Remarks at the Informal General Assembly Meeting of the
Intergovernmental Negotiations on
Security Council Reform
New York, 27 June 2013
It is my great honor to preside over the informal meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Question of Equitable Representation On and Increase In the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters Related to the Council.
The political framework for our engagement was set by world leaders at the 2005 World Summit. The outcome document clearly stated that the “early reform” of the Council is“an essential element of our overall efforts to reform the United Nations, in order to make [it] more broadly representative, efficient and transparent, and thus to further enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions.”
Almost five years ago, the current negotiating process was established by Decision 62/557, which was adopted in the General Assembly by consensus. It has since provided Member States with a platform for discussing the future of the Security Council.
I believe this is an issue of paramount importance for international relations, as we are in the midst of a strategic transformation whose scope and significance is truly unprecedented.
New voices are growing in strength and resilience—and they are having an increasingly profound impact on a global system that has yet to adjust to the unfolding paradigm shift.
The rapidity of the changes taking place outside these walls is increasingly outpacing the tempo of reforms we are able to agree upon in this building.
I believe that no Member State will come to feel safer and more secure unless the United Nations is modernized to reflect “a world quite new,” to borrow from Alexis de Tocqueville.
The status quo, in my opinion, hardly serves anyone’s interest. The longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to reach an agreement.
Over the last two years, numerous meetings and consultations have been held within the Intergovernmental Negotiations. In the eighth round of talks, five initiatives were considered. At each exchange, one of them was taken up, following its introduction by a representative of the group that had submitted it. This gave Member States an opportunity for interactive discussions.
Despite the overall agreement on the need to move forward, however, the deliberations clearly exposed the divergence of views regarding the various proposals, as well as on how to proceed.
In the current session, the Intergovernmental Negotiations have continued, in accordance with the General Assembly’s oral decision 66/556, dated 13 September 2012.
Relevant gatherings have also taken place outside the IGN setting: the Rome Ministerial Meeting in February 2013, together with the seminar on Security Council reform organized by Brazil two months ago. I have paid close attention to these events, which have regretfully not brought us much closer to resolving the issue.
On 12 April, an updated text—the so-called third revised version—was circulated, and included corrections and additions from Member States. Reactions to the document were mixed, as was reflected in the meeting held on 16 April 2013.
The positions of the various groups remained unchanged, pointing to the manifest deadlock in terms of what should be the specific way ahead.
In the informal consultations that followed the April 16th meeting, the stalemate was not overcome.
The situation was unfortunately further complicated by an attempt to schedule two additional meetings at once without having first secured agreement on each of the topics to be discussed.
I decided to call this meeting in order to try to prevent the impasse from gaining a lasting traction. I hope that we will be able to proceed in a way that is consistent with getting us to a “solution that can garner the widest possible political acceptance by Member States”—to quote from the language of Decision 62/557.
The sensitive and complex nature of the issue should not deter us from investing additional efforts to engage“ in good faith, with mutual respect and in an open, inclusive and transparent manner.”
At the same time, downplaying areas of disagreement serves no beneficial purpose. In reality, it will not get us any closer to a reformed Security Council.
It is with all this in mind that I wish to express my hope that the Member States will use this opportunity for forward-looking deliberations, and focus on possible areas of convergence and links between the different reform models.
This meeting should thus help us reach an agreement on the topic for discussion at the next one, contingent on the sentiments expressed today and the informal consultations which will follow.
Allow me to emphasize the importance of proceeding with all deliberate speed, assiduousness and consideration. Unless we find a way to start bridging the existing differences, our efforts will not yield the intended result.
From the very first days of my term in office, I have closely followed the Security Council reform process, and have held numerous consultations with Member States and various groups in order to advance the negotiations.
As a result of these, I have come to four basic observations.
First: the membership is united in a conviction that Security Council reform is necessary, in line with the conclusions of the 2005 World Summit.
Second: Member States are prepared to keep discussing different aspects of the issue, without necessarily having to commit to one proposal.
Third: maintaining the trust and confidence of the entire membership is essential for the process to continue in a constructive manner.
And fourth: that comprehensive reform, encompassing the five key issues defined in Decision 62/557, will require greater flexibility, mutual understanding, and the political daring to reach a compromise.
One of the most influential statesmen of our time once said that “every great achievement was a vision, before it became a reality. In that sense, it arose from commitment, not resignation to the inevitable.”
It is with those words in mind that I wish to reiterate my hope that we will find the courage and sagacity to take these negotiations to the next stage in the period ahead. This would further reinforce the General Assembly’s status as a “center for harmonizing the actions of nations,” and thus advance the efforts of generations to entrench peace, security and prosperity across the globe.Thank you for your attention.
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