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General Assembly – Informal Meeting on “Intergovernmental negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council”

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group at the Informal meeting of the General Assembly on “Intergovernmental negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council” —

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, I wish to thank you for convening this fourth informal meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform.

Let me start by expressing my disagreement at some of the remarks made earlier on the way you, co-Chairs, are leading our discussions. I believe these remarks are not fair. We strongly appreciate your leadership in organizing the work of the IGN, properly reflecting the state of the discussion and providing timely information and a clear vision of the goal of each IGN meeting. We don’t see any “deviation from pattern”. We therefore support your decision to have a thorough discussion on the five clusters of the IGN as a whole, as well as their interlinkages, with the aim to identify possible areas of convergence. In previous meetings, as positions were explained and elaborated, some new ideas and suggestions were also proposed. This confirms, once more, that the discussion in the IGN is a productive one and that progress is possible.

In your letter you have asked us to identify possible further convergences based on the exchange of views we had so far. I would like to give some suggestions.

As regards the enlargement of the Security Council, it is apparent that wide divisions persist between respective positions. There is a widespread recognition of the legitimate aspirations of African Countries to be more represented in the Council. In this regard, let me repeat once again that the UfC group fully supports enhanced African representation in the Security Council. Even more so, we believe that Africa should become the best represented regional group through a democratic reform of the Security Council. In our proposal Africa would be the best represented regional group in the Council. I hope this clarifies the position of UfC and I would be glad to provide more details.

A considerable convergence was registered also as regards the aspirations of Small Island Developing States and small states to be represented in the Council. The UfC groups believes that a continued presence of SIDS and small States in the Council should be guaranteed.

On working methods, during the last meeting a good number of suggestions garnered wide support. First, more equitable distribution of penholdership and chairmanship of subsidiary bodies among permanent members and elected members. Second, the unanimous acknowledgement of the need to improve the transparency of the work of subsidiary bodies. UfC hopes that this wide support could help to promote implementing measures, as has been the case in the past.

Concerning the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly, there was a significant call to improve the content of the Security Council’s annual reports and to have a better format for their discussion in the General Assembly. Many Member States supported an increased cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as with other regional organizations such as the African Union, including its Peace and Security Council. We also believe that the new proposal to convene a meeting of the General Assembly whenever a veto is cast in the Security Council is worth further elaboration.

All of these suggestions lead in the direction of a more accountable Security Council. Let me recall how the UfC Group has always maintained that the election of non-permanent members strengthens the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly. We firmly believe that a basic prerequisite for enhancing accountability in an enlarged Council is the periodic election and rotation of all new Council members by the General Assembly.

Regarding your request to identify perceived gaps in how positions are reflected and suggestions for clarification, I would like to make the following remarks.

This round of discussions confirmed the opposition of the majority of Member States to the right of veto and a general call for the limitation of its use.

The right of veto is one of the key elements of the reform. Still, there is a certain degree of ambiguity in the positions of those who advocate for an expansion of the Council with more permanent seats, without specifying whether these additional permanent seats will have the right of veto, or not. On this issue we seek further clarifications. It should be also recalled that many Member States, who are in favor of an extension of both categories of members of the Security Council, at the same time are against any addition of new members with the right of veto.

On the issue of the categories of membership there is no consensus. The UfC Group remains opposed to additional permanent members. The current composition of the Security Council, with the P5, is the result of the system of international relations established at the end of WWII. Instead of reenacting the past, it is time for us to move forward, to achieve a Security Council that is truly representative, accountable, democratic, transparent and effective, consistent with the spirit of our times and with the need to strengthen its legitimacy and accountability. Beyond our different positions, the discussion has confirmed that there is a unanimous consensus on an increase in non-permanent seats and that there is a renewed interest for an “intermediate model”. The UfC Group strongly wishes that this could be the way to bridge positions and reach a greater convergence.

Finally, on the issue of regional representation, the proposal to establish regional seats and the modalities for the selection of regional representatives, could also be further explored.

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

Throughout the years the UfC has been adjusting its proposal, seeking to address the legitimate interests of all and to gain the widest support of the membership. We have constantly reached out to other Members States and negotiating groups, here in New York and in capitals – in Madrid in December and in Seoul in the coming days- to identify new convergences. We therefore share the frustration for lack of progress over the long awaited reform and we urge other Groups and Member States to show the same flexibility to overcome divisions and gaps. But the problem is not the format of the IGN and its procedures, it is the content of the different positions of Member States.

That is why we believe that the approach chosen by the co-Chairs is the right one. They need to listen to our discussion on substantive issues, more than on procedural issues. We are not tired of repeating that there are no procedural “short cuts” that can replace the hard work of forging a broad political consensus. Until greater consensus on the parameters of a reform has been achieved, negotiations on a text will only deepen divisions, risking to lock in positions and stall any progress in the IGN.

We consider the “Revised Elements of Commonalities and Issues for Further Consideration” as a co-Chairs document to wrap-up our discussions. It can be a useful guidance for further dialogue among Member States, but not a basis for negotiations. We therefore look forward to continuing our constructive and meaningful discussion during this and the last meeting of the IGN later this month.

The UfC Countries remain ready to engage with other negotiating groups and to search for a solution to bring forward a comprehensive reform. Let’s continue our work in good faith to gather the broadest possible convergence.

I thank you.