On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) Group, I wish to thank you for convening this annual debate on Security Council reform, and warmly welcome the appointment of Ambassador Sylvie Lucas to her new pivotal capacity. We are confident that she will be attentive to the needs and concerns of all Member States to facilitate our collective endeavor in the coming months. Allow me also to thank Ambassador Courtenay Rattray for his efforts during the past negotiating session.
We believe that the 69th session of the General Assembly can be seen as a step forward on our path towards reform in terms of active participation by an increasing number of Member States. Countries that in the past had been on the margins of the debate decided to engage and to spell out their positions on the future of the Security Council. This is a material legacy: our debate needs to be more inclusive – just as the Council we are striving to reform.
Similarly, we need full transparency. The Inter-Governmental Negotiations are a membership-driven process, mandated by General Assembly decision 62/557. We need predictability through a clear agenda, not arbitrary guidance. Member States should be facilitated in their work, through timely information and extensive consultation. Each Member State, belonging to any negotiating group, has the right to be adequately informed about the procedure. The past has demonstrated that divisive approaches and initiatives complicate our process even further, distancing us from reaching our commonly shared goal of reform.
The UfC Group has been tirelessly advocating for a deeper discussion of the principles on which the Council’s reform must be based. It is a crucial undertaking to clarify how we conceive the reform, which would facilitate negotiations. Proof of this was given to us by the negotiations on the methods of selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, under last year’s annual resolution on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly. The collectively shared principle of a more transparent selection process was spontaneously translated into some concrete measures. We knew, with clarity, where we were heading so we achieved most of the expected results in only one year of work.
We all have been talking for years about the common goal of a more representative, democratic, accountable and effective Security Council, but do we really agree on the meaning of these principles? Let me give you a concrete example. Exactly one week ago, most of us attended the launch of a Code of Conduct, supported by over one hundred countries, aiming to limit the use of the veto and prevent the Council’s inaction to make it more effective in the face of heinous international crimes. However, today we will still hear voices in favor of adding new permanent members, new veto powers, all while pursuing the same goal of making the Council more effective.
The Uniting for Consensus Group has been very forthcoming in clarifying how we interpret the reform principles that I have just mentioned. The UfC has already tackled the issue – most recently – last year, at the general debate and throughout the entire work session. Today, as a further contribution to the debate on the objectives of reform, I would like to touch on an increasingly recurrent issue: the request for “a Security Council representative of the realities of the XXI century”. This is certainly an important concept because it suggests that Security Council reform should be reflective of the changes that have occurred in the last 70 years. Let me summarize the three main changes that have taken place.
Firstly, in these 70 years, not only has the number of UN Member States grown, but the relative weight of the different regional groups of the United Nations has also changed. This has led the membership to unanimously request an enlargement of the Council favoring areas that, to date, have been disadvantaged in the distribution of seats. The response of the UfC to this first trend is unequivocal: we support an enlargement of the Council up to 26 members, assigning the majority of added seats to Africa, the Asia-Pacific and Latin America. We also understand and heed the call of the Eastern European Group, and of cross-cutting groups of States – such as SIDS, Small States and the Arab countries.
Secondly, some Member States aspire to play a more prominent role in the Council. The UfC highly values the contribution that these States may offer to the maintenance of international peace and security. No one has asked them to forfeit their willingness to play a greater role in the Council. In fact, our proposal of longer-term seats with the possibility of an immediate re-election was conceived precisely to meet these expectations. Let me clarify: these seats would not be reserved to a select group of countries. All UN Member States willing to make a bigger contribution to the work of the Council would have the right to run for a longer-term seat. Our proposal is democratic in nature.
Thirdly, over the past 70 years, we have experienced change at an incessantly faster pace in the international arena. The emergence of new regional actors and new global challenges imposes a modern vision for the Security Council, enhancing its flexibility not only in terms of operations, but also in terms of its very structure and representation. The reality of the XXI century is in continuous transformation, and a changing reality requires a Council able to adapt to it. We believe that regular elections are the best way to guarantee, not only a truly democratic and accountable Security Council, but also a Council able to continually adapt to the rapid changes of today and tomorrow.
This is what we mean by inclusive Security Council. Let us offer to all Member States, especially Small States and Developing countries, which represent the majority of this membership, the opportunity to contribute more to the Council’s work. This goal can be achieved solely by ensuring a proper, fair and democratic system, through regular elections. This is what we mean by a Security Council in tune with the realities of the XXI century: a new, modern Council grounded on a profoundly democratic vision that carries within it inclusiveness and adaptability.
This is the path toward the early reform that our leaders called for more than 10 years ago. A reform that can be attained with no further delay, building on the many – already existing – convergences among Members States. A comprehensive reform of the Security Council that can be concretely achieved by enlarging the Council with new elected members, and by a more balanced and equitable representation of regional groups. An enhanced and closer relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly, and improved working methods of the Council, including the question of the veto, are also areas that require our due attention.
This is also the path toward a consensual reform of the Security Council that due to its paramount importance necessarily needs to be endorsed by all Member States. The Uniting for Consensus Group stands ready to cooperate with you, the new IGN Chair and the entire membership for advancing this process, in good faith and in mutual respect, being guided by our strong conviction that a truly democratic Security Council reform is possible and within reach.
Thank you, Mr. President.