On behalf of the “Uniting for Consensus” (UfC) group, I join the previous speakers in thanking you for convening this fourth informal meeting of the 10th round of Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform.
Today’s issue is closely linked to other important aspects of the reform, namely categories, regional representation, decision-making mechanisms, and the relationship of the Security Council with the General Assembly – the theme we will discuss in more depth on 23 April.
I. The Size of the new Security Council
The size of the Security Council has a direct impact on the issues of representation – of both the entire membership and geographical groups – and effectiveness.
1. Representation: the ratio of UN Member States to elective seats within the Security Council has changed dramatically since the founding of the Organization, with a major impact on how representative this body actually is.
In 1945, there were eleven members of the Security Council– the P5 and six non-permanent members – out of a total of 51 UN Member States: A ratio of one seat per fewer than five UN Members. If we remove the permanent seats from the equation, this means that fewer than eight countries were competing for each elective seat.
With the reform adopted in 1965, the Council grew to fifteen seats, while the membership rose to 117, meaning there was one elective seat for every 11 States. Since that time the United Nations has grown exponentially: 76 new States brought the membership to a total of 193 members. These figures imply that today 19 States compete for each elective seat. It is therefore undisputable to affirm that there has been a major narrowing in each Member State’s possibility of acceding to the Council since the time of the San Francisco Conference.
Other important elements emerge when we consider this data by region. In the African Group there is one elective seat every 18 members. In the Asian Group the ration is of 26 States per elective seat. In the Eastern European Group 22 Countries compete for a single seat.
A better accessibility to the Council is therefore an evident problem that must be addressed. The G4 argue that some Countries have “greater responsibilities” than others, and thus deserve a different, higher status, regardless of the principle of sovereign equality enshrined in the Charter. On the contrary, our discussions on the size of an enlarged Security Council demonstrate that the responsibility in the maintenance of peace and security is shouldered by a much wider group of Countries. It would therefore be very difficult to assert which Country could deserve, more than others, to have a right to sit permanently in the Council.
Consequently, in our view, the only forward-looking solution is to set aside the idea of creating new permanent national seats. Instead, we should add new non-permanent seats, which would allow the under-represented regions and all those with greater responsibility in the maintenance of peace and security a greater chance to serve in the Security Council.
2. Effectiveness: the enlargement of the Security Council will undoubtedly have an impact on its functioning and its effectiveness. Since too many seats would hamper the mechanisms of a collective decision-making organ, we have to seek a proper balance between increased representation and enhanced functionality.
Let us compare it to other bodies of global governance. The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund consists of 24 Members out of a total 188 Member States. The Board of Directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development consists of 25 Directors out of 188 Member States. On organs of political governance, the Board of Governors of IAEA has 35 Member States, out of a total of 162 Members. The International Civil Aviation Organization has a Council consisting of 36 of its 191 Member States. The Council of the Food and Agriculture Organization has 49 Members out of the 194 total membership. The European Council, consisting of 28 Member States, makes its decisions on the basis of consensus.
The examples provide the numerical range we should ponder. In each case, we are dealing with bodies that function despite the fact that they are much larger than the UN Security Council.
3. Size: All the main proposals being examined today envisage an enlarged Security Council of at least 25-27 members, and only few Member States still refer to a “limited expansion”, without more precise indications.
In any case, the consensus is broad on the need to adapt the Security Council to today’s reality, and this objective can be reached also (but not only) by increasing its members. UfC is not calling for an individual seat and is therefore ready to consider any proposal, within the limits of a reasonable and workable enlargement. As for the type of additional seats, our position is well known: only by expanding the non-permanent seats – within regional groups and maybe also other categories of States yet to be defined – we can combine more equitable geographic representation with increased access to the Council.
II. Working methods
At a time of growing frustration and concern over the persistence of violent crises, improved working methods are also crucial to enhancing the Security Council’s ability to carry out its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.
More transparency, openness and inclusive decision-making are areas where improvement is undoubtedly needed. We need to instill in the International Community a greater sense of ownership of the Council and need to correct the misperception that it is a self-directed body. Let us not forget that it is the elected members who have traditionally supported improved working methods, legitimizing our belief that new non-permanent members will strengthen the collective efforts to improve working methods of the Council.
In recent years many improvements have already been made to adapt the Council’s working methods to changing realities. Some interesting ideas for further improvements emerged during the open debate in connection with the agenda item “Implementation of the note by the President of the Security Council (S/2010/507)” of last October 29. These proposals are all equally worthy of consideration and we are ready to discuss them in the following interactive part of this meeting.
Since we keep hearing references to the so called non-paper of the Advisory Group of the PGA and to summaries of the Chair, we feel compelled to reiterate our position on these issues: it is 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. The discussions should be organized on the basis of consensus and 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.
When we discuss size and working methods, we automatically raise other key issues of the reform. This is why, once again, we re-affirm that only a comprehensive reform can grant the Security Council the greater legitimacy it deserves. We seek a reform that goes beyond the national ambitions of few Countries and that responds to the greater interest of the International Community: increasing the effectiveness of the Security Council in preserving and maintaining peace and security.
Thank you Mr. Chair.