African Group Calls for Permanent Seat to Redress Historical Injustice, while Russian Federation Defends Veto Power
The Security Council risks losing legitimacy unless it reforms and expands its membership to include developing States, particularly from Africa, delegates told the General Assembly today, with many stressing that intergovernmental negotiations, held over nearly 20 years, must now bear fruit if the United Nations “most important” body is to emerge strong and effective from a bygone era.
Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (Nigeria), speaking through a representative, opened the debate by underscoring the importance of a non‑biased, transparent process. Consultations to identify co‑chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations framework have been “exceptionally” complex and he remains actively engaged in the search.
That framework was the focus of many speakers throughout the day. Germany’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Four — Brazil, India, Japan and his own country — said the intergovernmental negotiations framework was marred by “constraints and flawed working methods” but should receive one last chance to reach a breakthrough.
“We remain alarmingly far away from the intended destination,” said the representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, on behalf of the L.69 group of developing countries, pointing to scant results achieved over 10 years. The process does not allow for real give‑and‑take discussions based on a single text. She called for attribution of positions, as well as official records and webcasts of meetings. South Africa’s representative, meanwhile, rejected the idea of ending the negotiations before June, saying it does not use time efficiently and “denies the process of adequate opportunity for full discussions”.
Delegates put forward a variety of reform proposals, with many calling for increasing the number of permanent Council members beyond the current five (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, the United States). Sierra Leone’s representative, speaking for the African Group, called Africa’s absence from the Council a historic injustice, a sentiment echoed by many. The continent must be represented by at least two permanent seats and five non‑permanent ones. “It is unacceptable for Africa to be the only continent not to be represented in the permanent category and, at the same time, underrepresented in the non‑permanent category,” he said. On that point, Libya’s delegate said 70 per cent of the Council’s work focuses on the continent, and thus, Africa’s demands are legitimate. He called for the creation of two permanent seats with veto power and two non‑permanent seats.
Along similar lines, Kuwait’s representative, speaking for the Arab Group, advocated for a permanent Arab seat, given that several items on the agenda deal with Arab countries. Grenada’s delegate, speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), called for a rotating seat for small island developing States. The region’s “small, weak and defenceless States” are particularly sensitive to the need for greater Council membership, he said.
Veto power was a continual source of debate, with some calling for abolishing the veto altogether, among them, Egypt’s delegate. Norway’s representative, speaking for the Nordic countries, said the veto is the main source of the Council’s paralysis. Turkey’s delegate agreed, saying it is “the reason why we need to reform the Council in the first place”.
Several delegates defended the veto. The Russian Federation’s representative said the veto offers an effective check on unwise schemes and its use — or threat thereof — has prevented the United Nations from being drawn into “dubious ventures”. Reducing such prerogatives is unacceptable, he said, noting that the Russian Federation is ready to endorse the so‑called “interim solution”.
Liechtenstein’s representative described a yawning gap between the Council’s mandate and performance, stressing that its enlargement is neither a silver bullet nor a condition sine qua non for improved action. He suggested an enlargement model based on long‑term seats of eight to 10 years, with the possibility of immediate re‑election. There would be no new veto powers, flexibility to add new two‑year seats, a strong review clause and a “flip‑flop clause” barring States that have lost an election for long‑term seats from running for short‑term seats.
Many reflected on the repetitive nature of the discussions, with Indonesia’s delegate denouncing them as “mere statement‑reading sessions”, and India’s delegate calling them a Sisyphean struggle. At the same time, some underscored the importance of the Council to international order. China’s representative, lauding its “irreplaceable” role in preventing another world war, expressed support for “reasonable and necessary reform” that prioritizes a voice for Africa.
Also speaking today were representatives of Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Argentina, France, Slovenia, Mexico, Japan, Mongolia, Spain, Brazil, Pakistan, Qatar, Cuba, Singapore, Hungary, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Namibia, Slovakia, Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Ecuador, United States, Iran, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Ukraine, Congo, Uganda, Syria, Estonia, United Kingdom, Burundi, Algeria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Colombia, Lesotho, Morocco, Ethiopia, Serbia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
The representative of Japan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 26 November to conclude its debate and discuss other organizational matters.
IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), speaking on behalf of Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, underscored the importance of Security Council reform. The Assembly President is actively engaged in consultations to identify co‑chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations framework, seeking those who are equidistant from the various parties involved, to ensure a non‑biased and transparent process. Finding these co‑chairs has been exceptionally complex and the consultation and search process continues, he assured.
CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany), speaking on behalf of the Group of Four (G4) (Brazil, India, Japan and his own country), began by recognizing that today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Procrastinating on reform of the Security Council has lasted decades and change is long overdue. “We have proven incapable of reforming the United Nations principal organ for international peace and security,” he said, and thus, “collectively failed” to bolster multilateralism, succeeding only in blocking reforms. He called for a concise negotiation text that will allow Member States to start results‑oriented negotiations, stressing that the intergovernmental negotiations framework has been less capable of moving beyond well‑known positions. Its quest for consensus allows a select few to successfully “put a spoke in the wheel” of Security Council reform.
He said the Council risks becoming obsolete unless its membership is broadened, particularly by increasing and enhancing its representation in Africa. He expressed support for the common African position, as contained in the 2005 Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration. A large majority of Member States would like to see the Council reformed, he said, noting that the G4 is willing to give the intergovernmental negotiations a last chance despite its “constraints and flawed working methods”. Once the co‑chairs are nominated, discussions within that framework can begin straightaway, just after today’s debate. “The intergovernmental negotiations framework should be guided by the decision‑making requirements and working methods laid out in the Charter of the United Nations and in the rules and procedures of the General Assembly,” he said.
ALIE KABBA (Sierra Leone), speaking on behalf of the African Group, reiterated the common African position on the proposed reform of the Security Council, as set out in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration — namely, that Africa demands not fewer than two permanent seats, with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto — as well as five non‑permanent seats. Africa is opposed to the veto, but so long as it exists, and as a matter of common justice, it should be available to all permanent Council members. Co‑Chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations must accurately reflect the views of Member States in any outcome documents, and more Member States must participate in its work. Emphasizing the links among the five clusters under negotiation, he said the size of an enlarged Council cannot be discussed without also looking at membership categories. Correcting the current imbalance — especially Africa’s absence in the permanent category — would redress a prolonged historical injustice and explain the need for comprehensive, rather than piecemeal or procedural, reform. “It is unacceptable for Africa to be the only continent not to be represented in the permanent category and, at the same time, [to be] underrepresented in the non-permanent category,” he said. The African Group continues to demand no fewer than two permanent seats and five non‑permanent seats, with the African Union selecting representatives. Any delay in addressing the existing scenario means perpetuating and compounding an injustice, while also denying Africa its rightful place in a major decision‑making organ. He reaffirmed that the common African position enjoys the broadest support among Member States and is a viable option for making the Council more representative, democratic, effective and transparent.
MONA JUUL (Norway), on behalf of the Nordic countries, called for a more transparent, accountable and representative Security Council, better equipped to address current global challenges. This means a balanced expansion: greater representation of developing countries, possibilities for small States to serve as elected members and ensuring that Africa takes its rightful place, in the form of both permanent and non‑permanent seats. The Assembly’s plenary debate should become the primary place for general statements about the intergovernmental negotiation process, which itself must create space for more genuine dialogue about positions. Recalling the Assembly decision which outlines the “Elements Paper” and the “Framework Document” as the basis for the negotiations, she said the remaining two issues of working methods and the relationship between the Council and the Assembly have been comprehensively covered. The negotiations must stick to their mandate, focused on an expanded Council, she said, adding that this work is already being undertaken within the Council’s own Informal Working Group, and through the Assembly’s revitalization process. The main source of the Council’s inability to act is the veto, she asserted.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said it is extremely important to reform the Security Council through consensus‑based solutions. The United Nations must be equipped and capable of taking up modern challenges, requiring the Council to be more representative and transparent. Intergovernmental negotiations within the framework of the General Assembly are the only way to develop solutions for reforming and expanding the Council. “We have many challenges pertaining to the reform of the Security Council, including the veto right,” he said, whose abuse by permanent members has paralyzed decision‑making. Indeed, use of the veto illustrates the narrow interests of some Member States. The Council must become more equitable and ensure both regional and geographical representation, he said, recalling that several items on its agenda deal with the Arab World. The position of the Arab countries remains the same, he continued, requesting a permanent Arab seat and more transparency in Council decision‑making. “Meetings should offer real opportunities for true participation of countries that are not on the Council,” he said.
MARIA ANGELA ZAPPIA (Italy), speaking for the Uniting for Consensus Group, expressed confidence that the next intergovernmental negotiations will deliver positive results and advance the reform process, thanks to the continuous engagement of all Member States. In 2018, there was some important progress, reflected in the “Revised Elements” document. The support for increased representation of developing countries, Africa, small island developing States and small States, along with the strengthened language on working methods and the interaction between the Security Council and the General Assembly, demonstrates that commonalities can be found and that the negotiations are making advances in reform.
However, only through a transparent process, which considers the voices of all Member States, will a consensual path to comprehensive reform be found, she said. The focus should not be on “walls that divide”, but rather, on “bridges that can grow”. Broad convergences were identified in 2018, including an increase in non‑permanent seats that is supported by all Member States. All Member States agree that such an expansion should favour underrepresented regions of the world, especially Africa. A significant number of Member States oppose expanding the veto to other States and support limiting or abolishing it. The Consensus Group proposes new longer‑term non‑permanent seats, with the possibility of immediate re‑election, and an increase in the number of two‑year non‑permanent seats.
INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), delivering a statement on behalf of the L.69 group of developing countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, welcomed the changed format of the rollover decision with recognition and emphasis on early comprehensive reform, as well as the more concise referencing of the framework document and the current revised paper. These “small changes” have restored a little faith in the purpose and progress of the critical process, which she hoped would be built upon during the session. More work must be done to ensure the common African position is properly reflected, as espoused in the Sirte Declaration and Ezulwini Consensus. However, aside from a few small advances, “we remain alarmingly far away from the intended destination,” she said, a fact that is “glaringly evident”, considering that few results have emerged from 10 years of intergovernmental negotiations. Differences remain unbridged because the process does not allow for real give‑and‑take discussions that are based on a single text, in keeping with normal United Nations practice and procedures. She reiterated the call for attribution, as well as for greater openness, transparency and inclusiveness. Official meeting records and meeting webcasts are also needed. Also, negotiation sessions should begin sooner and be held with greater frequency. Stressing the need for renewed focus and increased determination to reform the Council, against the backdrop of waning faith in multilateralism, she said, “history may not judge us kindly if we do not, for we — the people — are growing weary.”
FREDERIQUE DE MAN (Netherlands), speaking also for Belgium, recalled that the Assembly has discussed Security Council reform for 26 years: First in the framework of the Open‑ended Working Group, and since 2010, through intergovernmental negotiations in an informal plenary format. It is time to make the Council more representative, effective, transparent, and, as a result, more legitimate. She pointed to the absence of official records of discussions in the intergovernmental negotiations, stressing that transparency should be “front and centre”. Furthermore, launching text‑based negotiations will help Member States find areas of convergence and reach a compromise. She stressed the importance of more focused, result‑oriented negotiations, noting that doing so will force Member States to be more focused and result‑oriented in their discussions of each main issue for reform. Belgium and the Netherlands strongly support Council reform in order to ensure that all regions of the world are represented.
KEISHA ANIYA MCGUIRE (Grenada), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that amid emerging threats to international peace and security, instruments of the mid‑twentieth century can no longer be viewed as fit for purpose. The Council’s working methods must therefore be reviewed to enhance its ability to respond to these new challenges. Its membership must be increased and made more representative to enhance its legitimacy in the eyes of those who are subject to its decisions and in whose name the Council exercises its authority. “As small, weak and defenceless States, the Member States of CARICOM are particularly sensitive to the need to strengthen the Council’s legitimacy by ensuring equitable representation on — and an increase in — its membership,” she said, stressing that a reformed Council should feature a rotating seat for small island developing States, whose vulnerabilities are being increasingly recognized.
MITCHELL FIFIELD (Australia) called for finding ways to ensure the Council can act to address today’s peace and security challenges. “Questions hang over whether the Council is set up in the best way to maximize its effectiveness,” he said, stressing that reform is well overdue. The Council must reflect contemporary geopolitical realities, with greater representation for Asia, Africa and Latin America. Better coordination with the General Assembly, the Peacebuilding Commission and other partners can ensure greater use of coherent analytical information from across the United Nations system. Better standards must be developed for the veto so that its use is more transparent and limited. “One way we can better shape the direction of and catalyse reform is by moving from discussions to engaging in text‑based negotiations,” he suggested.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, reaffirmed support for multilateralism and said his country would continue to work for a realistic reform of the Council. It is essential to find a common denominator to bring countries together, as taking procedural shortcuts will only prove divisive. Argentina has shown flexibility with its proposal and trusts that all delegations will work in the same spirit. On specific changes to be made, he said Africa is particularly underrepresented and disagreements over the veto should be better debated because of its importance. For its part, Argentina is convinced that the veto restricts the Council’s effectiveness and should be abolished. If it cannot be abolished, a code of conduct should be created for its use on cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, he said.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said that while the reform of the Council is constantly debated, real negotiations are not undertaken. Negotiations must be based on a draft document, which will make it possible for Member States to avoid endlessly repeating positions that are known by all. The co-facilitators must be chosen carefully because of their crucial role, and France will provide its full support to them so they can succeed in their mission. France envisions a Council that takes into account “new powers” in the world — those that can take on new international responsibilities and make important contributions to the Council’s work. France favours enlargement of both categories: permanent and non‑permanent. Germany, India, Brazil and Japan should receive permanent seats, and Africa should be represented in both the permanent and non‑permanent categories. Together, the Council could be enlarged to include as many as 25 seats. New Council members should be appointed by all, not by regional groups, consistent with the United Nations Charter. These changes would make the Council more representative of today’s world, while preserving its operational nature. It would strengthen the Council’s legitimacy and enhance its ability to work effectively. Finally, all five permanent members should entirely suspend the veto in face of mass atrocities, he said.
ONDINA BLOKAR DROBIČ (Slovenia) said the time has come to start proper negotiations, stressing that “positions are clear at this point.” Texts can be produced and negotiations carried out, and if some countries have further ideas, they can mention them during intergovernmental negotiations. It is “inconceivable” that after all these years, a decision to reform the Council has not been adopted, even as an overwhelming majority of Member States call for reform. Most important are the Council’s interactions with the Peacebuilding Commission and participation of civil society in briefings, she said, also calling for the timely production and presentation of the Security Council report to the Assembly. Outlining Slovenia’s position on questions from the five clusters, including that Africa receive more representation, she said “more voice should also be given to small developing States.” Any change to the permanent and non‑permanent membership categories should be followed by an amendment to the Charter.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India), endorsing the positions of the G4 and the L.69 group, recalled the Greek myth of Sisyphus, who is “cursed by the gods to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only for it to roll back down, dooming him to fruitless toil for eternity”. It has been 11 years since the start of intergovernmental negotiations — and four decades since inscription of the item on the Assembly’s agenda — making Council reform a Sisyphean struggle. An obsolete global governance structure cannot be fit‑for‑purpose to address current peace and security challenges. The collective failure to reform the Security Council has serious implications, not only for the continued relevance of global governance institutions, but for the world’s people. The vast majority of Member States favour expanding both the permanent and non‑permanent membership categories, he said, recalling that repeated articulations of this point by delegations in the General Assembly and other platforms are on record.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said that, after 15 years of ongoing negotiations, Member States have made some progress in agreeing upon Council reform. However, a universal solution that would please everybody has not been attained. Continuing with patience, step‑by‑step work is the only way to advance. The Russian Federation seeks a more balanced Council by increasing the representation of developing countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America. He expressed support for “righting wrongs” by boosting Africa’s representation, as its presence in the Council’s work does not correspond with its importance in world affairs. Stressing that efforts to expand the Council should not have negative effects on its effectiveness, he called for maintaining its “compact character” by limiting the number of seats to the low 20’s. In addition, reducing the prerogatives of current Council members is unacceptable, including the right to veto. Veto use, and the threat thereof, has prevented the United Nations from being associated with “dubious ventures”, he said. If consensus on Council reform remains elusive, much broader State support than the two‑thirds majority required by the General Assembly must be ensured. The Russian Federation is ready to endorse the so‑called “interim solution”, he said, noting that progress cannot be achieved by imposing it — either through negotiated documents or any other initiative. As previous sessions have shown, any attempt to force solutions end in vain and lack broad support. The current intergovernmental negotiations platform has “unique and universal legitimacy”; moving away from it could lead to the collapse of the entire reform architecture and all progress could be lost.
ZHANG JUN (China) said that since the Second World War, the Security Council has played an irreplaceable role in maintaining international peace and security, and preventing another world war. China supports “reasonable and necessary reform” of the Council, with priority placed on increasing representation and “giving a say” to other Member States, especially those in Africa. Reform must increase opportunities for small‑ and medium‑sized countries to participate in discussions. “This is the only way to make the Council transparent and efficient,” he said, cautioning: “Multilateralism is under attack.” The goal now should be to find a solution that accommodates the interests of all countries. Turning to the intergovernmental negotiations process, he said that setting artificial timelines and forcing through any premature agreements would only aggravate disagreements and confrontations. It is fundamental to listen, to show respect for the various positions, and to continue engaging in the negotiation process.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMIREZ (Mexico), associating himself with the United for Consensus Group, said that strengthening multilateralism only makes sense as long as its benefits are not limited to a small number of countries. It is important to continue with the intergovernmental negotiations to achieve a reformed Security Council that is better — both qualitatively and quantitively — than the current one. While expansion of membership should favour underrepresented regions, he cautioned that increasing the number of permanent members could diminish the Council’s effectiveness. On working methods, he said the rule that requires agreement from all permanent members in order to act was agreed in circumstances that differed significantly from the present day. “The veto stops being exceptional,” he said, noting that it has been used when the Council was to have acted to avoid atrocities. Mexico, along with France and other countries, has proposed an initiative that would limit veto use and help avoid tragic situations that lead to loss of life.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), expressed deep concern over the lack of progress on Security Council reform two decades after Member States committed to do so in the 2000 Millennium Declaration. Council membership must be reformed to better reflect contemporary realities, he said, which means including in its ranks those willing and capable of contributing to international peace and security. Observing that intergovernmental negotiations have achieved very little, he said the process should start earlier and extend beyond just five meetings over a few months, which “largely rehash well‑known positions”. The “commonality paper” should have attribution so that who owns which proposal is known and a negotiating text can be produced through this session’s discussion. In addition, the negotiation process must be formalized with official records and webcasts of meetings so that Member States can build on what has been done, rather than reinvent the wheel each year.
SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), associating himself with the L.69 group, reiterated his country’s strong commitment to the comprehensive reform of the Security Council. While he looked forward to making its working methods inclusive and transparent, he said little progress has been achieved in the past 26 years, most recently through the intergovernmental negotiations. The current session should strive to end “repetitive presentation of all the different presentations” and hold more focused discussions, with enough room for understanding and compromise. He reaffirmed Mongolia’s position on the five clusters, starting with a call for expansion of both permanent and non‑permanent categories. The veto should be abolished, but so long as it exists, it must be extended to all new permanent members. All regions should be adequately represented. In addition, the relationship between the Council and Assembly should be improved, through reports and consultations with troop‑ and police‑contributing countries. Moreover, the Council should enhance opportunities for all States, particularly small developing countries, to seek election to the Council on a regular basis.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) described an increasing gap between the Council’s mandate and performance, stressing that its enlargement is neither a silver bullet nor a condition sine qua non for improved action. He suggested an enlargement model based on long‑term seats of eight to 10 years, with the possibility of immediate re‑election — a new model that includes no new veto powers, flexibility to add new two‑year seats, a strong review clause and a “flip‑flop clause” barring States that have lost an election for long‑term seats from running for short‑term seats. While progress on enlargement is stalled, Liechtenstein will continue its support for only those Council candidates that have committed to the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s Code of Conduct, which constitutes “a very concrete measure all Members of this Assembly could take to improve the Council’s performance”. Due to increased veto use, Liechtenstein supports a standing mandate for the Assembly to debate any use of the veto in a formal meeting, as a measure of accountability and as a way to empower the Assembly, he said.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said there is an urgent need for Security Council reform, to ensure it reflects “the realities of our time”. The Council must continue to be a mirror of a contemporary world that is ever‑changing. Thus, reform should not create a static body, but rather emphasize the common good over individual national interests, adopted by all Member States. That is the only way the Council can be more representative, accountable and effective. However, the insistence on increasing the number of permanent members is the main hindrance to progress, he said, emphasizing that permanent membership with veto “is the reason why we need to reform the Council in the first place”. Veto power serves nothing but the national interests of those holding the privilege, making the Council dysfunctional, unaccountable and undemocratic, eroding trust in both the United Nations and multilateralism as a whole. He called for periodic elections to improve performance and ensure accountability, and a better ratio between permanent and non‑permanent members to improve decision‑making.
AGUSTÍN SANTOS MARAVER (Spain), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, said renewed multilateralism is essential to resolving global challenges, including the reform and strengthening of the Security Council through consensus. Reform must focus on making the Council both more legitimate and effective. “We should leave behind the power dynamics of 75 years ago,” he said, which will make the Council more effective in preserving international peace and security. He emphasized the need to encourage a world order that is rules‑based and democratic. “We will continue our efforts to avoid zero‑sum logic which seeks gains for the few at the cost of many,” he continued. The position of Uniting for Consensus has evolved; it is one that is both flexible and open to adapting to new ideas, he added.
MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia) welcomed steps to regulate veto use, expressing support for a “workable mechanism, which will ensure that the veto is not used for subverting the cause of humanity and justice”. The affected non‑members should be granted access to the Council and its subsidiary organs, including with the right to participate and provide substantial inputs. Better communication and coordination are required among all principal organs, as well as their relevant subentities and Secretariat departments. He proposed improving consultations among the Security Council, troop‑ and police‑contributing countries, and host‑ and financial‑contributing countries. Multidimensional global challenges cannot be met unless the various regional perspectives are properly reflected in the Council’s decision‑making. Since Asia and Africa are exceptionally underrepresented, both regions should have at least four additional non‑permanent seats, along with seats for Latin America and the Caribbean.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) stressed the need to renew intergovernmental negotiations in reaching a workable text on key issues of Security Council reform. Meetings should start earlier and end later, with facilitators appointed so that more work can be done and differences bridged. Expressing concern about the lack of openness and transparency in negotiations, he noted the absence of webcasts, official records, institutional memory and attribution of position in outcome documents. Member States must make strides to formalize the process, achieving early Council reform rather than “running in endless circles”. The time has come to eliminate the “business as usual” mentality and renew the approach to this relevant topic. Adding that the Council must bring to the table actors capable of meaningfully contributing to international peace and security, he underscored the historical injustice against Africa, a continent that still lacks permanent representation in that body.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus, said the rationale for reforming the Council is clear. It should be more representative, transparent, accountable and effective. The Uniting for Consensus position is well‑known, offering the most promising basis to achieve consensus, particularly on equitable representation. Its proposal does not discriminate among States and will enhance accountability through the election and potential re‑election of members. The proposal is realistic and likely to secure the required ratification of the five permanent Council members, if it is approved by the Assembly. Pakistan respects Africa’s desire for representation; its absence is a historical injustice. Rotation is the best way to achieve regional interests, he said, adding that a regional approach could also attract the support of subregional groups. Through the provision of possible re‑election, the Uniting For Consensus proposal offers the potential for continued — and even long-term — representation of some States if they are elected by their respective regions. Conversely, the G4 proposal has no support, except among its four members, he said, adding that the size and power of a State does not alone qualify it for a permanent seat. At least one of the G4 does not qualify for the Council, as it is perpetrating a “reign of terror” and massive human rights violations against another people, including people within its own territory.
SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia) noted that reform of the Security Council was last accomplished 54 years ago. Expressing support for the expansion of both permanent and non‑permanent member categories to reflect the interests of all Member States, he underscored the importance of recognizing the need for more African representation, and ensuring an equitable regional presence in both member categories so that no region is underrepresented, especially the one featuring prominently in the Council’s agenda. He called for restraint in use of the veto, especially for the most serious crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He opposed extending veto power to any new permanent members, stressing that the privilege should only be valid if two veto‑wielding members and three non‑veto members agree to apply it. Noting that Member States have engaged in “mere statement‑reading sessions without concrete outcome for almost 15 years”, he emphasized that they must be willing to show considerable flexibility, with text‑based negotiation as the ideal step forward.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), associating herself with the Arab Group, said reforming the Council is a major challenge, with implications for the entire United Nations system. Making it more effective, transparent and accountable will increase its legitimacy, which is why Qatar, seeking to contribute to this process, hosted the Doha Retreat on Reforming the Security Council, in 2017. Small countries, particularly small island developing States, should be adequately represented, she said, adding that any reform should involve changing the way the Council operates and highlighting its complementary relationship with the Assembly.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), associating himself with the L.69 group and the African Group, respectively, expressed deep regret over the lack of progress in reforming the Council. He called for exploring options to advance the intergovernmental negotiations, including through the immediate normalization of negotiation “modes” and establishment of a road map with clear, implementable timeframes. The 2018 “Revised Document”, while imperfect, is a positive step that can be built upon, he said, calling for expanded permanent and non‑permanent Council membership to ensure that all five subregions are represented, to reach a total of 26 seats at most. He rejected the idea of ending the intergovernmental negotiations before June, saying it “does not utilize time efficiently and denies the process of adequate opportunity for full discussions”. The unreformed structure of the Security Council jeopardizes its legitimacy, credibility and acceptance, he asserted.
ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) expressed support for comprehensive Council reform to make it more transparent, inclusive and effective, as well as expansion of its permanent and non‑permanent members, with a total membership of no less than 26 States. Membership should be representative of world regions, including Africa, Asia and Latin America, with new permanent members enjoying the same rights as the current five. The Council should also stop interfering in matters beyond its area of competence, she said, underscoring the need to continue the intergovernmental negotiations in an inclusive and transparent manner.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) said that any Council reforms must not leave small States disadvantaged or further marginalized, nor should the intergovernmental negotiations be an exercise in accommodating only the interests of larger countries. If negotiations are to be taken seriously, they must deliver tangible results. Member States must build on the progress made in recent years, he said, adding that text‑based negotiations can help to identify differences and build convergence. Emphasizing that any reform will require a strong foundation of trust, he encouraged the General Assembly President to convene informal discussions among key delegations in order to build understanding on outstanding issues. Permanent Council members have a special responsibility to provide leadership in the reform process. Turning to the Council’s working methods, he said serious efforts must be made to implement presidential note 507 (document A/2010/507), including with regard to the timely submission of annual reports to the General Assembly and monthly assessment reports of Council presidencies.
KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary) said it is essential to explore “red lines” and possible limits of political will from the most influential stakeholders, especially the five permanent Council members. Hungary continues to support the enlargement — based on equitable geographic distribution — of the Security Council in permanent and non‑permanent categories, she said, reiterating a call for a second non‑permanent seat for the Eastern European group of countries. Turning to the Council’s working methods, she called for clearer and more detailed rules on its cooperation and coordination with the main organs of the United Nations and Member States. On the veto, which is “the biggest stumbling block for further progress”, she welcomed growing support for initiatives, including the French‑Mexican proposal on the voluntary restraint of veto power, and the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s Code of Conduct with regard to preventing or stopping atrocity crimes.
MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt), associating himself with the African Group and Arab Group, said consensus is essential to making progress on Council reform, and work must continue through the intergovernmental negotiations process. Based on previous experience, no genuine Council reform is possible without addressing the use of the veto, he said, calling for its abolition. The reform process must also be fair and balanced. Ensuring that African States have a seat in the Council will help to reverse the historic injustice the continent has long suffered. Egypt stands ready to work with Member States to bring about comprehensive Council reform.
KIM SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the principles of respect for sovereignty, non‑intervention and the equality of States has come to be openly disregarded in the Council. “The internationally agreed and recognized fundamental principles are openly disregarded due to the arbitrariness and high‑handedness of specific countries,” he said, highlighting that the Council is still used as a political tool of one nation to pursue its own interests. Council reform must ensure the full representation of the Non‑Aligned Movement and other developing countries, which constitute the majority of United Nations Member States. The most feasible way to achieve that goal is to proceed with first increasing the number of non‑permanent seats, he said, adding that the qualifications of permanent members should also be carefully reviewed. As Council members should be naturally peace‑loving countries, he said a State such as Japan — which justifies crimes against humanity and wars of aggression — should never be eligible to become a member.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the African Group, called for the conclusion of the intergovernmental negotiations process to reposition the Council to effectively address emerging challenges related to international peace and security. As such, he reiterated the common African position as articulated in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, calling for greater African representation. The common African position calls for no fewer than two permanent seats and five non‑permanent seats, he recalled, highlighting the support expressed for this position by several groups and Member States. “Namibia is committed to a comprehensive reform which will see to it that the historical injustice against Africa is rectified,” he said.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya), associating himself with the African Group and Arab Group, said reform is long overdue, as the United Nations seeks to regulate relations between States and works through the Council to prevent crises, wars and catastrophes. Reform of the most important organ of the United Nations should focus on the five core pillars, including equitable geographical representation. In this vein, he said Africa, with its 54 countries, is not permanently represented on the Council, which focuses 70 per cent of its work on the continent. “Its demands are legitimate,” he continued, pointing to Africa’s call for the creation of two permanent seats with veto power and two additional non‑permanent seats. It is essential to address this historic injustice when it comes to regional representation. Noting that many have described the working methods of the Council as undemocratic, he said that non‑permanent members who have previously served have said that two years is not enough to reach goals set on their agendas.
PETER NAGY (Slovakia) said Council reform is an essential part of the comprehensive reform of the United Nations, underscoring his country’s commitment to finding a good outcome and making the body more representative, efficient and transparent. He called for the start of text‑based negotiations, which would give the intergovernmental negotiations substantive meaning and accelerate the process. Slovakia supports the expansion of both membership categories and calls for an increase to no more than 25, while respecting geographical balance. “The new members of the Council should, as a principle, have the same responsibilities and obligations as the current members,” he said, stressing that one non‑permanent seat should be reserved for the Eastern European Group.
CHO HYUN (Republic of Korea), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, warned against the temptation of quick‑fix solutions. The composition of any reformed Council must be as flexible as possible to reflect the changing nature of the international geopolitical order. Increasing the number of permanent Council members will only complicate the ability to solve current and future challenges. However, increasing the number of non‑permanent seats and granting some the opportunity to serve longer terms is a realistic way to make the Council more democratic and accountable. The power of the veto should not be expanded, and groups that were not represented when the Council was created must be given an opportunity to play leadership roles. The Republic of Korea’s security and development is largely the result of the Council’s support, he said, and it therefore feels a sense of duty to contribute to improving the way it works.
Ms. RODRIGUEZ (Venezuela) said historical inequalities must be reversed, and progress through the intergovernmental negotiations process must ensure greater representation on the Council, especially among African countries and small island developing States. Developing countries are those often most affected by conflicts and most discussed in the Council, and should therefore have greater representation. Embedding multipolarity and multilateralism within its structure would make the body more inclusive. Promoting a constructive negotiation environment and avoiding regional or national unilateralism is vital. All States are welcome members of this process and should be satisfied with the reform process. Indeed, the legitimacy of the process itself is critical, as it will ensure commitments to the final results, she said, also raising concerns about artificial deadlines that may hamper the progress made to date.
LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador), highlighting the urgent need for Council reform, said the organ must be aligned to today’s world and the Assembly and must end the underrepresentation of developing countries, particularly in Africa and the Caribbean states. More robust mechanisms for feedback and operational effectiveness must replace closed‑door negotiations. The Council’s current configuration reflects its tendency to uphold an unfair order that benefits certain members. Reform must be comprehensive, he said, adding that any change to the Council will impact the entire United Nations system and multilateralism itself.
Mr. BARKIN (United States) said the intergovernmental negotiations framework remains the most appropriate forum to discuss Council reform. The United States remains open to the organ’s “modest” expansion in a way that does not diminish its effectiveness and efficiency. However, his delegation opposes any alteration of the veto. The Council is an important tool in the international arena and prospective members must be ready to shoulder heavy international responsibilities. As such, any alteration of the Council must occur by consensus.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) said preserving and promoting justice, the rule of law and multilateralism depends on reforming the Council, whose membership expansion must transform it into a truly democratic, representative, transparent, efficient, effective, rules‑based and accountable organ. Broadening its membership must be one of multiple objectives and its composition, once expanded, must be balanced geopolitically and geographically. Noting that the Council is dominated by Western countries, three of which have veto power, he pointed out that the Western European group of countries is overrepresented, while other regions remain poorly represented and have less rights in terms of veto power or permanent membership. Indeed, one third of Member States have never been part of the Security Council and 20 countries have served terms adding up to between 10 and 22 years. As such, Council reform must ensure equal opportunities for all States.
MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada), noting that his delegation is a member of the Uniting for Consensus Group, said Canada is also committed to listening to Member States and working together. Indeed, the Uniting for Consensus Group position has evolved over the years, taking into consideration the views of many groups and countries. Emphasizing that Council reform is both necessary and urgent, he said States’ legitimate aspirations and expectations are at the heart of the question. The Council must be rendered representative, responsive, democratic, transparent and effective. In that vein, he pledged to continue to work alongside Member States from Africa, small island developing States and all developing countries — as well as cross‑regional groups — to expand their representation on the Council.
JANE J. CHIGIYAL (Federated States of Micronesia), associating herself with the L.69 group, said that as a small island developing State, her country’s prosperity and security are interlinked with Council reform. Next year’s seventy‑fifth anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations should produce a Council that reflects the world as it is today. Calling for the immediate appointment of the co‑chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations and advanced notice of meetings so that small delegations can plan effectively, she said live webcasts of the negotiations can guarantee the transparency of its work.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) expressed regret that delegations have yet to be informed of when intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform will actually begin, despite the Assembly’s clear stipulation that they should be launched “immediately”. Citing broad acknowledgement that reform is needed given dramatic global changes in recent decades, he said a minority of States are happy to preserve the status quo. Without addressing the Council’s composition and decision‑making power, the organ will remain woefully inadequate to respond to the challenges of the twenty‑first century. In light of the current lack of consensus on reform, he proposed exploring agreement on some elements, which could be fixed in a General Assembly resolution “for the record”. That would help to lay a foundation for concrete reform, “brick by brick”. Ukraine also supports adding at least one additional elected seat for Eastern Europe, as well as seriously reconsidering the role of the veto. Indeed, that power should be phased out and all initiatives aimed at limiting its use should be supported.
FLAMEL ALAIN MOUANDA (Congo), associating himself with the African Group, said all stakeholders are struggling to find consensus on Council reform, but “unfortunately, progress has been lacking.” Reiterating the frustrations of Africa, which remains a victim of a historic injustice, he said the common African position calls for at least two permanent seats, with all rights and privileges including the veto, and two non‑permanent seats. Any membership expansion must consider regional representation. The Council must also avoid impinging on the prerogatives of the General Assembly. “We must breathe new life into the intergovernmental negotiations process so that we can move towards reform,” he said.
ADONIA AYEBARE (Uganda), associating himself with the African Group, said his country is opposed to any piecemeal and selective approach that contradicts the spirit of the comprehensive reform that all aspire for. Full representation of Africa in the Security Council means no less than two permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges, including the right of veto, and five non‑permanent seats. He rejected any suggestions aimed at creating “other categories” of membership of the Security Council, which clearly undermines Africa’s quest for representation. “We consider any such suggestions as an attempt to perpetuate the current injustice against Africa, and any reform of the Security Council that does address this inherent blemish on the conscience of humanity cannot be acceptable to Africa,” he said.
AMMAR AL ARSAN (Syria), commending constructive debates in the intergovernmental negotiations process and the common African position’s demand for additional seats, said reform efforts are taking place at a time when the world is dominated by new trends and tendencies to threaten the use of force. Moreover, a global arms race is seeing increased weapons production at a time when the world should focus on realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With this in mind, consensus and a balanced approach that will lead to agreement must achieve progress through the intergovernmental negotiations, which remains the only platform to discuss Council reform. Imposing a unilateral approach on any negotiation process only worsens divisions and increases confrontation. Raising concerns about comments made today, he said his counterpart from Liechtenstein was using every opportunity to mention the “illegitimate” International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in Syria since March 2011. As such, the tax‑paying citizens in the countries supporting this illegitimate mechanism should fund it.
GERT AUVÄÄRT (Estonia) said Council reform should aim at a strengthened United Nations, increased Member State ownership of the organ’s work, and improved accountability to the Organization’s membership. The use of the veto has paralysed the Council, which has been unable to react to situations where action is needed the most. Permanent Council members should voluntarily and collectively commit themselves to not use the veto to block action aimed at preventing or ending situations involving mass atrocity crimes. As a supporter of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s Code of Conduct, he urged all Council members to refrain from voting against resolutions related to preventing or ending genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. As an incoming member to the Council for the next two years, Estonia remains committed to engaging in the process of advancing the body’s reform.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) said that while many United Nations structures have evolved positively in the decades since their creation, the Council has lagged behind. Pointing out that there has not been a Council expansion in 54 years, even while the world has transformed considerably, he said his delegation supports a “modest” expansion in both permanent and non‑permanent categories, including the creation of new permanent seats for India, Germany, Japan and Brazil, and permanent African representation. His delegation further supports expanding the non‑permanent category to enable broader participation on a rotating basis, bringing the Council’s overall membership to somewhere in the mid‑20s. Disagreement over the veto should not prevent progress in other areas, he said, noting that the United Kingdom has refrained from using this power since 1989 and would do so again only in exceptional circumstances. His delegation also supports a code of conduct regarding Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
ALBERT SHINGIRO (Burundi), aligning himself with the African Group, said Council reform has been discussed for more than a quarter of a century. While the process is stuck on the same treadmill, Africa, with its 1.2 billion people, is the only continent not represented in the permanent membership and remains underrepresented among non‑permanent members. The position of African nations is well‑known and supported by many outside the continent, including its call for two permanent seats, commensurate with its importance in world affairs. African States also demand to be fully represented in all bodies of the United Nations, particularly the Council, the Organization’s most powerful body. The five questions subject to negotiations are linked closely to each other and must not be approached individually, he said, adding that while discussions are thorny, much can be gained by strong reforms.
SOFIANE MIMOUNI (Algeria) said his delegation rejects any piecemeal and selective approach to reform, which should be inclusive and encompass all components of the United Nations system, as outlined in the common African position contained in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration. Reform efforts must also improve the relationship between its two principal organs, the Council and the Assembly. While African States make up the largest portion of United Nations membership and comprise three quarters of the Council’s agenda, the continent continues to be underrepresented in the permanent category, the organ’s core decision‑making unit. Africa will continue to advocate for meaningful reform that will make the Council more relevant and responsive to present and emerging global challenges.
VALENTIN RYBAKOV (Belarus) welcomed efforts to reform the Security Council so it can adapt to changing realities, work that must consider the requests of all States. “It is unacceptable to disregard the principle of transparency and openness,” he said. Expanding the non‑permanent membership is a minimum and he requested a seat for Eastern Europe. While discussions about reform have been ongoing for decades, and intergovernmental negotiations have weathered criticism, they remain the only place “where we can all listen to each other”. Any proposals to move the dialogue outside this generally accepted platform is counterproductive, as reform is a common responsibility and should be based on trust and consensus. It is also premature to raise the issue of text‑based negotiations, he added.
ANGEL VASILEV ANGELOV (Bulgaria) welcomed the Assembly President’s commitment to reinvigorate the Security Council reform process and called for focused, transparent and results‑oriented negotiations to start “in earnest”. United Nations reform will be incomplete unless the Council’s composition, size and work methods reflect geopolitical realities. To this end, both membership categories should be expanded, with new permanent members selected from among those States that have proven their commitment and capacity to help maintain international peace and security. The expansion in the non‑permanent category should more accurately represent underrepresented regional groups and provide a just reflection of the Eastern European Group.
ANDRÉS JOSÉ RUGELES (Colombia), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, said effective Council reform depends on reaching a consensus on how to proceed. The best source of action is to create non‑permanent seats that last longer than two years while adding more two‑year‑term seats, with a view to creating a fairer rotation system. Adding new members to the permanent seating roster would only add more States to the list of countries with exclusive privileges, a notion that runs counter to the idea of multilateralism. Increasing the number of countries with veto power would make the Council less transparent and efficient. Global governance depends on strengthening the entire United Nations system. The Council cannot be stuck in the past, beholden to a structure created 70 years ago, he said, adding that all Member States must have a chance to join the Council, consistent with the principles of democracy.
NKOPANE RASEENG MONYANE (Lesotho), associating himself with the African Union Committee of Ten, said the Council faces a moral dilemma in its inability to act, due to a lack of consensus in addressing the most heinous human rights violations, which is why Lesotho reiterates its call to make it more representative, transparent and accountable. True reform will be modelled along the lines of the Common African Position, as enshrined in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, and should involve changes to the Council’s working methods to encourage greater transparency and participation. Indeed, a Security Council that is transparent and representative of all regions will go a long way towards fulfilling the ideals for which the United Nations was established.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco), associating himself with the African Group and Arab Group, said that the Council’s mandate is free from any ambiguities and the time is ripe for its swift and comprehensive reform. The need to expand its membership is justified by a pressing need for the body to be brought into the twenty‑first century and to right historic injustices suffered by Africa, which must be represented with two permanent seats, with the veto power, and five non‑permanent seats. The lack of permanent representation of Arab countries is deplorable as well, he said, highlighting that many of the Council’s meetings deal with issues concerning the African continent and the Arab region.
TAYE ATSKESELASSIE AMDE (Ethiopia), aligning himself with the African Group, said reforming the Council is the core component of overall reform of the United Nations system. In that regard, he supported the common African position on the continent having at least two permanent and five non‑permanent seats. This is a necessity given the prominence of Africa on the Council’s agenda. Criteria for the selection of African members of the Security Council should be determined by the assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. Reform of the Security Council must be made through consensus of all Member States. In addition, the relationship between the General Assembly and the Council should be mutually reinforcing in regard to their respective functions.
SANDRA PEJIC (Serbia) said Security Council reform should be based on the broadest possible consensus, stressing that setting a deadline before consensus is reached would harm the process. Reform should make the Council more democratic and representative, providing more opportunities for small- and medium-sized countries to contribute to its work. The General Assembly established that the intergovernmental negotiations should be based on proposals made by Member States in good faith, mutual respect and in an open and inclusive manner, she said, adding that the process is still relevant and the only legitimate format for discussing Council reform.
KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said that the United Nations is more vital than ever before in addressing global challenges that threaten regional and global peace, stability and development. Improving the Organization through Council reform is a crucial but sensitive issue that should be done in a comprehensive, transparent, inclusive and balanced manner to maintain unity and solidarity among Member States and serve the interest of all. To ensure equitable representation, effectiveness and the Organization’s relevance, permanent and non‑permanent Council membership should expand, considering the interests of both developing and developed Member States. The way forward in the intergovernmental negotiations process should be based on relevant Assembly decisions and to achieve consensus outcomes.
Right of Reply
The representative of Japan, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said it was regrettable that his country was mentioned today by a speaker.