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General Assembky – Informal Meeting on “Intergovernmental negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council”

Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, Ambassador Stefano Stefanile, on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group at the Informal meeting of the General Assembly on “Intergovernmental negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council” —

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, I wish to thank you for convening this fifth informal meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform.

At the outset, I would like to express UfC’s appreciation to you, co-Chairs, for having led our discussions in a transparent and consultative manner. Throughout our works, you have rightly focused the discussion on the five clusters and their linkages, inspiring the debate and encouraging Member States to exchange ideas and opinions to identify areas of possible convergence.

Our comments will focus today on the progress made during this session as well as on the way forward.

As regards the “Revised Elements”, we would like to reiterate that this is a document under the responsibility of the co-Chairs which is meant to reflect, in their own assessment, the discussions held so far. The “Revised Elements” is not a draft for negotiations. Having said that, as requested in your letter dated 7th of May 2019, we will provide our comments. It will be then up to you, co-Chairs, to decide whether and to what extent the document should be adjusted to fully reflect the commonalities and the issues for further consideration.

On the basis of this premise, we note that the “Revised Elements” you submitted reflects much of the progress achieved, including: the support for increased representation of developing Countries, Africa, SIDS and Small States; the proposals for increased interaction between the Security Council and the General Assembly; the practical ideas to improve the working methods of an enlarged Council. As a result, the Commonalities section has been meaningfully expanded, compared to last year’s document. This confirms that the IGN is indeed delivering results.

However, we also note that one fundamental point is missing. The principle of democracy is not included in the “Commonalities” section. The UfC has repeatedly asked for a Security Council reform that can ensure a more representative, democratic, accountable, transparent and effective Council. The democratic feature of a reformed Council is an essential point that needs to be explicitly stated and we do not see why it should not be included in the “Commonalities” section, as we did not hear any voice against it during our deliberations. Without clarity on this principle, we will continue to struggle toward the final goal indicated in GA Decision 62/557: “a reform that can garner the widest possible political acceptance.”

We also have major concerns about the way some other issues, especially those relating to the categories of membership and regional representation, have been reflected in the document.

As regards the categories of membership under the “Commonalities section”, the first sentence reads: “expansion of the category of 2-year term non-permanent seats is accepted by all Member States as ONE part of a comprehensive Security Council Reform”. This sentence as it stands now is misleading as it could imply an interlinkage between expansion in the non-permanent category and expansion in ‘other’ categories. This interlinkage does not exist, the non-permanent category is distinct, exists by itself and should not be subordinated to other categories. Therefore, we believe nothing in the discussion held so far justifies a change of the original formulation.

Furthermore, the second sentence under the same point states that “the Council’s expansion in other categories (…) remains to be agreed to through negotiations by the Member States”. We note that this passage would pertain more appropriately to the section “Issues for Further Consideration”, as it rightly acknowledges disagreement rather than capturing any commonality.

As regards the categories of membership under the section “Issues for Further Consideration”, we note that there is no mention of the original option of an “enlargement of the SC with only 2-year non-permanent seats added”. While for the sake of making progress, the UfC has shown flexibility and readiness to work on a comprehensive solution based on new longer-term non-permanent seats with the possibility of an immediate re-election, our original position in favor of a sole expansion of the 2-year non-permanent seats remains valid. For this reason, it has to be restored in this section.

On regional representation under the section “Issues for Further Consideration” and with specific regard to point 6 a), it is important to note that the African Group has added an innovative element to Council reform negotiations by extending the concept of regional representation to the permanent category of seats. However, neither the P5 nor the four aspirants seeking permanent seats in their national capacities can – or do – claim to represent their regions. The position of those Countries asking permanent seats on a national basis and the African call for an enhanced regional representation in the Security Council are therefore clearly different, and they need to be treated separately.

We are ready to continue our constructive and respectful dialogue with the C10 to understand better how the Common African Position might work.

However, we would also like to recall here that the UN Charter makes no reference to regional or equitable representation in its definition of the permanent members, while explicitly mentioning the principle of “equitable geographical distribution” in reference to the non-permanent seats. For these reasons, we believe that last year’s formulation of this sub-paragraph was more accurate and should be preserved.

Furthermore, we continue to believe that the options listed in paragraph 6 l) are too stretched and do not reflect fully and accurately the positions of Member States. As stated by the UfC, due regard should be given to nuances and to the variety of proposals on the table, both those centered on elected members and those supporting expansion in the category of permanent seats. In this respect, we note that the positions of those Member States who support new permanent members, but not with the right of veto, are not correctly reflected.

As regards the request made today to reinsert a reference to the Framework Document, we could accept it as long as all the documents of the past IGN sessions are referred to.

Distinguished co-Chairs,

Since the beginning of this IGN session and following your suggestion, the UfC has engaged constructively with other Member States and groups, illustrating in detail our position, answering the questions received on our proposal, and providing inputs for the discussion and possible convergences. We organized retreats in Spain, with Mediterranean Countries, and in the Republic of Korea, with Asian Countries. We also reached out to the Arab and African groups and to several Members States of other regions.

We regret to say that not all groups have shown the same constructive approach. Rather than focusing on the substance, some insisted only on the process. We now hear requests for a further meeting or meetings. We believe there have been enough opportunities for all delegations to explain in detail their positions and to clarify how their proposals respond to all aspects of the Security Council reform. In light of the above, we see no reason to add any further meetings.

We welcome, instead, the suggestion of a retreat after the end of the formal session as an opportunity to continue a frank and open discussion on Security Council reform, without the constraint of stating formal positions, and to reflect together about the further prospects of the IGN.

Distinguished co-Chairs,

As stated earlier, we are convinced that this IGN session made tangible progress. Under your wise guidance, we achieved positive results, notwithstanding the profound divisions that still exist on fundamental issues. We will not cease to repeat that the problem is not the format of the IGN and its procedures. It is the deep divergence in the positions of Member States – for example on the goal to have a more democratic Council – that slows progress toward the long-awaited reform that the UfC very much wants.

We firmly believe that the continuation of the IGN is the only way to achieve consensus on Security Council reform. As recalled by the PGA at the beginning of our first meeting, this is an “intergovernmental process”, based on GA Decision 62/557. There are no procedural “short cuts” that can replace the hard work of forging the “widest possible political acceptance”. Therefore, the UfC Group supports a smooth and technical roll over of the IGN on the basis of a short and procedural text.

Rest assured, distinguished co-Chairs, that the UfC remains ready to engage with other negotiating groups and to search for a solution to bring forward a comprehensive reform.

I thank you.