|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
47th & 48th Meetings (AM & PM)
Overall United Nations reform incomplete without reform of Security Council,
Say General Assembly speakers, as annual debate on issue begins
Assembly President Says Member States Ready to ‘Move Forward’ in Process;
Objective Should Be to Develop Framework to Begin Intergovernmental Negotiations
With momentum starting to build for putting a reform plan in place for the Security Council, the General Assembly today opened its annual debate weighing the pros and cons of restructuring or expanding the powerful 15-member body, with many delegations saying United Nations reform as called for at the 2005 World Summit was incomplete without Security Council reform.
Among the nearly 40 delegations participating in the debate, many were frustrated that the Assembly had been wrestling with the issue of creating a more “democratic and representative” Council for more than fourteen years. Security Council reform was central to the overall process of revitalizing the United Nations and any changes should encompass its expansion, both in the permanent and non-permanent membership categories, as well as the further improvement of its working methods.
As in past years, delegations stood by their overriding belief that the current Council, with its five permanent veto-wielding members –- China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States -– and 10 rotating members, retained a political structure favouring the balance of power from a bygone era. With no substantive reform attempted since a 1963 Charter amendment that expanded its non-permanent membership, many said that dramatic geopolitical changes in the meantime had left the Council ill-suited to address modern global peace and security challenges.
With all that in mind, some called for an immediate overhaul of the body, while others urged a more “cautious expansion.” The issue, speakers on all sides stressed, hinged on the essential question of how to compose a Council both “small” enough for quick and efficient action and large enough for effective and legitimate decision-making. They also underscored that a reshaped Council would not be more effective unless its working methods were far more transparent, accountable and inclusive.
Acknowledging that there were divergent views over the path that would lead to change, and that competing proposals on expanding the Council’s membership made progress difficult, many nevertheless noted that the mood was slowly changing, and that delegations were showing a willingness to work together on a solution that took the concerns of all Member States into account.
To that end, speakers pledged to build on the progress achieved by the Open-Ended Working Group on the question of equitable representation on an increase in the Council’s membership, in line with a decision adopted in September urging the Group to step up efforts during the session, “aimed at achieving general agreement among Member States in the consideration of all issues relevant to the question…” Also by that decision, the Assembly vowed to consider the matter so that “further concrete steps might be achieved […] including through intergovernmental negotiations”, and consideration of the proposals put forward by Member States.
Opening the debate, General Assembly Srgjan Kerim said he looked forward to hearing the proposals of Member States and urged them to adopt a framework that would foster concrete results. He added that he had been holding informal consultations with all interested parties since the beginning of the current Assembly session, and said countries “have articulated their preparedness, taking into account the progress achieved, to use the current momentum to move forward”.
He said the process must advance. “Based on these consultations, our objective should be to develop a framework, in order to begin intergovernmental negotiations, by identifying and reaching agreement on the various negotiable elements”, he said, urging those present to be guided by the report of a working group dealing with the issue, and the positions and proposals of Member Sates.
The President also said countries “should have primary ownership” of the issue and welcomed their “substantive proposals and views on how to embark on the next stage in this important process so that we can achieve concrete results during the sixty-second session”.
Adding a new wrinkle to the discussion this year were the recommendations in a new report released this past April by the facilitators tasked by the President of the sixty-first General Assembly with starting consultations around five key issues, namely: categories of membership; the question of the veto; the question of regional representation; the size of an enlarged Council; and, the working methods of the Council and the relationship between it and the General Assembly.
Acknowledging that argument over who would get a seat on an expanded Council -- and with what powers –- had frustrated negotiations for years, the facilitators said that, while the positions of the major interest groups “are not likely to be fully realized at this stage,” recently, “flexibility was displayed in the form of willingness to explore a viable compromise solution.” Against that backdrop, they recommended, among other things, a series of transitional arrangements, which would be reviewed periodically, including added temporary seats, semi-permanent seats or other variations.
Mexico’s representative supported the facilitators’ transitional approach, but acknowledged the concerns of States that rejected those reforms. Still, the status quo was unacceptable and change should come through transparent and open intergovernmental negotiations with the goal of reaching the widest possible agreement. The Working Group already in existence and the proposals of the facilitators of the sixty-first session of the Assembly were particularly useful to that process. A spirit of collaboration was also useful and should help to avoid the creation of unexpected options with artificial deadlines that could sidetrack the existing process.
He said negotiations should seek agreement on three basic principles: to include all known options; to exclude any element that prejudged the final result; and to reaffirm the requisite of consensus or of the widest possible agreement that is above the two-thirds. Mexico insisted on a “gradual and cautious reform” that would only consider the expansion of the Council to new non-permanent members, would introduce the re-election principle for all non-permanent members, and would guarantee accountability of the performance of non-permanent members. Finally, the regulation of the veto and a revision of the working methods should be the share of the reform assumed by the five permanent members.
The representative of Angola, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the time had come to redress that historical injustice, and move forward in the search for collective security by working together in a more inclusive, transparent manner. For that reason, he said, Africa was asking for not less than two permanent seats with all the privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto, and five non-permanent seats.
The African Union would be responsible for selecting African representatives, he said. Africa was, in principle, opposed to the veto, however, if maintained, it should be available to all permanent members. The “Ezulwini Consensus” was an integrated package that contained all those elements. The African Group was committed to strengthening the United Nations. Deep reform of the Security Council would enable it to be more legitimate, representative and effective, he said.
Underscoring the Assembly’s years-long debate on the issue, Japan’s speakers said that, if States again deferred the issue, the Council’s effectiveness would be compromised and its credibility questioned. He urged States to enter into the negotiation process as soon as possible with that in mind. Council reform was not an issue for only a few States; enhancing the Council’s functioning was integral to the overall functioning of the United Nations. As such, countries with major responsibilities for implementing Security Council decisions on peace and security should occupy permanent seats.
He stressed that the Council should be reformed through modifications such as expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent categories, with inclusion of developed and developing States. Japan also continued to attach great importance to improving the Council’s working methods and looked forward to progress in that area. Finally, he said it was time for States to move Security Council reform to the negotiation phase. Japan would participate in the intergovernmental negotiations actively and in a flexible manner, with a view to achieving concrete results during the session.
However, the representative of Egypt stressed that, until such time as the proposed “intergovernmental” negotiations could be seen to achieve the widest possible consensus among the membership, exceeding the Charter’s required two-thirds majority, the Assembly should lead more consultations. “And I repeat, consultations, not negotiations”, he said, stressing that such talks should take place within the framework of the open-ended working group, to narrow the differences between the conflicting interests of all stakeholders.
Such consultations could be undertaken with the aim of reducing the number of alternatives stipulated by the facilitators, with a view to creating a positive environment leading to the eventual introduction of a “vision that could fit as a basis for negotiations based on a proposal from Member States”, he said. Egypt also believed that States should not limit their discussions to only the interim arrangements in the facilitators’ report. Moreover, the matter of veto power should not be considered under the rubric of reforming the Council’s “working methods”, which should only concentrate on promoting transparency and accountability in the Council’s work.
The representative of the United States said expansion must ensure the Council’s ability to respond efficiently to threats to peace and security. Qualified candidates must have a demonstrated ability to act as responsible stakeholders in that respect. Further, they must maintain a strong commitment to democracy, and have provided financial contributions to the United Nations, among other criteria. Those factors suggested that only a modest expansion of the Security Council was needed.
The United States continued to believe that comprehensive United Nations reform was needed in order for the Organization to address its new challenges. In that context, Security Council reform should be part of a meaningful package of reforms in other areas. He acknowledged the General Assembly President’s support of that shared goal. He looked forward to hearing other Member States’ views, and hoped that today’s discussion would bring the Organization one step closer to achieving overall reform.
At the start of the meeting, the representative of Indonesia, speaking in his capacity as Security Council President for the month of November, introduced the Council’s report for the period 1 August 2006 to 31 July 2007. Among other highlights, he said that the Council held 224 formal meetings, 184 of which were public, as well as 22 meetings with troop-contributing countries. One the whole, the Council held 192 consultations and adopted 71 resolutions in addition to 52 presidential statements. He also stressed that the Council recognized the importance of effective working methods and continued to enhance effectiveness and transparency. The participation of non-Council members had been accommodated in various open debates and Council members continued to pay attention to the Security Council mandate review within the respective ad hoc Committee.
The representatives of Liechtenstein, Viet Nam, Bahrain, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Kuwait, Peru, Argentina, Belarus, Tunisia, Finland, United Arab Emirates, Colombia, Myanmar, Iceland, Republic of Korea, China, Bahamas, Portugal, Russian Federation, Mauritania, Senegal, Germany, France, Brazil, Sudan, Netherlands, Pakistan and Canada also spoke.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 13 November to continue its debate.
The General Assembly met today to hold a joint debate on the report of the Security Council and the question of equitable representation on the Council and an increase in Council membership. Along with the report of the Council (document A/62/2), the Assembly has before it a note by the Secretary-General concerning the work of the Security Council (document A/62/300), which informs the world body of the matters relative to international peace and security that are being dealt with by the Security Council and of matters with which the Council has ceased to deal.
The report of the Security Council covers the period 1 August 2006 to 31 July 2007 and details Council activities relating to all questions under its responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. The report states that, during the reporting period, the pace of the activities of the Security Council was intense, and the volume and scope of issues before it were increasing.
African issues continued to be at the forefront of the Council’s agenda, according to the report. It closely followed developments on the continent, such as those in conflict situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and Somalia, and the post-conflict situations in Burundi, Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau. The Sudan, especially Darfur, featured prominently on the agenda. Among the resolutions adopted was one by which the Council authorized the establishment of an African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur.
The Council continued to monitor the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, on a regular basis. The question of Lebanon also dominated the attention of the Council. The Kosovo issue also remained one of the high priorities on the Council’s agenda, according to the report. The Council discussed the proposals for Kosovo’s status settlement but, after intense consultations on several versions of a draft resolution on the status issue, the Council was not able to reach an agreement on the draft.
General issues covered in the report also constituted a large portion of the Council’s work, including, among others, several thematic issues in the humanitarian and peacebuilding areas, and on cooperation between the United Nations and relevant regional organizations. Counter-terrorism and non-proliferation also remained top priorities. The Council took a firm stand against terrorist activities and kept non-proliferation issues under close consideration. It also stepped up its efforts to further improve its working methods, including in the area of sanctions and with regard to documentation and other procedural questions.
The report adds that the activities of the Council’s subsidiary bodies constituted an important and integral part of the Council’s work. Appendices to the report list the Council membership for the period under review, the representatives and deputy, alternate and acting representatives accredited to the Council, the presidents of the Council and communications between the Council and the Secretary-General.
Over the years, the Assembly’s debate over Security Council reform has expanded to include various models for increasing membership, limiting veto privileges, and reforming sanctions and working methods.
The “Group of Four” proposal, drafted by India, Germany, Brazil and Japan, suggests increasing Council membership from 15 to 25 seats by adding six permanent and four non-permanent members. The new permanent members would not obtain the right of veto, but would otherwise have the same responsibilities as the current members. They would be elected according to the following pattern: two from African States; two from Asian States; one from Latin American and Caribbean States; one from Western Europe and Other States. For the four non-permanent members: one from African States; one from Asian States; one from Eastern European States and one from Latin America and the Caribbean.
A proposal submitted to the Assembly by Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland, known informally as “S-5”, urges the Council to consider steps to enhance its accountability, transparency and inclusiveness of work in categories including: relationship with the General Assembly and other principal organs; implementation of decisions; subsidiary bodies’ use of veto; operations mandated or carried out by the Council; relationship with regional arrangements and agencies; and integration of new Council members.
Another text (document A/59/L.68) put forward in July 2005 by the so-called “Uniting for Consensus” coalition of countries, including Italy, Mexico and Pakistan, would have the Council consist of 20 non-permanent members elected to a two-year term, in addition to the five permanent members. The 20 non-permanent members would be elected according to the following pattern: six from African States; five from Asian States; four from Latin American and Caribbean States; three from Western European and Other States; and two from Eastern European States. The proposal provides for the possibility of immediate re-election subject to the decision of their respective geographical groups.
A text put forward by the African Union, whose 53 members stress that Africa is the only Continent without a permanent seat on the Council, aspires to add 11 new seats to the Council: six permanent seats with veto power, including two for Africa, and five non-permanent seats.
To examine States’ views on the proposals, the General Assembly President in February established five tracks for consultations, appointing one ambassador as facilitator in each of the following areas: membership, veto power, regional representation, size of an enlarged Security Council, and the Council’s working methods and relationship with the General Assembly.
Their findings, released in April (A/61/47, Annex II), underscored States’ belief that Security Council enlargement is integral to the broader United Nations reform process. The study found that maintaining the status quo is not acceptable to an overwhelming majority of Member States that feel the current situation should be improved. Flexibility must be shown and shared by all. A significant number of Member States tend to agree that their ideal solution may not be possible at this stage, and believe that it may be more reasonable to consider the best possible substantial solution for now.
The Facilitators’ study dovetails with the most recent report by the General Assembly’s Open-ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on an Increase in the Membership of the Security Council, created to consider possible next steps towards a decision on Security Council reform (document A/61/47). The report was prepared pursuant to decision 60/568, which stated the Working Group should continue its work and submit a report to the Assembly before the end of the sixty-first session.
The report notes that substantive input from States will be indispensable for taking discussions to the next stage: intergovernmental negotiations, with a view to moving forward to achieve concrete steps at the Assembly’s sixty-second session. Future negotiations would need to be conducted on the basis of a text containing concrete elements on all “negotiables” identified in the report.
Statement by General Assembly President
General Assembly President SRGJAN KERIM, of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said that in the 14 years since the issue of Security Council reform had been under discussion in the Open-ended Working Group, States had recognized the growing relevance of the issue to overall reform efforts. Indeed, States at the 2005 World Summit had recognized the importance of such efforts, and had committed to undertake early reform of the Council in order to make it more efficient, transparent and representative. To further those goals, they also had supported efforts to increase the involvement of States that were not currently Council members.
Recalling that sixty-first General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed al Khalifa had urged an open-minded approach to Security Council reform, he encouraged all States to build on progress made thus far. Indeed, States’ positions were now clear and the issue was being considered at the 62nd session as agreed, with a particular focus on the need for intergovernmental negotiations. In that regard, he assured States of his determination to work in an open and transparent manner, based on the views of the entire membership. Since the start of the 62nd session, he had held informal consultations with all interested parties, and States had expressed their desire to seize momentum to move forward.
It was now important to develop a framework for beginning intergovernmental negotiations, he continued, adding that States should be guided by the Working Group’s report, and take note of their primary responsibility over such a process. He looked forward to hearing substantive proposals for moving forward with a view to achieving concrete results during the 62nd session.
In closing, he stressed that Security Council reform was an integral part of strengthening the United Nations, and encouraged all States to remain actively engaged in discussions to address the issue. His one request was that States work together in good faith with a view to achieving tangible results.
Introduction of Report
MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia), President of the Security Council for the month of November, said the Council had on its programme of work all major aspects of the maintenance of international peace and security, including armed conflicts, terrorism, peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding. During the reporting period of 2006, the Council held 224 formal meetings, 184 of which were public, as well as 22 meetings with troop-contributing countries. One the whole, the Council held 192 consultations and adopted 71 resolutions in addition to 52 presidential statements.
He continued, saying that the Council extensively discussed developments in Africa throughout the year, highlighting the issue of Darfur. The Council passed six resolutions, including Resolution 1769, which authorized the establishment of a United Nations/African-Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur. Additionally, on Cote d'Ivoire, the Council agreed on several measures, including resolutions aimed at full implementation of the peace process and the organization of free, fair and transparent elections. The Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone, as well as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and the United Nations Mission in Eritrea/Ethiopia (UNMEE), though it implemented some troop withdrawals there. As conditions in Somalia deteriorated, the Council authorized the African Union to establish a mission there and urged the Secretary-General to send a team to determine the feasibility of a peacekeeping operation. Similarly, instability in Chad and its bordering countries, the Central African Republic and the Sudan, prompted the consideration of a multidimensional force in the region.
Turning to the Middle East, the Council President said the Council considered the Palestinian question on a monthly basis, including seven open debates on situation, two of which were at the ministerial level. The Council also debated the situation in Lebanon, unanimously adopting Resolution 1701, which renewed and enhanced the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and implemented resolution 1559, establishing the International Independent Investigation Commission and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Iraq also remained under the Council’s consideration -– in August, the Council extended the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq to foster constitutional development, judicial system reform and the promotion of human rights. Finally, in the Middle East, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
With respect to non-proliferation, peacebuilding and security, the Council adopted two resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for their non-compliance on nuclear transparency. The Council also examined the importance of regional organizations to international peace and security, issuing a presidential statement calling for closer cooperation between regional and subregional organizations to promote conflict prevention. Security sector reform was also debated, as well as “Natural Resources and Conflict.” In a presidential statement adopted after the discussion, the Council officially recognized the role natural resources played in armed conflict and post-conflict situations by contributing to conflict outbreak, continuation or escalation and stressed the crucial role natural resources played in long-term economic growth and sustainable development.
As a final point, he said, the Council recognized the importance of effective working methods and continued to enhance effectiveness and transparency. The participation of non-Council members had been accommodated in various open debates and Council members continued to pay attention to the Security Council mandate review within the respective ad hoc Committee.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER, ( Liechtenstein) said that the work of the Security Council was increasing. To maintain the depth and quality of the Council’s work, it must not take on new issues that were not linked to direct threats to international peace and security. He said the Council’s working methods should be more efficient and transparent. He was encouraged by the working methods adopted by the Council in July 2006, but said that they were not being applied consistently. He further said that the agreement made at the World Summit to enhance the Council’s accountability to the membership was also not being put into practice. While the Council seemed busier than ever over the past year, it was also less accessible to the broader membership.
He said that a distinction must be made between the Council’s procedural measures and those that open up its substantive work to the broader membership. The Council could benefit from the input of countries not currently serving on it, but responsible for implementing its decisions. The Council itself must make those methodological changes, but with input from outside and unrelated to the question of enlargement. On that question, he said that the “intermediary solution” was a compromise between pre-World Summit positions and should not be presented as a less than ideal solution that Member States would set about to change as soon as it was adopted. Rather, such a solution should be considered if it found the largest possible political support that had been elusive for all other solutions presented. He called for a sustainable political solution and clear indications on it from all major stakeholders. Only then would his country be prepared for the negotiations most States were calling for.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said the lack of detail on some of the items of the Security Council report prevented it from being the central means by which the Council collaborated with the General Assembly. For example, there was a lack of information on the appointment of the Secretary-General and on the matters that the Council chose not to examine. He asked Member States whether the General Assembly required a report consisting of a compilation of Council data and documents already published from the previous period. That question brought up a particularly polarizing issue in regards to the working methods of the Council, namely whether the Council was or was not accountable to the General Assembly and whether they should provide a more analytical report that would contribute to a better evaluation of its actions. He asked if the majority of delegations with the United Nations saw little use for Council reports, what interest would there be in the reports outside of the Organization?
Turning to Security Council reform, he expressed support for the so-called transitional or intermediary approach, but acknowledged the concerns of States that rejected those reforms. The status quo was unacceptable and change should come through transparent and open intergovernmental negotiations with the goal of reaching the widest possible agreement. The Working Group already in existence and the proposals of the facilitators of the sixty-first session of the Assembly were particularly useful to that process. A spirit of collaboration was also useful and should help to avoid the creation of unexpected options with artificial deadlines that would sidetrack the existing process. Negotiations should seek agreement on three basic principles: to include all known options; to exclude any element that prejudged the final result; and to reaffirm the requisite of consensus or of the widest possible agreement that is above the two-thirds. His delegation insisted on a gradual and cautious reform that would only consider the expansion of the Council to new non-permanent members, would introduce the re-election principle for all non-permanent members, and would guarantee accountability of the performance of non-permanent members. Finally, the regulation of the veto and a revision of the working methods should be the share of the reform assured by the five permanent members.
HOANG CHI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) said the current discussion enhanced dialogue and cooperation between the Council and the General Assembly. The number of open meetings of the Security Council underscored the Council’s attempts to enhance its transparency and accountability. The report showed that conflicts and tensions were still prevalent across the world and satisfactory resolutions to those conflicts required further determination and resources. Of particular concern were the situations in the Middle East, in some African countries, the threat of terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He welcomed the work of the Council and the Secretary-General in Darfur, Burundi, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and on the Korean Peninsula, but added that much more needed to be done to ensure effective conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding throughout the world.
He said the Council, to be more effective, needed to revitalize itself and be reformed in a substantial and timely manner. Security Council reform was crucial to the wider United Nations reform process. The Council should be more representative and its work more democratic, effective and transparent, especially in its decision-making. It should be enlarged in both permanent and non-permanent categories and include, in particular, more developing countries. On the other hand, the use of the veto should be limited and the Council’s working methods should be substantially improved. Public meetings, briefings, and press conferences should continue to be expanded to provide a timely and greater source of information on the activities of the Council. He added that the Working Group had generated many concrete ideas and proposals to move the reform process forward. That process was now at a defining stage and Member States should use the momentum initiated by recent efforts to move towards further progress. “It is high time that we commit ourselves to genuine negotiations”, he said and expressed his delegation’s commitment to open, inclusive and constructive discussions.
TAWFEEQ AHMED ALMANSOOR ( Bahrain) said that the two items under discussion were interconnected. The Security Council’s report should contain a substantive analysis of the subjects considered during the year, and a copy provided to Member States, with full transparency, in enough time to consider it for discussion. The Security Council should not go beyond its mandate, as defined in Article 24 of the Charter. When it impinged on the authority of the General Assembly or Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), it could create confusion. Clarity of the relationships between United Nations bodies was necessary to meet the Organization’s challenges. He suggested that the Presidents of the General Assembly, the Security Council and ECOSOC might meet periodically to discuss their agendas and avoid interfering in each other’s work.
Equitable representation on the Council was extremely important, he said. Security Council reform must be a multidimensional process, including all aspects of reform. Principles must be agreed upon regarding the number of permanent and non-permanent members based on geographic representation, so that developing and least developed countries would have equal representation with developed countries. He called for a permanent rotating seat for Arab States and restrictions on the use of veto, including the possibility of overriding a veto with a vote of 2/3 of the Members.
Further he said that all peaceful means must be exhausted before resorting to Chapter VII. Sanctions, too, must be used only as a last resort and have a clear purpose and timetable, so as not to harm civilians. He also called for greater transparency in the Council’s work, particularly for countries directly impacted by the discussions, limiting the number of closed consultations and increasing open debates. He also called for permanent rules of procedure, to replace the 50-year old provisional rules of procedure which hampered the Council in its work and caused it to take inappropriate steps.
ANDREAS BAUM ( Switzerland) regretted the report’s lack of analytical depth and limited value added for the membership at large. It contained, as usual, a comprehensive overview of Council meetings, and could better reflect the Council’s challenges, assessments and rationale during the reporting period. The Council’s decisions on sanctions or peacekeeping put an ever-increasing burden on States, which clearly called for more accountability. Only if the Council better explained itself would national parliaments “continue to pick up the check” for its decisions. He encouraged States to strive to produce a report that answered States’ needs.
Switzerland was convinced that States should build on momentum created by informal consultations in the Open-ended Working Group, noting that the two reports by the facilitators served as a “very valuable basis” for further discussions. As none of the models presented thus far would gain support needed to bring about Security Council reform, he said an intermediary approach, as outlined by the facilitators, could reconcile different positions on enlargement, provided that States showed flexibility. Switzerland welcomed the Working Group’s call to start intergovernmental negotiations. For that to happen, the facilitators’ report should be transformed into a document that could serve as a basis for talks. That could be done by appointing a special envoy, who could consult at the highest level in capitals.
Turning to the Council’s special research paper on working methods, he said it contained an “impressive compilation” of efforts undertaken since 1993, however more should be done. Improvement of working methods would not only secure more transparency, but would also serve the Council’s interests by conferring greater legitimacy on its decisions. On the “S-5” proposal, he highlighted the issue of developing fair and clear procedures in current sanctions regimes, particularly with regard to listing and de-listing. The Informal Working Group on General Issues of Sanctions was a good basis for strengthening existing sanctions regimes and Switzerland welcomed its renewed efforts. On the Council’s workload, he believed that the Security Council Affairs Division should be afforded the necessary resources to secure assistance required by the Council and its subsidiary organs. On enlargement issues, he stressed the need for enhanced representation of developing countries. Reform of working methods would become all the more urgent should States not move ahead on enlargement. Saying that Council reform was not “mission impossible”, he encouraged States to “let action follow words”. Switzerland was committed to Security Council reform and would constructively contribute to the process.
Mr. ALJABRI ( Saudi Arabia) said he supported the expansion of the Security Council to provide for further democratic representation and diversity. He added that Member States had a moral responsibility to implement the outcome of the 2005 World Summit, free from selectivity and narrow national interests.
Continuing, he said specific progress towards reform to adapt to global threats had been made. However, reform of the Council regarding membership had only seen little progress. There was among Member States a sincere desire to reform that organ, which was the beating heart of the Organization, as well as international security. Saudi Arabia urged reform, in order to make the Council, overall, more inclusive, more effective and more transparent – to make it a body capable of dealing with crises before they happened, not just after the event. Saudi Arabia also expressed the hope that the veto would be used to help the weak and foster their rights, not to encourage tyranny and despotism. Resolutions enacted, but not acted upon, because of the unjustified use of the veto, had resulted in the problems in the Middle East for 60 years. Permanent Members of the Security Council needed to play an important role in dealing with issues like those – which required radical changes in the Council.
RODRIGO MALMIERCA DIAZ ( Cuba) expressed hope that the Security Council report would be available earlier next year and called on the Council to submit a more comprehensive and analytical report that assessed its work, including cases in which the Council failed to act, as well as views expressed by members during consideration of agenda items. He also called on the Council to submit special reports to the General Assembly. He said Council Presidents should ensure that their monthly assessments were timely, comprehensive and analytical.
He said Cuba opposed the tendency to equate reform of the United Nations with greater empowerment of the Security Council, mindful of the need to keep a balance among the principal organs. There was a danger of encroachment of the Security Council on issues that were clearly in the purview of the General Assembly. For that reason, he called on the presidents of the Assembly, the Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to regularly meet to ensure they were all respectful of each body’s mandate. He also called on the Security Council to fully take into account the recommendations of the Assembly on international peace and security, consistent with Article 11 of the Charter.
In regard to Security Council reform, he said maintaining the status quo was not acceptable. Enlargement of the Council should address the under-representation of developing countries, leading to a more democratic and accountable body. In regard to working methods and substantive issues, transparency, openness and consistency must be improved. The Council must also comply with provisions of the Charter that allow any non-member to participate in discussions on matters affecting it. Among the objectives of reform should be: ensuring that the rules of procedure were formalized; and curtailing the veto, with a view toward eliminating it. The concept of voluntary self-restrain on the veto was not an option.
ABDULLAH AHMED MOHAMED AL-MURAD ( Kuwait) said that, despite the agreement of Member States on the need for Security Council reform, the Working Group had not agreed on the substance of changes after 14 years, though it had made useful proposals for changing the Council’s working methods. Any change in the composition of the Council must not affect its capability to confront international threats and dangers, while it must add more credibility to decisions. He supported codification of the Council’s work, as well as all proposals to make the work of the Council more transparent and improve two-way communication with Member States. A permanent list of work procedures should also be adopted.
He supported maintaining the current method of electing non-permanent members of the Council, because it gave a good opportunity for smaller States, and also supported limiting the use of the veto to issues that fell under Chapter VII of the Charter. He said that any expansion of non-permanent seats should take into account the substantive increase in the number of States in the Asian group.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said that the Assembly’s previous session had increased the momentum around the issue of Council reform and had raised expectations for reaching agreement on “a clear vision that would garner the widest possible support from Member States”. However, that positive trend, including the recommendations of the five facilitators appointed by the former Assembly president, had been somewhat undercut by the “arduous attempts” by some delegations to get African States to abandon their long-held position on the matter, enshrined in the 2005 Ezulwini Consensus, which proposes two permanent seats with veto power, and five non-permanent seats for Africa, and has been confirmed at subsequent African Union Summits.
He went on to say that as wider international negotiations had picked up over the past year, some corners had expressed a need to send a message to the most recent African Union Summit in Accra, Ghana, to convince African leaders to amend the continent’s position, and “to allow a greater degree of flexibility in dealing with some aspects of the Consensus, especially the right of veto”. The Accra Summit had held their ground and backed the full letter and spirit of the Ezulwini Consensus, as the framework for “what has and will continue to represent the just demands capable of rectifying the historic injustice against Africa, cased by the denial of its legitimate right to permanent membership and subsequent inability of any of its member States to exercise the right of veto, despite the continent’s numerous prevalence and complexity of interests it seeks to defend in the Security Council”.
Turning to the most recent report on the Assembly’s Working Group on Equitable Representation in the Security Council, and it’s annex, which contained the report of the five facilitators, he said that until such time as the proposed “intergovernmental” negotiations could be seen to achieve the widest possible consensus among the membership, exceeding the Charter’s required two-thirds majority, the Assembly should lead more consultations. “And I repeat, consultations, not negotiations”, he said, stressing that such talks should take place within the framework of the open-ended working group, to narrow the differences between the conflicting interests of all stakeholders. Such consultations could be undertaken with the aim of reducing the number of alternatives stipulated by the facilitators, with a view to creating a positive environment leading to the eventual introduction of a “vision that could fit as a basis for negotiations based on a proposal from Member States”.
He noted that some delegations had recently circulated a draft text seeking to replace the Working Group’s open and democratic structure with an inert governmental negotiating process. That move had been rejected, and Egypt believed that Member States should seek to enhance the Assembly president’s ability to conduct consultation, and not negotiations, within the framework of the Working Group, and in the same successful manner followed by his predecessor. Egypt also believed that States should not limit their discussions to only the interim arrangements in the facilitators’ report. He stressed that Africa would not abandon its position. African States believed that permanent membership without the right of veto would not change the structure or balance of power within the Security Council. Moreover, the matter of veto power should not be considered under the rubric of reforming the Council’s “working methods”, which should only concentrate on promoting transparency and accountability in the Council’s work.
Finally, he said that it was about time for Assembly delegations to stop building “narrow coalitions of those who are seeking to impose particular views hoping to achieve their national interests”. Delegations should, rather, seek global coalitions towards achieving the international interest of having a more democratic Security Council. Egypt was therefore looking forward to the consultations under the auspices of the Assembly President as Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group, as well as wider consultations and proposals. Egypt would look for “collective understanding” between the “G-4”, “Uniting for Consensuses”, the African Group, and all others representing the diversity that could enhance the representative character of the Council.
JORGE VOTO-BERNALES ( Peru) said the report of the Security Council reflected an increase in the volume of questions and conflicts before the Council between August 2006 and July 2007, instructing members to take pause and consider constructive ways to address them. A large part of the work before the Security Council lately had consisted of inter-State conflicts, which occurred for the most part in countries with non-progressive Governments, fragile institutions and precarious economies. In order to prevent those situations from multiplying or escalating, the Security Council needed to prioritize matters of policing and reconstruction. But, it also should give its attention to other factors, such as poverty, social degradation and transnational crime. While it was not the Council’s obligation to resolve those, the progress made in Liberia and Sierra Leone demonstrated that peace and security were inextricably linked to development.
He continued, saying other bodies were commissioned to act on sustainable development situations, but the Security Council had the responsibility to protect from genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and needed to remain vigilant to respond to them when the State did not. In order to achieve that more effectively, the United Nations needed a strategic reserve force, enabling the immediate deployment of Blue Helmets to any country in turmoil. Many conflicts would be resolved quickly, if the United Nations had such a force. Further, terrorism had grown into a scourge that needed condemnation and resolute action on the part of the Security Council, and also the unequivocal commitment of every State with a police force to fight it.
JORGE ARGÜELLO (Argentina) pointed out that his country had been on the Security Council during part of the period covered by the report, and followed with concern the serious situations affecting international security, particularly in Darfur, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He further hoped the upcoming Annapolis Conference would achieve substantive progress towards a legitimate solution to the Middle East conflict, within the context of international law. He was aware of the gravity of situations that placed restrictions on human rights in many countries.
Turning to Security Council reform, he said the issue must be given priority on the Assembly’s agenda, as every day that passed without reform made the Council more anachronistic. The Council failed to represent the interests of the United Nations’ 192 Members. Having reviewed the facilitators’ report and that of the Open-Ended Working Group, he said the ways and means suggested in them provided the only path for progress and could help break the inertia seen through the years. The intermediary approach, which could last 10, 15 or 20 years, would help increase the participation of all States, particularly small ones. In that regard, he stressed the importance of rotation and “the regional factor” in the Council’s election methods and coordination of positions. He called on States to advance on the regional level by increasing cooperation and avoiding the tendency to become divided by “power politics”. Moreover, the intermediary approach provided an opportunity for the five permanent members to “heed the voices of the majority” for reform, as the key to progress remained in their hands.
Recalling the Working Group’s assertion that only a situation such as the Second World War could create the system of privileges currently held by the permanent five, he said today’s reality, fortunately, did not present such a scenario. The next stage of progress should see the end of unilateral actions. Negotiations should focus on possible reform models, with a view to achieving the greatest possible compromise.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS ( Belarus) said that the Council’s report should not merely inform the membership of work conducted, but provide an in-depth analysis of the situation in the world’s “hot spots”. He suggested that the difficulty in reaching consensus on such an annual document could be ameliorated if each successive Council President issued a substantive accounting of the Council’s work for that month. Further, he said that the Council must be reformed to be more representative, efficient and transparent, while remaining compact and capable of acting quickly and effectively.
An efficient and authoritative Security Council must reflect current geopolitical realities by becoming more representative, he said. Decisions should be taken by two-third majority. He called for an additional non-permanent seat for the Eastern European Group, as well as additional seats for the African, Asian, and Latin American and Caribbean regions, including permanent seats. The attempt by some members to introduce items on the agenda outside of the Council’s mandated competence weakened its effectiveness and authority. The balance of responsibility between the Security Council and General Assembly must be restored. Separate from the Council’s enlargement, its working methods must also be reformed. Non-members should be more involved in the work of a reformed Council and have greater access, especially when their interests were concerned.
HABIB MANSOUR ( Tunisia) said consideration of the Security Council report provided the only opportunity for States to examine the Council’s activities and contemplate measures to improve them. While he was pleased at the report’s analytical introduction, efforts were needed to improve the content, as it remained a compilation of work done thus far. Also, the Assembly had asked the Council to submit periodic special thematic reports on questions of international interest. However, no such report had been presented.
On the Security Council’s functioning, he said several large open meetings had been held, and that the number of open briefings had increased. However, more work was needed to make the body more transparent. The report demonstrated that the Council had acted with determination, particularly in Africa, and had enhanced its role in the maintenance of peace and security. However, the Council’s actions had fallen short in the Middle East. Its failure to help settle the Palestinian question and live up to its responsibilities posed a serious threat, both to itself and the region.
On the issue of equitable representation, he said conclusions of the facilitators last spring had relaunched the consultation process, particularly by promoting a new approach to resolving the enlargement dilemma. He welcomed the agreement reached last September, whereby States decided to continue consideration of Security Council reform, with a view to achieving concrete results. He looked forward to implementation of that understanding.
He said the process of equitable representation must reflect the political and economic realities of today, and that the Council must be given the legitimacy to act in the name of the international community. Those objectives would be unattainable without an expansion, particularly of developing country interests. Tunisia supported the African Union’s position, as reflected in the African Consensus, as the long-standing injustice of denying Africa a permanent presence in the Council must be remedied. His delegation would support any proposal giving Africa the seat owed to it. To gain confidence from States and world public opinion, the Council must demonstrate its ability to effectively tackle the most difficult issues, and become representative of the international community. It was time to embark on that path in a serious manner.
ISMAEL A. GASPAR MARTINS ( Angola), on behalf of the African Group, said the report devoted an important place to Africa. Despite the prevalence of conflicts, positive developments had taken place in several post-conflict African countries, changing the gloomy picture normally portrayed of the Continent.
The African Group welcomed the Council’s adoption of a Presidential statement on its relations with regional organizations, and urged the Council and the African Union to continue their dialogue on matters of mutual interest. In his address to the Security Council last week, during debate on the role of regional and subregional organizations in maintaining peace and security, he had pointed out that Africa had been the ground for useful experiences in peacekeeping, peacemaking and, consequently, for the Council’s work. However, Africa was aware of one question central to its relationship with the Council: the Continent was not adequately represented. The time had come to redress that historical injustice, and move forward in the search for collective security by working together in a more inclusive, transparent manner.
For that reason, he said, Africa was asking for not less than two permanent seats with all the privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto, and five non-permanent seats. The African Union would be responsible for selecting African representatives. Africa was, in principle, opposed to the veto, however, if maintained, it should be available to all permanent members. The Ezulwini Consensus was an integrated package that contained all those elements. The African Group was committed to strengthening the United Nations. Deep reform of the Security Council would enable it to be more legitimate, representative and effective.
KIRSTI LINTONEN ( Finland) firmly supported comprehensive Security Council reform, and said it was imperative to build on work done in previous Assemblies to take the Council’s reform process forward. A process must be created that kept discussion going and achieved progress soon. Finland viewed Security Council reform as essential to comprehensive United Nations reform. However, despite progress in the overall reform process, Security Council reform had not advanced. That must happen in order to strengthen the legitimacy of the entire system.
In that context, she said the Council should better represent the world community today. The number of permanent and non-permanent members should be increased, without extending the right for veto. Further, it was important to guarantee the possibility of smaller States serving on the Council. Reform of working methods and procedures was also vital. A more representative and, therefore, legitimate Council would also become more effective in carrying out its functions. It was important to take that much needed step.
AHMED AL-JARMAN ( United Arab Emirates) said that, despite all the Council’s efforts to address peace and security matters, as well as to contain emergencies, tensions and internal crises and combat terrorism, it had often fallen short of expectations and even failed to address some of the pressing matters on its agenda. Those deficits had been the inevitable consequence of the lack of transparency in its decision-making processes, its silence on a number of emerging and threatening security issues, a hasty and excessive use of Chapter VII to address issues that did not necessarily pose an imminent threat to global peace and security, and its failure to pursue alternative solutions to more pressing security issues “such as developments in Palestine and the Middle East, which have been on its agenda since its establishment”.
The United Arab Emirates considered that the Council’s current failures stemmed from its “uneven structure, which was based on the political and geographical reality of 1945, and amendments of 1963”. Therefore, in light of current geo-political realities, urgent action was required to redress shortcoming in its working methods and to totally change its structure, to enable the Council to shoulder its Charter-based responsibilities. With all that in mind, and with deep concern at the unilateral positions expressed by some countries on those important issues, the United Arab Emirates would call on all parties, including individual States, regional and political groupings, to show the necessary political will and flexibility so that international consensus could be achieved.
He went on to call for an increase in both permanent and non-permanent levels of membership in the Council, to address the problem of under-representation of small and developing countries and to ensure political balance, enhance its global character and enable it to tackle equally the concerns of all nations and peoples. He also called for the allocation of one permanent and two non-permanent seats to the Arab Group, which would be filled on a rotating basis, and in accordance with practices endorsed by the League of Arab States. He also demanded such changes as establishing checks and balances on the use of the veto; curbing the use of Chapter VII, except for cases of aggression posing threats to international peace and security; increasing the opportunity for non-members to participate in the Council’s work; and formalizing the Councils’ rules of procedure.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said that her delegation noted with interest the inclusion of a brief summary of the Council’s work included in the relevant report, including the organization of its work. She thanked China for drafting that introduction, as well as the efforts that delegation had undertaken to provide the Assembly with qualitative information to better evaluate the Council’s work. More depth was, nevertheless, necessary, beyond the listing of substantive issues, possibly even the inclusion of the criteria used by the Council in its decision-making. That would contribute to the Council’s transparency and would provide more analytical information for the Assembly, the main authoritative body in the United Nations system. She added that the Council could consider presenting more frequent “special reports” on its work.
On Council reform, she stressed that the momentum generated on the issue by the working group was undeniable, especially the facilitators’ recommendations on alternatives to increasing the Council’s membership and other transitional arrangements, which could serve as a basis for searching for the widest possible consensus. At the same time, she said that, because the environment in which the Working Group’s report had been adopted had “generated several unknowns”, it was necessary to restore trust and promote transparency. That would only be possible if the discussions on Council reform took place in an open and participative forum where all States could contribute.
To that end, Colombia would reaffirm the role of the Working Group as the “main and only forum for consideration of this issue”, and stress that any mechanisms that could undermine the Working Group’s mandate and reach would be prejudicial to the reform process. Any alternatives must support the Working Group and build on the progress achieved by it thus far. She said that Group must focus in the first instance on defining the format, parameters and elements on an eventual intergovernmental negotiation process. That first step must take place in a consensual manner and without imposing artificial deadlines and substantive matters must only be considered when the framework, modalities and components of the negotiations were clear.
She said that, while the outcome of the process must not be prejudged, the ultimate goal must be the configuration of a more democratic and representative Security Council, beyond the status quo. Colombia supported the transitional approach that called for an increase in the number of non-permanent seats with the possibility of re-election, as long as that did not lead to a de facto permanent membership through repeated elections. She reaffirmed her delegation’s position on the need to increase the non-permanent membership to enhance the legitimacy of the Council’s decisions. At the same time, she stressed that the matter of increasing the Council’s membership should not eclipse efforts to press ahead with revising and adapting the body’s working methods.
KYAW TINT SWE ( Myanmar) said that it would have been helpful if the report of the Security Council had been made available to Member States earlier and hoped that in future years it would be, as the Council was accountable to the General Assembly under the Charter. He noted that, after 15 years discussing Security Council reform, five key issues had been identified and, following consultations with the membership, progress on how to move forward now seemed possible. Security Council reform was an inherent part of United Nations reform.
Representation on the Council must be based on equitable distribution, mutual benefit and cooperation, he said, with expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members. Developing countries must have greater representation. Aside from expansion, there were reforms that could be carried out now. Article 24 Section 2 of the Charter must be respected, he said, noting that the Council may not initiate formal or informal discussions of any situation that did not constitute a threat to international peace and security. Security Council reform must: guarantee transparency; improve working methods and the decision-making process; and ensure that its agenda reflected the interests of both developing and developed countries. Those reforms could be carried out before enlarging that body.
HJALMAR W. HANNESSON ( Iceland) said the debate on Council reform had been going on for a decade and a half and the impasse did not reflect well on the United Nations. It was all the more lamentable, as no one disagreed with the 2005 Summit that early reform of the Council was an essential element of overall United Nations reform. The stakes for reform were now very high and an equitable resolution on the Council’s reform questions could greatly add to comprehensive security. Throughout the years Iceland had advocated for a more representative and, thus, more legitimate Security Council through expansion in membership -– mirroring the changes that had taken place in overall United Nations membership –- and the implementation of mechanisms to make it more transparent.
Continuing, he said to improve the effectiveness of the Security Council, the United Nations needed to: Increase both the permanent and the two-year elected members of the Council, bring the Council membership to 25 countries, augment the representation of developing countries and implement reform based on the suggestions in the “G-4” draft resolution, which Iceland had co-sponsored. The valuable work on those issues during the sixty-first session of the Assembly did not produce formal results beyond the decision to continue the reform during the present General Assembly. In the last report of the Open-ended Working Group, Member States agreed to continue work on Security Council reform through intergovernmental negotiations during this session. And regardless how negotiations develop, they required transparency that gave all Member States an equal opportunity to participate.
KIM HYUN-CHONG ( Republic of Korea) said African issues at the forefront of the Security Council’s agenda presented both challenges and opportunities. The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur, the Sudan were still unstable. The timely and full deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur would help move the political process there towards a comprehensive agreement. He welcomed the efforts of the international community and the Security Council to help create greater stability in Iraq and Lebanon, though he said more needed to be done there and in Afghanistan to ensure peace and stability. Efforts to help resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula were also welcomed, as well as the significant progress made at the six-party talks.
He said Security Council reforms aimed at making the Council more representative, accountable, transparent, efficient and democratic should have the general agreement of Member States well above the required majority. Improving the Council’s working methods was an integral part of the reform and more should be done to make the Council more transparent, democratic and efficient. In regards to the membership of the Council, only the number of non-permanent members should be increased. The current composition was based on the world of 1945 and any new changes should not freeze into place a new structure based on the world of 2007. The addition of permanent members would undercut the effectiveness of the Council and would impair its accountability. “There is no democracy where a single election entitles the winner to remain in office in perpetuity”, he said.
The intermediate approach proposed by the facilitators of the sixty-first session of the Assembly was the best hope for progress, he said, adding that the Open-ended Working Group was the best forum for discussion on those matters. In conclusion, he encouraged Member States to avoid creating an atmosphere of confrontation and welcomed any initiative by the President of the Assembly to move the process forward in an impartial and all-inclusive manner.
WANG GUANGYA ( China) said his Government was encouraged that the Council had achieved impressive results in addressing regional hot-spot issues, helping with post-conflict reconstruction and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. China, as Council President during July, had drafted the introduction to the annual report to the General Assembly, and he hoped the report had given an accurate and balanced account of its work. China would continue to support efforts to improve the Council’s work.
Security Council reform, an important component of the overall United Nations reform efforts, remained a “tough issue”, however, he was encouraged by positive developments, including the strong political consensus in the Council on the need to improve working methods and increase representation. Also, most Member States were adopting a more pragmatic approach towards the reform process. Compared with two years ago, all parties concerned were leaning towards constructive consultations and practical cooperation. Noting that the sixty-first session had adopted the report of the Open-ended Working Group, and that the facilitators’ report had widened the horizon for future consultations, he commended the important role of the sixty-first General Assembly President. He urged States to continue the practice of engaging in extensive consultations with all sides.
As progress was hard to come by, it was important to “cherish the current positive momentum” he said, noting that China was open to the launch of the intergovernmental negotiation process. Agreeing to the start of negotiations was a “first step”, and it now was necessary to define the basic framework and content of the negotiation process to ensure all understood what would be discussed, and how those negotiations would be conducted. He called on the Working Group to play an important role in future negotiations, as that would ensure openness and inclusion. It was first necessary to agree on the framework through full consultation among all sides.
“Years of practice” attested to the extreme sensitivity of the Security Council reform issue, he continued, and achieving real progress required all sides to reach the widest possible consensus through patient consultations. He called on all sides to show genuine political good faith, take practical measures to move closer to each other, and avoid unilateral action that might complicate the situation. China had consistently supported “the necessary and reasonable” reform of the Council, and would continue to explore appropriate formulas with others. He also supported the continued efforts by the Council to improve its working methods. He reiterated that reform must accommodate the interests of all sides, and should increase representation of developing countries, especially African countries. Any formula that did not address Africa’s concerns would not have China’s backing.
PAULETTE BETHEL ( Bahamas) said that while the report on the Council’s work was comprehensive, it should, nevertheless, be more substantive and analytical. Moreover, inasmuch as the Security Council acted on behalf of all Member States, Bahamas believed that there should be an interactive exchange between the Council and the Assembly when the report was being considered. She went on to say that it was vital that all Member States with the capacity to serve on the Council be given the opportunity to do so. Therefore, expanding the membership was appropriate and should be given “careful and due consideration”. A Council truly representative of today’s world must more equitably reflect the current make-up of the Organization, allowing developing countries, including small island developing States, to play a grater role in its activities.
At the same time, membership expansion was only one dimension of the reform that needed to occur in that body. Its working methods also need to be improved in order to ensure greater transparency and accountability. Welcoming the Working Group’s call for continued consideration of those and other important issues during this session of the Assembly, she said that Bahamas looked forward to the launch of relevant intergovernmental negotiations, which it believed was the next important step in the process.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD ( United States) recalled that during the Assembly’s general debate in September, Heads of State and Government had identified numerous new challenges facing the United Nations in the 21st century: peace, security, conflict mitigation, post-conflict peacebulding in Africa and terrorism, among them. The Security Council, as the primary guarantor of peace and security, must be able to deal with those and other threats. The United States recognized that the world had changed, requiring the Security Council to adapt. Indeed, modernization of the Council and the greater United Nations system was both appropriate and timely.
Regarding Security Council reform, he said expansion must ensure the Council’s ability to respond efficiently to threats to peace and security. Qualified candidates must have a demonstrated ability to act as responsible stakeholders in that respect. Further, they must maintain a strong commitment to democracy, and have provided financial contributions to the United Nations, among other criteria. Those factors suggested that only a modest expansion of the Security Council was needed. United States President George W. Bush had expressed support for Japan’s candidacy, and the possibility for other nations to be considered as well.
The United States had not made any decisions on which countries might be eligible, and did not have a specific proposal for expansion. Despite States’ openness to prospects, persistent differences among various country positions had prevented widespread support for any one proposal. His Government looked forward to new proposals on a modest Council expansion.
The United States continued to believe that comprehensive United Nations reform was needed in order for the Organization to address its new challenges. In that context, Security Council reform should be part of a meaningful package of reforms in other areas. He acknowledged the General Assembly President’s support of that shared goal. He looked forward to hearing other Member States’ views, and hoped that today’s discussion would bring the Organization one step closer to achieving overall reform. In closing, he was grateful to the Assembly President for helping the body engage in a constructive dialogue on the reform issue. He also thanked Indonesia’s representative for presenting the Security Council report, as it had provided a comprehensive view of all the Council’s activities.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said the Security Council report demonstrated how the body had incorporated into its work efforts to tackle new challenges. Noting there had been criticism that such efforts had constituted an encroachment by the Council on the General Assembly’s responsibilities, he said that, as the concept of security expanded, positive outcomes would be attained when the two bodies worked together in a complementary manner within their areas of responsibility.
Japan supported efforts to increase the Council’s transparency, he said, noting that the Working Group’s discussion on improving the report drafting process was an important development in that regard. It was encouraging that momentum gained in the last session had carried into the current session, and he hoped today’s debate would accelerate the move to the next phase of reform. Recalling that the General Assembly had decided at its sixty-first session to resume consideration of – and achieve results on – the reform issue during its sixty-second session, including through intergovernmental negotiations, he said he had exchanged views with almost every permanent representative in New York since resuming his post, and was encouraged by the shared belief that the Council’s composition should be reformed as soon as possible.
Noting that the issue of Security Council reform had been under discussion for the last 14 years, he said if States again deferred the issue, the Council’s effectiveness would be compromised and its credibility questioned. He urged States to enter into the negotiation process as soon as possible with that in mind. Council reform was not an issue for only a few States; enhancing the Council’s functioning was integral to the overall functioning of the United Nations. As such, countries with major responsibilities for implementing Security Council decisions on peace and security should occupy permanent seats.
He continued to stress that the Council should be reformed through modifications such as expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent categories, with inclusion of developed and developing States. Japan also continued to attach great importance to improving the Council’s working methods and looked forward to progress in that area. In closing, he said it was time for States to move Security Council reform to the negotiation phase. Japan would participate in the intergovernmental negotiations actively and in a flexible manner, with a view to achieving concrete results during the session.
JOAO SALGUEIRO ( Portugal) said important results achieved in regards to United Nations reform showed that a convergence of political will was attainable on even the most complex issues. In the sixty-first session of the General Assembly, momentum on Security Council reform was regained and managed to move the Assembly away from the repetition of initial, static positions and towards a new dynamic. However, many questions still remained open, including the review clause, the categories of membership, the question of regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council, and its working methods. Security Council enlargement must consider the concerns of medium-sized and small States and an assessment of its impact on their relative positions within the international community.
In reference to reports which indicated that a definitive solution to the question of the veto might not currently be feasible, he said that it was his delegation’s belief that the requirement for concurring votes established in Article 27 should not be expanded beyond the current permanent members of the Council. It was now time to build on the momentum achieved and help to create the political will to strike compromises and take discussions to the next level. He stressed the need for Member States to have primary ownership of intergovernmental negotiations and said his delegation was ready to engage in those negotiations, as long as they were open, transparent and inclusive.
VITALY I. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that changes in the world brought new challenges and threats requiring change in the United Nations, including in the Security Council. Greater use could be made of the Organization’s potential for peacemaking through a renewed Military Staff Committee, involving all the Council’s members. Member States recognized that it was the legitimacy of Security Council’s decisions that provided the basis for managing problems of international peace and security. Interaction between the Council and other organs of the United Nations system, particularly the General Assembly, the Secretariat and the Peacebuilding Commission, must be improved, as should its relations with regional and other intergovernmental organizations. The Council’s working methods must also be improved.
A strategic approach must be taken to ensure implementation of Security Council resolutions, he said, including improving dialogue with those States who contributed to international peacekeeping forces. On expansion of the Council, he called for continued patient and flexible negotiations, saying that the formula for reform should be approved by more than the legally required 2/3 majority of the General Assembly. The Council’s authority as the principle organ for the maintenance of peace and international security must be reaffirmed, and care must be taken in its enlargement not to create polarization and fragmentation among Member States. The Russian Federation’s position was well known, flexible and attempted to bring differing positions closer, including through the “intermediary approach” if that would enjoy the broadest support.
The Council must be more representative, he said, but not so large so as to be unable to do its work. He said that it would be counterproductive to weaken the prerogatives of permanent members, including the institution of the veto. There was a positive continuing evolution in the Council’s openness and engagement with non-member countries, including procedural improvements enabling all interested States to make their concerns known to Council members and to receive complete information on its activities. The Working Group’s agreements regarding documentation and other procedural matters would enhance the Council’s transparency and should be implemented. He also called for improving dialogue among the sanctions committees, Governments, regional and other organizations to support implementation of sanctions, particularly of arms embargoes in conflict zones.
ABDERRAHIM OULD HADRAMI ( Mauritania) supported Angola’s position on behalf of the African Group, and Cuba’s statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. He also congratulated the newly elected non-permanent Council members for the 2008-2009 period. Recalling the United Nations had been created in 1945, he said the Organization today was no longer the body of the past. Today, more than 190 States claimed membership, and were grappling with an increasing number of problems, many of them stemming from the globalization process.
Security Council reform had been a priority for more than 14 years, after the General Assembly had established an Open-ended Working Group to consider equitable representation on the Council, he continued. Indeed, the Security Council was the cornerstone of the Organization; without it there could be no economic or social development.
Mauritania firmly believed that States must be committed to the principles for which the United Nations had been established, he said. As such, it was appropriate for Africa to have a permanent seat on the Council. Africa remained the only Continent to not have such a seat on the body, despite the fact that most armed conflicts had taken place on African land. It could not be excluded from consideration. Some 70 per cent of United Nations resolutions had dealt with the third world, particularly African countries.
Mauritania firmly supported the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration, he said. Africa was asking for two permanent and two non-permanent seats on the Council. Decisions on filling those seats should be the African Union’s responsibility. It was time for substantive Security Council reform, he said, as that would set the foundation for a true democracy within the United Nations. He hoped to see respect for the Ezulwini Consensus, which should be a pillar for future arrangements. His Government supported Germany’s and Japan’s requests for a permanent seat on the Council, given their important roles in ensuring peace and security, and efforts to ensure sustainable development for Africa.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal), endorsing Angola’s statement on behalf of the African Group, said submission of the Security Council report had provided an opportunity to discuss the Council’s initiatives. However, in its present form, the report did not present sufficient information on the Council’s motives for action or non-action, and thus did not present information that could lead to fruitful discussion. He hoped the Council would provide a more analytical report.
He said equitable representation was an issue of concern to a vast majority of States. Indeed, equity on the body had become a necessity, given the dual demands of modernization and justice. Any equitable redistribution must begin by righting a wrong, he explained, underscoring that Africa was the only continent without a permanent Council seat. He endorsed the common African position, and said an increase in the permanent and non-permanent categories was still necessary. That dual challenge aimed at aligning the Council with new geopolitical realities. It was also necessary to increase the representation of developing and small states.
On the veto, he believed the demands of modern times and “justice in action” had compelled States to reflect more responsibly on the issue. He stressed that a single country must not block or paralyze any Security Council action. If the United Nations was to maintain its authority, States must ensure that the Council’s action or inaction was based on just motives.
The President of the sixty-first session had involved States in a dynamic process which involved seven facilitators, he continued, adding that the most recent report of the last two facilitators had proposed several possible paths forward. The concept of reform in stages, based on the intermediary approach, appeared interesting and could enable States to overcome differences. That, however, did not rule out other ideas presented by States. Progress in Security Council reform achieved during the sixty-first session should be reinforced in the current session, he said, expressing hope that the Assembly President would ensure States could meet again to develop the process further. The outcome would be worth the effort.
THOMAS MATUSSEK ( Germany) said, in summarizing the day’s discussion on Security Council reform, one common sentiment emerged: Security Council reform had reached a critical stage. There was a shared sense of urgency. If the United Nations did not achieve reform during the sixty-second session, Member States would lose momentum; the United Nations system would lose credibility; and the most important body for the maintenance of peace and security, the Security Council, would lose legitimacy at a time when its legitimacy and effectiveness was crucial.
Continuing, he said the discussion during the sixty-first session demonstrated common ground for a reform project and a good possibility of achieving the two-thirds majority. Now, the General Assembly needed a way forward. First, in order to start negotiations, a format outside the Open-ended Working Group was needed, as well as a tool for negotiations, possibly a consolidated text-proposal outlining a result more clearly than the facilitors report. Second, on substance, Germany believed the G-4 proposal would be the best way forward, as it was a formula for a Council that reflected today’s political realities and a change in its balance of power. The world required a more legitimate, transparent, representative and more effective Council, not just a larger one. And in paving the way forward, the Assembly required flexibility and the willingness to get down to work.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) said that the present debate should lead to a framework for reform of the Security Council. There was no time to lose in reforming the United Nations. Enlarging the Security Council must be geared to making it more effective. Both permanent and non-permanent members should be increased and include Germany, Japan, India, Brazil and a just representation for Africa.
The Working Group presented a balanced view of the debate on Security Council reform and should serve as inspiration on how to move forward, he said. That would require flexibility and imagination to make the Council reflect the realities of the modern world. France was prepared to participate in any practical modalities to expedite Security Council reform under the guidance of the President of the General Assembly, in consultation with the most interested States.
PIRAGIBE DOS SANTOS TARRAGÔ (Brazil) said the reform of the Security Council related to the foundations of the United Nations and, therefore, international order -– the legitimacy and effectiveness of all the Organization’s decisions pertaining to peace and security were at stake by letting it go. As stated in the report, the volume and scope of issues before the Council substantially increased from August 2006 to July 2007 and outdated institutional structures impaired the capacity of the Council to face the challenges of such a complex agenda. The United Nations needed a Security Council more representative of its membership and fully reflective of contemporary international realities.
Continuing, he said, as do the overwhelming majority of this Assembly’s members, Brazil favoured the increase in the number of both permanent and non-permanent seats, as well as a greater representation of developing countries, which could reinforce peace and security. Brazil also supported improvement of the Council’s working methods. But all of those reforms would only be possible if the United Nations put those negotiations in motion immediately. The process should start without delay -– preferably this month -– and proceed steadily so the Organization could conclude reform in the present session of the General Assembly. A possible solution in moving forward could be to determine, through an objective and transparent method, the substantive elements of reform that garnered the broadest support in the Assembly. Also, a facilitator of day-to-day management of the negotiating process would sustain its progress.
ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan) agreed with Angola’s statement on behalf of the African Group, and reconfirmed his country’s view of the importance of Security Council reform. The issue should be at the forefront of the overall United Nations reform agenda, to enable the Organization to fully discharge its responsibility. The questions on equitable representation and enlarged membership had been on the agenda since 1979, yet no progress had been made. That fact alone could be seen in the modest amount of what had been achieved to date.
The Sudan regretted the “slow rhythm” of Security Council reform, yet hoped for renewed political will, so that a coordinated approach to the matter could be achieved as soon as possible. His country had called time and again for an integrated reform of the Council, so it could both reflect today’s geopolitical realities and respond to the legitimate aspirations of the world’s peoples, particularly in Africa. The Sudan fully supported the African position reflected in the African Union meeting, which took place after the World Summit.
He said the Council’s possible infringement on mandates of other bodies had negatively impacted on the overall work of the Organization. The Council had taken a “disturbingly selective” approach to addressing issues on its agenda, and it was, therefore, necessary to restore faith in its ability to maintain peace and security. The need for Council reform had arisen due to tragic developments, particularly in the Middle East, where it had acted as a “mere spectator”. The world needed a Council that could take up global challenges with transparency, credibility and in line with international law. There was a lack of democracy in the Council, as well as an atmosphere of threats by a minority of its members. Indeed, those members had manipulated the Council in order to pursue their own interests. He called on States to engage in dialogue and expressed hope that the current Assembly session would bring about a turning point that would save future generations.
FRANK MAJOOR ( Netherlands) said the Security Council was a signature organ of the United Nations that helped resolve conflicts in the post-cold war world and forcefully reshaped or restored international order through joint international action. Currently, there was a window of opportunity to further enhance the Council’s contribution to international order and to forge a more representative, transparent and effective Security Council, better equipped to deal with the insecurities of the 21st century. Reform was part of a long and seemingly never-ending debate, but momentum generated by the transitional approach spearheaded in the previous session of the General Assembly had created a new opportunity to unite Member States on the issue.
He said the transitional approach made it possible to progress on Council reform while allowing Member States to keep their original aspirations on the specifics of reform. He added that the sixty-second session of the General Assembly was probably the only starting-point for those reforms. “Progress through intergovernmental negotiations is now in the air”, he continued. Leadership to guide Member States towards reform was more crucial now than ever and he called specifically for the establishment of a new mechanism to translate the current momentum into the early start of results-oriented intergovernmental negotiations.
MUNIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said the Security Council acted on behalf of the entire membership as the primary organ responsible for peace and security. The Assembly, therefore, must assess whether it reflected States’ views and acted in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The report failed to offer sufficient analysis, especially with regard to the Council’s decision-making process. The Council often made decisions behind closed doors and had not responded to calls to submit special reports on special thematic issues.
The Security Council had been most effective in recent years in addressing internal crises, particularly in Africa, and had been less effective in responding to breaches of peace and security. Peacekeeping had been used to good effect in Sierra Leone, Burundi and East Timor; however, Somalia had been grossly neglected for years. It was important to both address the underlying causes of conflict and respect the territorial integrity of the States concerned.
On inter-State conflicts, he said the Council’s record had been unimpressive. Even when addressing issues on its active agenda, the Council’s role had been sidelined. States had witnessed inaction in the face of the most obvious breaches of the peace. Threats, the use of force and coercion, non-implementation of Council resolutions and partisan decisions were just some of the issues that had been seen in the Council. It was therefore not surprising that despite the holding of more public meetings, there had been little tangible improvement in the Council’s decision-making process.
The central question was whether objectives could be achieved by enlarging “the coterie of the few”, or increasing general membership, he said, adding that the latter was the only feasible approach. That was the basis for his opposition to increasing the number of permanent members. He was unconvinced by the argument that the erosion of Council’s credibility would be resolved by adding more permanent members. Problems would only be compounded by more States seeking to protect national interests in the Council’s work. Only a formula that included an increase in the non-permanent members and rotation could provide the means for equitable representation. The Uniting for Consensus approach was sensible and realistic. It provided for rotation and a longer-term presence of States. Such arrangements could accommodate regional and political groups, such as the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), which had interests to promote in the Council.
Since, under any proposed scheme, new seats would be allocated to regions, countries of those regions should determine the nature of that representation, he said. Such decisions should not be left to “a few major powers”. Equitable representation would make little sense if a seat allocated to a region would be permanently represented by one country. Africa’s demand for a permanent seat was one for an entire region. The African model of regional representation could encourage agreement on reform. Recalling that the facilitators’ reports had concluded that none of the past proposals had garnered the required support, he said those reports had constituted significant progress on the reform issue. To achieve further progress, he called on States to build on their recommendations.
On the negotiation process, he was disturbed that professions of flexibility had been accompanied by the reiteration of unacceptable demands. He supported negotiations, adding that were intended to lead to agreement, not a vote. To ensure success, they must be carefully planned. Four elements should serve as parameters for talks. First, discussions should take place within the framework of the Open-ended Working Group. He opposed “restricted conclaves” that excluded States. Next, talks should build on progress achieved at the sixty-first session. Submission of unilateral proposals could retard the process. Further, States must pursue general agreement, as any process that envisaged a vote would be contrary to that objective. Finally, there must be commitment against unilateral moves while the negotiation process was under way. The Assembly President should hold informal consultations on the negotiation framework.
JOHN MCNEE ( Canada) said, despite the vital contributions of the United Nations in the area of peace and security, for far too many people the dream of a life of peace remained unfulfilled. There was an urgency to reform the Council to ensure that it was more representative, effective, transparent and accountable, and to enhance its legitimacy through broader representation. Negotiations must result in the significant participation of middle powers and small States and any agreement should have the clear and broad support of a wide cross-section of Member States. Permanent members should not be added to the Council, since the discipline of regular elections was the essential mechanism for ensuring Council accountability before the General Assembly. There were other ways of making the Council more representative, such as expanding the number of non-permanent members, without conferring special rights, in perpetuity, on a privileged few.
The effectiveness of the Council should be at the centre of the reform debate, he said. To that end, the Council’s working methods should be improved to increase its accountability and transparency and the Council’s normative framework should be updated to meet the changing security environment. In particular, it should enhance consultation with its membership, expand and deepen the practice of open debates, identify opportunities for greater technical assistance for States lacking capacity in meeting Council obligations, make information more publicly available to assist in decision-making, and reconsider its use of the veto.
In regards to updating the normative framework, he gave the example of the protection of civilians in armed conflict and the need for the full engagement, monitoring and follow-up by the Council on resolutions related to those issues. Programmes related to women, peace and security, as well as those related to children and armed conflict also deserved the Council’s attention. In previous years, Member States had spent a significant amount of time debating the composition of the Council. In the future, even if Member States were unable to reach a compromise on the Council’s expansion, States should continue to seek solutions on other elements of reform in regards to the working methods of the Council.
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