After two decades of stalled action on Security Council reform, it was high time to move the process forward, the General Assembly heard today, with many speakers calling for an updated Council that would better reflect the sweeping global changes that had occurred since the founding of the United Nations in 1946.
Despite those clarion calls, however, Member States remained divided over their respective visions for the Council, currently comprising five permanent members — China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States — and 10 elected members. There were differences of opinion on five core reform issues: membership categories, the question of the veto held by the five permanent members, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council, and Council working methods.
More than 50 speakers shared their suggestions, perspectives and concerns. Many favoured bolstering representation for such emerging Powers as Brazil, Germany, India and Japan. While some spotlighted the progress made in recent years through the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform process, others voiced deep frustration that more had not yet been achieved.
General Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) pointed out that the world had changed dramatically since the founding of the United Nations, with a quadrupling of its membership amid the global rise of terrorism, violent extremism and asymmetric warfare. In that context, advancing Security Council reform would remain a key priority for the Assembly’s seventy-first session, as it was critical to ensure that the organ remained capable of delivering on the purposes, principles and promises of the United Nations Charter.
Echoing that sentiment, Sierra Leone’s representative, speaking for the African Group, said it was time for States to “walk the walk” and reach agreement on a reform model recognizing core United Nations values. There was also a need to correct the “grossly unjust scenario” suffered by Africa, whose expanded representation on the Council was long overdue. Indeed, the continent’s demand for at least two permanent seats and two additional non-permanent seats was a matter of common justice, he stressed.
“We all feel the frustration among Member States for the lack of progress,” said Italy’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group. However, he joined other speakers in pointing out the existence of several areas of agreement. No Member State present today disagreed with the idea of expanding the number of non-permanent seats on the Council, and none was against an increase that would favour countries belonging to the underrepresented regions, he pointed out. Any solution in the near future would require true flexibility and willingness to compromise, he stressed.
For many speakers, the crux of the deadlock was the question of veto power, currently enjoyed only by the five permanent members. Liechtenstein’s representative said in that regard that the veto had repeatedly been shown to interfere with the Council’s effective functioning, as had been seen in its recent inability to adopt a draft resolution on the Syrian city of Aleppo. He joined other speakers in expressing strong support for the code of conduct proposed by the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, an initiative aimed at preventing veto use in cases of mass-atrocity crimes.
Pakistan’s representative voiced support for expanding the Council’s elected membership, while warning that the creation of new permanent seats would only satisfy the hunger of a few States for power and privilege. If the Council remained paralyzed and ineffective today due to clashing political interests among its five permanent members, “we can imagine how indecisive and gridlocked it will become” with twice the number of permanent seats, she said.
Raising a different perspective, the Russian Federation’s representative rejected all reform proposals that might infringe on the veto power enjoyed by the five permanent members. While the Russian delegation agreed with the necessity of making the Council more representative by including developing countries, reform must enjoy the widest possible support, he emphasized, warning against attempts to realize it “through a purely arithmetical process” or “with a simple stroke of a pen”.
Singapore’s representative was among speakers who cast a critical eye over the entire negotiation process, questioning whether discussions on reform had become a mere yearly ritual yielding scant results. Just a few weeks ago, he recalled, the world had witnessed an unusual spectacle of vetoes and counter-vetoes during the Council’s consideration of the situation in Syria. Reform must go beyond increasing the number of seats to making the Council more accountable, transparent and inclusive, he said, calling for a greater sense of urgency in advancing the reform process.
Also speaking were representatives of Saint Lucia (for the L.69 Group), Kuwait (for the Arab States), Germany (for the G4 Group), Finland (for the Nordic States), Belgium (also on behalf of Luxembourg and the Netherlands), Australia, United Kingdom, China, United States, Maldives, Brazil, Republic of Korea, France, South Africa, Japan, Poland, Cuba, Peru, Turkey, Kenya, Malta, Indonesia, Thailand, Georgia, India, Ecuador, Latvia, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Ukraine, Argentina, Colombia, Canada, Libya, Gabon, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Hungary, San Marino, New Zealand, Mexico, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Switzerland, Panama, Chile, Uruguay, Syria, Kuwait and Tunisia.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 9 November, to begin considering the report of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991.
PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, said the world had changed dramatically in the 71 years since the United Nations had been founded, with population growth, economic, technological and human rights advancements, rising interconnectivity, mobility of people, shifting global dynamics, climate change and differences in the scale, nature and complexity of global security challenges. The number of Member States had quadrupled and the rise of terrorism, violent extremism and asymmetrical warfare was threatening international peace and security and the Organization’s capacity to respond. In that context, ensuring the Security Council was representative, responsive, effective and efficient was a well-founded priority for all Member States.
“As we embark on the next phase of this Member State-driven process,” he said, “it is critical that we all acknowledge that meaningful progress will require genuine and open dialogue, bringing and receiving new ideas and working to find areas of agreement.” Advancing Council reform would remain a key priority for the Assembly’s seventy-first session. While the sensitivity and difficulty of those issues were understood, States would need to engage with greater flexibility. “We must ensure that [the Council] reflects the realities of the twenty-first century and is able to deliver on the purposes, principles and promise of the United Nations Charter,” he said.
ADIKALIE FODAY SUMAH (Sierra Leone), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the reform process should not become an endless circle. The Council must become broadly representative, efficient and transparent and thus, further enhance its effectiveness and legitimacy in the implementation of its decisions. More and more countries were questioning the legitimacy and credibility of the Council, on which they had no voice or equitable regional representation. It was now time to “walk the walk” and reach an agreement on a reform model that remained cognizant of the core values of the United Nations. Given the changing international landscape, the obsolete composition and the absence of adequate representation of an entire region was a deficiency that risked compromising the legitimacy of Council decisions.
In that vein, he called for the expansion in the permanent and non-permanent categories and the granting to the new members all prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership States, including veto rights, if that feature continued to exist. The need to correct the “grossly unjust scenario” suffered by Africa, a continent compromising 54 countries and accounting for 70 per cent of the Council’s work, was long overdue. In terms of contributing to peacekeeping operations, African States had and continued to pay the ultimate price, one that was by no means quantifiable in material or monetary terms. Africa’s demand for at least two permanent seats and two additional non-permanent seats was a matter of common justice and the right to have an equal say in decision-making on issues of international peace and security, particularly those that concerned the continent. It was important to mend the membership and end the decades-old injustice, which in effect had denied the region its dignity and rightful place in the Organization.
MENISSA RAMBALLY (Saint Lucia), speaking on behalf of the L.69 Group, underlined the importance of beginning the next round of intergovernmental negotiations building on a text agreed to by consensus. The Group expressed its willingness to move forward based on text-based negotiations for a meaningful and early reform of the Council. Expanding permanent and non-permanent categories was imperative to reflect the current geopolitical reality and to achieve a more accountable, representative, transparent and more relevant body. She urged the co-chairs to finish their task of summing up the positions of Member States on all five pillars of reform. She also welcomed the newly founded Group of Friends on Security Council Reform, of which the L.69 Group was a member, with a view to accelerating the negotiating process for reform.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), speaking on behalf of Uniting for Consensus, said a new Council that was grounded in democratic and inclusive vision remained a political priority. “We all feel the frustration among Member States for the lack of progress,” he added. There was no Member State in the hall today that disagreed with the idea of expanding the number of non-permanent seats on the Council. No Member State was against such an increase that would favour countries belonging to the underrepresented regions of the world. A more democratic body meant offering equal opportunity to all Member States to serve periodically and enhancing the right of the membership to decide and adapt the Council’s composition on a regular basis.
Such a reform, he said, would have a tremendous impact on regional representation by fostering a wider and fairer rotation within regional groups. It would also create a favourable ratio of non-permanent to permanent members, thus improving its working methods, augmenting its decision-making capacity, presenting a democratic challenge to the veto and bolstering the overall relationship between the Council and the General Assembly. Any solution in the near future to the reform process would require true flexibility and willingness to compromise. All Member States willing to make a larger contribution to the Council’s work would have the right to contest elections for a longer-term seat on the basis of equitable geographic distribution and a fair system of rotation.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH A ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said Council reform was a key aspect of overall United Nations reform, especially now, as the world was undergoing rapid changes. Reform would make the Council more effective in its ability to meet emerging global challenges. The debate on enlarging its membership and working methods had continued for quite some time. The world had changed significantly since 1945. In that context, intergovernmental negotiations at the United Nations must be the basis that guided enlarging the Council’s membership.
Consensus was important, he said, as the international community faced numerous challenges, including on the excessive use of the veto, which undermined the credibility of Council decisions and its main goal of ensuring peace and security worldwide. The five permanent members’ use of the veto was an efficient means to allow certain Governments to absolve themselves from responsibility, especially with regard to Israel. It was necessary to reform working methods, revise the rules of procedure, replace provisional procedures, allow non-Member States to participate in sessions and decrease the number of closed sessions. The Council must involve States that were affected by its decisions. Meanwhile, its subsidiary bodies must inform all Member States of their activities. In addition, there should be both a permanent and a non-permanent seat for Arab States on the Council, he said.
HARALD BRAUN (Germany), speaking on behalf of the G4 Group, comprised of Brazil, India, Japan and Germany, said Council reform was an urgent matter. In 2005, the Heads of State and Government of the G4 underscored the need for early reform of the body, yet little to no progress had since been achieved. Today, the international community had painfully observed the shortcomings of the Council in its outdated composition. The Council must be rendered fit-for-purpose in order to face the current global challenges of peace and security, he said, adding that all regions must be adequately represented to ensure legitimacy and effectiveness. Nevertheless, he said, some had perpetuated the myth that Member States were maintaining irreconcilable positions on reform, when in fact there had been convergences on all five pillars.
He said there was a legitimate basis for negotiations, citing the adoption by consensus of the framework document and its annex. He called for text-based negotiations to begin immediately and requested that the co-chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations used the existing framework document and its annex as a basis for starting negotiations in the current session. In that regard, he welcomed the newly-formed Group of Friends on Security Council Reform, which was based on three principles: early reform, text-based negotiations and an expansion in both categories of seats. In light of those principles, he called on the co-chairs of negotiations to aim high, put longstanding requests into action and start negotiating.
KAI SAUER (Finland), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, which comprised Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland, said the common goal should be to make the Council more representative, transparent, effective and accountable. An enlarged body would need to better reflect today’s world, in particular with regard to Africa. It was important to continue to discuss how its working methods could be continuously improved, in order to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability. The last two rounds of negotiations under the able leadership of Courtenay Rattray (Jamaica) and Sylvie Lucas (Luxembourg) had shown a high-degree of engagement and an increasing convergence on key issues. It was possible to move forward towards meaningful Council reform by building on progress that had been made since 2014. However, that would require the continued will of Member States to engage in the process, be open to new ideas and demonstrate a willingness to listen to the views of others.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), speaking also for the Netherlands and Luxembourg, said Council reform was an important matter affecting the credibility and smooth functioning of the United Nations. Emphasizing the importance of strengthening the Council’s representativeness, including giving due representation to African countries and ensuring the participation of small- and medium-sized States, he said the increasing importance of regional organizations in the Council’s work should also be considered. Going forward, the substantial elements of convergence that had been identified during the last session under Ms. Lucas must serve as a source of inspiration to bring positions closer together. “Everyone must do their part,” he stressed, calling on States to commit to the reform process and negotiate in good faith.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said important steps had been taken following the last two sessions of negotiations, albeit not on the scale and pace of reform that Member States had hoped for. The Council needed to better reflect contemporary geopolitical realities, meaning more representation for Asia, Africa and Latin America. Yet, the membership’s expansion must not reduce the ability of the Council to act swiftly and decisively. Expansion efforts must also be accompanied by improvements in the Council’s working methods. Australia had long advocated for greater transparency, better coordination, more analytical reporting and better consultation with police- and troop-contributing countries. It was important to build confidence that could deliver on much needed reform and serve well in addressing more challenging issues, such as the question of the veto.
VLADIMIR K. SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation), noting that Council reform was one of the most complex issues on the United Nations agenda, said various approaches of the main players had often been diametrically opposed. In that context, there was no alternative except to continue to make “patient, incremental” efforts towards consensus. While the Russian Federation agreed with the necessity of making the Council more representative through the inclusion of developing countries, efforts to that end should not affect the body’s ability to effectively and promptly respond to emerging challenges. Expressing support for a compact composition with an optimum membership size not to exceed the low twenties, he said that any proposals infringing on the rights of the current five permanent members — including their historic right to the veto — were unacceptable.
He said any path to reform must enjoy the widest possible support. If consensus was impossible, it would be necessary to achieve support from a substantially greater number of Member States than the two thirds required majority. “Security Council reform cannot be achieved through a purely arithmetical process,” he said, warning against attempts to address efforts “with a simple stroke of a pen”. The Russian Federation would consider any reasonable option for the Council’s expansion, including an intermediary solution, but it opposed all arbitrary and artificial timeframes and the application of any unilateral pressure on the co-chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations process.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said his Government had been a long-standing, firm supporter of the need to reform the Council, which had failed to keep up with the changing world it was seeking to protect. It was important to be mindful, however, that reform must be effective and not slow the Council’s response to global threats challenging international peace and security. Regarding veto power, he said the United Kingdom had not vetoed a resolution for more than 25 years and was committed to never vetoing a credible draft resolution on preventing or ending mass atrocities. Sadly, other members had used the veto power in such situations. A modest expansion in the permanent and non-permanent seats was an approach all Member States could support, he said, expressing support to all avenues that aimed to reach a more representative and effective Council.
LIU JIEYI (China) expressed support for appropriate reform efforts, which would give an enhanced voice, particularly to African countries, to play a greater role in international peace and security. Intergovernmental negotiations were an important platform, which must conform to relevant Assembly resolutions and be Member State-led. Member States must also continue to work constructively in negotiations. However, no artificial deadline should be set. Rather, reform should move in the direction of achieving Member States’ common goals and ensuring international peace and security.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said broader United Nations reform would be a priority over the next few years. Many Member States believed that Council reform had been debated for too long and with too few results. On Council reform, the United States remained open to all negotiations to reach an agreement based on principles outlined in the intergovernmental negotiations. For a successful reform, decisions must enjoy the broadest possible accord. The United States supported a modest expansion of the Security Council. The process of filling permanent seats must take into consideration a Member State’s contribution to peace and security. In closing, she said the United States opposed an expansion or alteration of the veto.
AHMED SAREER (Maldives), acknowledging that the strong, persistent divergence among Member States on reform had prevented meaningful progress, said all countries shared a goal of a more representative, accountable, effective and democratic Council. Maldives had been at the forefront of calls for Council reform since 1979 and believed that the body’s comprehensive reform and expansion was essential to making it more democratic in composition, effective in decision making and accountable to the general membership. “Council reform should transcend current global power politics,” he stressed, noting that decisions should be reflective of the collective will of the United Nations general membership. Indeed, membership expansion was essential for its continued legitimacy and relevance, with members comprising developed and developing countries, including small States. Noting that Maldives was seeking a non-permanent seat on the Council for the 2019-2021 term, he said “every country, regardless of size and might, must have the opportunity to serve”. In addition, he supported the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), associating himself with the G4 Group and the L.69 Group, recalled the vital importance of making global governance structures more representative, as they had become outdated and disconnected. He underlined an urgent need to address the underrepresentation of developing countries, in particular African States, among permanent and non-permanent members. He called on States to work across groups to successfully reform the Council, noting that the Framework Document and its annex, as circulated by the General Assembly President, was a solid basis for text-based negotiations. Convergence was possible, but reflecting competing views in a concise document was also necessary as part of the negotiating process, he added
OH JOON (Republic of Korea), associating himself with Uniting for Consensus, said the series of protracted conflicts, including in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen and in the Sahel and Great Lakes regions, emphasized a need for an effective, accountable and transparent Council. The unprecedented scale of humanitarian crises facing the world today added to the urgency of Council reform. Increasing non-permanent seats through periodic elections was the only logical solution. He expressed support for the French-Mexican political statement on the suspension of the veto in the case of mass atrocities and the code of conduct regarding Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. The people on the streets of Aleppo and many others suffering from protracted conflicts looked to the Council for action. “We owe it to them to deliver,” he said.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein), expressed support for the creation of a new category of membership — six new seats with a longer term, with incumbents being eligible for immediate re-election. Warning against the creation of any new veto rights, he said the proposed model provided for flexibility in the Council’s size, which could enhance its acceptance among the wider membership. The question of the veto was at the heart of the current deadlock, he said, recalling that on 8 October, the Council had been unable to adopt a draft resolution on the crisis in Aleppo due to a veto that had been used. Veto power had repeatedly demonstrated that it interfered with the Council’s effective daily functioning. However, given that any chance of changing the existing veto rights of the five permanent members would only be possible with the agreement of those members themselves, States should instead focus on possible modifications to the veto’s use. In that regard, he expressed support for the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct, which aimed at preventing atrocity crimes. Noting that the code of conduct enjoyed support from 112 Member States, he said all countries that had not yet done so should join it. Indeed, adherence to that principle should be considered a prerequisite for Council membership.
ALEXIS LAMEK (France), recalling that the work that had been accomplished on Council reform during the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session had led to the Framework Document, supported by a significant majority of Member States. Strides that had been made on the issue during the Assembly’s seventieth session had then identified convergence on two key reform issues. Expressing hope that such efforts would serve as a foundation for text-based negotiations during the next negotiation cycle, he said “this is a new chance to show that the United Nations is capable of deep reform”. For its part, France wished to see the Council reflect the emergence of new world powers and it therefore supported the candidacies of Germany, Brazil, India and Japan and the increased representation of African countries in both the permanent and non-permanent membership. The five permanent members should also refrain from using the veto in cases of mass atrocities, a commitment that France had already made.
IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt) said the United Nations must undergo comprehensive reform, particularly in the Council, to enable the Organization to effectively respond to contemporary and emerging challenges. The Council must be transparent and enjoy the widest political consensus. Egypt was committed to the unified African position on comprehensive Council reform, including on the matter of the veto. The African position demonstrated an urgent need to address injustices. Africa must be able to put forward its view of international peace and security. African issues took up the majority of the Council’s agenda, only reaffirming the legitimacy of the continent’s concerns. No real Council reform would be possible without addressing the structural imbalance represented by the five permanent members with regard to veto use. Any partial reform proposal without a comprehensive reform of the veto would not lead to real reform. Rather it would only serve the interests of a handful of Member States. Reform must be based on the principle of democracy and regional representation. He expressed hope that current efforts would help to reach wider consensus on a solution based on principles of the intergovernmental negotiations to enable the Council to maintain international peace and security.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with Uniting for Consensus, said the deadlock on Council reform had persisted for more than two decades. Intergovernmental negotiations were the only way to achieve progress towards that shared goal. The process needed to be open, transparent and inclusive while maintaining an ambience of mutual respect that permitted Member States to engage constructively. Pakistan supported the Council’s expansion in the elected non-permanent member category, on the basis of equitable geographic distribution and a system of fair rotation. More elected members would enhance regional representation and ownership, adding legitimacy to the Council. However, new permanent seats were the antithesis of the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The addition of more such seats would only serve to satisfy the hunger for power and privilege of a few, without addressing the actual question of equitable representation on the body. In the absence of periodic elections and rotation, new permanent members would not be accountable to the wider membership. The Council’s working methods would become more opaque rather than transparent. If today, the Council remained paralyzed and ineffective due to clashing political interests among the five permanent members, “we can imagine how indecisive and gridlocked it will become” with twice the number of permanent seats, she said.
JERRY MATJILA (South Africa) said Council reform was crucial so the body could reflect twenty-first century realities. In that regard, it must become more democratic, representative and transparent in its working methods and decision-making processes. In particular, the historical injustice against Africa, as reflected in the Council’s structure, should be corrected. A flawed process was the main obstacle to achieving any movement in discussions on Council reform. Despite its name, intergovernmental negotiations were not negotiations, but rather debates comprising of endless repetitions of decades-old positions from groupings and States. That was why South Africa and many other Member States had called for the start of text-based negotiations. His delegation had proposed that negotiations first focused on developing a road map with clear, implementable time frames. A format based on vigorous engagement with the Framework Document should be adopted, he said. Such a practical process would not undermine the principles of inclusivity and transparency. He denounced illogical attempts to delay the process through fear-mongering by Member States falsely arguing that text-based negotiations lacked transparency.
KORO BESSHO (Japan), aligning himself with the G4 Group, stressed the importance of commencing text-based negotiations given the overwhelming majority of Member States supporting enlargement of both the permanent and non-permanent categories of the Security Council. In that context, he called for the Co-Chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations to be given a clear mandate to share a roadmap for text-based negotiations. That way, Member States could work meaningfully toward the end of the current General Assembly session. All positions and proposals were well-known and reflected in the Framework Document and its annex. At the current stage, Member States must start preparing a concise and operational negotiation text — preferably in the form of a draft resolution — and immediately launch negotiations within a specific timeframe.
BOGUSŁAW WINID (Poland), drawing attention to the growing complexity in the security landscape, underscored the need to find durable solutions to interconnected issues. It mattered who sat in the Security Council and acted on behalf of other Member States, he said, noting that the voice of African, Arab, small developing and Eastern Europe countries must be heard and reflected in decisions. Recalling previous meetings on the reform, he said: “We learned a lot about our positions, defined the areas of convergence, and identified main division points”. The results of negotiations must be backed by all.
HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba) said that while the Council had a responsibility to act on behalf of all Member States, the vast majority did not feel represented by the body. Noting that most delegations supported an increase in the number of permanent and non-permanent members, he said Cuba was ready to engage in negotiations to reach those ends. For its part, Cuba was in favour of a broad increase in the Council’s membership to a total of 25 or 26 States, in permanent and non-permanent categories. If the veto power could not be totally eliminated, all members should enjoy it equally. Cuba was not in favour of creating new membership categories, which would further deepen rifts in the body. “Consultations behind closed doors should be the exception, not the rule” in the Council’s work, he said, stressing that while time, effort and flexibility in negotiations would be needed, continuing to support the Council’s current outdated structure was unacceptable.
FRANCISCO TENYA HASEGAWA (Peru) said the overwhelming majority of delegates present today agreed with the need to adapt the United Nations to the tremendous changes of recent decades. Council reform was a delicate responsibility, but it was critical to bring new members, permanent and non-permanent, to the body. Stressing that such an expansion should be carried out in a measured way, he expressed support for the creation of a temporary category of non-permanent members that could be re-elected indefinitely. Having consistently supported initiatives aimed at eliminating the veto, especially in cases of genocide crimes and mass atrocities, Peru supported the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct. Emphasizing the need for all States to “let go of what we have been clinging to” in order to seek a common good, he called for immediate flexibility, stressing that “it is now time to act”.
GÜVEN BEGEÇ (Turkey), associating himself with Uniting for Consensus, said that while the need for Council reform was unmistakable, decades of inaction by the body had cost many human lives. “This is the disturbing reality that we sometimes ignore when concentrating on the technical details of this matter,” he said. While permanent membership and the veto were obvious factors in that inaction, it was difficult to understand why Member States, rather than rectifying them, had attempted to consolidate those factors. Increasing the number of permanent members and the ratio of those with veto power would simply aggravate current problems, he said. Instead, expressing support for a meaningful and principled reform would bring about a more democratic, representative, effective, transparent and accountable Council. That could only be achieved by increasing the body’s elected membership, he said, expressing support for the proposed intermediate approach of creating new, longer-term seats with the possibility of re-election. Ideally, the veto should be abolished, as there was no justifiable explanation as to why certain members should enjoy it while others did not. In that respect, he expressed support for initiatives aimed at limiting the veto’s use in cases of mass atrocities.
MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya), associating himself with the African Group, said the Council’s exclusive nature and dysfunctional character were based on mid-twentieth century geopolitics and prejudices. The Council’s relationship with the General Assembly, its working methods and undemocratic nature, were out of step with today’s challenges and demands. Some regions of the world did not have adequate or effective representation, and a considerable portion of the United Nations global constituency was therefore unheard in the administration of global affairs. “This is the recipe that drives the gridlock and dysfunction,” he said, emphasizing that it was unacceptable that Africa, which constituted a large share of the Council’s agenda, had no determinative voice in the 15-member body. It was therefore incumbent upon Member States to collectively ensure that Council reform moved forward in accordance with five guiding principles outlined in General Assembly decision 62/557.
CARMELO INGUANEZ (Malta), associating himself with Uniting for Consensus, said a meaningful reform proposal would try to strengthen the democratic, functioning and effective features of the Organization while taking into account the restraints and limitations that the intergovernmental process had shown over the last two decades. It was important to first focus on an expansion of non-permanent seats and then on establishing a new category of longer-term non-permanent seats with the possibility of re-elections. Member States that were willing to make a larger contribution to the Council’s work would have the right to contest elections for a longer-term seat and, in doing so, would create more space for other members to participate in their respective geographic groupings. Small States outnumbered larger ones, yet despite their majority, the Council’s electoral process favoured bigger and more resourceful countries. To that end, it was important to safeguard the principle of sovereign equality of all United Nations Member States.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) questioned whether reform discussions had just become a yearly ritual that yielded scant results. Just a few weeks ago, the world had witnessed an unusual spectacle of vetoes and counter-vetoes in the Council over the question of Syria. If the Council, in particular its permanent members, were unable to exercise leadership to resolve pressing issues, that made the case for reform stronger not weaker, he said, expressing support for expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent membership categories. However, the Council must go beyond just increasing the number of seats, with reform making the body more accountable, transparent and inclusive. That was particularly important for small Member States, as they did not have many opportunities to serve on the Council. At the start of a new round of intergovernmental negotiations, it would be critical to inject greater urgency into the work and call on the permanent members to collectively pledge not to use the veto in cases of mass atrocities. Singapore did not support extending the veto to new members, as that could only cause further stalemates.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said the Council’s credibility and ability to effectively perform its Charter role was being questioned widely, with the situations in Syria and Palestine representing two examples where a persistent lack of principled action and division had worsened conditions for people and made the conflicts more intractable. Calling for comprehensive reform, he said it was logical to ponder the body’s structure, noting that the self-selective veto right was one obvious hurdle in that regard. The veto went against the wishes of the majority, negating democracy, and had rendered the Council powerless on too many occasions. While Indonesia was in favour of the veto’s abolition, it welcomed steps to strictly regulate its use and supported a workable mechanism to ensure that it would not be used to pervert the causes of humanity and justice. In the long run, his delegation envisioned that there would be no segregation in the Council’s membership, he said, noting that, in the meantime, Indonesia had presented its candidacy as a non-permanent member for 2019-2020. Among other things, he expressed support for the intermediate approach to address issues related to membership categories, which had the potential to garner the widest possible political acceptance to move things forward.
CHULAMANEE CHARTSUWAN (Thailand) said a coordinated effort between the General Assembly and Council would not only reinforce the work of each body, but would enhance the legitimacy and transparency of the latter body. Council membership should be expanded to reflect the plurality and evolving realities of United Nations membership. Enhancing the legitimacy and accountability of the Council and strengthening its effectiveness were core objectives. On categories of membership, Thailand believed that an interim category could be introduced, whereby aspiring members could be re-elected immediately for a second term. A review would then be conducted during or following the second term on the possible expansion of permanent members based on conditions and criteria to be established. That process could help Member States make an informed decision on the issue. On the question of the veto, when casting a negative vote, permanent Members should always explain to the broader United Nations membership the rationale for such a decision.
ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) said her Government’s proposal covered all five aspects of Council reform. Georgia supported equitable representation and the Council’s expansion, including permanent and non-permanent membership categories, as it would increase the body’s legitimacy, authority and credibility. Of particular importance was the allocation of two seats to the Eastern European Group so as to enhance regional representation and parity. While her delegation was open to further consultations, it envisaged a Security Council comprised of up to 25 members. Further, she expressed support for the inclusion of smaller States in decision making to more explicitly reflect the basic principle of equality between nations, one that was at the core of the international security architecture. However, equitable representation should not be an end in itself, she said, adding that meaningful reform should also cover veto use, working methods and decision-making principles, as well as more accountability before the General Assembly.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India), aligned himself with the L.69 Group and the G4 Group, stressing the urgent need to reform the Council to be able to more effectively address human suffering and global security threats. Global governance structures had to be updated and adjusted to be able to deal with new security challenges. The lack of broad representation in the membership of Council added to its lack of legitimacy and credibility. Text-based negotiations would facilitate the process of moving the reform efforts forward, he said, welcoming the newly founded Group of Friends on Security Council Reform to encourage discussions that went beyond group interests.
HORACIO SEVILLA BORJA (Ecuador) the General Assembly must prioritize reform of the Council and its working methods. He regretted to say that little progress had been made since the issue had been taken up decades ago. The focus must centre on procedural issues and participation, with discussions becoming more substantive. The United Nations had to be equipped to deal with current challenges and political realities. With the adoption of new outcome documents on sustainable development and climate change, it was time for a fresh start for the Security Council, which must be modernized and democratized. The anti-democratic use of the veto had to be eliminated. Countries could not be put into different categories, based on veto power. Council membership must be representative and transparent. In parallel, the General Assembly must be revitalized to fulfil its true potential.
JĀNIS MAŽEIKS (Latvia) said that for far too often the Security Council had been unable to prevent conflicts or stop atrocities. Blocking the Council’s work, especially in matters related to mass atrocities, was unacceptable, he added, emphasizing that for it to react accordingly, members must refrain from using their veto in such situations. Reform should ensure equitable geographic distribution of permanent and non-permanent seats, reflecting current political realities. That included allocating at least one additional non-permanent seat to the Eastern European Group. Due consideration should also be given to adequately representing small and medium-sized Member States. In order to advance Council reform, it was important to find a way towards text-based negotiations. Intergovernmental negotiations had a mandate to actively steer discussions with a view of producing results that included a proposal for a negotiation text.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said it was time to conclude the process that began decades ago. It was inconceivable that none of the proposed reforms had been adopted or implemented. The African continent wanted to be fully and completely included in the main decision-making bodies of the United Nations, particularly the Council. The African region wanted two permanent seats with all the privileges and five non-permanent seats. The debate regarding Council reform had already taken too long. It was unjustifiable that Africa, with 54 Member States at the United Nations, among them States that represented more than 70 per cent of the Council’s agenda items, had no permanent seat in the Council. Africa having seats on the Council was not only a demand, it was an inalienable right in a world ruled by law. His country remained eager to work to ensure equitable representation to enable the Council to deal with new and emerging threats to international security.
RAYMOND SERGE BALÉ (Congo), associating himself with the African Group, said reform was seen as a historic necessity that would usher in a world that was more just. True reform must honour the United Nations Charter, he added, emphasizing that it was high time to begin text-based negotiations. Less than a month ago, the General Assembly had seen the unanimous election of the next Secretary-General — an outcome of an unprecedented transparent process. Political will had served as the fuel for a historic compromise that had occurred in a new era and at a turning point in the history of the United Nations. In that spirit, Congo hoped to see Security Council reform in the short-term and medium-term. That process required more than just political declarations of faith. Reform of the United Nations required adaptation, modernization and democratization — all requirements for the United Nations to continue its role in international relations. Africa had been known to account for a majority of the items on the Council’s agenda. As such, the continent had a rightful and just role in international security.
KIM IN-RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the Security Council had remained silent in the face of the stark reality on the Korean Peninsula, where a nuclear war disaster could break out, engulfing the peninsula and the world. The Council had determined that only the nuclear test and the peaceful satellite launch of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were threats to international peace and security. The Council’s sanctions resolutions against his country had clearly indicated that the organ was being abused “in the interest of the political purpose of one specific permanent member”. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was the only country that had been living with nuclear bombs of the United States “over the heads of its people” for more than half a century. Therefore, the Council had no legal or moral ground to take issue with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its self-defensive nuclear deterrent. Reform should focus on preventing the high-handedness and arbitrary action of one specific country. The Council should be reformed on the principles of the full representation of the Non-Aligned Movement and developing countries. Japan’s attempt to become a permanent member was a mockery because that country had committed war crimes and had invaded many Asian countries.
FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA (Slovakia), noting that all Member States agreed in principle that the United Nations must represent the world’s contemporary realities, welcomed “good and commendable” recent progress in negotiations on Security Council reform. States must continue to work on new ideas of convergence in all five issues discussed in the intergovernmental negotiations process, he stressed, also welcoming efforts towards text-based negotiations. Enhancing multilateral responses to conflict and insecurity was essential and it required to improve the Council’s representativeness, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency. Slovakia supported, in principle, the expansion of both categories of Council membership within reasonable limits, respecting geographical balance. Calling for better representation of Africa as well as an additional non-permanent seat for Eastern Europe, he said that, while the veto right for permanent members was a prerogative enshrined in the United Nations Charter, Slovakia supported initiatives aimed at promoting a culture of zero tolerance for mass atrocity situations.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine), expressing support for both the Council’s enlargement and the improvement of its working methods, recalled that a recent initiative of the body’s elected members — including Ukraine — had resulted in a more transparent and inclusive distribution of the chairmanships of the Council’s subsidiary bodies. In addition, Ukraine was working with other Council members to make the body more efficient and transparent and to streamline its work. Expressing support for proposals aimed at making the Council more pragmatic and results-oriented, he underscored Ukraine’s readiness to participate in reform negotiations during the present session and reiterated its firm position in favour of phasing out the use of the veto power.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, called for flexibility and a multilateral approach to Security Council reform. As a democratic institution, the United Nations was constantly seeking to improve the representativeness of its bodies, and Member States must work in good faith to achieve that goal. For its part, Argentina sought innovative ways to improve the rotation system for non-permanent Council members, as well as to reform the body’s working methods. It favoured an increase only in the non-permanent membership, as the notion of permanent members went against the principle of democracy. Indeed, elections were a critical element of any democratic process.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ BLANCO (Colombia) said progress in achieving Security Council reform was clearly possible, as had recently been demonstrated in the Assembly’s own revitalization and the improved process of selecting the new Secretary-General. Outlining several important elements of the reform process, he spotlighted the need to expand the Council’s non-permanent membership and the importance of involving the entire membership in the process. It was critical that all parties commit to the rules laid out in Assembly resolution 62/557, he said, warning against procrastination and shortcuts and urging Member States to focus on areas where their positions were closest together.
MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada), aligning himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, said Security Council reform was long overdue and his delegation was ready to work with all Member States to reach a consensus outcome that transformed the Council into a more democratic, representative, effective, transparent and accountable body. Above all, effectiveness of the Council should be the overriding objective in the reform process. In that respect, the issue of the veto and how it was applied must be addressed. Furthermore, the number of non-permanent seats should be expanded while being mindful of the historic under-representation of Africa and small island developing States. Regular Council elections were essential to ensure accountability before the General Assembly. In that connection, there were ways of making the Council more representative without conferring special rights on a few Member States.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya), associating himself with the African Group and the Arab Group, said intergovernmental negotiations were the only framework to achieve progress on Security Council reform. The process should not, however, be limited to increasing the number of seats. It was also important to reform the working methods of the Council to make them more transparent and make the activities, work, and procedures more inclusive. Veto use must be restricted in cases of mass atrocities. There must be closer cooperation between the Council and other bodies, ensuring that mandates be respected. Africa must have a permanent voice on the Council. That was a right and a non-negotiable matter. Africa must have two permanent seats on the Council with all the privileges accorded to permanent Members including the veto power. Any increase in the membership should also include a permanent seat for Arabic countries. It was important to build a broader Security Council based on principles of transparency and inclusivity in order to create an international organization that was more effective.
BAUDELAIRE NDONG ELLA (Gabon), associating himself with the African Group, said Security Council reform was a priority now more than ever and the outcome of negotiations would be decisive in terms of modernising global governance. Security Council reform continued to be the source of serious disagreement. Global governance needed to be improved if it was to effectively address complex challenges. Reform of the Organization was more than just a necessity. The Council had to meet the requirements of the present day. It was vital to ensure that multilateralism guaranteed collective security and inclusion. Africa represented the largest geographic group at the United Nations and issues relating to the continent remained the bulk of the Council’s agenda. It was unfortunate that the common African position did not enjoy larger consensus to enable it to fully participate in global governance.
SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), associated himself with L.69 Group, said renewed consideration must be given to equitable representation and related efforts must be intensified to make progress. Mongolia supported a just and equitable expansion in permanent and non-permanent membership categories, he said, calling for improved Council working methods. Equitable representation must include enhanced representation from developing countries. To advance progress, Mongolia recognized the importance of text-based negotiations.
ALINA JULIA ARGUELLO GONZALEZ (Nicaragua), associating herself with the L.69 Group, expressed hope that the current discussion would address the core questions related to Security Council reform. Stressing that the body urgently needed to be adapted to modern-day realities, she said it was time for concrete results in the intergovernmental negotiations process. Indeed, there must be an early, text-based reform which included the expansion of both categories of membership. Concluding, she reiterated the Nicaraguan people’s commitment to all efforts aimed at transforming, reinventing and democratizing the United Nations.
KATALIN BOGYAY (Hungary) said that negotiations dealing with the reform of the Security Council should build on the achievements of previous intergovernmental negotiations. Moving forward, particular attention must be paid to the three areas where convergence among positions had not been consolidated in writing yet. Hungary continued to support the enlargement of the Council in both categories, bearing in mind equitable representation. She reiterated Hungary’s call for a non-permanent seat for the Eastern European Group. She stressed that enlarging the Council without reforming its working methods would reinforce current problems rather than solve them.
DAMIANO BELEFFI (San Marino), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, said Security Council reform must be based on the principles of democracy, transparency and accountability. Regular elections were the only way to ensure a more accountable and democratic Council, he said, stressing that an increase only in non-permanent seats to which Member States must be elected could assure the implementation of those principles. While wide divergences remained on critical issues, he nevertheless recalled that the Assembly had agreed through decision 62/557 on a credible reform process based on a comprehensive, Member State-driven approach. It was therefore the collective responsibility of all States to move the process forward through a compromise solution.
PHILLIP TAULA (New Zealand) said it was important not to confuse structural change with reform that would ensure better Council performance for the benefit of all. As a current elected Council member, New Zealand was acutely aware of the challenges involved. Many flowed directly from the 1945 framework for the Council, in particular the status and role of permanent members. More than 25 years of negotiations had demonstrated that reform based on new permanent members would be difficult to achieve, he said. New Zealand therefore supported an “intermediate solution” on Council expansion. He went on to summarize internal reforms promoted by his country, such as enhancing the quality of informal discussions and introducing a new model for Council engagement with troop-contributing countries. Over the long term, small but impactful reform had the potential to improve the quality of Council discussions and performance.
JUAN JOSÉ GÓMEZ CAMACHO (Mexico), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, said the appointment of the new co-Chairs would give the negotiation process a fresh impetus. “This has been a year of paradigm shifts in the Organization,” he said, adding that “we have shown that the United Nations can be different”. Indeed, recent reforms had demonstrated that the Organization could be modern, up-to-date and responsive to the needs of Member States in the twenty-first century. However, it was clear that the Council’s 15 members were not enough to represent the wider membership, and the body must be careful not to fall into a state of paralysis, inaction and ultimately irrelevance. The compromise proposal of the Uniting for Consensus Group was realistic and viable, based on the principles of transparency and accountability and would contribute to equitable geographic representation. Rejecting the creation of additional privileges for just a few countries, he said such privileges existed to the detriment of collective interests and did not belong in a modern, democratic organization.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), underscoring the need to sustain the momentum of discussions to identify elements of convergence among Member States on the five key reform issues, said the last few years had witnessed the active interest of many delegations to take the discussion forward in a decisive direction. There had also been openness among others to engage in frank, interactive dialogue to explore answers to certain outstanding issues. Underscoring the primacy of a set of objective, rational and non-arbitrary criteria to inform and guide the outcome of negotiations, he said there was ample scope for further constructive efforts to identify elements of convergence and forge consensus in areas where divergences currently prevailed.
PEMA DORJI (Bhutan) said that as the world had undergone profound changes since the United Nations was founded, with its membership increasing fourfold and challenges becoming more complex, the Council, its principal organ responsible for maintaining international peace and security, must be made more representative, efficient and transparent. Expanding the Council in both categories of membership and improving its working methods was necessary to further strengthen its legitimacy and functioning as well as its ability to address complex challenges. He welcomed formation of the Group of Friends of Security Council Reform — a diverse group of countries committed to expediting the negotiating process for meaningful Council reform, based on the principles of commitment to early reform and text-based negotiations as well as expansion of the Council in both categories of membership. The United Nations had engaged extensively on the question of Council reform for many years, he said, but lack of a negotiation text had inhibited meaningful progress. It was now essential to move beyond restatement of well-known positions and begin text-based negotiations.
NATHALIE VÉRONIQUE CHUARD (Switzerland) encouraged all States to constructively participate on the crucial issue of Security Council reform and build on the elements of the convergence paper.
LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama) said the size of an expanded Council had been taken up at various times and there had been an agreement that the Organization must be represented by region. “It’s almost basic arithmetic,” she added, emphasizing the Security Council could not remain subject to the decisions of the few. Greater political will was important, especially on the part of the five permanent Council members. The international community should move toward a text that represented the twenty-first century, in which the world was increasingly complex. New challenges could not be dealt with by old schemes. Panama had proposed a solution of reform which by 2045 would see the Council with a more inclusive membership and better geographic representation. It was vital to eliminate the veto power in the interest of the sovereign equality of all States.
BELEN SAPAG MUÑOZ DE LA PEÑA (Chile) said the recent appointment of the Secretary-General-designate as well as the dynamism noted in the Council made it more necessary than ever to make progress on legitimacy and transparency. It was vital to expand both permanent and non-permanent members of the Council to enable it to respond effectively to situations concerning international peace and security. Expanding the number of permanent members did not mean expanding the veto power. The relationship between the Council and the General Assembly must lead to more efficient working methods. At the same time, the United Nations must avoid reforms that stood in the way of the work of the Council.
MARIA SANDE (Uruguay), noting that her country had long defended the principles of the Charter and recalling that the Council’s five permanent members had been given certain prerogatives after the Second World War, said that in the present day more Council members would enhance balance in the body’s decision-making process. Uruguay would support any change or modification leading to such balance, including the consensus proposal, and would continue to work towards the Council’s further democratization.
AMMAR AWAD (Syria), describing his country’s participation in efforts aimed at Security Council reform, said there were certain Council members that were not politically independent but only sought to serve the agendas of other, powerful States. Welcoming proposals towards the Council’s enlargement, he nevertheless warned that the criteria of neutrality and objectivity must be observed when it came to the election of new members. The doubling of the number of conflicts around the world since the end of the cold war reflected the Council’s neglect of many acts of aggression, including the invasions of Iraq and Libya and the current situation in Yemen. The Council had also frequently failed to implement its own resolutions on such issues as terrorism.
HASAN SH J Y A ABULHASAN (Kuwait) his country had adopted the code of conduct on improving the working methods of the Security Council and restricting the veto power in cases of crimes against humanity. Kuwait’s position on Council reform had not changed. First, reform must include improvement of United Nations bodies as a whole in order to add value to the Organization’s work. It was vital to improve the relationship between the Council and other bodies to ensure that the Council’s role be limited to maintaining international peace and security. The work of the Security Council must reflect the changing and complex nature of international security, which had evolved greatly since the establishment of the United Nations. The use of the veto should be limited. It was important to remember the right of Arab and Muslim States to enjoy a seat at the Council, he said, calling for a permanent seat and a non-permanent seat to be designated to Arab countries. He emphasized the importance of the intergovernmental negotiations and that the reform should be based on transparency and inclusiveness.
MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia), Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform, said that the responsibility of Co-Chair was a heavy one as negotiations were so important to Member States and to the process of reforming the Organization. Growing challenges at the international level were also dependent on that reform. The position of Member States was known to all and the task ahead was to explore the options to advance negotiations in good faith. He said he would lead negotiations in an inclusive manner which was open to the representation of all Member States. The goal was to achieve results that reflected on the efforts of recent years and continued to inspire the process to make the Security Council more efficient and better able to meet challenges of international peace and security. Progress depended on Member States and the willingness of stakeholders to move ahead. “We will do our utmost to fulfil our responsibility,” he added.