. That convergence meant that negotiations should move forward because reform could not continuously be delayed.
Delegates also heatedly debated the veto issue. Some, like Paraguay’s representative, said the veto should be eliminated. Others, among them Mauritius’ representative, held the view that as long as the existing permanent Council members had the right of veto, new permanent members of a reformed Council should also have it. Still others, including the representative of Australia, suggested that there should be limitations on its use. Given the Syrian situation, she supported France’s proposal for permanent members to voluntarily renounce their veto powers in cases of mass atrocities.
Many Member States also called on the Council to improve its working methods, to increase efficiency and transparency, and to have better interaction with the general United Nations membership. The representative of Kazakhstan said that change in the Council’s working methods did not require amending the Charter nor did it need a two-thirds majority for adoption. Issues to be considered should include improving communications with all Member States and with troop‑contributing countries. While welcoming moves to hold more open meetings, he emphasized that Member States needed to know the Council’s position directly rather than through the mass media.
As speakers had on Thursday, an overwhelming majority of delegates today expressed regret or frustration with the lack of progress on the reform. The representative of Romania said the time had come to start negotiating a draft text. Noting that most national statements mentioned 2015 as the deadline year for reform of the Council and the broader United Nations, she said, time was critical for consensual and collective decisions. The delegate of Mexico, however, cautioned that an equitable reform process should not have artificial deadlines, saying: “Let’s focus on the subject and not on the calendar.”
Also delivering statements were representatives of Croatia, Dominican Republic, Malta, Equatorial Guinea, Slovenia, Algeria, Peru, Cyprus, New Zealand, Ireland, Cuba, South Africa, Serbia, Bhutan, Solomon Islands, Finland, Jamaica, Latvia, Guatemala, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Georgia, Slovakia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Suriname, El Salvador, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Papua New Guinea (on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States) and Chile.
A representative of Morocco spoke, exercising his right of reply.
The General Assembly will meet again on Monday, 11 November, to debate the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields as well as to consider the Report of the Economic and Social Council. The Assembly will also consider follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit.
The General Assembly met this morning to conclude its consideration of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters. (For background information, see Press Release GA/11450 of 7 November.)
NKOLOI NKOLOI ( Botswana) said it defied human logic that Africa remained the only unrepresented constituency in a body whose legitimacy and strength must derive from the totality of its membership. “While all regions of the world are represented and have a footprint in the Council, Africa is still relegated to the back bench, with no voice, no power and no presence to influence key decisions of this powerful institution,” he said. The reform process should embrace the following elements: membership categories, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council, its working methods and the veto question. Associating himself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and reiterating the African position, he said the latter proposed expanding both categories of membership. Africa also regarded the veto question as divisive, exclusive and subject to abuse by the veto-wielding Powers, he said, adding that it wished to see a review with a view to abolishing the veto. If it was not abolished, a reformed Council — which must include Africa — must extend veto power to the new permanent members without exception, he emphasized.
EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA ( Rwanda) said responsibility for protecting the world’s citizens should not be held hostage by the Council’s permanent members, as had been the case with the 1994 genocide in his country. It was unfortunate to note that the perpetrators were still roaming free in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, pointing out that the Security Council had never held the United Nations mission that it had established to account. Negotiations on reform had been going on for too long, with some wondering whether it reform would be achieved in their lifetime. Reforms should be implemented by 2015, he stressed, expressing hope that the next step would be text-based negotiations in a quest for a common position.
VLADIMIR DROKNJAK ( Croatia) said that, having served on the Council in 2008 and 2009, his country supported the view that enlarging the body was deeply linked to reforming its working methods. The Council should be expanded in both the permanent and non-permanent membership, with one additional seat reserved for the Group of Eastern European States in the non-permanent category to reflect the reality of contemporary international relations. There was also still room for greater transparency in the Council’s work. Reform was also needed to limit veto power in cases of genocide or gross human rights violations. Broader United Nations reform had already “given birth” to the Human Rights Council, UN-Women and the High-level Political Forum, he pointed. “The obvious shortfall in this regard still remains the Security Council reform,” he said, noted that 2013 marked the fiftieth year since the General Assembly called for reform. “To say that this reform is overdue would be more than stating the obvious.”
HÉCTOR VIRGILIO ALCÁNTARA MEJÍA ( Dominican Republic) said the Council’s annual report covered a rather difficult period which had tested its capability to maintain international peace and security. While recognizing the progress made in increasing its transparency and improving its working methods, the Council needed reform, he emphasized. In that regard, the Dominican Republic supported making 2015 as a horizon for setting the guidelines for reform, he said, adding that the intergovernmental negotiations should continue. The Dominican Republic supported enlargement of the Council as well as more balance in representation. The current membership did not reflect the real geopolitical situation in the world and the imbalance should be corrected, he stressed.
BERNARD HAMILTON ( Malta) said the intergovernmental negotiations had clearly shown that there was at least agreement among all Member States on two issues, which could provide common ground for advancing the consideration of reform. The two issues were the need to increase the number of non-permanent members, and the need to remedy the historical injustice regarding Africa’s representation. Member States, especially small and medium-sized ones, continued to seek ways in which to reform the Council so as to make it more representative, democratic, efficient and effective, accountable and transparent, he said, emphasizing that their position in an expanded Council should figure prominently in the discussions. Only the “Uniting for Consensus” proposal had specific non-permanent seats for both small and medium-sized countries, he said, describing the proposal as statistically the most advantageous one for more than 180 Member States, including all small and medium-sized countries.
AKAN RAKHMETULLIN ( Kazakhstan) said the Council’s membership should expand to 25 members, with a broader representation. A spirit of compromise was needed to generate broad consensus on relevant issues. Change in the Council’s working methods did not require amending the United Nations Charter and did not need a two-thirds majority for adoption t, he pointed out. Issues to be considered should include improving communications with all Member States and with troop-contributing countries. While welcoming moves to hold more open meetings, Member States needed to know the Council’s position directly rather than through the mass media, he emphasized. Kazakhstan was committed to working towards reform, which could not wait much longer given current geopolitical realities.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA ( Equatorial Guinea) said discussions on reform had taken place for decades, and the time had come to recognize the right of countries in all regions to be represented on the Security Council. Africa had more Member States than any other region, he noted, adding that it had a right to a permanent seat. Today’s world was very different from the one existing at the founding of the United Nations, he said, adding that current realities should shape the Organization’s organs. It was inconceivable that a continent like Africa, with 1 billion people, did not have a seat on the Council, and Equatorial Guinea rejected any transitional processes in the negotiations, as decided at the 2010 Kampala Summit and the 2011 Addis Ababa Summit. The African demand must become a tangible reality, he added.
ANDREJ LOGAR ( Slovenia) said it would be more efficient if the Assembly held two separate debates, one on the Council Report, and the other on the reform, since both topics needed to be thoroughly discussed. The content of the report was of high importance, and his delegation would like to examine it in depth before discussing it further. As for Council reform, Slovenia respected the decision on the establishment of the Advisory Group, which had the important task ahead of producing the basis for the intergovernmental negotiations while taking on board all the suggestions made so far. It was apparent that the expansion of the Council in both categories of permanent and non-permanent members had gained broad support among United Nations membership, including Slovenia. His country had suggested a specific model of the Council expansion during the General Debate at the Assembly’s sixty-third session. Other specific proposal made in the past needed to be approached head-on and would be taken into account by the Advisory Group.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria), aligning himself with the African Group, said that at a time of profound changes, the reform of the Council became more urgent. He also called on Council members to increase transparency and have better interaction with the general United Nations membership. Currently many issues were discussed in informal consultations before they were taken up by the open meetings. Also, after the remodelling work under the Capital Mater Plan, there had been changes in the way Council members interacted with the general membership. The 178 delegations that were not members of the Council were no longer allowed to use the consultation room — which was an informal setting — to exchange views with Council members. Parties to a conflict should be allowed to present their views in front of the Council. Yet, the representative of the Polisario Front had been denied access to the meeting on Western Sahara and the stakeout area. The newly created Advisory Group should only provide opinions to the Assembly President and should not carry any drafting tasks.
JOSÉ ANTONIO DOS SANTOS ( Paraguay) said reform must make the Council more effective, representative, transparent and democratic. Over recent years, his country followed intergovernmental negotiations on equitable membership and it was time that the Council considered having a geographical distribution of members. On other matters, he said the veto should be eliminated and communication and cooperation between the Council and the Assembly should be bolstered. The Council must eventually adapt itself to the new century to become more legitimate and effective in implementing its decisions, he concluded.
GUSTAVO ADOLF MEZA-CUADRA VELÁSQUEZ ( Peru) said negotiations had shown a common view that the Council must reflect current realities. Now a new impetus was needed to move towards reform and it was time to have an informal process to be able to reach agreement. A basic negotiation text must identify positions in order to have a tangible, balanced outcome and the process must be inclusive. It was clear that the Council should be expanded. Regarding the question of the veto, there should be limitations and that power should not be used in cases of genocide. He appealed to the other permanent members to consider France’s proposal on veto limitations. More opening Council meetings and frequent updates for Member States were needed, he said. A decision must be made because reiterating well known national positions was not what was needed to move reform efforts forward.
RODNEY CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), associating himself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Group of Four and the L69 Group, said his country supported expansion in the permanent and non-permanent member categories of the Security Council. He advocated for the expansion of the roles of developing countries in both categories and was resolute in the African Common Position as outlined in the Ezulwini Consensus. Additionally, Trinidad and Tobago supported the call for a special rotating seat for small island developing States in a reformed Council and called for an increase in the body’s size from 15 to approximately 27 members. His country supported the elimination of the veto as to promote the equality of States. However, in the event of its retention, all permanent members of an expanded and reformed Council must have the same rights as existing members of the body. Trinidad and Tobago, further called for improved working methods of the Council, so as to increase the involvement of the non-members in its work, and to enhance its accountability and transparency.
NICHOLAS EMILIOU ( Cyprus) said the Council’s legitimacy should be bolstered and he supported the expansion of its membership with a view to reflecting current realities. Intergovernmental negotiations should drive forward the five areas of concern to Member States, including cooperation with the General Assembly, veto power and expansion of membership. The time had come to show the necessary political resolve to move the process forward to address those and other concerns of Member States. Serious text-based negotiations must not be further delayed as talks were now entering the tenth round of intergovernmental negotiations.
YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said the reform process could only be guided by the unity of all United Nations Member States and not just by a few countries. It was also a priority to resolve the issues, especially given current realities including the situation in Syria. Her country supported limiting veto power, and she supported France’s proposal. An equitable reform process should not have artificial deadlines, given that the Organization’s seventieth anniversary was on the horizon. Temporary celebrations were not always accompanied by magical solutions, she said. “Let’s focus on the subject and not on the calendar.” The focus should be on creating a Council that was more representative of the world. There must be realistic and viable proposals. As Latin Americans, she understood Africa’s position and recognized their call for equal rights. Her country would continue to work with Africa towards bringing equitable representation for all regional groups. The only forum with decision-making legitimacy in Council reform was in the intergovernmental negotiations in the General Assembly.
ÁLVARO JOSÉ COSTA DE MENDONÇA E MOURA ( Portugal) said the Council’s structure was rooted in the Charter and any reform must consider that. Both categories of permanent and non-permanent member were here to stay. To make the Council more representative, regions needed to be span both categories and all Member States must benefit from improved communication. When addressing such an enlargement of membership, a balance must be made in the non-permanent category, including with medium and small States. Any proposal that would reserve a number of seats for certain States would hamper efforts of other countries. Creating an intermediate category of semi-permanent countries would not be helpful. Proposals to increase numbers in both categories had come to some common ground, including the African position. That convergence meant that negotiations should move forward because reform could not continuously be delayed.
JIM MCLAY (New Zealand) said there was little doubt that structures designed in the 1945 post-war world for an intergovernmental organization with just 51 Member States were no longer best suited to the 193-member world body of today, particularly the Security Council, the membership of which had been expanded only once in the last 65 years. The past two decades had shown that there was no obvious or easy solution to the democratic deficit in the Council’s current composition, and the lack of progress had raised serious questions about any agreement to be reached on structural reform. The deficit would not be fixed simply by adding another group or permanent members, even if that might be considered desirable, or by extending veto rights. Nor would insisting on the status quo, despite the deep misgivings of some members regarding any expansion in the permanent membership, he cautioned. Progress could only be made if members were willing to explore — and even to test — solutions advancing the interest of the wider membership and not just a few Member States, he said. New Zealand supported an intermediate solution that would offer the Assembly’s more powerful members the prospect of Security Council membership for longer periods, including the possibility of immediate re-election and expansion of the number of seats held for two-year terms.
DAVID DONOGHUE ( Ireland) said that the composition of the Security Council was “out of step with the geopolitical realities of today’s world” and that its many structural and procedural deficiencies needed to be addressed. Concerted efforts must be taken to reform the Council and a clear time-frame for such work should be set. He said that the five reform elements outlined in Decision 62/577 were inter-related parts of a single package and success was contingent on agreement in all five areas. In the future composition of the body, he noted that no single model presented commanded overwhelming support. In reaching an agreement that commanded the broadest support “imaginative approaches” would be needed to address the claims to permanent membership made by a number of countries and regions. A “rebalanced” Security Council, along with a modified approach to veto rights, would significantly enhance the body for this new century, he concluded.
RODOLFO REYES RODRÍGUEZ ( Cuba) said 20 years had been invested in discussing reform and given the political and social revolutions that had taken place over that time, it was urgent to move forward in discussions, with all United Nations Member States feeling fully represented in the negotiations. Previous rounds of discussions and proposals confirmed that Member States supported expanded membership, limited veto power, deepened working methods reform and balanced communications between the Council and the General Assembly. However, his country believed that new categories of members would foster division in the Council. In addition, permanent and non-permanent members should all have the same rights, including using the veto. While he supported the elimination of the veto, he realized that was unlikely and favoured limiting its use. A 25-member Council should include an increase in members from developing countries. The goal should be not to expand for the sake of expansion, but to enlarge the body so that it represented the world. Council reform was a central element to the broader reform of the United Nations. “We cannot speak of a true reform of the United Nations without speaking of reform of the Security Council,” he said.
RYSZARD SARKOWICZ ( Poland) said his delegation was of the view that enhancement of efficiency and transparency of the Council’s work and its enlargement were key issues in the body’s complex reform. Its current composition and working methods did not meet the challenges of today. The reform should be done without weakening the Council’s efficiency. Its enlargement should ensure a balanced representation of all regional groups. Poland supported a reform that would grant an additional non-permanent seat for the Eastern European States due to its substantial enlargement in recent decades from nine to 23 countries. His Government took note of General Assembly President John Ashe’s recent decision to establish an advisory group on the Council reform.
SIMONA MIRELA MICULESCU ( Romania) said she favoured accelerating the deliberations because the time had come to start negotiating a draft text. The Council had made progress by increasing the number of open debates, wrap-up and horizon scanning sessions as well as improving public access to information. Those elements should become the rule rather than the exception. In terms of the current negotiations, she said the five key issues should be approached independently and at their own pace. Noting that most national statements mentioned 2015 as the deadline year for reform of the Council and the broader United Nations, she said time was critical for consensual and collective decisions. Romania’s main objectives included establishing an Eastern European States, with at least one seat in the Council and an adjusted right of veto to increase efficiency.
DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa), emphasizing that the need for reform had been made more urgent by the current international crises, called into question the Council’s ability to carry out its mandate to maintain international peace and security. Over many years, the open-ended dialogue on Council reform had produced nothing concrete, he said, calling for a draft text so that text-based negotiations could begin on 15 November. It was an irony that those who considered themselves to be the leaders of the free world were comfortable sitting in such an undemocratic structure. The status quo could not be maintained, especially when African issues took up most of the Council’s work, he emphasized. It was clear that a majority of Member States wanted an expansion of both membership categories, he said, adding that those opposed to reform were on the wrong side of history. Failure to adopt a way forward would jeopardize the Council’s credibility, he stressed, adding that it would be farfetched to think that reform would only benefit Africa, since all regions should benefit from a reformed Council.
KATARINA LALIĆ SMAJEVIĆ ( Serbia) advocated for the reform and revitalization of the United Nations so that it reflected the political and economic relations of the twenty-first century. The 2005 World Summit outcome document outlined that the “early reform” of the Council was essential to overall efforts to make the Organization more broadly representative, efficient and transparent. Further, Decision 62/557 (2008) provided a platform for discussing the Council’s future. With that in mind, he urged accelerating the negotiations during the current session. States should proceed given that they were united in a belief that Council reform was necessary. The “sensitive and complex” nature of the issue should not deter them from working with mutual respect in an open, inclusive and transparent manner. Council enlargement should be based on the broadest possible consensus. He urged discussing the possible creation of a seat for the Eastern European States, as the number of countries in that region had increased. Success would require greater flexibility to reach a compromise.
KUNZANG NAMGYEL ( Bhutan) said negotiations must include the common desire for early reform of both categories of membership. It was high time for change and the positions of each group and Member States had been well articulated during the last eight rounds of negotiations. Action was needed so the Council could maintain its credibility. Concrete outcomes to commitments made at the 2005 World Summit must be delivered by the 2015 target date, she said.
HELEN BECK ( Solomon Islands) said reform of the Council was part of reshaping the multilateral system. Ideas had been collected and she appreciated the General Assembly President’s efforts to take stock of progress so far. The negotiating process was guided by the Charter and efforts must be streamlined to produce a negotiable text, she said. Once that was done, it would allow for collective action. The fast-changing world must be taken into consideration in the outcome and she cautioned that efforts must be made to prevent putting negotiations into a “straight-jacket”. In terms of reform, the veto right should be abolished or limited, with all members having the same rights. There should also be a seat for small island developing States.
PHILIPPA KING ( Australia) said substantive reform of the Council was overdue and progress must be achieved during the session. Membership should be expanded to reflect a geographic balance and to enhance the Council’s legitimacy, which also rested on limitations on veto rights and transparency. As an elected Council member in 2013 and 2014, she said the growing complexity and breadth of the agenda made it all the more necessary for it to adapt to modern times. The key rested in a more representative, transparent and legitimate Council. A major criticism was that in the face of humanitarian crises, the Council failed to discharge its responsibility to maintain peace and security and complaints included the use, or threat of use, of the veto. Given the Syrian situation, she supported France’s proposal for permanent members to voluntarily renounce their veto powers in cases of mass atrocities. Her country had witnessed first-hand the need for greater transparency and accountability. “We must make progress to strengthen and modernize this body,” she said. “The challenges are great and growing, and we need to re-craft a body that will meet them.”
TARUNJAI REETOO ( Mauritius) emphasized that comprehensive reform must uphold the principles, objectives and ideals of the United Nations Charter, adding that the time had come for text-based negotiations in the intergovernmental process. Mauritius supported the “L.69” proposal because it was consistent with the African common position embodied in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration. As long as the permanent Council members had the right of veto, new permanent members of a reformed Council should also have it, he stressed. On the eve of the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations, it was time to deliver concrete outcomes.
JARMO VIINANEN ( Finland) said he was concerned that the Council’s ability to take decisions was too often compromised by the right of veto enjoyed by the permanent members. They should refrain from using the veto in cases of mass crimes. In today’s world, it was necessary enlarge both categories of Council membership, but without extending the right of veto. While the Council needed both large and small countries to contribute to its work, size was not everything and better geographic representation was needed, notably to address the under-representation of Africa, he said, adding that forward movement would be possible if delegates focused on solutions rather than differences.
COURTENAY RATTRAY ( Jamaica) said the Council’s complexities and inner workings demonstrated a need for restructuring to ensure the continuation of its legacy. Developments in negotiations, including the establishment of the Advisory Group, provided a new opportunity to move the process forward. Expanding both membership categories should ensure the inclusion of new permanent members from Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as new non-permanent members from Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa. Rotating seats could represent developing countries, including small island developing States, he said. The United Nations must not only be a forum for discussing global issues, it must demonstrate leadership, he stressed. “Failure to achieve concrete outcomes on this most press subject would be tantamount to a failure to build and sustain peace for a safer world for this and future generations.”
Jānis Mažeiks( Latvia) said the world was different today than it was when the Organization was established. The United Nations provided a unique platform to exchange information, advance a common agenda and provide coordinated response to global challenges. In many areas, the Organization had shown the capacity to develop along with the realities of the new age, but the Council had changed little in the past decades. After 20 years of discussions, no progress had been made. Latvia supported enlarging both categories of membership, which should include one permanent seat for the Eastern European States. Advancing reforms should go beyond reiterating positions. The Advisory Group should feed into more detailed debates and negotiations, the latter being at the point to examine the parameters of a possible agreement.
Mónica Bolaños Pérez( Guatemala) said the report should include more analytical content. Regarding the reform, the nature and depth of items that divided delegations included the categories of membership. Her country believed in expanding the Council by up to five permanent and five non-permanent members. Reform was a process and it was important to review the limited mandate of the Charter in view of expanding its scope. The dividing line between peacekeeping and peacebuilding was not so clear cut, and the roles of the Council, Assembly, Economic and Social Council, and other bodies needed to be clearly defined with a view that sustainable development was the best antidote to preventing conflict. Reform of the United Nations governing system should not be put off any longer, and reforming the Council was the beginning of that task.
Angel Vasilev Angelov ( Bulgaria) said his country supported the continuation of the intergovernmental negotiation process and shared the view that the reform of the Council was long overdue. Keeping the status quo was not an option. Member States needed a more representative and effective Council that could reflect today’s reality. His country advocated for an expansion of both categories of membership, with equitable representation of all regional groups. In that regard, he shared the view that there should be one additional non‑permanent seat for the Eastern European States, whose size had more than doubled in recent decades. He also called on the Council to improve its working methods with a view to increasing efficiency and transparency.
Milorad Šćepanović( Montenegro) said the reform process should not be limited in time nor unnecessarily delayed. Still, Member States once again found themselves in familiar territories. So far many countries had been repeating the same, if not slightly modified, proposals, he said, calling for more substantial steps. His country supported all initiatives aimed at speeding up the process, including the creation of the Advisory Group, but at the same time emphasized that it should work within the established mandate and framework. He also joined the call for one additional non-permanent seat for the Eastern European States. Describing the reform as a give-and-take process, he asked Member States to be pragmatic and keep the big picture in mind.
Vakhtang Makharoblishvili(Georgia) said a more speedy arrival at a reform package was absolutely necessary, as more delays would continue to put the Council at further risk of becoming either inadequate or way too late in responding to existing or emerging global challenges and threats to peace. His country supported the inclusion of developing countries and smaller States because equality between nations should be more explicitly reflected at the core of the international security architecture. Equitable representation should not be an end in itself. Meaningful reform should also imply reform in the working methods and decision-making principles of the Council.
František Ružička( Slovakia) said States capable of assuming global responsibility for maintaining international peace and security should become eligible for filling the posts of new permanent members of the Council. The focus should not be only on numbers but also on substantial discussions of contenders on how they see their work and role in a future Council. For the non-permanent category, posts should be distributed to all regional groups equally and proportionately, including the Eastern European States. Slovakia did not favour extending the veto right to new permanent members. At the same time, a due consideration should be given to the scope and the manner that the veto was being applied. In that regard, he recalled a proposal against the use of the veto in cases of genocide and large-scale human rights abuses. “It’s time to move away from simple repetitions of our positions,” he said, calling for the start of concrete negotiations on the G-4 and “L.69” proposals that had so far garnered the widest support.
KHAM-INH KHITCHADETH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said the reform process was ongoing and he was confident that through the negotiation, the agreement would be reached in the year to come. Reform should be conducted on the basis of the proposals submitted by Member States and by the intergovernmental negotiations process, which would bring mutual benefit for all Member States. He endorsed the proposal by the Assembly President to further conduct the intergovernmental negotiations during its sixty-eighth session, including the proposal to establish an “Advisory Group”, on the understanding that the Advisory Group did not have a negotiation role and aimed only to give personal advice for conducting negotiations.
MICHAEL GRAAFENBERG ( Suriname) said early reform, including expansion in both membership categories, should include moving forward to conduct text-based negotiations. While Council reform could be considered a work in progress, negotiations should not be considered to be a never-ending process. It was time to move forward.
CARLA RIVERA ( El Salvador) said the Advisory Group would provide suggestions and ideas to move the negotiations forward. El Salvador had taken part in most debates on the issues over time, and her country supported expansion in both categories, favouring permanent membership for Brazil, Germany, India and Japan, as well as representation for Africa. Working methods also needed to be reformed. Special political missions had led to a de-facto change in the Council and should be examined. The crux of the matter was the need to resolve conflict around the world, and given that, there was an urgent need for reform. The Council could take on a role that was more preventive concerning conflict-related issues.
Abuzied Shamseldim Ahmed Mohamed ( Sudan) said the endeavour to reform the Council had continued for 20 years. Unfortunately no progress had been made in the five agreed key areas. Africa had 54 States, but its representation in the Council, which was non-permanent, did not correspond with that reality. Further, the majority of issues under the Council’s consideration involved Africa. He fully supported the African position on the reform, which was the aspiration of the entire continent. He also endorsed the position of the Arab Group. The intergovernmental negotiation should be the only machinery that dealt with the reform and should not be replaced by anything else.
Mohammed Samir Ezzat Sami Alnaqshabandi ( Iraq) said his delegation supported expansion of the Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories in order to make that body more up to date and effective. Arab representation should be part of that expansion given its geopolitical weights. The Council also needed to improve its working methods. It should have more consultations with non-member States and encourage those concerned countries to participate in its meetings. The veto power should be restricted as much as possible and should not be used at all in cases of mass atrocities.
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI ( Iran) said new challenges required a “drastic revamp” of the Council. Its current working methods and composition were outdated and could not succeed with its very important responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. The current size and composition was not regionally balanced nor did the Council represent the realities of the international community. Failure to change that composition and to improve its working methods and decision-making processes were at the root of the noticeable decline in the global public’s trust in the Council. Focusing on turning the Council into an international body, accountable and responsive to the general membership and public opinion was the only way to redress the damage and enhance its credibility. Reform should be membership-driven, fully comprehensive and transparent. Turning to the report, he said the Council’s encroachment on the work of the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, and the International Atomic Energy Agency under the pretext of security was a chronic problem. The Council was also increasingly involved in law-making and norm-setting practices. Unnecessary use of Chapter VII of the Charter and the threat or use of sanctions where no actions were necessary further hurt the credibility and legitimacy of the Council’s decisions. “These disturbing trends that ran counter to the letter and the spirit of the United Nations Charter should be checked and abandoned,” he said.
Robert Guba Aisi(Papua New Guinea), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said reform should straddle both categories of the Council but any such reform must garner the widest possible support from the total United Nations membership. Negotiations must commence and be guided by Assembly resolution 62/557, and all options presented should be subjected to a series of robust and genuine negotiations in the intergovernmental process. While many small States may not have the capacity to serve under any configuration of the Council, that should not preclude the possibility that some of them may have that capacity. The new geopolitical realities along with new and emerging security challenges, including climate change, demanded broader participation of Member States in the Council.
Abdallah Yahya A. Al-Mouallimi( Saudi Arabia) said the world today had changed since the mid-twentieth century. The debate on equitable representation and expanded membership was an opportunity to identify areas requiring improvements. The Council had failed to address the situation in the Palestinian Occupied Territory for six decades. That failure had encouraged Israel to continue to violate international law. In addition, the Syrian crisis continued. His country called for profound and comprehensive reform, increasing its membership and abandoning or restricting the use of veto power. Reform should be based on equity and regional balance. He supported an expanded membership, including permanent seats for Arab and African States and other underrepresented regions. New vigour must be injected to reach prompt conclusions. There was a need for a presence for Africa and the Arab and Islamic States on the Council. He supported the view of limiting veto power and of strengthening the Council’s relationships with regional organizations. While he appreciated the role of the Advisory Group, he regretted that there was no Arab State represented in it.
Francisco del Campo( Chile) said there had been much work done in negotiations to examine all the elements of Council reform. He said that improving the working methods and expanding the composition of the Council would enhance both its legitimacy and effectiveness. His country hoped that the negotiations would move ahead and result in improvements in the Council.
Right of Reply
A representative of Morocco, exercising his right to reply, spoke about the representative of Algeria’s statement. He said Algeria was the main antagonist in the Moroccan Sahara. He added that the situation in Western Sahara during the reporting period had remained stable and that the majority of Council members supported a political solution to the issue.
* *** *