The intergovernmental negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Council
26 January 2023
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Maurizio Massari on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group
The Uniting for Consensus (UfC) Group welcomes this first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Security Council reform for the 77th Session of the General Assembly and looks forward, under your leadership, to listening to and discussing with all negotiating groups on the five clusters and their interlinkages.
As always, UfC looks forward to cooperating with you and interacting with the whole membership on advancing a comprehensive reform that, as underlined by the President of the General Assembly, is urgently needed, and, as reiterated by many during the General Debate last November, is widely desired by the membership.
UfC will continue to engage in this new session of the IGN in a constructive and committed manner, with the widely-shared objective of a more representative, democratic, transparent, accountable and effective Security Council.
Through the reform, we should aim at increasing the Council’s legitimacy and authority in the eyes of the international community and the global public opinion. Now more than ever the world is looking at us and we cannot afford to fail in reforming this Organization.
In your letter of December 5th, you invited Member States to present their views on the process and to clarify their positions on the cluster “regional representation”.
As it is well known, in the view of the UfC, unnecessarily focusing our attention on process and procedure will not provide any added value to our work here. For this reason, it is crucial that we concentrate on the substantial issues at hand, building upon the progress made during the last session as reflected in the revised Elements and convergences and divergences paper.
The IGN continues to enjoy broad support from the Member States and is still considered to be the appropriate platform to discuss a comprehensive reform of the Security Council.
Furthermore, we believe it is crucial to maintain its consolidated format, its distinctive informality and interactivity, in order to move the negotiations out of the impasse that took place within the Open Ended Working Group. The lesson learnt is that the obstacles to the reform do not derive from the current format, but rather from the persistent divergences on key principled elements.
I also wish to recall that the UfC is not contrary to Text-Based Negotations per se, but rather deems them premature at this stage, considering the persistent divergences on key principles of the reform, including on decisive clusters, such as the one we have been called to dwell upon today.
It is also important to reaffirm the integrity of the IGN as a Member-States driven process and to keep in mind that a credible and viable reform of the Council requires a comprehensive and integrated approach, addressing all the five key issues, as outlined in Decision 62/557. Any piecemeal approach, which does not take into due consideration the inter-linkages between the issues at stake, would be partial and unlikely to succeed.
At the same time, we look forward to receiving from you, distinguished Co-Chairs, the programme and calendar of work, as predictability is a key ingredient to foster wider engagement by Member States. We remain keen to engage in informal discussions to help bridge the gaps among the various positions, as experienced last year and which proved to be very useful. We are open to allocate a specific time for presentation and analysis of the “reform proposals” on the table, including with Q&A sessions.
You have also asked us to illustrate today our position on the cluster of “Regional Representation” and reflect on the interlinkages with other clusters.
What does regional representation mean? On the basis of your guiding questions, we should first clarify our view on concepts such as “equitable geographical distribution” and “regional representation”:
– “Equitable geographical distribution”, as reflected under Article 23 of the UN Charter, in our view means that the composition of the Council must equitably reflect the different geographical groups within the UN membership and their respective weight according to the size of the group;
– “Regional representation”, on the other hand, refers to one or more Member States representing the interests and positions of others, such as a regional group.
In this respect, it is important to note that the Charter (article 23) refers to elections and geographical distribution as characteristics of “equitable representation” only with regard to elected members, whereas it makes no reference to regional or equitable representation in its definition of permanent members.
UfC is committed to strenghtening and enhancing equitable geographical distribution, which can lead to strengthened regional representation. This can only be achieved by increasing the number of elected members.
At the same time we are convinced that adding new permanent members to the Security Council does nothing to increase regional representation. In fact, while elected members of the Council must always heed the interests of those they are representing, permanent members – not subject to elections – do not represent the wider membership: they represent themselves alone.
The UfC fully understands the call of African countries, the Arab Group and developing countries for a more equitable and strengthened representation on the Security Council. We certainly respect this and we fully agree that they must be able to play their rightful role in the activities of the Council. That would not only help correct historical injustices, it would benefit us all by making the reformed Security Council truly fit for purpose.
UfC’s proposal would indeed enhance regional representation: Africa would become the largest group in the reformed Council; Asia-Pacific would have the highest percentage increase; 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 due consideration the interests of all developing States, especially SIDS and Small States. The latter would be assigned a rotating two-year non-permanent seat that would ensure their continued presence in the Council.
Once again, our principled position against new permanent seats simply reflects our strong concern that additional permanent members – all the more with their veto powers – would make the Council less accountable and less representative. They would also make it less democratic and effective, further increasing the difficulties in reaching decisions on urgent matters of international peace and security.
To answer your questions, in UfC’s view, all regions must be represented in a more equitable manner and Council members must be more accountable to the UN membership as a whole, especially to their own regions.
The only way to achieve this, is through periodical elections and a greater democratization of the Security Council. The possibility of reelection increases and reinforces accountability, especially of longer-term Members, as at the end of their mandate their activity as members of the Council would be assessed by the membership as a whole and by the respective regional groups in order to consider their re-elections.
Distinguished Co-Chairs, dear colleagues,
Let me conclude by saying that, true to the spirit of flexibility that inspires our group, and as per your suggestion in your letter, we have been reaching out, in these past weeks, to several countries and regional groups to continue to present our proposal and, most importantly, to listen to our counterparts’ position.
We look forward to articulating our views further during the interactive session of tomorrow.
I thank you.