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General Assembly – Informal Meetings on IGN

Statements delivered on June 6 and 7 by Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, on behalf of the “Uniting For Consensus” Group, at the Informal meetings of the General Assembly on the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Council —

– 06.06.2018 –


On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, I wish to thank you for convening this fifth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council reform, focusing on the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly, and on the size and working methods of an enlarged Council. We fully agree on the need to discuss these reform clusters: our deliberations must encompass all key issues of the reform process, even those where we have been able to identify greater convergences within the membership.

After all, commonalities included in the Revised Elements paper are neither unchangeable nor perfect, and must be considered under constant revision for the sake of their better definition and accuracy. In this regard, let me give you a concrete example of a commonality that is pertinent to the clusters under examination today, and that no doubt needs deeper consideration.

According to commonality 3.a, the total size of an enlarged Council should ensure a balance between representativeness and effectiveness. However, para. 3.b on Issues for Further Consideration shows that Member States have different views on how this balance can be obtained. In other words, we agree on the importance of a balance, but still need convergence on what that balance should look like.

As for the UfC group, our position is clear: we want a reformed Council where both representativeness and effectiveness are equally improved; any future balance between these two principles should not be achieved by strengthening one to the detriment of the other. And, as we stated on several occasions, we firmly believe that only with a reform centered on non-permanent seats would the Council become both more representative and more effective, creating a new dynamic between elected and existing permanent members.


The enlargement of the Security Council will impact its functioning, but it need not change the formula it uses to take decisions. We believe the solution can already be found in the UN Charter, and that the Council’s decisions should continue to be made on the basis of Article 27, maintaining the current 60% of affirmative votes.

Our position is therefore in line with the commonality on the majority required for decision-making. However, we need to point out that 60% of the 26-member Council proposed by the UfC, is 15.6. Accordingly, the affirmative votes required would be 15 or 16, and not 14, as currently indicated in the examples included in the footnote. While this is a minor error that the Co-Chairs can easily rectify, let me note that this is another example of why we need to constantly refine the commonalities of the Revised Elements paper.

Further on this subject, we support the Co-Chairs’ inclusion in paragraph 6.c of a reference to Small Island and Developing States. But this begs the question: what is the criterion to follow on deciding when and where to alter the commonalities, as well as other paragraphs of the document?


In your May 18 letter enclosing the latest revision of your document, Member States were advised that you had worked “to incorporate the points that were least contested and reflect the widest possible agreement”. While fully sharing your approach, we wonder why – conversely – the most contested points, reflecting the strongest disagreement among Member States had not been removed from the commonalities section.


“The ownership of the document by the membership”, which you refer to in your letter, means that this document – though your prerogative, reflecting your understanding of the process – should build exclusively on the proposals and positions advanced by Member States. More precisely: the proposals and positions of all Member States.

Our opposition to the inclusion in the commonalities section of the second part of paragraph 4 on categories of membership has been reiterated repeatedly since last year and represents the element of strongest disagreement our group has with this document. We should ask ourselves if those who insist in preserving the so-called “constructive ambiguity” contained in this document are truly committed to an early reform of the Security Council, as they often claim.

Summing up: (1) commonalities need to be constantly refined; (2) they must include elements proposed by all Member States; and (3) they must refer only to truly shared elements, enjoying the widest possible support. Co-Chairs, we look to you to apply this recipe for clarity and progress.


The UfC supports a relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council that is both complementary and mutually-reinforcing. In this framework, allow me to stress that, for our group, is essential to have a Council more accountable to the wider membership, and that a basic prerequisite for enhancing accountability is the periodic election of all new Council members by the General Assembly.

Therefore, while we can now see the UfC compromise solution based on longer-term seats included in the revised paragraph 6j of the Issues for Further Consideration, we are disheartened to note the removal from the your document of another model based on periodic elections – the option of “expansion of non-permanent seats only”. This is indeed an instance in which enhanced institutional memory of the IGN would be beneficial, as suggested in the new paragraph 1.d. Meanwhile, I refer you to the statement I delivered on behalf of the UfC group during the IGN meeting on 8 May 2017, when I recalled that our original position in favor of an expansion only of the 2-year non-permanent seats remained valid if others chose not to reciprocate in UfC’s search for compromise.

As we explained last year, this means that if, during our negotiations, a stronger preference of the membership emerged for an expansion based on current non-permanent seats – hence without seats with a longer term – the UfC would be ready to support this formula as well, since it would be centered on elected members only. The proposed regional distribution of additional seats would remain the same, as per our compromise solution based on longer-term non-permanent members.


Our request for deletion of paragraph 6j has never been meant to hinder the evolution of your document. It has instead been based on our conviction that to properly reflect the positions of Member States, due regard must be given to both nuances and the variety of proposals on the table, as proven by the existence of several options centered on elected members.

Moreover, we believe that a similar number of nuances exist among those supporting expansion in the permanent category of seats. We recall those Member States who support new permanent members but asked “where is my position?” after reading paragraph 6j. There must be a place for those who would not support the creation of new permanent members at any cost, and certainly not at the cost of an extension of the veto.


We trust that the inputs and proposals we have put forward today will be reflected in the Revised Elements under your current Co-Chairmanship. The Revised Elements paper is a work-in-progress and our search for those elements that can lead us to an early and consensual reform of the Security Council will not stop here. On these premises, the UfC will continue to do its part over the 73rd session, as we will illustrate tomorrow during our discussion on the future of the IGN process.

Thank you.


– 06.07.2018 –


As this IGN session comes to an end, I wish to thank you on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group for this occasion to jointly reflect on the future of this reform process. The question underlying this meeting is: “What should we expect from the IGN process in the coming years?” We believe that the answer requires some preliminary thoughts.

There is an undeniable added value in the IGN setting: it provides a space for the constructive engagement of all Member States, hence our discussions can be held in a transparent and inclusive manner, and it has led to incremental, consensus-based, progress. This concept was also captured last year in the Co-Chairs’ document, affirming that, “The IGN process should build on the work done in previous years, so that convergence will increase gradually, with a view to garner the widest possible political acceptance.”

In this perspective, we acknowledge that the unfolding of the IGN has met those expectations. Transparency and inclusivity have always been ensured, and incremental progress, largely consensus-based, has been achieved. Progress, in particular, has become more visible in recent years, being reflected in the Co-Chairs’ final documents. But our deliberations have also had an impact on current working methods of the Security Council: in a way, the IGN has already fostered improvements in the Council’s performance.

This does not mean that we should be satisfied with what we have obtained. We share the frustration with the pace of progress in this reform process. In our attempts to best advance the IGN process, we should identify the causes of this situation, or – if you prefer – “who is to blame?” The Presidents of the General Assembly and the IGN Chairs who have served in the past ten years? Or perhaps the IGN setting itself?

The truth is that the missing elements for tangible progress have nothing to do with this forum, rather with the Member States: political will, flexibility and spirit of compromise. If this is true, modifying the IGN – or even abandoning it for a different negotiating format – would not make any change to the dynamics of our collective work. Previous attempts in this regard failed and distanced ourselves from the goal of the reform.

Some Member States are convinced that these factors – flexibility and compromise, in particular – can emerge only while negotiating on a text. The UfC provides proof that this assumption is wrong. The evolution of our position over the years about the additional seats in a reformed Council speaks for itself: 2-year seats only; 2-year seats with re-election; longer-term seats; and now longer-term seats with re-election.

Furthermore, our efforts to offer a viable option to those Member States willing to make a greater contribution to the Council never diverted our attention from smaller states, which led us to include in our revised proposal also a cross-regional rotating seat reserved to small states, including SIDS.

What has prevented other negotiating groups from showing the same flexibility and seeking a compromise solution? This is the real question for today’s debate.


Over the years, our group has tried to match our participation in IGN meetings with a series of informal consultations with other negotiating groups. The purpose of these consultations has been to explore possible common ground, as a complement to the IGN’s efforts to reduce the gaps within the membership. This is a path we found very productive, and that we will continue to follow.

One of the most recurrent refrains we have heard in our informal exchanges can be summarized with the following question: “How many more chances will we have to serve in an enlarged Security Council?” Looking ahead, we believe this very concrete question should be much more central to our future debates.

We need to properly address the request of – for instance – all Eastern European countries wishing to rotate more frequently than once every 22 years in the Council, or of all Arab countries that are asking for a more proportionate representation than the only “swinging seat” they currently have. This is just to mention two groups you are more familiar with. But we could add the call of over 60 countries – mainly small states and SIDS – that have never served in the Council and will very rarely do so without facilitated access.

However, rather than focusing on the interests of the wider membership, our discussions have been centered for years – counter-productively – on what in all evidence is the obstacle to reform: the claim of some for an increase in the number of permanent members. This is the only truly contentious point and the only reason the Security Council has yet to see a reform.

We therefore believe the ultimate option to best advance this process is to remove the obstacle to a reform based on existing broad convergences among Member States, which are: (1) there is no Member State disagreeing with the idea of expanding the number of non-permanent seats; (2) all Member States agree that such an expansion of seats should favor under-represented regions of the world; and (3) a very significant and growing number of Member States has opposed an expansion of the veto and instead supports its limitation.

On these premises, we invite all Member States to work with the UfC in a manner that takes into account all views. We owe these efforts to those who believe in a renewed Organization, and thus in a modern Security Council that is more representative, democratic, accountable, transparent and effective. The UfC will continue to do its part to advance a consensus-based reform that enhances the Council’s legitimacy and authority.

Thank you.