Statement by the Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, 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” —
On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, I wish to thank you for convening this second meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform, focusing on “regional representation.”
The increased level of participation to the first meeting was a good sign, as also the vivacity of the interactive session. We heard several Member States advocating a consensual approach and supporting a comprehensive reform on all five clusters. Most of us clearly reaffirmed that the membership-driven reform process should take place within the IGN, as its legitimate setting. Many of us referred to the growing need for an improvement in the working methods of the Security Council. These convergences make us believe even more in the need to push for new elements of convergence, as well as to reduce the gap between negotiating groups.
That is why, Co-Chairs, we particularly appreciate your effort and your commitment to bring us closer to a consensual reform. We are ready to follow you on that path, in the firm belief that in-depth discussions on the connections and interlinkages between all five clusters, starting from the one we are having today, exemplify the best way to move forward.
On regional representation, for the UfC group aiming at a “more representative” Security Council means talking about a more inclusive one. One that looks like the world of today, by correcting historic injustices. The UfC group believes that a more representative Security Council should indeed offer better opportunities for all Member States to be a part of it.
In our view, candidates that are elected to seat in the Security Council must never lose sight of the interests of those they are representing, as legitimate spokespersons of regional perspectives. That is the reason why UFC group supports the expansion ONLY of the category of non-permanent seats. In fact, permanent members represent themselves ALONE. Expansion in the number of such members would thus do nothing to increase regional representation.
It is important to remind us that the Charter does not refer to regional or equitable representation in its definition of the permanent members. For the non-permanent category, on the contrary, Article 23 refers to elections and geographical distribution as characteristics of “equitable representation.”
Moreover, the UfC group believes that a fairer regional representation necessarily results from two factors: first, all regions must be represented in a more equitable manner; and second, Council members – “the representatives” – must be more accountable to the UN membership – “the represented”.
That can only happen through periodic elections.
Considering those assumptions, it is difficult for us to understand how adding more permanent seats could possibly make the Council more accountable to the regional groups and produce a more representative Council. In addition, it is difficult for us to understand what will be the role of non-permanent members in a reformed Council, as per the proposal of some groups, where permanent members would make up nearly half of the total membership. Would that bring real progress towards a more effective, more transparent, more accountable and more democratic Council? We do not think so.
Also we failed to understand which would be the relation between the Four Member States that are asking for a permanent seat and their respective regions. Were they chosen by their own region to represent them? We seek clarity in this regard.
The UfC reform proposal has been openly on the table since October 2016. However, it might be helpful to recall some key elements of the UfC model, specifically on regional representation.
Our reformed Council would consist of twenty-six members, twenty-one of which non-permanent, including those with a longer term and the possibility of an immediate re-election.
In terms of regional representation, which – it’s worth repeating – in the UfC’s perspective can only be assured by elected members, Africa would become the first group in the reformed Council; Asia-Pacific would have the highest percent increase; while Latin America and Eastern Europe would double their representation. This distribution would also allow an increased and more stable representation for cross-regional groupings, such as the Arab group, and would take into duly consideration developing States, especially SIDS.
The UfC proposal has been adjusted over the years to what we have heard in the different rounds of negotiations. It takes into consideration the positions of all negotiating groups. True to the spirit of flexibility that inspires our group, we are ready to engage in constructive discussion with any single Member State or any groupings. That is why in the last weeks UfC has continued reaching out to several Countries and groups from different areas. We believe this is the right approach, and we will continue to work on it.
In this regard, let me add that the UfC fully understands the call of African countries for a more equitable and strengthened representation on the Security Council. We certainly respect their request for a more proportionate representation in an enlarged Council in order to be able to play a rightful role in the activities of the Council.
Once again, our principled position against new permanent seats has nothing to do with African or Arab aspirations and rather reflects our strong concern that additional permanent members – additional veto powers – would make the Council less accountable and less representative. They would also make it less democratic and effective.
Let me conclude by saying that, during the last meeting, we listened carefully to the African statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone. We found the African proposal for this IGN – to have four meetings with specific topics very interesting and we would be ready to embrace it. In fact, we believe that this proposal could help achieve tangible progress along the way.
I thank you.