26 November 2019
Seventy-fourth Session, 35th Meeting (AM)

Delegates Call for More Transparent Security Council Yet Disagree about Timing of Text-Based Negotiations, as General Assembly Concludes Debate on Reform

The General Assembly today concluded its discussion on the question of equitable Security Council representation with speakers echoing the need to adapt to new and emerging global challenges by boosting the organ’s transparency, legitimacy and membership. (For details, see Press Release GA/12217.)

Sonam Choden Namgyel (Bhutan), associating herself with the L.69 group of developing countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, said that every institution must adapt and evolve to stay relevant to address the challenges of the twenty‑first century.  Bhutan supports an equitable geographical balance in the Council to ensure an adequate voice for under‑ or unrepresented regions, as well as expanding both the number of permanent and non‑permanent seats.  Many years of deliberations on Council reform have failed to produce a tangible result, not because of a lack of proposals but because of the absence of a negotiation text.  It is now imperative to take a logical step and commence talks based on a text, like all other intergovernmental negotiation processes, she stressed.

Petronellar Nyagura (Zimbabwe), aligning herself with the African Group, however, said that it is premature to proceed to text‑based negotiations and that Member States should, at this stage, focus on narrowing the divergent views that characterize the current discourse.  Only through a comprehensive reform process can the Council be transformed into a more representative, transparent, effective and accountable organ.  Giving Africa at least two permanent and five non‑permanent seats will address the “structural imbalance” of the Council, which is currently dominated by the five permanent members with veto power (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States) who selectively use it to further their narrow political agenda.  The veto should be abolished and until then it should be extended to all permanent Council members without distinction.

Likewise, Christine Kalamwina (Zambia) said her delegation does not support calls for text‑based negotiations until broad consensus is reached among Member States.  Previous meetings on Council reform were characterized by several opposing views on the fundamental aspects of the process — an indication that more consultations are required until all outstanding matters have a common resolve.  The world has undergone several profound changes, which means the United Nations must adapt to new realities, she observed.

Lazarus Ombai Amayo (Kenya), also associating himself with the African Group, said that the common African position is the best option to ensure equitable representation in the Council.  Africa is the largest region in terms on United Nations membership, also making up the bulk of the Council’s agenda items.  While differences of opinion remain, and with full knowledge that all five clusters of reform under consideration of the intergovernmental process are linked and mutually reinforcing, it is essential to bring these positions closer and urge all delegations to muster the political will necessary to do so.

Brian Patrick Flynn (Ireland) said that the current Council makeup is unacceptable and hurtful to international peace and security.  The Council must address the underrepresentation of Africa, and the voices of the small island developing States and other vulnerable groups must also be heard.  The Council should become more accountable, transparent and efficient, and it must have interaction with the Assembly.  Echoing the sentiments of the speaker for Zimbabwe, he said that the veto has been frequently misused and it should eventually be abolished.  Ireland will support any reform package that achieves consensus, he said, adding that the country is a candidate for Council membership in 2020‑2021 and has a direct stake in the organ’s improvement.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 27 November, to elect and appoint members to several committees and discuss Afghanistan.

For information media. Not an official record.