Statement delivered by Ambassador Maurizio Massari, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group at the General Assembly Annual Debate 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 and appreciate your commitment and guidance in advancing the Security Council reform process. The UfC group stands ready to support your action and work actively and constructively within the next IGN session in order to achieve significant progress.
Let me also thank you for the early appointment of two experienced Co-Chairs of the IGN, Ambassador Al Thani and Ambassador Hermann. We appreciate your appointing two PRs in that role, as in the past years: having two Co-Chairs will hopefully grant the necessary balance.
Given the strategic interests at stake and the delicacy of the issue, we trust that they will assure a neutral management of the IGN. We need to have referees, not players. We will scrutinize very closely the next moves of the Co-Chairs. The “game” must be played by Member States.
The COVID pandemic has clearly exposed the need for strengthened international cooperation to address old and new challenges. We need an enhanced multilateralism, a multilateralism that is more inclusive, flexible and solutions-oriented.
Against this backdrop, the discussion about Security Council reform is more relevant than ever. The trying times we are navigating should push us all toward the widest possible support for a credible and effective reform of this Council. This is the only way to increase public trust and, at the same time, strengthen multilateralism.
The Council must become more efficient and more capable of responding promptly to the changing nature of conflicts and to emerging threats and challenges. It should be far more representative, inclusive and transparent. Crucial decisions for the sake of international peace cannot be made by just a few, or blocked by a few, without everybody being granted – at the very least – the possibility to have a seat at the table.
The UfC group has long been an advocate of a sound reform of the Security Council. Today, as we take stock of the recurring stalemates that affected the Security Council’s performance, we are even more convinced that the only way forward is a “reform for all”. It means to reach a solution that meets the collective interest of all 193 UN Members. A solution that really transforms the UN Security Council into one that is more representative, transparent, efficient, accountable, and above all, more democratic than the one established in 1945.
The UfC group has constantly engaged in the IGN process with a proactive approach, corroborated by an open and inclusive dialogue with all negotiating actors.
While feeling strongly about the need for progress in the negotiations we call on all Member States to reflect on whether we are close to a solution that can garner consensus or at least the particularly qualified majority prescribed for this item. Our Group’s opinion is that, regrettably, we are still very far from that scenario. What happened last June, during the adoption of the rollover decision, was not a positive sign: a hasty and divisive initiative could have seriously endangered the prospect of future discussions towards a real reform.
However, that very tense discussion clearly showed that arbitrary approaches could only exacerbate divisions within the membership. Nevertheless, the experience also showed that a majority of Member States is conscious of the need to foster dialogue towards a solution that galvanizes the widest possible agreement.
We believe that the IGN-centric reform process is the most and only sustainable mechanism to promote a fair and equitable compromise solution in the interests of all Member States. A solution that enjoys the “widest possible political acceptance”.
Our goal during the next IGN session should be to further reduce the gaps separating the positions of negotiating groups. We call on all Member States to approach the Security Council reform process in good faith and show more flexibility, inspired by a spirit of compromise.
UfC is ready to continue to work in that direction. We are of the opinion that discussions within the IGN should focus on the substantive issues that are still pending. There is no alternative in setting or procedure that could help overcoming these challenges.
Let me be very clear on this: some call for procedural changes to the IGN, but they should not forget that this informal negotiation was a result of the failure of a formal process, the Open-Ended Working group, where, by the way, the oft-invoked GA rules of procedures applied.
Would resuming a sort of Open-Ended Working group instill new life in the process? Frankly, I strongly doubt it. Having said that, we do agree that a revitalization of the Security Council reform process is needed.
How can we do that?
Perhaps we should start with dedicating enough time to discuss the two main issues that keep us apart. It is certainly no secret that we cannot find an agreement on the categories of membership and on the so-called veto.
It is also evident that if individual Member States could forgo insisting on the creation of new singular situations of privilege -that is, new permanent seats- we probably could take forward an expansion in the number of elected members in a short time, thus improving the existing dynamics within the Council.
A special focus should be placed also on working methods, a key issue if we aim at having a reformed Security Council truly fit for the purpose. Elected members should take on a more active role in the drafting and consultation process. At the same time a fair burden-sharing and equal distribution of penholderships and chairmanships of subsidiary bodies among permanent members and elected members should be implemented.
We also suggest dedicating at least one IGN meeting to the presentation of the “reform proposals” on the table, including an informal exchange on ways in which the interests of all groups and countries could be accommodated to ensure “equitable regional representation.” That would indeed be extremely helpful to understand better each other’s positions and the logic inspiring each proposal, to clarify doubts and to bring different perspectives closer. Count on the readiness of the UfC group to take actively part in that exercise!
An ever-important step towards a successful IGN would require the Co-Chairs to set a clear work agenda so that, once the IGN starts, the whole focus will be on substantive issues and not on procedural ones. That means agreeing in advance on an IGN calendar with a predefined number of sessions to be concluded before summer and on the topics to be discussed in each session.
A reformed Security Council would help foster the longstanding values of multilateralism. As we stated several times in the past, a reformed Security Council that fulfills this aspiration should be more transparent, representative, accountable, democratic and effective.
However, if we are to strengthen the legitimacy and transparency of the Council, and if we are concerned about the needed equality among Member States, then every new member should be elected by the GA, and therefore be accountable to the entire membership. This is why we cannot in any way support the calls for new permanent members in a reformed Council.
We heard someone advocating for new permanent seats to allow in the Security Council “new Powers”. We believe that for the Council to truly reflect the reality of a changed and changing world, the logic of past modifiers, such as “Powers” and “Superpowers” should be abandoned. This is not the logic of democracy and equality among Members States, which is at the core of the United Nations’ calling. It is not even the logic of a more efficient Security Council, the opposite seems to be true.
Today’s reality is not set in stone. It is obviously bound to evolve. Thus, the only way to have a Council that constantly reflects the current reality is to have a rotation of its members. That is why we advocate for an expansion of the number of elected members, which would increase the opportunities for all Regions to have their voices heard, including those of small, insular and more vulnerable Countries.
We reiterate that flexibility and the search for a solution that garners the widest political acceptance are the main ingredients to advance the reform process. The UfC is commited to support your efforts in that regard.
I thank you.