12 July 2005
General Assembly Opens Debate on “Group of Four”-Sponsored Draft Resolution on Security Council Reform
21 Speakers Weigh in on Council Enlargement, Veto Power and Equitable Geographical Representation, as Competing Proposals Are Cited
NEW YORK, 11 July (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly this afternoon debated a set of competing proposals for reforming the Security Council, touching on issues of enlargement, the right of veto and equitable geographic representation, with some speakers stressing that action on the matter was long overdue, while others cautioned against undue haste that could divide the 191-member body.
At the centre of today’s discussion was a proposal introduced by Brazil, referred to as the “Group of Four resolution”. The Group of Four (“G-4”) refers to Japan, Brazil, Germany and India, all of whom are aspiring to become permanent members of the Council. The proposal would have the Assembly increase the Council’s membership from 15 to 25, by adding six permanent and four non-permanent members. Emphasizing the need for reform, Brazil’s representative said the realities of power of 1945 had long been superseded. The security structure established then was now glaringly outdated.
Building on a proposal put forward by the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and reiterated by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his “In Larger Freedom” report, the text aimed to expand the Council’s membership to reflect new realities, he continued. It was clear that the Council’s future effectiveness was contingent on the permanent presence of major financial contributors and those who were most willing and able to contribute to the work of the United Nations.
Restricting the expansion of the Council to the category of non-permanent members, he added, would not only mean the maintenance of the status quo, but also risk increasing the disparity in its composition. A successful conclusion of Council reform would enhance its legitimacy and representativeness, and constituted a most important boost to the strengthening of the Organization and towards ensuring a successful outcome to the upcoming 2005 World Summit.
Some speakers felt the reform process had been hijacked by a small group of nations seeking new and unequal privileges for themselves in an enlarged Security Council. To add insult to injury, stated Pakistan’s representative, self-interest had been portrayed as altruism. The seekers of special privileges and power masqueraded as the champions of the weak and disadvantaged, asserting that the special privileges they sought would make the Council more representative and neutralize the power of the present members.
He and other members of “Uniting for Consensus” strongly opposed the G-4 proposal because it was unequal, giving permanent membership to 11 States and consigning 180 others to compete for 14 seats; it would erode democracy and accountability in the Council; and it would enlarge the “club of the privileged”. Thus, he offered an alternative proposal which would increase the Council’s representativeness by changing the ratio of unelected to elected members from 1:2 to 1:4; and enhance accountability through the mechanism of periodic election.
The alternative text, he added, had the ability to accommodate the interests and positions of all States, including the five permanent Council members and, thus, more likely to secure eventual ratification than the G-4 proposal.
Algeria’s representative felt that all the proposals put forward were equally unsatisfactory, taking into account the positions of Africa. African leaders had decided to submit their own view of a Council that was more democratic and more in line with international realities, as expressed at the recently held African Union Summit in Sirte, Libya. Africa’s vision involved the establishment of a 26-member Security Council, where the continent was given two permanent seats with the same privileges as the present permanent members, including the right of veto, as well as five non-permanent seats.
While African States had considered the veto as an unjustified, anachronistic right and had called for its abolition, he said that as long as the present permanent members had the right to veto, it was unacceptable for new permanent members to be deprived of that right. Indeed, permanent members without the right to veto would not have any way to affect events, change the balance of forces or act as effectively as they liked. What made a permanent member unique was not so much the permanence of the seat as the privileges that came with it.
While views diverged on the formula for Council reform, most speakers agreed that it would not be wise at the current time to force a vote on a draft proposal that did not meet with the support of the majority of the Organization’s membership. Council reform needed the broadest possible support to be considered legitimate. In addition, comprehensive reform of the Council must also place emphasis on improved working methods, including more transparency and inclusiveness, it was stated.
Also making statements in today’s debate were the representatives of Jordan, Japan, France, Iceland, Mauritius (on behalf of the African Group), Fiji, China, Poland, Argentina, Colombia, Sweden, Finland, San Marino, Lithuania, Switzerland, Tuvalu, Latvia and Bhutan.
The Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 12 July, to continue its discussion of Council reform.
The General Assembly met this afternoon to consider the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters, for which it had before it a draft resolution on Security Council reform (document A/59/L.64).
By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would decide to increase the Council’s membership from 15 to 25 by adding six permanent and four non-permanent members. The six new permanent members would be elected according to the following pattern: two from African States; two from Asian States; one from Latin American and Caribbean States; and one from Western European and Other States. The four new non-permanent members would be as follows: one from African States; one from Asian States; one from Eastern European States; and one from Latin American and Caribbean States.
The Assembly would also decide that, no later than two weeks after the designation of States elected to serve as new permanent members of the Security Council, a resolution containing amendments to the United Nations Charter arising from the decisions taken would be submitted for its adoption at the earliest possible time. In addition, it would decide to review the situation created by the amendments 15 years after their entry into force.
Regarding the veto, the Assembly would decide that the new permanent members shall not exercise the right of veto until the question of the extension of the right of veto to new permanent members has been decided upon in the framework of the above-mentioned review.
With regard to the Council’s working methods, the Assembly would urge the Council to undertake several measures to enhance the transparency, inclusiveness and legitimacy of its work. They include meeting in a public forum open to all Member States of the United Nations; granting non-members access to subsidiary organs of the Council, including the right to participate; making available to non-members draft resolutions and presidential statements, as soon as such documents are tabled, or earlier; and holding regular consultations with the Presidents of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil), introducing the draft resolution, said the co-sponsors were keenly aware that consideration of the text by the United Nations 191 Member States constituted a historic step in multilateral diplomacy. Its provisions would significantly strengthen the world Organization, and truly reform the Security Council. Accumulated experience acquired since the founding of the United Nations demonstrated that the realities of power of 1945 had long been superseded. The security structure then established was now glaringly outdated.
To effectively carry out its functions and powers, the Council needed to undergo a thorough reform, which included an expansion of the category of permanent members, in order to bring it in line with the contemporary world. Such a reform would ensure a better response to the evolving nature and characteristics of threats to peace, as well as a more systematic and effective compliance with its decisions. Representativeness and equitable participation must be clearly reflected in the Council’s composition. Only through an updated observance of those principles would the legitimacy of the Council’s decisions be ensured.
Outlining the provisions of the draft resolution, he said it aimed to expand the Council’s membership to reflect new realities. That would shape a balance of forces capable of enhancing the Council’s responsiveness to the views and needs of all Member States, particularly developing countries, and of ensuring the adoption of improved working methods. It determined future consideration of the question of the veto, and foresaw a review of the Council’s effectiveness and composition 15 years after the entry into force of the changes proposed.
The draft, he continued, built on a proposal put forward by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and reiterated by the Secretary-General in his report “In Larger Freedom”, and allowed for enhanced participation of all regional groups in the Council’s composition. It was clear that the Council’s future effectiveness was contingent on the permanent presence of major financial contributors and those who were most willing and able to contribute to the work of the United Nations.
Criticism of the proposal, he said, had so far failed to realistically address the core issue of permanent membership. Restricting the expansion of the Council to the category of non-permanent members would not only mean the maintenance of the status quo, but also risk increasing the disparity in its composition. A successful conclusion of the Council reform would enhance its legitimacy and representativeness, and constituted a most important boost to the strengthening of the Organization and towards ensuring a successful outcome to the September Summit.
He stated that he did not seek to impose a vote on the matter before it had been comprehensively discussed by Member States. In presenting the proposal, the co-sponsors had taken a bold step that opened the way for real, meaningful change in the Organization.
ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said United Nations reform would not be complete without reform of the Security Council through the enhancement of its working methods and expansion. Thus, Jordan supported the draft resolution before the Assembly, which was a step in the right direction towards sustainable and effective reform. Furthermore, Jordan supported the framework presented by the text and upheld its prior commitments regarding Security Council expansion and reform. That notwithstanding, there was still room for improving the language on enhancing the Council’s working methods by employing more of the ideas debated over the past few months.
He agreed that the expansion of the Council should include both permanent and non-permanent membership, and said that the draft provided a democratic basis to expand that membership in which the Arab countries should be represented at all times. Today was an historic opportunity to change for the better, and Member States should take advantage of the existing momentum and capitalize on that opportunity to do what was in the best interest of the Organization.
KENZO OSHIMA (Japan), endorsing the statement by the representative of Brazil as a co-sponsor of the draft resolution, said that as the international community rose to meet the challenges of today’s world, the United Nations must not be left on the sidelines, but must be reformed into an organization capable of addressing the realities of the twenty-first century. Member States must create “a new United Nations for the new era”. Among those changes, the core must be reform of the Security Council. As the organ with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Council must fulfil its role with maximum cooperation and participation by the international community. For that reason, the Council must improve its representation to better reflect today’s world. In addition, it must be provided with adequate resources to address challenges effectively. Countries with the will and resources to play a major role in international peace and security must always take part in the Council’s decision-making process.
As a result of extensive consultations with Member States, Japan, Brazil, Germany and India, with the support of co-sponsors, had submitted a framework resolution to the Assembly last week, he said. Those countries had listened carefully to the opinions of Member States both in New York and in capitals around the world. They had also awaited the results of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and African Union summit meetings. Africa was a vital member of the international community and, thus, its participation was crucial for realizing Security Council reform and, in that regard, Japan welcomed Africa’s resolve to pursue the enlargement of the Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories, as declared in the recent African Union Summit in Sirte, Libya. At the same time, Japan welcomed the CARICOM Summit communiqué which indicated the inclination of a significant number of CARICOM member States to support the draft resolution.
He said the resolution was the only viable proposal capable of garnering the support of more than two thirds of Member States. Appreciating the many Member States that had already expressed their support for the text, Japan was determined to make further efforts towards adopting the resolution with maximum support. Together with other co-sponsors, Japan had been conducting constructive dialogue with Member States aimed at achieving the common goal of reforming the Security Council, and in view of the African Union and CARICOM decisions Japan was ready to continue its dialogue with those organizations, as well as the United Nations membership at large. It would continue to work in a transparent and democratic manner seeking the adoption of the resolution, and strongly expected that all Member States would take part in realizing Security Council reform.
The timing for any important decision must be considered carefully, he stressed. While not arguing for undue haste, it was important to remember the following: that discussions on reform of the Security Council had been going on, in earnest, for well over a decade since the early 1990s; in addition, world leaders at the Millennium Summit in 2000 had resolved to intensify efforts to achieve a comprehensive reform of the Security Council in all its aspects, thus declaring their political intention to achieve results; subsequently, the submission of the High-level Panel report and the Secretary-General’s report, as well as the circulation of the G-4 framework resolution in May, had prompted further extensive discussion among the Member States, in regional groups, in New York and in capitals around the world. Permanent membership was not a privilege, he declared; rather, it was a duty and a responsibility for nations that were willing and able to contribute effectively to international peace and security.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that for months, the debates on reform had been taken hostage by the question of Council expansion, which overshadowed other aspects of overall United Nations reform, thus imperilling the entire restructuring process and dividing the international community. While Council reform was supposed to meet the requirement for greater democracy and make the body more representative and legitimate, reform had been perceived by some as simply a tool to serve their own ambitions to secure a permanent seat on the Council. At its recent summit in Sirte, the African Union had identified the framework for United Nations reform, stressing that reform must be comprehensive and comprise all parts of the Organization, including the Assembly and the Council. It had also stressed the need to strengthen the leadership of the Assembly to allow it to more fully play its role as the most representative and democratic body in the United Nations system.
On Council reform, he said that all the proposals put forward were equally unsatisfactory, taking into account the positions of Africa. African leaders were devoted to the principle of rotation and equitable geographical distribution, and had decided to submit their own view of a Council that was more democratic and more in line with international realities, as expressed in the draft resolution adopted by the AU Assembly, which was before the General Assembly. That vision of Africa involved the establishment of a 26-member Security Council where the continent was given two permanent seats with the same privileges as the present permanent members, including the right to veto, as well as the establishment of five non-permanent seats. The AU would decide, when the time came, on how to distribute its seats, in keeping with the Sirte Declaration. Such an expanded Council would be a more faithful reflection of today’s world and allow the Council to be more attentive to the needs of all Member States.
He said that African States had considered the veto as an unjustified, anachronistic right and had called for its abolition. Africa had repeated that it objected, in principle, to the right of veto. At the same time, as long as the present permanent members had the right to veto, it was unacceptable for new permanent members to be deprived of that right. Indeed, permanent members without the right to veto would not have any way to affect events, change the balance of forces or act as effectively as they liked. What made a permanent member unique was not so much the permanence of the seat as the privileges that came with it. What credibility would a Council have if it had three columns -- permanent members with veto, permanent members without veto and non-permanent members? That was why the right to veto was a key element to permanent membership.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that when the Secretary-General, after a divisive war, had proposed a panel on United Nations reform, his purpose had been to strengthen and unite the Organization to address old and new threats. Unfortunately, that important endeavour had, almost from the outset, been hijacked by a small group of nations seeking new and unequal privileges for themselves in an enlarged Security Council. Since the establishment of the High-level Panel, pressure of all kinds had been exerted on its members, its secretariat, on other officials and on Member States, to secure reflection of a model for Council expansion that could “selfishly” secure permanent membership for that small group of nations. During those months, the endeavour by the so-called G-4 to secure support and endorsement of that position had taken forms that, if practised in national elections, would be judged as unethical or worse. An outcome for Council reform achieved by such questionable means was unlikely to be sustainable or to strengthen the United Nations. Member States should adopt guidelines, within the United Nations reform process, to prevent the use of such means to twist the democratic will of the free peoples and nations.
To add insult to injury, self-interest had been portrayed as altruism, he said. The seekers of special privileges and power masqueraded as the champions of the weak and disadvantaged -– asserting that the special privileges they sought would make the Council more representative and neutralize the power of the present members. The adoption of the G-4 draft resolution would have several serious implications of which all should be aware: first, Council reform would overshadow, and even eclipse, other aspects of United Nations reform; second, the rules by which Member States had been preparing for the September Summit -- the painstaking effort to build consensus on the President’s outcome document -- would now change; and third, a divisive vote would politicize and, perhaps, derail the entire preparatory process for September.
Pakistan and other Uniting for Consensus members strongly opposed the draft resolution for several reasons, he said. First, the proposal was contrary to the principle of sovereign equality of States enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Most States, when entering the United Nations, had been given no choice regarding the existing permanent members, but today they did have a choice. They would not choose to anoint six States with special privileges while stamping themselves as second-class members of the Organization. They had entered the United Nations as sovereign and equal States and could not compromise the very basis of their membership. Second, the proposal was unequal, giving permanent membership to 11 States, consigning 180 others to compete for 14 seats. Third, it would erode, not enhance, democracy and accountability in the Security Council. The ratio of permanent (unelected) members to non-permanent (elected) members would increase from 1:2 to almost 1:1. Half of the Council’s membership would be unaccountable (the word “accountability” did not appear in the draft resolution). Fourth, it would enlarge the “club of the privileged” who would have a vested interest in addressing most issues in the Security Council, further draining the oxygen out of the General Assembly and enhancing the domination of the Security Council.
The fifth reason, he said, was that the proposal would reduce, not improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Security Council by requiring the constant reconciliation of the interests of 11 instead of five permanent members. Sixth, the zero-sum proposal (with six winners and 180 losers) would increase divisions and tensions, not only within the United Nations, but also within various regions, contradicting the objective of promoting peace and security. Finally, the G-4’s complex, three-phase approach would lead to a dead end. It could fail to receive the two-thirds majority at any one of the three stages. And, given the opposition to the proposal from a number of significant States, as well as the opposition or reservations of some of the five permanent members, it was highly unlikely that a Charter amendment approach would ever come into effect. Following the G-4 into such a cul-de-sac would squander the present opportunity to realize an equitable and acceptable reform of the United Nations.
He offered as an alternative a draft resolution circulated among members of Uniting for Consensus that would be equitable and fair, saying that in proposing an increase of the Council’s membership from 15 to 25, it did not discriminate between Member States. All would be eligible for election or re-election in accordance with the principle of sovereign equality. Second, it would increase the Council’s representativeness by changing the ratio of unelected to elected members from 1:2 to 1:4. Third, the text would enhance accountability through the mechanism of periodic election. Fourth, the alternative text was simple, proposing direct approval of Charter amendments. Fifth, it was realistic, with the ability to accommodate the interests and positions of all Member States, including the five permanent Council members and, thus, more likely to secure eventual ratification than the G-4 proposal.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said today’s debate was occurring at the right time. The Organization had been considering Council expansion for a number of years. Every stone had been turned over. It was time to conclude the deliberations, particularly since the Organization was moving into the final phase of preparations for the September Summit. Thanks to the intense work carried out by the Assembly, heads of State or government should be in a position, by September, to adopt measures in the areas of development, security, human rights and institutional reform, which would renew the entire United Nations. Council reform was a very important part of the overall United Nations reform process. The role played by the Council in peace and security was growing. The bulk of the Council’s work was to the benefit of the most fragile and vulnerable. Therefore, it was indispensable to enhance the effectiveness of the Council and that its membership better reflect the realities of today’s world.
To attain that aim, he said, France had supported the position that the Council needed to be enlarged in both permanent and non-permanent categories. It was necessary to increase the number permanent seats, and include other Powers that could make a major contribution to global peace and security. Africa had been able to establish a fruitful partnership with the Council in managing its crises. Four countries -- Brazil, India, Germany and Japan -- had tabled a draft resolution which fully met the needs he had referred to and which had resulted from lengthy consultations. On sensitive issues, such as the right of veto, the draft included appropriate provisions that were unambiguous. On that basis, France had decided to co-sponsor the text. He hoped it would be broadly supported when the main sponsors put it to the vote.
HJÁLMAR HANNESSON (Iceland) said his country had for many years advocated a more representative and legitimate Council, whose current composition neither mirrored geopolitical realities nor the increased membership of the United Nations. Iceland had constantly underlined the urgent need for Council reform and the need to bring it into line with changes that had taken place in the last 60 years. Africa must, for example, have permanent seats, a change that Iceland had repeatedly stated was long overdue. Iceland agreed with the Secretary-General that it would be wise to decide on Security Council reform before the September Summit.
His country’s position on the Council’s working methods was well known, he said, and its effectiveness must not be compromised. The comprehensive reform of the Council must place emphasis on improved working methods, not only on its composition. Improved working methods, including more transparency, were important to all Member States, not least the smaller ones. The vast majority of Member States could rally around the proposed improvements in the Council’s working methods as they were written in operative paragraph 8, (a) to (i), of the proposal contained in document A/59/L.64. Implementation by the Council of those provisions would enhance its transparency, inclusiveness and legitimacy, thus adding to the understanding of its decisions by all Member States.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said Africa had acknowledged the need for the Council to be better representative of today’s realities. Africa had remained without permanent representation on the Council. Conscious of the need to ensure Africa’s legitimate rights to equitable representation, the heads of State or government of the African Union, at its recent summit in Libya, had decided to reaffirm their strong commitment to the Ezulwini Consensus and adopted the Sirte Declaration. The African common position on Council expansion stated that Africa’s goal was to be fully represented in all decision-making organs of the United Nations. The African heads of State or government also approved a draft resolution on Council reform, which resolved to increase membership from 15 to 26, with increases in both permanent and non-permanent categories; improve its working methods; and accord new permanent members the same privileges as the current permanent members. The African Group would table that text shortly.
ISIKIA R. SAVUA (Fiji), noting that his country was a co-sponsor of the draft, expressed support for efforts to advance the reform through a proposal asking Member States to make serious decisions for forward movement on the enlargement process. The key objectives of the review clause -- to look again at the Council’s working methods and membership in order to make it more broadly representative of the realities of power distribution in today’s world -- were reflected in the text. It was time to make firm and decisive commitments and to allow the process to make momentous leaps, to ensure that tangible outcomes were arrived at by the time of the September Summit.
He said Fiji’s support of the draft resolution was based on its confidence that the outcome would enhance the democratic and accountable nature of the Council and would bring into its decision-making process countries more representative of the broader membership, especially of the developing world. Fiji further recognized the value and degree of their contributions to the United Nations system in general, peace and security, and the significant role they had played in the development of those less fortunate than others. Security Council reform had been discussed continuously for well over a decade, and debated substantially in the last few years. To delay the process further would not only stagnate the approval of other important issues, but would also send a wrong message to the world that Member States preferred to wait rather than seize the day.
WANG GUANGYA (China) said Council reform should be multifaceted, including both the enlargement of the membership and the improvement of working methods. At the same time, the Council’s authority and efficiency must also be ensured. The Council’s enlargement must give priority to increasing the representation and voice of the developing countries. Those countries constituted over two thirds of the Organization’s membership, but were seriously underrepresented on the Council. He firmly supported the increase of the representation of African countries on the Council. In addition, any enlargement formula must ensure that small and medium-sized countries had more opportunities to serve as members of the Council and participate in its decision-making. Furthermore, the Council’s enlargement must uphold the principle of geographical balance and reflect the representation of different cultures and civilizations.
Differences surrounding the enlargement formula of the Council were showing a tendency of further expanding instead of narrowing down, he said. The “Group of Four”, the “Uniting for Consensus”, the African Union and the United States had all put forward their ideas. The Assembly was still far from a formula that could accommodate the concerns of all sides or one that could win widespread support. He was firmly opposed to setting an artificial time frame for Council reform, and rejected a forcible vote on any formula on which there existed significant differences. He added that Council enlargement should not distract from the consultations on other important reform proposals. He was convinced that Member States still had time to achieve a broad consensus on Council enlargement. The key lay in genuine political will and a spirit of compromise on all sides.
ANDRZEJ TOWPIK (Poland) said the United Nations system must adapt to the current international realities and that the changes should be of both a conceptual and institutional nature. By the first measure, the Organization had already adopted the Millennium Declaration, and the second part would be determined at the September Summit.
Africa and Latin America should have permanent representation on the Council, he said, and only bold decisions, taken at the right time, could save the reform process, which had taken well over a decade. By proceeding and deciding on Council reform, Member States would give a clear signal that they were prepared to undertake a real reform of the entire United Nations system. The authority of intergovernmental organizations did not rest in the number of their members but in their political will. The time had come to take a resolute decision reflecting the changed times.
CÉSAR MAYORAL (Argentina) noted that the proposal by the G-4 was not the only one concerning Council enlargement. Among the other proposals was that presented by Pakistan, on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus, and supported by Argentina. He could not deny that countries were under pressure to discuss a text which had not met with any consensus and sidelined major protagonists of the Organization. The United Nations was created to represent a democratic system, as a multilateral parliament for debate. The debate on Council reform was a negotiation process that had not been formally concluded. It was necessary to avoid exerting pressure and rushing into a vote which would divide Member States.
Since the establishment of the United Nations, he said, Argentina had felt there should not be different categories of membership. The international community had accepted that discrimination in 1945 for reasons of historical need, which had nothing in common with the realities of 2005. The G-4 proposal created discrimination and formed artificial hegemony throughout regions, and endangered the work of the Council. It granted disproportionate weight to regional groups that already had disproportionate weight. The Council had failed to impose peace in many cases due to conflicting views among its permanent members. How could the Council be made more effective by adding six more permanent members? he asked.
The most effective measure would be to add more non-permanent members, he said. The future of the United Nations was jeopardized if States were forced to vote on a draft proposal that did not meet with the support of the existing permanent Council members nor enjoyed universal agreement. Must all States pay for the eagerness of a number of States that sought to increase their prestige by attaining permanent membership on the Council? The Uniting for Consensus proposal avoided all those obstacles and supported an equitable regional approach. He called on the co-sponsors of document A/59/L.64 to refrain from calling for a divisive vote and expressed support for the Uniting for Consensus proposal.
BEATRIZ PATTI LONDOÑO (Colombia) said that an open-ended broad debate was the best possible way forward in reforming the Security Council, and there should be no deadline set on reaching agreement.
She said her country had always expressed its opposition to the veto and had voted against it at the founding San Francisco conference. The veto did not reflect the Charter principle of sovereign equality of States and for that reason Colombia supported the inclusion of new Member States only as non-permanent Council members. There must be greater accountability and more fluid dialogue with the General Assembly. A number of groups and countries had submitted draft resolutions which should also be considered. Colombia had worked towards forging consensus on a Security Council expansion that would allow the principle of equity.
ANDERS LIDÉN (Sweden) said a reformed Council was one of the more daunting tasks and one of the most important. The composition, size and working methods of the Council needed to reflect today’s realities to be perceived as relevant and legitimate. Therefore, a decision was urgent and should be taken before the September meeting. Non-action was not an option. Council reform needed the broadest possible support to be considered legitimate. He sympathized with the aspirations of the G-4 to expand their representation on the Council. He had some concerns regarding two aspects of their draft, as he wanted to see a Council that was more legitimate, effective and accountable.
First, he fully supported the recommendation of the Secretary-General not to expand the veto power, he said. Sweden’s preference was to limit the use of the veto and promote a “veto free” culture. Introducing new veto rights, even if circumscribed, as in the current G-4 draft, would not be a step in the right direction. Second, he welcomed a review clause, but would like to see it further strengthened and made periodic. Such review could take into account criteria relevant to the obligations of Council members to contribute to international peace and security. Fulfilling those criteria would add legitimacy for continued permanent status. Thus, he would prefer to see an explicit mechanism, one which made it possible for other Member States to review the performance of the new permanent members and which, with the support of a two-thirds majority, made it possible to replace them if they failed in their responsibilities.
JARMO SAREVA (Finland) said the September Summit would provide a unique opportunity to take decisive steps towards implementing the Millennium Declaration and meeting the Millennium Development Goals while at the same time ensuring a safer and more secure world. It was of the utmost importance that all countries bear the responsibility in implementing the commitments made at the Millennium Summit. The forthcoming Summit would also present a unique opportunity to modernize and adapt the United Nations to the challenges of the new century. The existing momentum for institutional reform must not be lost. While stressing the importance of the General Assembly and the need to reinstate its political stature, as well as calling for a stronger role for the Economic and Social Council, Finland also supported the reform and enlargement of the Security Council.
Any reform of the Council must aim at increasing both its legitimacy and its effectiveness, he said. A truly effective Council should also be seen as more legitimate by the wider United Nations membership. A more representative and, thereby, more legitimate Council would, over the long run, be more effective in carrying out its functions. Finland, therefore, supported an enlargement of the Council in both the permanent and non-permanent membership. However, for the Council to be more effective and legitimate, the right of veto should not be extended to the new permanent members under any circumstances, and the Council’s working methods must be made more transparent, inclusive and legitimate. Finland would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
GIAN NICOLA FILIPPI BALESTRA (San Marino) said that draft resolution A/59/L.64 gave way to a situation that could limit the participation of small and medium-sized countries in the Council. The G-4 failed to provide the international community with evidence that the Council, as they foresaw it, would be as or more efficient. How could a Council with more countries that could exercise the veto be more efficient? Also, the G-4 resolution did not focus enough on the improvement of the Council’s working methods, which should be one of the priorities of the reform. In that regard, he expressed support for the paper presented by Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
He supported the principles contained in the proposal presented by Uniting for Consensus, which showed a much more flexible approach. With that proposal, the Assembly would maintain the right to elect the non-permanent members. Also, that proposed resolution would ensure a frequent rotation of small and medium-sized countries, enhance accountability, increase the representation of developing countries, and allow countries to be re-elected.
GEDIMINAS ŠERKŠNYS (Lithuania), noting that his delegation had chosen to co-sponsor the draft resolution, said that while it was not perfect, it was the only viable draft on the table, enabling the composition of the Security Council to reflect the actual growth of the United Nations membership over the years, and giving the Council added legitimacy by increasing the number of both permanent and non-permanent members. In fact, the text offered improvements to all regions, including the group comprising the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, a region that had seen its membership almost double over the past decade or so and which had witnessed some of the most dramatic and impressive political and economic transformations of recent years. Most importantly, the draft offered a decent chance to improve the developing countries’ representation on the Council, by adding new permanent seats for which Africa, Asia and Latin America should be eligible. Perpetuating a reality dating back to 1945 could not improve the Council’s ability to respond more effectively to the challenges of the twenty-first century.
Permanent membership was a privilege, but it was first and foremost a responsibility to contribute significantly and systematically to international peace and security, he said. Lithuania had, therefore, consistently welcomed the proposals to give an opportunity to countries that had the resources, the capacity and the will to make a meaningful contribution to the Council’s work to participate in its decision-making on a continuous and permanent basis. By introducing a review clause, the draft resolution offered a real possibility to further adapt the Council to constantly changing international realities and to make sure that the new permanent members made good on their word.
PETER MAURER (Switzerland) emphasized the need to treat the following three questions with increased clarity. First, his country was opposed to granting the right of veto to new permanent members. The process of adapting the Council to new international realities must not involve strengthening its anachronisms. The G-4 resolution introduced welcome restrictions, but still contained ambiguities which should be lifted. Second, he supported the idea proposed by Sweden to enable a genuine periodic review of the Council’s composition by Member States. The decision to add new permanent members would be rendered easier if Member States had the possibility to periodically voice their opinions on its composition.
Third, on the Council’s working methods, he felt the draft did not address three concerns which were particularly important. First, it should no longer be possible for the current permanent members to exercise their veto when the Council was called on to act on cases of genocide, large-scale massacres, ethnic cleansing or other grave breaches of international humanitarian law. Second, the Council should abstain in every possible way from exercising a legislative role. Third, when sanctions regimes adopted by the Council included lists of individuals or entities, the sanctions committees should establish precise procedures to allow for reviews to be conducted regarding those individuals or entities which claimed to be placed, or kept, wrongly on such lists. He suggested that those proposals be included in the draft resolution convinced that they would increase the number of countries which could support the text.
ENELE S. SOPOAGA (Tuvalu) said the time was ripe for Member States to decide for a more equitable and representative Security Council. Unless the question was addressed now, it would become the “fork in the road” in ongoing efforts to achieve more comprehensive reforms in the United Nations to enhance development, collective security and human rights for all. Tuvalu supported, and had agreed to co-sponsor, the draft in the conviction that it was fair and balanced, and advanced the basic recommendations of relevant United Nations reports and extensive debates. More importantly, it also provided for a more representative Council and one that was effective in discharging the Council’s primary responsibility to ensure security for all countries, big and small, weak and strong.
He said that for Tuvalu, like many small island developing States, security was not simply a matter relating to international terrorism or biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. Its security also related to, and was already threatened by, the adverse impacts of environmental degradation, in particular of climate change and sea-level rise. The increased intensity and frequency of environmental disasters caused by global warming were already inflicting serious injury to the nation’s survival and undermining the basic human rights of its people to live on their islands. Actions by those who caused the problem were urgently needed.
SOLVEIGA SILKALNA (Latvia) said she had co-sponsored the draft resolution, and supported new permanent seats. The continuity and stability provided by permanent seats could enhance the overall effectiveness of the Council. She welcomed, in particular, the creation of an additional non-permanent seat for the Eastern European Group. She also welcomed the inclusion of a review process and the shelving of the question of the veto. The Assembly had spent many years pondering the issue of reform without achieving a consensus. It must make use of “this rare window of opportunity”.
DAW PENJO (Bhutan) said his country had co-sponsored the draft resolution because it presented concrete proposals to reform the Security Council and it was now time for the General Assembly to take decisive action in that regard. The draft resolution sought to achieve a fair and equitable balance in the permanent category of the Council’s membership, making it possible for countries from all regions and those with different levels of development to serve. The proposals on working methods were the most comprehensive so far, and provided the scope for small countries like Bhutan to make useful contributions. It was to be hoped that world leaders would gather in September to give new direction to the United Nations by implementing the proposals.
* *** *