On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, I wish to thank you for convening this fifth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform (IGN), which completes the calendar of meetings set for the current session, and for the “Revised Co-Chairs’ Elements Paper” of which we take note.
Thanks to your dynamic guidance, this session of the IGN has seen the active participation of a large number of Groups and individual Member States. It has also, once again, confirmed the urgency felt by the wider membership for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations Security Council and for the IGN to achieve progress.
As rightly pointed out in your letter, this document “reflects the Co-Chairs’ understanding of the current state of IGN discussions, including procedural matters.” As such, we do not see it as a negotiating text or as a document open to a collective drafting exercise. With this important specification, I will make a few general comments on the document, which reflect UfC’s understanding of the discussions and positions.
In the introduction to your document, we noted the list of references to background documents related to the Security Council Reform. However, a reference to resolution 53/30 is absent from this account in your document. The UfC feels that this reference, alongside references to decision 62/557, would be necessary as it reflects key procedural decisions taken by the UN General Assembly with respect to the reform.
Likewise, references to the “Framework Document” should be caveated since not all Member States and groups populated it.
As regards the Elements of “General Convergences”, we attach particular importance to the following notions that inform this process:
- the reform of the Security Council is a Member States driven process;
- the IGN is the legitimate and most appropriate platform to pursue the issue;
- the IGN should seek solutions that garner the widest political acceptance by Member States, as mentioned in Decision 62/557 and that, in light of the strong interlinkages between the five clusters, “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
It is also worth clarifying that alongside other mentioned principles of the reform (efficiency, accountability, effectiveness, transparency) democracy has been widely accepted by the membership as a core principle of the reform. We believe that this should have been accurately reflected in the paper.
Further discussion on this principle, democracy, rather pertains to how it would operate in practice. For UfC, the principle of democracy underpins the fact that every new member of the SC must have a democratic mandate through periodical elections.
It is not very clear to us how such democratic mandate would be guaranteed in other reform models, especially for those who envisage new permanent seats.
We appreciate the update on the modalities of the IGN meetings, which now foresee an “open” and broadcasted segment, and the creation of a website to act as a repository of the recordings of the webcasts and other IGN related documents. We believe this is an important step made during this session to enhance the overall transparency of this process and ultimately encourage the participation in the IGN of all Member States, especially of small delegations. We also see the usefulness of the informal meetings, the so-called “un-formals”, organized by the Co-Chairs as a complement to the IGN, in which UfC is actively participating.
On the “divergences” side and with specific regard to the call for a single text with attributions, it would have been more accurate to mention that – besides UfC and the other two groups already mentioned – several other individual Member States, including some Permanent Members of the Security Council, have advocated for a prior agreement on the principles of the reform before proceeding hastily to text-based negotiations.
We are pleased to see that the demands of Member States to improve the current working methods of the Security Council, including the question of pen-holdership and transparency towards the wider membership, figure now as a convergence. We take note, in this regard, of your recommendation stated in your letter of 27 April 2023, to convene an annual meeting between the Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions and the IGN Co-Chairs.
When it comes to categories of membership in an enlarged Security Council, the expansion of the category of 2-year term non-permanent members is accepted by all Member States. The paper rightly acknowledges this evidence under the convergences.
UfC continues to firmly believe that if we stop ignoring this fundamental fact and in turn we concentrate on building on it, the long sought-after reform of the Security Council could quickly become a reality.
However, the second convergence listed in the paper under categories of membership can be misleading, especially when it states that “there is growing convergence that the Security Council should also be enlarged either by increasing the number of permanent seats or by allowing consecutive 2-year term or introducing longer-term non-permanent seats to enable longer representation of more States on the Council.” It is worth clarifying that, at the moment, the only convergence among Member States refers to the possibility of a longer representation of more States in the Council, without any reference to specific options. For UfC, this longer representation should occur by introducing longer-term, non-permanent seats. We absolutely reject the idea of an increase in the number of permanent seats, which can therefore not be listed within the convergences.
Other possible misinterpretations could be avoided if some parts of the document do not include qualifiers such as “significant” when referring to a number of delegations.
Allow me to reiterate that in our view the expansion of permanent membership on the Security Council, with or without the veto, goes against the principle of sovereign equality, would strip the rest of the membership’s opportunity to serve more frequently on the Council and further hamper the Council’s action and efficiency.
We are, therefore, pleased that you rightly stressed the fact that for UfC only regular elections and a rotation of members would ensure accountability through a democratic process, while also consistently reflecting the global realities and its continually changing landscapes. In fact, it is clear as day that any fixed composition with new permanent members would easily become outdated in the face of ever-evolving international realities.
With regard to the commonalities on regional representation included in the document, the UfC group agrees that “an increase in membership should allow for fair and equitable representation, as well as cross regional balances.” We firmly believe that by increasing the number of Security Council members through additional elected members, we would have a more equitable regional representation, as all Member States would have a greater chance to become members of the SC.
Let me recall that the UN Charter makes no reference to regional or equitable representation in its definition of permanent members, whereas Article 23 makes explicit mention of elections and “equitable geographical distribution” of non-permanent members as characteristics of “equitable representation”.
Furthermore, we acknowledge the distinction clearly emerging from the document of the African Group’s call for an enhanced regional representation in the Security Council and the aspiration of individual Member States seeking permanent seats in their national capacities, as the latter cannot claim to represent their respective regions.
At the same time, we believe that further discussion and clarification are needed on the role of regional groups in selecting new members for a reformed Security Council. Member States’ views continue to differ, and not only on the question of whether a country represents only itself, its region, or the whole UN membership, which is rightly listed under “Divergences” in this section.
As regards the final part of the section, “Divergence”, on regional representation, we acknowledge that the UfC proposal – the most articulated proposal on the table – is correctly mentioned, although very expeditiously.
In terms of regional representation, which – it’s worth repeating – in the UfC’s perspective can only be assured by elected members, under the UfC proposal, Africa would become the first group in the reformed Council. Asia-Pacific would have the highest percentage increase, while Latin America and the Caribbean and Eastern Europe would double their representation. Our proposal would also allow an increased and more stable representation for SIDS, Small States, and other cross-regional groups, such as the Arab group. Let me underscore that all additional non-permanent seats proposed by the UfC, including those with a longer term, would remain available to all UN Member States.
The UfC group will continue to do its part and actively support your efforts in trying to narrow the gaps between negotiating groups by dynamically engaging in the IGN discussion and in the ‘un-formals”, while we continue to develop informal consultations with several other negotiating groups and single Member States. This further confirms our earnest efforts to move collectively towards a necessary reform of the Security Council that benefits all, not only a few Member States.
The UfC group therefore looks forward to a smooth rollover of the IGN process to the 78th session of the General Assembly.
I thank you.