24 July 2006
General Assembly Concludes Two Day Debate on Security Council Reform; Speakers Say Expanded Council Vital to UN Credibility Effectiveness
NEW YORK, 21 July (UN Headquarters) -- Concluding the two-day debate on Security Council reform this evening, having heard from 86 speakers, the General Assembly's Acting President, Cheick Sidi Diarra (Mali), noted an "almost unanimous" position that the status quo was not viable and that reforming the Council in a way that addressed both its expansion and working methods was vital to that body's increased authority and legitimacy, and to the credibility of the United Nations as whole.
He said it was plain from the debate that there was a "genuine resolve" to undertake Council reform flexibly, in order to win the consent of the broadest possible membership. In terms of how to continue consideration, several speakers believed the time was right to do so and had expressed the wish to complete the process right away. However, he encouraged continued consultations on the question and a sharing of views with him, so that everyone could work together to achieve that important facet of the Organization's reform.
With a number of proposals for Council reform on the table since last year, frustration was mounting over the pace of progress and persistent divisions in approach. Echoing the sentiments expressed by many previous speakers, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said that, despite recent significant reforms, such as the creation of the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, failure to reform and expand the Security Council was a "glaring shortcoming". As long as the appeals, indeed, the demands, of a majority of Member States for such reform remained unfulfilled, assumptions about the Council's legitimacy would ring hollow. In fact, nothing illustrated the imbalance of power structures in the Organization better than the Security Council, and in that imbalance, developing countries were the "greatest victims".
Asserting that the Council no longer reflected today's geopolitical realities, but rather a 1945 balance of power that was obsolete, Nauru's speaker said that inaction in simultaneously reforming all principal organs of the United Nations was a "kink" in the system, which would only weaken the Organization's structure and erode its effectiveness. The present global upheaval demanded that the issue be addressed urgently and without further delay. Her delegation had co-sponsored the so called "G-4" draft resolution, which was still the only proposal that provided a proper and complete framework for a modification of the Council's structure. Moreover, it was the only text that protected the interests of all countries, large and small, and without bias to any particular region or group.
The "Group of Four resolution" (document A/59/L.64), introduced on 11 July 2005, by Brazil, together with Japan, Germany and India, all of whom are aspiring to become permanent members of the Council, would have the Assembly increase the Council's membership from 15 to 25, by adding six permanent and four non-permanent members. The new permanent members would be elected, as follows: two from African States; two from Asian States; one from Latin American and Caribbean States; and one from Western European and other States. As for the four new non-permanent members, there would be one each from the following groups of States: African, Asian, Eastern European, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Republic of Korea's representative shared the views expressed in the text tabled by the so called "Uniting for Consensus" group, as the best way to advance the goals of Council reform. Specifically, the group called for an increase in non-permanent, elected seats, rather than the addition of permanent members. He said the "Uniting for Consensus proposal was fair, constructive and pragmatic, because allowing regional groups to determine their own methods of rotation provided more opportunities for Member States, large and small, to serve on the Council.
Regarding working methods, he welcomed the proposal of five Member States, the so called "S-5" on various ways to enhance transparency, accountability and inclusiveness. He hoped that transparent talks would help build consensus.
Favouring the African proposal of 18 July 2005, which would enlarge the Council in both the permanent and non-permanent categories by granting Africa two permanent and five non-permanent seats, and increasing the Council's membership from 15 to 26, Sudan's representative said he sought comprehensive and system-wide reform, which took account of the changes in the modern world, while respecting the aspirations of the developing world, particularly Africa. He cautioned against allowing the climate and deadlock of earlier discussions from discouraging Member States at achieving a consensus on the question. At the same time, he expressed dismay at the Council's "encroachment" of areas outside its competence, while it failed to meet all of its responsibilities fully. In some complex situations, the Council had been impotent, further underscoring the need for its reform.
While the United States supported expanding the Council, change should not be taken for change's sake, its representative said. Rather, it should increase the Council's effectiveness. A look at the Council's agenda for the past week showed how important it was for the Council to be able to respond quickly. One reason it was efficient was its size, which allowed manageable debates. The process of considering drafts was more complex and time consuming in bodies with a larger membership. The Council would be more effective with Japan as a permanent member, as that country was the Organization's second largest contributor, a strong democracy and defender of human rights. Meanwhile, proposals to amend the Charter had not gained the required support, but only hardened positions and divisions, and consensus was no closer than a year ago. The time might be right to move beyond stalemated proposals and find a new way to look at the issue.
Additional speakers in today's debate were the representatives of Kazakhstan, India, Cyprus, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, El Salvador, Libya, Myanmar, Greece, Ethiopia, Maldives, Nepal, Viet Nam, Bhutan, Venezuela, Fiji, Honduras, Norway, Solomon Islands, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Romania, Andorra, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, Benin and Malta.
The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue its resumed debate on the question of Security Council reform. For details of the proposals on the table, please see Press Release GA/10484 of 20 July.
JOHN BOLTON (United States) said he supported expanding the Council, but change should not be for change's sake. Rather, it should increase the Council's effectiveness. A look at the Council's agenda for the past week showed how important it was for the Council to be able to respond quickly. One reason it was efficient was its size, which allowed manageable debates. Resolutions could be worked through, line by line, in such a way that views could be expressed. Such a process was more complex and time consuming in bodies with a larger membership.
He said the Council would be more effective with Japan, the Organization's second largest contributor -- a strong democracy and defender of human rights -- as a permanent member. During the past year, the current proposals had not gained the required support to become a charter amendment. Time and energy had been expended on an issue that had hardened positions and hardened divisions and consensus was no closer than a year ago. The time might be right to move beyond stalemated proposals. Some of the key actors in the current debate would need a new way to look at the issue.
In the area of working methods, he said a number of changes were needed. The Charter gave the Council sole authority over its own working methods. During the past year, it had re-energized its Working Group on Documentation and Procedural Other Questions. Earlier this week, it adopted a series of practices to improve transparency. His delegation would continue to support the efforts of the working group in the coming months.
YERZHAN KAZYKHANOV (Kazakhstan) said that, such a sensitive issue as Security Council reform should be resolved on the basis of a broad international agreement. The Council must be made more representative, effective and accountable to the wider United Nations membership. Kazakhstan continued to support an expansion of both permanent and non-permanent seats. The present composition of the Council did not sufficiently reflect contemporary geopolitical realities. Enlargement of the Council in accordance with the principle of equitable geographical representation, while taking into account the contribution of States towards the development of the world economy and global security, served the interests of many States, and would facilitate a comprehensive reform of the United Nations.
He said the Council should continue to adapt its working methods, in order to make its work more transparent and democratic. In that context, he welcomed the efforts made by the S-5; their proposals on the Council's working methods deserved careful examination. He also welcomed the work of the Council's Working Group, which included efforts to enhance the efficiency and transparency of the Council's work, as well as stronger interaction and dialogue with the United Nations membership.
NIRUPAM SEN (India) said the Security Council had not been able to address peace and security problems, including in the Middle East. The Council needed to concentrate on effectively addressing those problems, rather than doing things the Charter did not mandate it to do. The divide between the permanent five and the rest of the Member States was tremendous. There had been no real progress, given the current correlation of power. Until that changed, it was impossible to foresee that the United Nations would fully change. It was no coincidence that revitalization of the General Assembly had been frustrated along with Security Council reform. Some Member States failed to recognize how the world had changed since 1945.
He said ownership was extremely important, but, substance and distribution of power should not be confused with machinery or method. Ownership was not a matter of consensus, but of distribution of power, and the limitation on arbitrary power must be resolved in any reform of the Security Council. Many Member States believed a situation where a limited group of five States controlled power could not continue. Reform of the Council should not be a power game. The logic of the reform process inexorably pointed to the need for an expansion of permanent and non-permanent members.
He said an interim solution was not enough, nor was change for change's sake. The existence of more permanent members would not necessarily result in more optimal decisions that were free of pressure or coercion. There was an attempt to refashion the General Assembly in the Security Council's image, where decision-making was done by a charmed circle. He said it was important for small States to participate in subsidiary bodies of the Council. Half of Member States had never served on the Council, and his proposal would ensure a place for small states.
He said the greatest encroachment of the Security Council was in lawmaking itself. The Charter did not confer any judicial powers on the Security Council, and it could not confer judicial powers to any body, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
He said it was important to have a Council that would give Member States a sense of power, but not a coercive and arbitrary power. For that reason, it was important to look at expanding permanent and non-permanent members and improving working methods at the same time. It was not about reaching an arithmetical figure. Broad agreement was done one step at a time.
ANDREAS DE MAVROYIANNIS (Cyprus) said that, the Council's overhaul needed to be far-reaching and must be based purely on substantive criteria, with a view to increasing collective security and effective multilateralism. That was the only credible and promising alternative. The Council's effectiveness in maintaining and/or restoring international peace and security was the primary source of its legitimacy. That body had to fulfil its responsibility in accordance with international legitimacy. Beyond balanced representation of the realities of political, economic and military power, the Council also needed a more equitable representation of the international community as a whole, in all its diversity. Further, transparency, accountability and further involvement of the relevant stakeholders and States concerned ensured that local realities were duly factored into the decisions. That was a necessary element of the reform process. Uniform standards, fairness, equal treatment and credibility were also significant in responding to the global expectations.
For those reasons, he said, it was necessary to go beyond the issue of respective functions and competencies of the principal organs, and adopt an integrated approach, taking into account the interdependence of the issues and the finality of United Nations action. The reflection should not be in terms of powers and competencies, and a marking of respective territories, but, in terms of partnership, complementarities, synergy and contribution to the achievement of the Organization's goals. Legitimacy was the key word for Cyprus. That applied to structural reforms of the Council, as well as modifications to its working methods. Council reform would render the United Nations more relevant in today's world realities and challenges. Although it had not been possible to reach agreement yet, the three-draft resolution tabled had crystallized the debate and reflected major interests. He also noted with interest the results of the Council's informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions. The "S-5" group of States had introduced some very interesting ideas, at least from the perspective of small States.
HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia) said the Security Council needed to be reformed in a comprehensive manner, both in terms of its working methods and expansion of its membership. He was dismayed by the lack of political will and selectivity in addressing the various aspects of reform, with particular disinterest in areas concerning the Security Council. While enlarging the membership was conceivable, at least on paper, the reality was that it would be a difficult process, because of the required Charter amendment. Moreover, the various changes under consideration would undoubtedly improve the legitimacy, but, certainly not the effectiveness. Therefore, the best hope for meaningful change lay in reinforcing pragmatic adaptations in working methods and in exploring new ones. The discussion on the working methods should not be linked to discussion on expansion.
He said the S-5 continued to give good justifications as to why their draft resolution, contained in A/60/L.49, should be adopted. Malaysia, in principle, supported that draft, though it would have preferred stronger formulation on the use of veto, which should eventually be done away with, in conformity with the principle of sovereign equality as envisaged in the Charter. The exercise of the veto by the permanent five should be regulated, so as to prohibit the power being used at the sole discretion of its holder unjustly to overrule the wish of the majority.
He said that, he hoped the draft resolution could be adopted during the current session. Those who continued to oppose any reform of the Council had the moral responsibility to explain to the larger membership the reasons behind their decisions. The recent developments in the Middle East and the lack of action by the Council further demonstrated why it needed to be reformed. Malaysia fully supported expanding the Council in both membership categories, based on geographic distribution, to make it more representative and reflective of current geopolitics. If there was no agreement on expanding the permanent membership, the Assembly should proceed on the expansion of the non-permanent membership, while keeping the other issue on the active agenda.
PRASAD KARIYAWASAM (Sri Lanka) said that, Member States were "duty bound" to consider the issue of Council reform on an ongoing basis. It was imperative, therefore, to continue to achieve progress, particularly towards making the Council's composition much more equitably representative, and its working methods much more transparent. The composition did not currently reflect the geopolitical and economic realities of today's world. For several years, and at the highest levels, his country had expressed its concern over the lack of progress in addressing the question of equitable regional representation and, had indicated its preferences for increasing the membership in both the permanent and non-permanent categories. He, once again, reaffirmed his support for the initiative taken by Brazil, Germany, India and Japan for expanding the membership. He had also expressed his wish to see consensus emerge on representation from Africa. Equally important was to sharpen the focus on the question of non-permanent membership.
He said that reform of the Council should address both its expansion, as well as improvement of its working methods. The ongoing initiative of several Member States to improve the working methods should be encouraged, with a view to achieving progress, as early as possible. In order for any reform to succeed, it was essential to conduct broader consultations, taking into account the legitimate concerns of all Member States, and aimed at building consensus. With innovation, compromise and determination, it was not impossible to seek a convergence of views. Reforming the Council to reflect the new political and economic realities would go a long way towards enhancing that body's legitimacy and efficacy. What was needed now was collective political will to work towards genuine reforms.
JOON OH (Republic of Korea) said he shared the position of the "Uniting for Consensus" group, that the best way to achieve the goals of Council reform was through an increase in non-permanent, elected seats, rather than through the addition of permanent members. The so called United For Consensus proposal was fair, constructive and pragmatic. Allowing regional groups to determine their own methods of rotation provided more opportunities for Member States, large and small, to serve on the Council. Regarding working methods, he welcomed the proposal of five Member States on various ways to enhance transparency, accountability and inclusiveness. Hopefully, efforts to improve the working methods could help build consensus and create a spirit of cooperation. A constructive dialogue among all Member States was necessary. He was ready to engage in serious negotiations with any country, in order to achieve the common goal "in the right way". Council reform was a key aspect of the Organization's reform. He looked forward to open and transparent negotiations.
PETER BURIAN (Slovakia) said he was firmly committed to Council reform. That body needed to be made more representative, more effective and more transparent. It should be enlarged in both categories of its membership, as the present structure was clearly imbalanced and did not truly reflect the current world situation. Enlargement in the permanent category should also include countries of the "global South". Only such expansion would rectify the existing imbalance in the composition. Several developing and industrialized countries with political and economic potential had "staked a claim" for permanent membership. He reiterated his explicit position that an enlarged Council should include Germany and Japan as new permanent members.
Echoing the sentiment of several previous speakers, he agreed that the working methods should also be enhanced. Some progress had already been made in that regard towards making the Council's work more transparent. He supported the outcome of its informal Working Group. Mandate review was another essential element of the World Summit's reform agenda. That would help make the Council, and the whole Organization, more relevant, efficient and effective in its work. The Council's ad hoc committee on mandate review had as its objective to facilitate a practical and real review of the Council's existing mandates. Reform of the United Nations was not easy. At its core was Security Council reform. Despite the major obstacles, Member States should not relent in their efforts to achieve a meaningful reform of the Council, so that it could continue to play an effective role as the focal point for the resolution of conflicts.
CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO HERNANDEZ (El Salvador) said the international community was going through a critical time in the area of peace and security in many parts of world, which created an urgent need for Council reform. Her country firmly supported an adjustment in the number of members and in the Council's working methods. Modern geopolitical realities, which were riddled with immense challenges to peace and security, demanded a greater degree of responsibility for all Member States and challenged the international community to find a solution that would be supported by all Member States.
She said that, thus far, there had been deadlock in discussing the two reform models that were put forth at last year's Millennium Summit. A transparent process of negotiations to reform the Council was a responsibility shared by all United Nations Members and not the privilege of one group of countries in particular. In an increasingly globalized and independent world, the breakdown of peace and security, in any part of the world, affected all countries. The decisions that the Council made or failed to make would have increasing repercussions. The Council had an incomplete task in the Middle East. The uncontrolled soaring of oil prices had forced many developing countries to divert resources they would have used for development to buying fuel. By focusing on gradualness, the Member States could generate a climate of mutual trust, which would permit more profound negotiations over other substantive issues and succeed in creating a fully democratic, transparent and inclusive Council.
MARLENE MOSES (Nauru) said she was most heartened by the progress achieved, thus far, in implementing the World Summit's outcome. Despite that progress, however, Member States had not yet reformed all the pillars upholding the United Nations system. Reform of the Council had been on the Assembly's agenda for more than a decade, and virtually all countries agreed that it should be enlarged, but they had failed to reach agreement on the details of that expansion, or on the working methods. She was disappointed when the issue was put aside to make way for the other aspects of reform. Inaction with respect to simultaneously reforming all principal organs of the United Nations created a "kink" in the system, which would only weaken the Organization's structure and erode its effectiveness.
She said that present global upheaval demanded that the issue be addressed urgently, and without further delay. The Council no longer reflected today's geopolitical realities, but rather, a 1945 balance of power that no longer existed. Her delegation had co-sponsored the so called G-4 text, which was still the only draft providing a "proper and complete" framework for change to improve the Council's structure. It was the only draft resolution that protected the interests of all States, large and small, without bias to any particular region or group. At the same time, she did not expect the five permanent Council members to relinquish their veto right. Nor did she expect the new permanent members to share the same privilege. She welcomed the number of substantive drafts -- some already tabled, others not -- but, each called for a change in both the Council's composition and working methods. She called on all proponents of those texts to come together quickly, in order to bridge the "gap of familiar" differences through constructive dialogue, open-mindedness and flexibility.
ABDURRAHMAN EL GANNAS (Libya) said Security Council reform was important, given the challenges to international peace and security. Many deaths had been caused by the Israeli war machine, which launched against Palestinian land, and Lebanon, under the pretext of the right of legitimate defence. It was regrettable that the Security Council was unable to adopt energetic measures to end those killings. The responsibility of the United Nations to maintain peace and security could not be exercised without democratic reform, particularly of Security Council, which was not democratic. Its prerogatives must be transferred to the General Assembly, which was a more objective body. The General Assembly was the representative body of the peoples who made up the United Nations and was particularly concerned with maintaining international peace and security.
Within the context of lack of equity, he said he must maintain the African Group demand, since it was the only continent without permanent representation within the Security Council. Africa should be given two permanent seats with veto rights, and it should also obtain five non-permanent seats. The review of selection criteria for candidates was the responsibility of the African Group itself.
YASIR A. ABDELSALAM (Sudan) said that, the issue of Council reform had "fallen into oblivion", as it no longer topped the list of priorities in the reform of the Organization. However, that was the main thrust of the reforms designed to restructure the United Nations and to enable the Security Council to respond to and tackle current challenges, and shoulder its responsibilities. He sought comprehensive and system-wide reform, taking into account changes in the modern world, while respecting the aspirations of the developing world, particularly Africa. The climate and deadlock of earlier discussions should not discourage Member States from addressing the issue of Council reform, because it was vital to arrive at a consensus. Everyone should look dispassionately at the benefits of Council reform and display a sense of responsibility and flexibility. He greatly regretted the delay in reforming the Council -- indeed, the blockage in that process -- especially in light of the call issued by world leaders in 2005.
Stressing those efforts should be stepped up to honour that commitment, lest the "reform edifice" collapse, he said that much had been invested in reforming the Council. He was also dismayed at that body's encroachment in other areas of competence, while not fulfilling all of its responsibilities. He underlined the complex nature of some situations, which, in many ways, represented a genuine threat to international peace and security. In some of those situations, the Council had been impotent. Thus, the need for its reform was absolutely necessary. Reform of the United Nations, overall, was particularly urgent, in light of the tragic events, unfolding in the Middle East. In that situation, the Council had remained impassive, a spectator awaiting intervention by some other body. The veto should be eliminated, as that had led to many civilian deaths. He endorsed the African position, and he was committed to a fruitful dialogue leading to all necessary strategic reforms.
KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) said he continued to believe strongly that Council reform must be comprehensive. Expanding that body must be accompanied by further improvements of its working methods and decision-making processes, in order to make it more transparent and democratic. Member States had conferred on the Council the primary responsibility for maintaining world peace and security; it must be reformed to better serve the interests of the entire membership. He appreciated the initiatives of recent years by the Council, itself, to promote transparency and improve its working methods, including the adoption of a note by the President concerning improvement in that regard. He also noted with interest the recent initiative by five members -- the so called S-5 -- who had tabled a draft resolution on the working methods. Also welcome had been the frequent open debates, which enabled non-members an opportunity to express their views. He urged the Council, in adopting texts on those debates, to fully take into account the views of the non-members.
He said that greater participation in the Council's decision-making and in the work of its subsidiary organs would promote transparency in the important work entrusted to the Council. With the gradual broadening, in both the volume and scope of that work, however, came an encroachment on the powers and mandates of the General Assembly. He fully subscribed to the positions of the Non-Aligned Movement of countries on the cardinal need to uphold and respect the Charter, and other principal organs of the United Nations. As the reform process continued, it must be ensured that Council Members adhered to the Charter and resisted any attempt to discuss issues that did not threaten international or regional peace and security.
ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece) said part of Security Council reform was improvement of its working methods. In that respect, Greece took note of the S-5 proposals. Likewise, intensive efforts were made during the past few months in the Security Council informal Working Group to enhance the Council's efficiency and transparency, as well as its interaction with non-Council members. He welcomed the Council's endorsement of the Working Group's recommendations and urged it to fully implement them. Thus far, it had been impossible to achieve consensus on any of the proposals for Council enlargement, but, he welcomed the African Union's efforts to facilitate the relevant discussions.
He said he continued to believe that comprehensive reform and expansion of the Council would bring it in line with contemporary realities, and reinforce the collective security system of the Charter. He favoured enlarging the number of permanent and non-permanent members, which would enhance the Council's multicultural and multidimensional character and, render it more representative of the world we lived in. Greece reiterated its support for the G-4 draft resolution and encouraged all Members to work together with the view to reach an agreement that could be supported by the largest possible majority of the Organization. Security Council reform could not be further delayed, and he hoped much-awaited action could be taken by the end of the year.
TUVAKO N. MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) said that, despite recent reforms, the failure to reform and expand the Council remained a "glaring shortcoming". All assumptions about good governance and legitimacy would always ring hollow, as long as the appeals, indeed the demands, of a majority of Member States for Council reform remained unfulfilled. He welcomed efforts undertaken, thus far, to improve that body's working methods, and he hoped that exercise would continue. He also commended the initiative of the S-5, urging reform of the working methods. He had every reason to believe that the initiative enjoyed significant support within the larger United Nations membership.
On the question of equitable representation and an increase in membership, he regretted that the diligent labour of the Assembly President and other facilitators had not paved the way to a solution to that pressing question. Nothing better illustrated the imbalance of power structures in the Organization than the Security Council. Its expansion was not only a question of governance, but, of inclusion in decision-making and of greater legitimacy. Maintaining the status quo was not in the membership's interest. In that imbalance, developing countries were the "greatest victims". That lack of equality in representation was what Africa sought to address. Many of the difficulties the continent faced were of its own making, but those difficulties were exploited by others. That challenge could still be overcome.
NEGASH KEBRET (Ethiopia) said Security Council reform was an initiative to bring the Council in line with the realities of international politics at the beginning of the twenty-first century. All agreed that the Council must improve its "representativeness" to better reflect today's world. Such reform should also enhance the Council's democratization, its accountability, credibility and efficiency. Member States had discussed Security Council reform in this forum for more than a decade, only to arrive at no consensus on how to expand it, though some progress had been made on the issues of procedures and working methods. Security Council reform should unite, not divide, the Member States. The international community must work hard to create consensus on that item, and on the ongoing United Nations reform process as a whole.
He said Council enlargement must be consistent with the sovereignty of States and equitable regional representation. Any expansion in Council membership should ensure enhanced representation of the African continent. The Council needed to reflect present world realities and become more responsive to the aspirations of the Member States, including Africa. It was high time for Member States to re-engage themselves in a more strengthened fashion to address Council reform. The strong momentum created in the previous deliberations of the issues should not be loosened by other United Nations reforms, although they were equally important.
AHMED KHALEEL (Maldives) said that, the resolve to reform and revitalize the United Nations had never been stronger. His country had always supported the Council's enlargement, both in the permanent and non-permanent categories, as well as a thorough examination of that body's working methods. He acknowledged the work done by the Working Group in that regard. And, he was fully convinced that a more transparent and representative Council would strengthen its authority and effectiveness. While he remained open to the various proposals before the Assembly, he felt that the G-4 proposals were a good basis for a settlement of the issue. Sound multilateralism was crucial in the quest for a better world, in the age of globalization. Strengthening the United Nations role in maintaining international peace and security, fostering economic cooperation and harmonizing global action towards a better future was not an impossible task.
ARJUN BAHADUR THAPA (Nepal) said that, Council membership should be increased in both the permanent and non-permanent categories to reflect the reality of the contemporary world. In that context, the aspirations of Brazil, Germany, India and Japan to serve on an expanded Council as permanent members merited serious consideration. The bid of the African countries for representation as permanent members also deserved serious consideration. Separate arrangements should be made for enlarging the Council, in order to ensure greater participation of small Member States on the basis of the role those had played, or the potential role they might play, in the maintenance of international peace and security. In the interest of progressing, expansion in the non-permanent category should be made, even if it took more time to take decisions on the permanent category. There was no doubt that it was easier to address the less complicated issues.
He said that improving the Council's working methods was no less important than enlarging it. The proposals of the S-5 contained many useful ideas. He also appreciated the note from the Council President on efforts to enhance the efficiency and transparency of that body's work. The working methods should be transparent, inclusive, effective and efficient. It should be ensured that no organ of the United Nations crossed the "red line" of its powers and functions, as accorded to it by the Charter.
LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam) agreed with several previous speakers that, without reform of the Council, no reform of the Organization could be comprehensive. At the same time, no reform of the Council could be comprehensive, absent any of its two equally important elements, namely its composition and working methods. He was flexible on the sequence of the steps to be taken, but, in the end, both of those aspects of the Council required modification. The existing shortcomings in the working methods resulted from its existing composition. Since the early stage of the ongoing debate on reforming the Council, his delegation had joined the overwhelming majority of Member States in proposing that membership be increased in both categories, and that developing countries, which constituted two-thirds of the Organization's total membership, be more adequately represented on the Council. Increase or no increase, however, it was "not about sharing a cake or a piece of a cake". The change in the Council's membership must not be an end in itself; membership change must help achieve the final objective of ensuring the legitimacy of that body's actions.
He said that the Non-Aligned Movement had repeatedly made clear that altering the membership should be accompanied by the adoption of measures that genuinely ensured democracy, transparency and accountability. Pending the veto's eventual elimination, its exercise should be limited to actions taken by the Council under the Charter's Chapter VII. The draft resolution tabled by Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Jordan, Singapore and Switzerland was a fine basis for continued effort to improve the working methods. He pledged his continued commitment towards making the Organization stronger and more responsive to realities.
DAW PENJO (Bhutan) said that, the G-4 proposal met the expectation of the wider United Nations membership to make the Council more effective and reflective of the current global situation. It also contained proposals to change the working methods, in order to make the Council more transparent and inclusive. The proposal, thus, was a good basis on which the Assembly should proceed with that all-important task of bringing the Council in line with contemporary realities and challenges. Reform of the Council was long overdue, and the Assembly must seize the opportunity provided by the G-4 proposal. Through that process, hopefully, the Assembly would be able to evolve a formula that would command wide support.
FRANCISCO ARIAS CARDENAS (Venezuela) said he firmly supported United Nations reform, given the need to democratize the organization and bolster the General Assembly, its most representative body. The Council should be reformed to make it more representative of the international community and, more reflective of current geopolitical realities. The number of permanent and non-permanent members must be increased, and developing countries should be included among the new permanent members. Enlargement should also set out to achieve better representation of developing countries.
He said the right of the veto should be eliminated, and said he looked forward to the outcome of consultations between the members of the G-4 and the African countries on achieving a joint position on Council enlargement. Council reform should also be extending to matters involving its agenda, working methods and decision-making processes. The participation of non-Member States must be enhanced, and the number of private meetings kept to a minimum. More open debates were needed. The Council had a habit of making decisions immediately after the interventions of non-member states. Members should listen and then consult before making decisions, so that debates could be genuine opportunities to take various opinions into account.
He said the Council's agenda should focus on international peace and security threats, while avoiding issues that might encroach on the General Assembly or other organs. The Council had increased its recourse to Chapter VII as an umbrella to cover issues that did not immediately threaten international peace and security. Chapter VII should only be a last resort. The Council had been quick to authorize action in certain situations, but silent and inactive in others. Pending the ultimate objective of ending the right of veto, its use must be limited, including through methods of overcoming vetoes. It was not possible that one out of 192 Member States should prevent the United Nations from taking action on the maintenance of international peace and security, as had happened after the recent attacks by Israel on Palestine and Lebanon.
ISIKIA SAVUA (Fiji) said that, in today's world, torn by war and strife, a stronger, more effective and representative Council had every Member's interest at heart. To lend it the credibility and legitimacy that body deserved its membership must be more representative, including permanent representation of members from both the developed and developing worlds. To "hang on" to an old structure, shaped by the world as it was in 1945, would not suffice. Already, many saw the Council as the "exclusive domain of the privileged few". He was worried that the energy and momentum towards reform was quickly waning. Frustration was slowly creeping in, and until something constructive was achieved from the exchanges, the outlook for real reform remained dim.
A few countries seeking to avoid any decision on the matter took refuge in claims for consensus and in allegations about the disruptive nature of the issue, he added. Their actions would only contribute to perpetuating the current inequalities in the Organization's structure, and dampen the aspirations of members eager to bring about a more balanced distribution of power. He continued to support draft resolution L.46.
IVAN ROMERO-MARTINEZ (Honduras) said he firmly supported all endeavours that sought to render the United Nations organs more efficient, modern and responsive. Honduras remained committed to important areas in which action was necessary -- development, peace, collective security, human rights, rule of law, and a clear strengthening of the United Nations system. The international community had elaborated important positions and glimpsed delicate solutions, which the modern world needed.
He said the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and the new Human Rights Council represented promising steps forward in bolstering and improving institutions, but, the world community still faced the challenge of increasing the United Nations authority and efficiency. Also, a fresh impetus must be given to its intergovernmental organs to adapt them to the vital needs of the twenty-first century, which demanded an adequate level of cooperation and coordination. Honduras continued to support speedy reform of the Security Council, and was eager to cooperate in all efforts that contributed to strengthening the organization and make it more transparent and efficient. Above all, a greater participation of Member States participating on an equal basis for a peaceful solution of controversies must be fostered.
BERIT ENGE (Norway) said his main priorities had been to ensure that the Council operated "coherently and efficiently", and that its composition reflected the current configuration of the Organization's membership. The Council should reflect the growth in the overall membership, in order to ensure its legitimacy and efficacy. His country was also an advocate for the interests of small countries in the rotation of non-permanent seats, as well as for the representation of African, and Latin American and Caribbean countries. They had all been underrepresented in the Council. That meant that Norway supported a balanced expansion of the Council in both categories, where small and developing countries were duly represented.
He said that it was not possible to discuss expanding the Council without also addressing the question of veto rights. He had consistently encouraged permanent members to refrain from exercising that right. In order to ensure an efficient Council, his view had been that veto power should not be extended to the new permanent members of an enlarged Council. He, therefore, welcomed earlier statements made by the G-4 that their intention was not to exercise the right of veto. Reform of the Council was more than a question of expansion. Equally important was improving its working methods. In that regard, the draft of the S-5 sought to improve the dialogue between the Assembly and the Council. While the text fully respected the Council's competencies, it positively pointed to areas where cooperation should be deepened. An enhanced and structured dialogue between the Assembly and the Council would lead to a strengthening of both.
COLLIN BECK (Solomon Islands) said that several proposals for Council reform were on the table. Now, everyone must consider what could be done, and, in doing so, do justice for their people, while allowing the Council to increase its legitimacy and be more responsive to today's security threats. After all, there were countries that could not afford to wait -- vulnerable countries living with threats of conflict. Those, in particular could not afford the delay in attaining a more representative Council. Both the enlargement issue and the working methods must be given equal attention. The G-4 draft resolution was comprehensive enough to serve as a basis for negotiations. He identified with the elements of that proposal, as well as with those contained in the S-5 text. Nothing happened without cost, and, hence, those capable of doing more should step up to the challenge and play a more prominent role in preserving peace.
ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People's Democratic Republic) said his country favoured increasing both permanent and non-permanent members, and representing developed and developing countries, on the basis of equitable geographical representation, while taking into account the relative importance of different countries. Reform of the Council must include measures to make its decision-making process more transparent. Africa, a large continent, was not represented in the permanent membership, which was a major injustice. The people of Africa deserved full respect. Within the reform process, everything should be done to ensure that an enlarged Council included permanent and non-permanent members from all regions, including from Africa.
He said major changes had taken place in the world since 1945, and the Council should adapt itself to the new global realities. All must work together to reform the Council and make it more legitimate, transparent and effective.
ABDESSELAM ARIFI (Morocco) said that, decisions surrounding United Nations reform had experienced "splits" around the question of enlarging the Security Council. Decisions taken by the world leaders in 2005, however, should be followed up. Significant progress had been made in that regard, particularly through the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council. Those examples should motivate everyone to maintain the momentum in addressing Security Council reform. All reforms had been achieved by consensus. That had illustrated the desire of the entire membership to strengthen the institution, and adapt it to the current state of international relations, after 60 years of change. As in the past, he continued to believe that everyone would gain from a more balanced and representative Security Council, with improved working methods and greater transparency. That would increase the Council's authority and legitimacy.
He said that, the quest to reform the Council had been the subject of a number of specific proposals, particularly from the informal Working Group headed by Japan. He commended that body's work, as well as the text proposed by the S-5. While seeking to increase the Council's membership, it should also be ensured that it remained effective and able to fully meet its responsibility. Further divisions should be avoided. He fully understood the legitimate aspirations of countries to participate in the Council on a permanent basis, but, whatever the outcome of that debate, the Council should extend consultations beyond its members to all concerned countries, as well as to troop-contributors. Also, given the religious- and culture-based divisions underpinning many of today's crises, enlarging the Council should be based not only on geographical distribution, but also on differences among communities based on culture or belief.
MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said that, the fact that approximately half of the entire United Nations membership had presented its views on Council reform in July was rather unusual. Evidently, reforming the main world body remained "very high up" on the agenda for many Member States. So was the implicitly broader political and institutional reform of the Organization, which should be accorded adequate priority as well. It was seldom mere functional adjustments that fostered the goals of genuine and effective reform. Clearly, a change in the Council's composition would better reflect today's geopolitical realities. He commended Japan's dedicated effort to find ways to improve that body's working methods. He was ready to embark on a meaningful consideration of enlarging the Council's composition, while preserving the features that made it effective and credible.
He said that "favourable political winds" seemed to be blowing in the direction of pursing such expansion. Echoing the position voiced by Armenia's representative, on behalf of the Eastern European Group, he wished to put on record that he considered the share allotted to his region in the proposals discussed so far to be "minimalist". Without a fair share in the eventual outcome, no representative of the countries of the region would be in a position to persuade political and popular constituencies to partake in the proposed enlargement. Some among the 23 countries of the region deserved a seat on the Council; they would not accept "oblivion of what they stand for anymore". All nations, small, medium and large, whether from the North or South, should take the journey of Council reform together.
JULIAN VILA-COMA (Andorra) said Council reform was still incomplete. Despite recent discussions, the situation was compounded by a decade of negotiations aimed at adapting it to the Organization's changing needs. The response could not be postponed. United Nations reform without Council reform would be incomplete and would compound existing imbalances and dysfunctional elements.
He said reform must be based on a broad consensus regarding greater representation of all countries, as well as on principles that better represented the world's current realities. As for the Council's working methods, he welcomed its adoption of the President's Note, which demonstrated unanimity on the need for improvement. He supported the S-5 resolution on improving the Council's working methods, which would be an excellent tool to make the Council's work more dynamic, transparent and participatory, while preserving its power and prerogatives.
FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said he supported the principle of equitable geographical representation in the Security Council and among both permanent and non-permanent members. The Council must be enhanced, so that it could meet its responsibilities. The Council could prevent conflicts before they arose and caused the death of many individuals. It was extremely important to avoid unilateral decisions taken by States, however powerful they may be. Member States must work collectively, because the Council was responsible for international peace and security. The international community must also respect its resolutions.
He said all States must be treated equally, and the prestige of the organization and its credibility, both of which had been damaged so much in recent times, must be maintained. If recommendations were not implemented, they would continue to be simple theories and ideas. It was important that all Member States take up their responsibilities and play a role in a logical and rational way.
SUSANA RIVERO (Uruguay) said she was still optimistic about the Council's reform, but that would involve a significant effort by all. She agreed with the need to reform that body, in order to adapt it to current circumstances and because any human creation must evolve. The membership should be increased, but that should be done in a way that made the Council more effective, democratic and transparent. Thus, she attached particular importance to improving its working methods. The calls issued in that regard had been unanimous, and she was sure, therefore, that tangible results could be swiftly achieved. The supported the S-5 proposal, and hoped that all Council Members were working in the same direction. She also looked forward to implementation of the recommendations of the Working Group headed by Japan.
She said that human rights issues were no longer anyone's exclusive domain and, nothing should prevent implementation of the principle of the responsibility to protect. She fully agreed with previous speakers that, in all cases of genocide or other humanitarian "disasters", collective action should be undertaken by the Council without the threat of veto. She could support the model submitted by the G-4, without the inclusion of the veto. She would collaborate with the necessary flexibility in future negotiations.
JEAN-FRANCIS R. ZINSOU (Benin) said it was difficult to understand why Council reform remained deadlocked, given the wide agreement that it was needed. It was clear that the Council's membership and its working methods were not adapted to geopolitical realities. It was time to undertake a new cycle of negotiations, in an inclusive and participatory way, to establish greater representation and legitimacy. Africa, which suffered most from the Council's current make-up, had clearly expressed its legitimate demands. The longer it took to achieve enlargement of the Council in both categories of membership, the longer the injustice against Africa would continue.
In that same spirit, he said Benin supported the candidacy of Germany, Brazil, India and Japan for permanent seats on the Council. Such an outcome would demonstrate their willingness to assume the responsibilities of being great powers and would recognize their contribution to international peace and security, as well as their support of the Organization's ideals. All methods to increase the Council's transparency should be undertaken without delay while awaiting its enlargement.
He said that working methods should be reviewed as a whole, including the use of the veto and the adoption of new rules of procedure once a new membership composition was agreed upon and implemented. He appealed for a new cycle of negotiation on substantive issues concerning enlargement, as it was vital to end the deadlock surrounding the issue.
VICTOR CAMILLERI (Malta) said rigid national positions needed to give way to the effort to reach a far-reaching reform in the international system. Small countries formed a sizeable and significant constituency within the United Nations membership, and their perspective was often more closely aligned with the principles of the Charter than those of larger States with specific national interests and objectives. For Malta the weaknesses that were eroding the efficacy and legitimacy of the Council struck home with particular urgency. Those instances where the Council's response was either late or ineffective represented for small States an erosion of what constituted the main safeguard of their own security.
He said that a meaningful reform process needed to grapple with the Council's inadequate accountability towards the membership as a whole, the partial way in which its membership reflected the United Nations membership and the sometimes lopsided nature of the criteria it applied in its responses to different situations. Reform must deal with the issues of working methods and of membership together. Accountability was not simply a function of reporting and transparency, but also of the method and manner in which membership was chosen. Timely and effective responses were affected by the availability, and abuse, of the veto power and also by the balance and range of representation within the Council membership.
He said that the action taken by the Council's working group was welcome, but inadequate. The approach taken by the S-5 was much more attractive, since it tackled critical and sensitive issues, such as the veto, head on. He did not believe that the way forward lay in a concentration on the question of permanent membership; rather, a more flexible approach was needed, one that examined formulas, which reaffirmed rather than eroded the principle of rotation. As a small State, itself, Malta was not convinced that an increase in the number of permanent members would create more space for the rest of the membership. An enlargement that earmarked some of the additional seats for permanent membership would be a lost opportunity for enhancing rotation in both principle and practice. The idea of permanent regional seats, as distinct from permanent national seats, offered a good method for accommodating the sometimes contrasting objectives of different members. To move the negotiations process away from its long-standing inertia, the idea of pursuing a transitional solution, combined with the idea of permanent regional seats, could offer a perhaps more productive avenue for discussion.
Acting President of the General Assembly, CHEICK SIDI DIARRA (MALI) noted that 86 speakers had taken the floor in the rich, two-day debate to respond to the appeal of world leaders in 2005 to reform the Council, as that was a key element in the overall reform of the United Nations. The Summit had also expressed the wish that the Council be reformed without delay, in order to render it more effective, transparent and democratic. The "spread of dialogue" and the relevance of the views expressed in the past two days were indicative of the "almost unanimous" position that the status quo with respect to the Security Council was not viable. Council reform, which needed to address both its enlargement and improved working methods, was vital to the credibility of the Organization as a whole, as well as to the Council's heightened authority and legitimacy.
He said it was plain from the debate that there was a "genuine resolve" to undertake Council reform flexibly, in order to win the consent of the broadest possible membership. In terms of how to continue consideration, several speakers believed the time was right to do so and had expressed the wish to complete the process right away. However, he encouraged continued consultations on the question and a sharing of views with him, so that everyone could work together to achieve that important facet of the Organization's reform.
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