On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) Group, I wish to thank you for convening this fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform, focusing on Categories of Membership; Views on how to rectify the Historical Injustice done to Africa; views on Latin American and Caribbean representation; and views on Asia-Pacific representation on the Council; and the status of the IGN documents.
The issue of “categories of membership” requires preliminary clarification. In particular: how many and which categories do we envisage in a reformed Council? We believe the answer lies in the UN Charter. There are only two categories of membership: permanent and non-permanent. Article 23 of the Charter identifies permanent members by name, while indicating that non-permanent members need to be elected. A non-permanent member, even a non-permanent member with a longer term, as suggested by UfC, is still non-permanent. By the same token, a permanent member – even with a suspended and limited the veto or with a “suspended” veto – is still permanent.
For UfC members, the Security Council needs to become truly representative, accountable, democratic, transparent and effective. Our focus on the democratic nature of a reformed Security Council is indeed shared by an overwhelming majority of Member States. This was confirmed during the three IGN meetings of recent months and in meetings the UfC has had with different negotiating groups, as part of its continuous outreach efforts to explore common ground with other Member States.
It is obvious that a more democratic Council would foster greater trust of public opinion in this institution and increase its legitimacy. As is common knowledge, UfC countries oppose the creation of new permanent seats. The current configuration – with five permanent members with veto which become “more equal than others” – is rooted in the unique historical circumstances following the end of WWII. We believe that adding to the current “privileged five” a certain number of other privileged Member States would be detrimental both in terms of democracy (as it would widen the gap between an oligopoly of Member States with life tenure and a vast majority of Countries de jure and de facto “second class”) and to the effectiveness (would the UNSC with 10 or 12 permanent Members with veto decide more rapidly? It is hard to believe so). Additional and unjustifiable privileged positions within the international community would be anachronistic and detrimental to the general interests of the UN membership.
We believe that a reformed Security Council should only include elected new members. Why?
The United Nations is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members. In a reformed Security Council, only the inclusion of elected (non-permanent) new members would be truly consistent with the principle of democracy. Only with more elected members, the United Nations would ensure that decisions made by the Council are representative of the widest membership of the United Nations, therefore, enhancing its legitimacy and efficiency.
In past debates, we heard someone advocating for new Permanent seats to make way for “new Powers”. We believe that to represent the reality of an ever-evolving world, the Council should do away with past rankings of “Powers” and “Superpowers”. This is not the logic of democracy and equality among Members States that animates the core work of the United Nations. Also, some say that the Council should be enlarged with additional permanent members to reflect the reality of the 21st century. But what if the current reality changes in 20 or 40 years from now?
Moreover, including only elected (non-permanent) members in the Security Council would guarantee an increased representation from all regions, thus a better rotation among the entire membership. I will address this point later, but in brief, the UfC proposal gives every Member State greater access to the Council. Third, the inclusion of only elected (non-permanent) members in the Security Council would also encourage greater accountability among Council members. With a set number of years for a term and the need to be re-elected by the wider membership of the United Nations, elected members are more likely to act in the best interests of the global community, rather than pursuing narrow national interests.
If some Member States rightly wish to take on greater responsibility for the the Council’s purposes and intend to serve longer, and have the capacities to do so, UfC’s proposal of longer-term non-permanent seats with the possibility of an immediate re-election is the right answer. These long-term seats could ensure their continuous presence on the Council. We consider this a pragmatic and realistic proposal that would enable us to accommodate the sensitivities and ambitions of all Member States.
On how to rectify the historical injustice done to Africa, and on the representation of Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific on the Council, the UfC’s views are clear. The UfC fully acknowledges the African call for an enhanced regional representation in the Security Council, which is very different from the pursuit of new national permanent seats. According to the current UfC model, Africa would increase from 3 to 6 seats, 3 of which would be of a longer term. Out of the proposed 26 seats, the African Countries would account for more than 23% of the total seats in the Council.
We believe we also need to consider the expansion of UN membership within the Asia-Pacific and Latin America and Caribbean regions since the latest reform in 1963 and grant them a more equitable representation. In particular, the UfC model would allocate 5 seats to the Asia-Pacific group, 3 of which would be of a longer term; and 4 seats to the Latin America and Caribbean group, 2 of which would be of a longer term.
In general, we should heed the call of those 60 countries – mainly Small States and Small Islands and Developing States (SIDS) – that have never had the opportunity to serve in the Council. In the UfC’s proposal, 1 seat would be reserved for Small Island and Developing States (SIDS) and Small States from different regional groups. This rotating seat would not prevent SIDS and Small States from running within their regional group but would – instead – be an additional way for them to gain access to the Security Council. In terms of equitable geographical distribution and regional representation, which – it’s worth repeating – in the UfC’s perspective can only be assured by elected members, Africa would become the group with the most seats on the reformed Council; Asia-Pacific would have the highest percentage increase; while Latin America and the Caribbeans and Eastern Europe would double their representation. This distribution would also allow an increased and more stable representation of cross-regional groupings, such as the Arab group.
When it comes to the IGN documents, we should first point out that these are useful reference documents for our negotiations, but they are informal documents, in line with the legal basis of the IGN. In fact, with Decision 62/557, which calls for intergovernmental negotiations to be conducted “in an open, inclusive and transparent manner” and invokes, for Security Council reform, “a solution that can garner the widest possible political acceptance by Member States”, the General Assembly devised an informal, flexible and inclusive mechanism bound to seek a proposal beyond the rigid formalities of the plenary.
As regards the Framework Document, the UfC’s stance at the time was expressed in a letter to the PGA that was included in the annex to the Framework Document. The Framework Document can be today a reference document on the issue of the Reform of the UNSC, but it probably is an outdated collection of positions of some Member States and Groups at the time in which it was drafted by the then Chair of the IGN. Furthermore, some groups and Member States decided at the time not to contribute to it. Among those, it is worth remembering, three Permanent Members and the Arab Group, besides the UfC. One of the main reasons was that by isolating the positions of Member States according to the five clusters, the document did not take into account the relevant and necessary inter-linkages in positions expressed by Member States on those issues. The views and positions of Member States must be expressed in their totality, trimming or simplifying them does not help our common goal, in our view.
As regards the “Revised Elements Paper of the Co-Chairs”, this is a document under the sole responsibility of the Co-Chairs and is not “owned” by Member States. That said, it is a valuable summary of their understanding of Members States’ positions and could provide useful guidance to the membership on areas where there is convergence and areas where further discussions are needed.
UfC does not see these documents as a draft for negotiations nor does it see merit in “attributions” to the different positions therein represented. In our view, attributions at this stage would unnecessarily lock negotiating groups in their current positions and risk closing the door to the types of political agreement we need to reach consensus on. Our group will never tire of insisting on achieving convergence on the principles that should inspire the reform. Once a consensus is reached on these principles, the next stages of the reform process, starting with the draft of a negotiating text, would definitely be more fluid.
In this regard, distinguished Co-Chairs, it is clear to us from the discussions held in the IGN so far, that a common ground among Member States does exist. For a starter, all Member States agree on the idea of expanding the number of non-permanent seats, there is no question about this. However, there is wide divergence on the creation of new permanent seats and a very significant number of Member States does not support the veto. Furthermore, all Member States agree that an expansion of seats should favor under-represented regions, especially developing Countries. And a very significant number of Member States agree that the size of a reformed Council should be in the mid-20s. All Member States agree on the need to redress the historical injustice against Africa and ensure equitable geographic distribution in the Council. We have been bogged down by this issue for years when the solution is right before our eyes: let these convergences be the foundation of a consensual reform.
I thank you for this opportunity to present the UfC’s position on the crucial issues on the table today. We look forward to hearing other negotiating groups’ ideas. On our end, Italy and UfC partners will continue to engage in the earnest attempt to find convergences with a spirit of flexibility to ultimately reach a comprehensive reform that will benefit all.