On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, I wish to thank you for convening this fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform, focusing on the two remaining clusters — “categories of membership” and “regional representation”.
In mid-April, this same Trusteeship Council Chamber hosted the hearings for the candidates to the post of UN Secretary-General. This represented a tremendous change in the method of appointment of the Secretary-General, for the sake of greater transparency and accountability. A step toward democracy and a strong testimony to Member States’ wish to be fully involved in the SG selection process.
This trend of democratic change should also inspire our attitude to Security Council reform. All Member States agree that it is high time for reform and declare their support for the goal of a more representative, democratic, accountable, transparent and effective Council. These principles should guide a timely reform, leading to a new Security Council that enjoys greater legitimacy and authority. The convergence among Member States on these principles is undeniable, while the differences on the category of seats continues to hamper the reform process.
What has emerged from these recent IGN meetings is the need to explore alternative approaches or compromise solutions, since no particular model today enjoys the required support. This approach to Security Council reform needs to be exploited if we wish to achieve progress.
In fact, discussions have so far centered on proposals to increase permanent members, in the misguided assumption that this would ensure greater representation and effectiveness in a Council whose composition was last updated in 1965. We believe that such a limited approach is the main reason for the current stalemate in the reform process. A more representative and democratic Security Council means offering equal opportunity to all Member States to serve periodically on the Council.
The UfC is therefore convinced that our focus should be on an increase in non-permanent members. More non-permanent members will foster a new dynamic between elected and existing permanent members within the Council, contributing to decision-making, representativeness, transparency, working methods and, ultimately to the effectiveness of the Council. This is what we mean by a modern reform of the Security Council: a reform that increases rather than reduces the democratic nature of the Council.
Regular elections are also the only feasible and concrete way to ensure a more accountable Security Council, as well as to make it adaptable and thus more effective in the face of the continuous changes and challenges of today’s world. Continuous transformation is the reality of the 21st century, and a changing reality requires a Council that can adapt to it.
To enhance the Security Council’s effectiveness we must make the most of this Organization’s unique resource: its universal membership. We need an inclusive reform – bringing together ideas and assets of all Member States – that can forge a modern Council rooted in deeply democratic principles. At the same time, we should consider allowing countries willing to make a larger contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security to play a more prominent role in the Council.
The UfC countries propose to establish a new category of longer-term non-permanent seats with the possibility of an immediate re-election. This proposal is rooted in well-established democratic methods of political governance. Periodic elections will ensure that Member States are held accountable for their actions while a fair system of rotation will significantly enhance opportunities for all Member States to serve on the Council. We are convinced that such a crucial provision would further enhance the legitimacy and the authority of the Council in the eyes of both UN Member States and international public opinion.
Let me clarify: as we said in the past, these seats would not be reserved to a select group of countries. All UN Member States willing to make a larger contribution to the work of the Council would have the right to run for a longer-term seat on the basis of equitable geographic distribution. We are confident that this proposal significantly improves the democratic nature and accountability of the Council.
The new Security Council we have in mind could number twenty-one elected members out of a total of twenty-six. Nine of these twenty-one seats would have a longer term, and would be assigned to regional groups to ensure a more balanced and equitable representation, mainly of the developing world. African countries, in particular, must be assured due ownership in the management of international crises, bearing in mind that about 80% of all UN peacekeepers are deployed in the continent and the majority of issues dealt with by the Council are related to Africa and the Middle East.
In the same spirit, we should assure stable representation for certain categories of Member States across traditional UN regional groups, namely SIDS and the Small States. SIDS are facing unprecedented challenges that are both specific and global, with consequences that can impact our common security. Eastern European countries should also be guaranteed increased representation in the Council. Arab countries and the OIC have called for better representation, a request to which we should also pay close attention. If the regional groups have more elected seats available, as envisaged by the UfC, accommodating cross-regional groupings will become practical and easier.
UfC understands the aspiration of some regional groups for an increase in the permanent seats category and for the veto, but we believe that this solution would only make the Council more unequal and less effective. In order to enhance regional representation, instead, Member 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 Uniting for Consensus group is committed to meeting the challenge of securing an inclusive and effective Council. We must improve the Council’s ability to combine world resources to solve international crises through a reform that should gather the widest consensus, due to its paramount importance for all Member States.
Our platform for change is based on a different approach, shifting away from the unproductive model of expanding permanent membership and aiming instead for a modern Council grounded in a profoundly democratic and inclusive vision. Building on the “intermediate approach” could allow us to identify an equitable reform model. This is the approach that the UfC advocates, which can lead to a win-win compromise solution paving the way toward the reform we have been striving for over the past 20 years.