Statement delivered by Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group at the General Assembly Plenary Meeting on “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council”. —
On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus group, I wish to thank you for convening this important debate. Thanks to your leadership and commitment to advancing the Security Council reform process, we are confident that we will be able to achieve significant progress during the incoming IGN. The UfC group is ready to support you and work alongside you.
And we thank you for appointing early on in the process two extremely competent, skillful and experimented Co-Chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiations, Ambassador Joanna Wronecka and Ambassador Alya Al Thani. We look forward to cooperate with them in full transparency and honest willingness to make progress.
We believe that in your new capacity you will help Member States get closer to the common goal of a reformed Security Council.
As Coordinator of the UFC, I would also like to take advantage of this occasion to thank Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, for the excellent work she has conducted in the past three years as IGN Co-Chair.
The UfC group feels strongly about the need for progress in the negotiations. At the beginning of the year Covid-19, an unexpected and unprecedented challenge, severely affected all our work in the UN including the past IGN session and its calendar. We had a good start, with two positive meetings. We were looking forward to having more in-depth discussions on all clusters and their interlinkages, as IGN rules mandate. Unfortunately, it was not possible.
We are ready to approach the next IGN with a constructive spirit, confident that we can build on the fruitful discussion we had on regional representation last March and on the positive gains achieved during the last full IGN.
We have advanced on many issues that have been underpinned during the negotiations. For example, the support for increased representation in the Council of developing Countries, Africa, SIDS and Small States, along with the strengthened language on improving the Council’s working methods and enhancing the interaction between the Security Council and the General Assembly. A progress duly reflected in the “Revised Elements” paper.
The UN75 political declaration, adopted last September, is also a further important step in the direction of a comprehensive reform of the Security Council. Its call for instilling new life in the process, should stimulate the participation of all Member States in the discussion: taking into account all voices is crucial. Inclusivity is indeed key.
For the UFC, instilling new life means, first and foremost, focusing the IGN discussion on substantive issues: we all know where the obstacles are, let’s openly discuss them.
Instilling new life means listening carefully to one another, focusing on the bridges that can be built to connect us in a true spirit of flexibility and compromise.
Instilling new life does not mean forcing a change to the setting or its procedures: the IGN is the only process and venue – agreed by the entire membership – that can lead to a consensual reform of the Security Council.
To achieve such a goal all Member States should approach the Security Council reform process in good faith and show more flexibility. We are all quite ready to ask for something, but, if we really want to succeed in this endeavor, we have to be ready to concede something.
UfC is eager to do that. We are not asking anything for our individual members, we are not aspiring to permanent membership,. We are indeed working for the common good, a reform for all, a reform of the Security Council that is beneficial for all Member States and for the UN itself.
We are convinced that our idea of reform serves the whole membership. Under UfC proposal, everyone benefits; no one is left behind or left out; and everyone gains better access to the Council. Besides, our proposal is the most detailed and pragmatic on the table, as several Member States from various Regional Groups have repeatedly acknowledged.
Our proposal is a demonstration of flexibility. It has been adjusted over the years so as to take into consideration the positions of all negotiating groups. We propose to create longer-term, non-permanent seats, with the possibility of immediate re-election. This stems precisely from the understanding that some Member States legitimately desire to make a greater contribution to the work of the Council, and have the means to do so.
On the other hand increasing the number of two year-term non-permanent seats again stems from the understanding that a fairer system of rotation in the Council is needed. 64 Member States have never served in the Security Council, a third of the whole membership. It is high time to offer better access to all.
If our proposal were to be approved, the Security Council would then consist of twenty-six members.
The nine longer-term, non-permanent seats would be distributed among regional groups as follows: 3 for Africa, 3 for Asia Pacific, 2 for GRULAC and 1 for WEOG.
The two additional two-year, non-permanent seats will be assigned: one to the Eastern European Group and one, as a rotating seat, to Small Island and Developing States and Small States. This rotating seat would not prevent them from running within their regional group, but would – instead – be an additional way for them to gain access to the Security Council.
Let me underline that this reform model would greatly enhance regional representation: Africa would constitute the largest group in the reformed Council; the Asia-Pacific region would have the highest percent increase; both Latin America and Eastern Europe would double their representation. Our proposed distribution would also allow an increased and more stable representation for cross-regional groupings, such as the Arab group.
A reformed Security Council would increase its legitimacy in the eyes of both the general membership and the world’s citizens. It would enhance its authority and make it more fit to face new global challenges and realities. Thus, it would also help foster the longstanding values of multilateralism.
A reformed Security Council that fulfills this aspiration would be more transparent, representative, accountable, democratic and effective.
More transparent means a Council where the decisions are taken not by a few, but by all the SC members in a fully transparent and inclusive way;
More representative means going beyond a simple increase in the number of Security Council’s members; it does mean increasing the opportunities for all Member States to sit periodically in the Council so that all Regions and all voices are heard, including those of small, insular and more vulnerable Countries;
More accountable means that every new member of a reformed Security Council would need to answer to the whole Membership. It also entails a containment of the number of States with permanent seats, while, at the same time, reducing some of the latter’s prerogatives, such as the use of the so-called veto;
More democratic simply means that every new member of a reformed SC must be elected!
More effective means a more legitimate Council; one that – because it is transparent, representative, accountable and democratic – enjoys more credibility in the eyes of all Member States and whose decisions are fully observed and implemented, thus delivering better on its mandate.
Looking at the next IGN, we confirm our openness to constructive discussion, bearing in mind that there are no procedural shortcuts to consensus on achieving Security Council reform. This is one of the main lessons learned over the years: the reform process can only succeed if it is reflected as an amendment of the Charter that every Member of the United Nations can approve and ratify, including the five Permanent Members.
Aiming at this goal, we believe it is of paramount importance to help the Co-Chairs set a clear work agenda, so that when the IGN begins, the whole focus will be on substantive issues and not procedural ones. That means agreeing in advance on a predefined number of sessions, on an IGN calendar and the topics to be discussed at each session.
Let me conclude by reiterating that, here, all Member States are equal, thus an approach to reform that only serves a few cannot be a solution for the entire membership.
The Uniting for Consensus group stands ready to cooperate with you, Mr. President, the new IGN co-Chairs and the whole membership in order to advance this process in earnest.
Thank you, Mr President.