– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

13 February 2020

Your Excellency Joanna Wronecka, Permanent Representative of Poland

Your Excellency Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates

Excellencies

Distinguished delegates

I have the honor to welcome you all to the beginning of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) on the question of equitable representation on, and increase in, the membership of the Security Council and related matters. I am grateful to Ambassadors Joanna Wronecka and Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, for accepting to co-chair this process. It is my hope that given their knowledge of the Council, as well as the IGN process, we will be able to make meaningful progress on this difficult issue of UNSC reform. I request that you all kindly extend your support and cooperation to them, as they discharge their duties in the coming months.

Excellencies

This year marks the 75th anniversary of our Organization. It is a great achievement and we must be proud of the good work the Organization has done for peace and security, development and human rights. While proud of the gains that we have made, there is no doubt that we must act with more effectiveness and urgency to resolve majority of the egregious crises that are currently raging around the world. We need to better coordinate our efforts at finding lasting solutions to proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, and threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. The tragedies that we see around the world are unacceptable, and we must never forget that the United Nations was created to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.

To achieve this aim, we must support the Council to discharge its duties, and more importantly, reform it to ensure it is able to do so, more effectively. There is no doubt that the membership of the Security Council, as well as its working method, must reflect the realities of the 21st century. This has been repeatedly stated by our Heads of State and Government, who have urged the reform of the Council.

In my view, the most appropriate platform to pursue this reform is still within the framework of the IGN. However, we put this in danger, if we fail to make progress, we will be thereby entrenching the cynicism that has led some delegations to voice frustration, to the extent of questioning the value of their continued participation. Accordingly, I ask all delegations to utilize the opportunity that this IGN session provides to engage constructively. We must give this process a chance.

Excellencies,

I am not unaware of how difficult the IGN process has been over the past years; and the task of the co-chairs will not be easy.  However, it is important that member-states work harder than ever, to reach common grounds on the key issues, namely:

i. Size of an enlarged Council, as well as the issue of regional representation;

ii. Abolition of, or extension of veto power, and its use;

iii. Expansion or non-expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories of membership;

iv. Support for, or opposition to, Text-Based Negotiation (TBN) and Attribution and the emerging debate about the process.

It will be important that all parties whatever their stance, show good faith in the process and listen to each other, with a view to adjusting their positions to reach common ground. We should never be afraid to discuss. I have requested the co-chairs to provide an atmosphere conducive enough to allow member states feel included. They will ensure transparency and be accountable to all. They will also hold informal consultations as needed.

Let us not forget that the people that we represent expect tangible progress in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Human Rights and the state of Peace and Security around the world. Their faith in the United nations is gauged in various measures, prominent among which is how many lives the United Nations can save from senseless wars.

Tijjani Muhammad Bande

President of the UN General Assembly

On your part, it will be important to always remember that this process is an Intergovernmental process, and thereby, Member States driven. Its success depends on all of us and I encourage you all to actively engage each other, to help set an irreversible path this session, for the reform of the Council through meaningful contribution to discussions. I am hopeful that we will succeed in this task, taking us several steps towards resetting our organization to better serve future generations.

Excellencies,

Let us not forget that the people that we represent expect tangible progress in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Human Rights and the state of Peace and Security around the world. Their faith in the United nations is gauged in various measures, prominent among which is how many lives the United Nations can save from senseless wars. They understood that our destinies are intertwined and that how successful we became was dependent on how well the international system and our cherished rule-based multilateral order hinged on the fairness of the key organs of the United Nations.

Certainly Excellencies, the Security Council will perform better and gain more legitimacy if it responds to the yearnings for equity and inclusive representation. It is our duty to ensure that this happens.

I thank you.