On behalf of the “Uniting for Consensus” (UfC) group, I join the previous speakers in thanking you for convening this sixth informal meeting of the 10th round of Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform.
I would now like to turn to the theme of today’s session. These two months of negotiations have shown dynamism on all the key issues, which are interlinked and cross-cutting, although we have to recognize that there are still clear differences and key points of the reform on which positions are still far apart. Above all, we have to recognize that, at this stage, none (and, I underline, none) of these visions is capable of gathering the broad support needed to complete this exercise.
At the same time, the informal meetings have allowed to find points of convergence and compromise on which we should build on.
1. Many different options have been put forward on categories and criteria of membership. There are delegations, such as the G4, that support the creation of a new category of national permanent seats without the veto, an individualistic approach that has proved controversial and divisive. The African Group is asking for two permanent seats with the veto and a total of five non-permanent seats, a position based on regional consensus that has gained the respect and understanding of countries from other regions as well. Other proposals, such as that of UfC, support expansion only in the non-permanent category, a formula that has also attracted the interest of some Countries in the Eastern European Group. Within each of these options there are various alternatives.
Many questions have been raised. Are there specific criteria other than elections for selecting Council members? In this context, again, no objective criteria have been put forward to identify new national permanent members, which we oppose. The only objective way possible to assure accountability and legitimacy is periodic elections.
In our discussions there has been a growing demand for better representation on the Council, especially of Small States, since they represent around one-fourth of the UN membership. Small States are increasingly involved in issues concerning the maintenance of international peace and security as well as old and new threats. Our negotiations should reflect this fact by identifying ways to ensure the direct access of Small States to the Council. UfC envisages a seat for them and is keen on hearing other groups’ proposals to meet this need.
The real and new dynamic that, in our view, emerged from these last meetings is the renewed interest expressed by many delegations in exploring alternative approaches or compromise solutions, given that no particular model enjoys today the required support. This dynamic needs to be exploited, if we wish to achieve progress.
2. On the veto there is almost unanimous belief that the issue is closely linked to the other key aspects of the reform, beginning with categories.
There is a clear way forward here, too: building from the widespread wish to find ways to reform the current veto mechanism, in order to improve the decision-making process of the Council. We are convinced that this should be one of the focuses of future deliberations and not be deferred –as proposed by the G-4- to a later phase of the process, as if it were a secondary matter rather than a fundamental issue.
In any case, allow me to underline, that particularly on the veto issue, the entire membership will have to establish a fruitful dialogue also with the P5, in order to identify a viable, realistic, solution.
3. All delegations, Mr. Chair, have mentioned the correlation between the size of an enlarged Council and its effectiveness, representation, legitimacy, and accountability. Should the expansion be limited to 20/21? To the mid-twenties? To the low thirties? How will we account for the proportionality between Council members and UN Members? Size versus effectiveness?
Here, too, we can identify an area of convergence: the growing support for the expansion of the Council to the mid-twenties or more, not less. According to Member States from every group, this would not harm effectiveness while allowing the Council to be more representative, accountable and legitimate. But it is one thing to agree on numbers (both the G4 and the UfC, for example, converge on the idea of around 25 seats). It is another thing entirely to decide on the most appropriate model for enlarging the Council: in this limited space for expansion, where every seat counts, can we afford to allocate further seats permanently to a few countries, at the expense of the rest of the membership? Obviously not.
And what if we have to work with lower numbers? Do the various models on the table have the flexibility to adjust? Will that adjustment be just and equitable?
4. Negotiations have also shown almost unanimous support in favor of the reform of the working methods. Delegates have expressed, inter alia, common support for more transparency in decision-making; more access to information through open briefings and interaction between the Council and all interested and concerned parties, including regional organizations; more open meetings and informal consultations; more access to and better participation in the Security Council of Member States who are not Council members. Delegates have also asked for mechanisms to ensure that the views and interests of Member States affected or concerned by any matter on the agenda, including Troop and Police Contributing Countries and host countries, are heard and taken into account in the work of the Council. Let us not forget, in this regard, 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.
5. There have been different perspectives on the issue of the regional dimension in the Council. Should we talk about equitable geographical distribution or regional representation? Or even regional seats? Or, better, seats allocated to Member States from a region on a rotational basis? Should seats be allocated to regional institutions? What about inter-regional and cross-regional seats?
In the past meetings, some have argued that the UN Charter makes no reference to regional representation but only to equitable geographical distribution. This is true. But we believe that a mention to the regional dimension should be made because this concept is one of the most innovative elements in international relations and therefore a reformed Security Council should take this into account. We believe that in order to enhance regional representation, States should be seated in the Council on a rotational basis to represent regional interests. It is simply disingenuous to ask for seats in the name of regions, while aiming to see them occupied on a permanent basis by individual countries. All seats sought in the name of a region should remain available for all members of that regional group.
The way forward is to examine this issue through the lens of greater accountability of the Council to the whole membership.
6. Improving the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly and other UN organs has been identified as a precondition for making the Council more transparent and accountable. Regional representation and an increase in the number of elected members would also strengthen the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly.
Member States from every group have outlined areas that need improvement. The main ones are: annual and special reports of the Council to the General Assembly; an enhanced relationship between the Security Council and the other main organs of the UN, also through regular and institutionalized consultations, cooperation and adequate exchange of information; and an expansion of the Council’s consultation and cooperation with regional organizations and countries of a region that is under discussion in the Council.
These, Mr. Chair, are elements where there has been strong momentum in the negotiations so far and we should not underestimate them in all the key issues of the reform. We should continue in our negotiations guided by Decision 62/557 and by the principle that negotiations are based exclusively on proposals by Member States, which have full ownership of this process.
I wish to reiterate, once again, that we cannot accept a summary of the just-concluded negotiating sessions that contains evaluations on supposed or perceived majorities and minorities towards the different proposals, with the sole purpose of favoring a particular model of reform. A substantive summary would distort the negotiation process, undercut consensus, deepen divisions, and undermine the positive atmosphere we have developed in the past two months of negotiations.
I conclude by referring to all those who, in recent months, have very vocally demanded that we move forward in the negotiation by 2015. We ask them to make an effort to reach a consensus-based reform of the Security Council. UfC has taken a significant step toward the G4 and I invite everyone not to underestimate its significance: we moved from our original position (which, I remind you, initially provided ONLY for the enlargement of the Council to biennial non-permanent seats) in proposing the creation of new seats whose terms would be longer than two years, and with the possibility of immediate re-election.
We therefore ask the G4 to pay attention to the growing call from the membership (including some of the Permanent Members of the Security Council) for us to work responsibly toward alternative and compromise solutions.
Our proposal would allow more extended periods on the Council also for those who have the desire and the capacity to contribute more to the Council’s work. Working on the length of the terms and the possibility of immediate re-election offers a broad range of alternatives to come up with a fair and equitable model that reasonably accommodates the positions and interests of all. We will be therefore happy to discuss any, I repeat ANY, idea that is not a plain reiteration of the request to create new permanent seats. I invite everyone to show through deeds, not words, that they truly want a reform of the Security Council according to the logic of “give and take” characteristic of all negotiating processes. We have to “give” if we expect to “take.”
As you can see, UfC paid great attention to the call you made on the membership in your letter of 2 May, encouraging the emergence of new and creative ideas to finish this round of meetings with active and forward-thinking engagement. We hope to witness the same engagement by the other negotiating groups.
Thank you, Mr. Chair