On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, I wish to thank you for convening this third meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform, focusing on the question of the veto. The veto is closely linked with working methods and, in particular, the Council’s decision-making process, but there are clear interlinkages between the veto and the four other reform clusters.
The key issue we are addressing today is of crucial importance not only to Security Council reform, but also to the credibility of the United Nations as a whole. Every time the veto prevents decisive action of the Council, the United Nations faces the risk of seeing its authority and legitimacy questioned.
Permanent membership and veto, in terms and status and power, are symbols of inequality in the Security Council. Therefore, it has been the UfC’s principled position to oppose strengthening such inequalities in an expanded Council. The UfC supports expanding the Council only in the non-permanent category, which makes the question of extension of veto to additional members irrelevant.
The UfC believes that a Security Council where the critical decisions before it are taken by consensus is the ideal. When this cannot be achieved, the majority view, informed and supported by timely and relevant information, should be upheld, rather than be subject to the veto of a few. This would certainly be more representative, democratic, transparent and effective. And it would guarantee the principle of sovereign equality among States.
So strong has been the sentiment against the existing veto mechanism that some have advocated its outright abolition. While this is a legitimate aspiration, we recognize the need to take a gradual and pragmatic approach, including exploring intermediate steps. Our negotiations should thus address how best to limit the use of veto. Several proposals in this regard have been made, such as the French-Mexican initiative and the Code of Conduct put forward by the ACT group. These initiatives deserve full consideration by Member States.
At the same time, we should also strive for a new balance in the decision making of the Council. The enlargement of the Council with new elected members, including better representation of Small States, could foster a new dynamic, giving elected non-permanent members a greater influence within the Security Council and a larger say in the Council’s decision-making process. Only through a significant increase in the Council’s non-permanent membership, elected members would have an enhanced impact on decision-making. This issue is, therefore, closely related to the categories of membership as well as to the size of the Council.
At the same time, we could carefully assess a scenario, as some have suggested, requiring an explanation of a veto to the general membership. This recognizes the critical relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly.
We understand the aspiration of some regional groups for stronger representation on the Council, but we believe that extending permanent membership with veto power would only make the Council more unequal and less effective. The alternative of creating new permanent seats without the veto, or with a suspended right to use the veto, presents equal – if not more – prospects of exacerbating disparities and tensions among regional groups and Member States.
We believe that the UfC’s proposal of establishing longer-term seats strikes a right balance, while enhancing the core principles of the reform as spelled out by Decision 62/557. Longer-term seats would be elective and non-permanent just like the existing two-year seats and, more importantly, they would not be reserved for a select group of countries: each Member State would have the right to aspire to them. All 21 non-permanent members envisaged by the UfC, both two-year and longer-term, would be up for periodic election.
This is the essence of the democratic reform in which we believe: assuring the membership the opportunity to decide the composition of the Security Council on a regular basis and, at the same time, assuring all Member States the possibility to run for a non-permanent seat.
This is what we mean by a modern reform of the Security Council, centered on elective non-permanent seats. A reform that increases rather than reduces the democratic nature, accountability and effectiveness of the Council.
This is the reform that UfC advocates, reflecting the reality of the twenty-first century, which is firmly grounded in the principles of democracy and accountability.
After the first two meetings of this promising IGN session, further clarity is needed on the goal of our collective endeavor. Almost a year ago, the UfC circulated a non-paper titled “Security Council reform is possible”. Our position is crystal clear: we are convinced that the reform of the UN body responsible for international peace and security requires the support of the entire membership.
Above all, this is the commitment all Member States have undertaken in the Intergovernmental Negotiations pursuant to Decision 62/557. The original purpose of the IGN was to search for a solution that can garner the widest political support possible, and this must remain the true objective of all Member States engaged in this exercise.
There is a concrete prospect of a consensual reform through an incremental approach. Let’s work on real convergences with a true spirit of compromise, leaving aside what has hampered the achievement of our common goal for too many years. It can be done, and we stand ready to do our part.
Last September, we witnessed what true convergence and consensual approach can achieve, when the General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution with the support of the whole UN membership, enhancing the Assembly’s role in the selection of the next leader of our Organization. We are convinced that through a similar consensual path, a reform leading to an expanded, more equitable Security Council is within reach.
With this perspective in mind, Madam Chair, you can count on the tireless engagement of the UfC Countries.