On behalf of the “Uniting for Consensus” (UfC) group, allow me to first thank you for convening this meeting of the 10th round of Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform.
We expect the negotiation process to take concrete steps forward, and on behalf of UfC, I wish to reiterate our ongoing commitment to engage with flexibility and genuine political openness.
We are in an important phase of the process. In order to make progress possible, we would need to continue our efforts within the framework of Decision 62/557 to achieve a comprehensive reform of the Security Council. We look forward to a constructive and honest engagement to explore, through negotiations, ways of advancing towards a reform that would accommodate the interests of all Member States. We believe that in this process there is no space for unilateral moves or controversial initiatives that might vitiate the atmosphere and derail the negotiations. We would therefore like to reiterate our understanding and expectation – as specified during our meeting with you on 26 February and in our letter of 11 March – that in this process of negotiations, there will be no straw polls, nor would there be any summary or conclusions of the discussions in the forthcoming rounds. We would also like to recall our position that the discussions should be organized on the basis of consensus. The advisory group’s non paper does not constitute such basis. As it was evident from the IGN’s earlier debates as well as from Member States’ communications and discussions with you and the President of the General Assembly, the advisory group’s non paper is not a “text on the table” for negotiations. It is also not at par with the Chair’s document Rev-2.
We have taken note of your letter of 7 March. We share the emphasis you place on the interconnected nature of all the issues of Security Council reform. This is important in view of the fact that our collective objective is a comprehensive package reform, not piecemeal incremental solutions.
We take note of the fact that today’s discussion, dedicated to categories of membership, also includes – but, I would underline, not exclusively – “enlargement in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of membership”; “enlargement in the non-permanent category of membership only”; and “enlargement through the creation of a new category of membership, making membership terms immediately renewable.” It is well known that the options are more numerous, with important variations and different possibilities, as clearly indicated in Rev. 2 of the IGN working document, which contains all the proposals on the table for this cluster.
The Security Council has to be more representative, effective, transparent and accountable. I think it is safe to say that the entire membership stands by these principles. But it is not enough, because there is a critical issue to resolve: namely, how to achieve these four objectives. Some believe that enlargement of the Council by increasing the number of individual permanent seats is the right solution. The UfC, however, has strong reservations about this for the reasons I am about to put forth:
– A more representative Security Council is one with which the greatest possible number of United Nations Member States can identify, also through the concrete possibility of being seated periodically in the Council. To assure instead individual seats to a certain group of countries on a permanent basis, would do nothing (except for the privileged few) to make the Council more representative. While any new seats in an enlarged Council are to be allocated to the regional groups, it would make no sense that one or two countries occupy those seats forever.
– More than one third of the entire membership has never been a member of the Council. For them it is seen as an exclusive club for the few. Enlarging the Council through individual permanent seats would perpetuate the logic of exclusion.
– The representation deficit translates into lowered effectiveness. The Council’s effectiveness is also of a political nature: its decisions have to be believed and endorsed by the membership in order to produce the desired results. In other words, there has to be a bond of trust that can only be rooted in genuine accountability. Our Group maintains the view that only through periodic elections for membership in the Security Council can such accountability be achieved, an element which would be lost if new permanent individual seats are created.
– There is a lack of transparency in Security Council’s discussions and decisions. Key issues are often dealt with first among small groups of permanent members before coming to the UNSC for consideration. It remains the UfC view that expansion in the Permanent Members category will not serve to increase transparency in Council decision-making. Those who have traditionally supported greater transparency in the Security Council have been elected members. It is therefore legitimate to expect that new non-permanent members will strengthen our collective efforts for a more transparent Security Council.
– There is no objective possibility to identify a certain number of countries that, more than others, can advance superior claims to an individual permanent seat. Those laying claim to new permanent seats are already flanked by a number of other countries that have the will, the capacity and the proven record of making important contribution to international peace and security and therefore could legitimately aspire to a privileged seat. But they have consciously chosen not to do so because they believe that a reform that embraces new permanent seats would give rise to a Security Council destined to ossify rapidly and would not be contributing to the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members, a principle that should be taken into account and reinforced in every possible opportunity. We need a dynamic and flexible composition of the Council, able to adapt to the changing realities; not a rigid arrangement consolidating the dysfunctional patterns of the past.
The idea of expanding the Council to new individual permanent members, in short, does not work. In fact none of the models has the necessary numbers. For this objective reason the approach we must take is not to force our hand in favour of one model over the others, but rather to find common ground among them.
We therefore call upon all Member States to show the flexibility and openness necessary for this process to move forward. We believe that we need to build a pragmatic and action-oriented approach.
Pragmatism suggests that “give and take” among groups has to be multidirectional, moving towards a common denominator. We remain firm in our view that different groups cannot be expected to revise their positions, while others do not. We also reiterate that the claimed majority on this position does not exist.
UfC is the only group that has shown flexibility and willingness to “give and take” by moving from its original position and tabling two concrete proposals for Security Council reform, in 2005 and in 2009. Our overtures have not been reciprocated. It is time for others to show flexibility and help us explore common ground.
The only way out is a compromise solution, a solution that can garner the widest possible political acceptance, a middle road between those who favour an enlargement with individual permanent seats and those who, like the UfC, favour establishing non-permanent seats. Broad margins exist in the negotiations for a compromise: to find a reasonable common denominator among the various positions, all we have to do is work on the length of the terms and the possibility of immediate re-election and come up with a fair and equitable model that accommodates the positions and interests of all.
Let me say that we see as fundamentally different the legitimate aspirations of the African continent for equitable and strengthened representation on the Security Council because it is a demand on behalf of and for the entire continent and, as such, different from the individual pursuit of permanent seats by some. We believe in regional ownership and consensus, and therefore understand the African position, which is based on consensus. Unfortunately, there is no such consensus in other regions, where divisive positions carry the risk of exacerbating regional tensions. That is why we call for building convergences and promoting consensus.
UfC believes that it would be advisable to consider also the aspirations of particular categories of member states, cross-cutting traditional UN regional Groups, such as the States belonging to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League (within Africa and Asia) or the “Small States” and the “Medium Size States” or the “Small Islands Developing States” (within Africa, Asia, GRULAC).
To negotiate our way out of the deadlock, the UFC has proposed the Italy-Colombia Paper as a middle ground. This proposal provides:
1. New long-term seats
To be allocated to the regional groups, as follows: Africa, Asia, Asia/Africa (on a rotational basis), Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, Western European and other group/Eastern European Group (on a rotational basis). The new long-term seats would be distributed with the following alternative options.
– Option 1: term from 3 to 5 years without possibility of immediate re-election;
– Option 2: term of 2 years with a possibility of up to 2 immediate re-elections (to be eligible to run afresh, member states will have to give a break equivalent to the consecutive period served on the Council).
2. New regular non-permanent seats
Seats for a 2-year term to be allocated to Small states, Medium-sized States, Africa, Asia, Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, and Eastern European Group, without the possibility of immediate re-election.
Our proposal is an attempt to safeguard the interests of small, medium-sized and large states as well as regions. Let me confirm, once again, that ours is not a take-it-or-leave-it offer, it is a simple proposal subject to negotiation that we are ready to discuss and revisit for the sake of improving it and making it compatible with the legitimate aspirations of the majority of the membership. UfC wants to bridge the gap with other groups and I hope that our position will be reciprocated by all other groups. It is time for others to show flexibility to help us explore common ground.
Thank you Mr Chair