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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Maurizio Massari on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group – 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

PR

Dear Co-Chairs, Esteemed delegates,

I am honored to present on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) Group the updated comprehensive proposal of UfC for the reform of the United Nations Security Council.

As you are aware UfC is a diverse, cross-regional, pro-reform, Group that comprises, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Malta, Mexico, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Spain, Türkiye and my own country, Italy.

Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to present our proposal to the wider membership. As you know, UfC has been calling for years in the IGN for a dialogue on models of reform to take place. We are grateful to you, Co-Chairs, for organizing this exercise which enables us to delve into the concrete issues of Security Council reform with a view to advancing discussions. We are also grateful to those who have presented the model before us, demonstrating the value of this approach to test each proposal against the key issues of the reform.

Our proposal for reform of the United Nations Security Council was circulated to the membership via a letter by the Co-Chairs dated 27th February.

As tangible proof of our Group’s openness and flexibility, which we deem essential in this process if we want to achieve concrete results, our proposal has evolved and been constantly updated over the years ever since the UfC first articulated it.  While we have remained firm on the principle that enlargement must be extended only in the non-permanent, elected, category, we have also taken into account how to best accommodate aspirations of other negotiating groups and individual States.

The document represents therefore an updated version of the UfC proposal and it is without prejudice to the fact that it may further evolve in the future, in line with our open and constructive approach to these negotiations. Our model aims to address the diverse perspectives and concerns expressed so far by Member States during the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) meetings. Our ultimate goal is to achieve a comprehensive reform that can garner the widest possible political acceptance across the five thematic clusters identified in UNGA Decision 62/557: categories of membership, the question of the veto, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods, and the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly.

Dear colleagues, our Group believes that a more representative, democratic, accountable, transparent, and effective Security Council is in the interest of all Member States – and I stress “of all”– of the United Nations as a whole, a Security Council that better matches the reality of today and also looks to the constantly-evolving future with built-in adaptability.

Allow me to present the overview of our model following the same outline of our document. The presentation will be complemented with a few slides to highlight the main points.

 

  1. Elected Seats and Regional Distribution:

   1.1 Expansion of Non-Permanent Category:

So far, the uncontested convergence in the IGN has been around 3 main points. The increase in the non permanent category, the fact that the expansion of the SC should give priority to under-represented  regions and there is also a convergence when it comes to the legitimate aspiration of those Member States that are willing and capable of serving in the Council for a term beyond the current 2-year term.

Therefore, the UfC model provides for the increase in the number of non-permanent seats, including some long-term non-permanent seats, with the possibility of immediate re-election. It is important to note on this last point that these long-term seats do not constitute a new category of membership, as they remain within the non-permanent category. This would give all Member States the opportunity to participate in the Security Council more frequently and, if they wish, for longer periods, thus fostering a fair system of rotation among Member States.

As per the size of the Council, acknowledging that a more representative Council requires more Member States sitting at the table, UfC proposes an increase in the number of seats within the elected, non-permanent member category, totaling an overall maximum limit of 27 seats. The ratio of UN Member States to elected seats within the Security Council has increased significantly over the years, from one seat per fewer than eight countries in 1945, to one seat per eleven member states in 1963 (following the addition of 4 non-permanent members after reform), to the current ratio of one seat per nineteen Member States.

The UfC supports an enlargement of the Council that would bring the number of elected non-permanent seats up to twenty-two out of a new twenty-seven-member Security Council. This expansion would restore the more balanced ratio of approximately one elected seat per nine UN Member States.

The elected members’ temporary tenure provides an opportunity for the voices of many States to be heard and considered, fostering greater transparency and legitimacy in the Council’s actions. UfC recognizes the added value that elected members bring, as bridges between the Security Council and the wider UN membership and reaffirms the importance of their contributions.

This expansion is crucial to enhancing the Council’s representativeness and legitimacy as under this model all 188 Member States (that is 193 minus the 5 Permanent Members) gain better access to the Security Council.  Today 60 Member States have unfortunately never served on the Council. Our model is also critical to ensure equitable geographic distribution, which I will touch upon later.

Conversely, expansion of permanent membership would undermine the principle of sovereign equality among Member States, and it would make the council less democratic as there are very limited guardrails of accountability between permanent members and the wider membership represented in the General Assembly. Without elections there is no effective mechanism to hold permanent members to account for their actions in the Council. One-off election to obtain life tenure membership in the Council contradicts the principle of democratic accountability and does not resolve the matter of lack of representation. Moreover, geopolitical dynamics are not static so the fixed composition of the Council would easily become outdated due to evolving international realities. This is one of the arguments presented by many delegations in the intergovernmental negotiations to justify a reform of the Security Council, and one which we also support and is coherent with our model.

The election criteria for the new non-permanent seats, including longer-term seats, will remain the same as those provided for in Article 23.1 of the United Nations Charter. To note that this provision refers only to non-permanent members. This extension of application is possible because longer-term seats would also be subject to regular elections, unlike the permanent members. Members will be elected in accordance with the rules of procedure of the General Assembly. The regional groups will continue to decide on the rotation modalities of their members in the seats assigned to them.

   1.2 Possibility of Longer-Term Seats:

We acknowledge that certain Member States wish to and can provide a greater contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security and wish to serve for longer periods on the Council beyond the current 2-year term. For this reason, as a compromise solution, the UfC proposes the introduction of longer-term re-electable non-permanent seats, with a term ranging from 3 to 5 years to provide continuity while maintaining a fair system of rotation.

The exact length is to be decided during the negotiations and we remain open to negotiating the specific modalities of longer-term membership, such as conditions for re-election and maximum duration of service, to ensure fairness, equitable representation and effective functioning of the Council.

Nevertheless, we believe that in principle, a member state retiring from a two-year single term elected seat should not be eligible for immediate re-election to the longer-term seat and vice versa. At the same time Member States would not be entitled to run for both types of seats simultaneously. This “flip flop clause”, which also applies to States that have lost an election or fear of losing an election for one type of seat and decide to run for the other category, is intended to avoid a possible swinging between categories to the detriment of smaller States, thus ensuring higher opportunity of the latter in getting a seat. This system is mostly about giving smaller states a fair chance to compete and reduce the number of those 60 Member States that have not been able to sit at the Council.

 

1.3 Equitable Geographical Distribution:

Many discussions in the IGN have centered on the need to re-balance the Council, especially due to over-representation of some regional groups and the stark under-representation of others. Correcting the imbalance is clearly a convergence. Therefore, our proposal prioritizes equitable geographical distribution, enshrined in article 23.1 of the Charter, with the aim to address historical imbalances and ensure fair representation for underrepresented regional groups especially the Global South and, in particular, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. We advocate for an enlargement of non-permanent seats, but carefully thought in terms of distribution based on the principle of equitable geographical distribution, and additionally a 2-year rotating seat reserved exclusively for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Small States to account for any potential imbalances that might affect these countries particularly.

In the chart you see we indicate a hypothetical distribution of elected non-permanent seats for each regional group in case of an enlargement of up to 27 members, including the current 5 permanent members.

In the case of an enlargement of the Council to 27 Member States, the seats would be distributed as follows among the regional groups, based on an objective criterion which is equitable geographic distribution:

The African Group which counts 54 Member States would go from 3 seats to 6 seats.

The Asia-Pacific Group (APG), which counts 53 Member States, would go from 2 seats to 6.

The Group of Latin America and Caribbean (GRULAC), which counts 33 Member States, would go from 2 seats to 4.

The Western European and Others Group (WEOG), which counts 26 Member States, would go from 2 seats to 3 seats.

The Eastern European Group (EEG) which counts 22 Member States would go from 1 to 2 seats.

As explained earlier, there would be an additional 2-year new rotating seat assigned for the SIDS and Small states. Of course, Member States that are Small Island Developing States or Small States would also still be eligible to run for a longer-term seat or for a 2-year seat within their regional group, thus guaranteeing a more equitable participation. This would increase their chances when competing for a seat.

In the chart we have not specified the specific breakdown of seats between two-year term and longer-term as we would leave for the negotiations the decision on the exact proportion of longer-term seats among the whole non-permanent membership.

For illustrative purposes, let’s consider hypothetically an enlarged Council to 27 members, and the breakdown could be the following:

3 out of the 6 seats for the African Group could be longer-term, same proportion could apply to the APG, for GRULAC 2 out of the 4 seats could be longer-term and for the WEOG 1 out of the 3 seats could be longer-term seat. In the negotiations it could be decided, for instance, that 1 of the 2 seats assigned to the EEG group could be a longer-term seat. In a nutshell, we are flexible as long as the principle of equitable geographic distribution is respected and the details are agreed upon by the UN Membership during the negotiations. Every regional group should have increased possibilities for their members to serve in the Council.

 

   1.4 Cross-Regional Groupings and Council Size:

UfC unequivocally supports the exploration of special arrangements for cross-regional groups to enhance representation while maintaining the efficiency of the Council. These arrangements may include adjustments within or across existing regional groups, with careful consideration given to representativeness and efficiency. We are open to continue to enhance our proposal to address these matters. One such arrangement is the already built-in rotating seats for SIDS in our proposal.

Our model can ensure that regional, sub-regional and interregional actors are better represented in the new Security Council, bearing in mind their crucial role, already contemplated to some extent by the current Security Council’s structure, as evidenced by the continuous presence of the Arab Group. We are aware that Arab countries and the OIC have called for better representation too, it is a request to which we should also pay close attention. The regions themselves would decide the modalities for fair rotation on these seats, in keeping with the principle of regional ownership.

Why do we foresee a reserved seat for SIDS and Small States? SIDS, in particular, are facing unprecedented threats that are both specific and global in nature, with consequences that can impact our common security. Very often SIDS and Small States have a hard time campaigning for a seat on the Security Council. We believe nevertheless their voice should be heard and that we should assure their stable representation on the Council. Hence the ad hoc seat for this specific category in our proposal. Our belief is that if the regional groups have more elected seats available, as envisaged by the UfC model, accommodating cross-regional groupings will become more practical and easier.

  1. Decision-Making Process:

   2.1 Majority Required for Security Council Decisions:

Thinking in concrete terms how this reformed Security Council would operate, in an enlarged Security Council as per the UfC proposal, decisions will continue to be made in accordance with Article 27 of the UN Charter. We propose in fact increasing the number of affirmative votes required for decision-making to maintain approximately the same percentage of affirmative votes (3/5) as in the current Council. The required majority could therefore be set at 16. In the context of a reformed Security Council as per the UfC proposal it is evident that the weight of the elected members in the decision-making process would be much higher (vis-a-vis the P5) compared to the current situation.

Let me add that the majority ratio needed to approve a decision would make it more difficult for permanent members to block it (unless of course they veto it) or impose on the elected members. A Security Council with more non-permanent members would re-balance the Council by being able to manage its agenda with more effectiveness and long-term seats would be beneficial in terms of institutional memory and continuity.

 

 2.2 Question of the Veto:

While firmly advocating for the abolition of the veto altogether, as it is the root cause of many of today’s shortcomings of the present Council and of its loss of credibility and legitimacy, the UfC acknowledges the complexities involved in this matter. The UfC proposes that the five permanent members commit, through specific initiatives, not to use the veto in specific circumstances, such as mass atrocities and war crimes, in line with the Franco-Mexican initiative and the ACT code of conduct. UfC is willing to consider and take active part in all proposals to this end.

Veto is certainly a prerogative, as much as an additional burden of responsibility vis-à-vis member states and world citizens. Each time the Security Council fails to take a decision on matters of international peace and security due to the use of the veto, it represents a failure of our collective security architecture, with concrete wide-ranging real-world consequences, especially if the lives of civilians are at stake. Even if we might accept the idea of the veto as a purely political act, its exercise should respond to humanitarian considerations, especially the need to end the suffering of civilian populations and to stop conflicts. Similarly, even if the veto were a purely political act, its exercise should be subject to accountability and in this respect, we have welcomed the “veto initiative” spearheaded by Liechtenstein.

2.3. Working Methods and Relationship with the General Assembly:

The working methods of the Security Council must be equally reviewed. It is not enough to concentrate on categories of membership and seat allocations. Flexible, inclusive and transparent decision-making processes are key aspects of any reformed Security Council, as well as an enhanced relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly.

Inclusive working methods of an enlarged Security Council, in particular, should entail the possibility for all elected members to participate in the overall day-to-day business of the Council, including presiding this body during their mandate.

We emphasize the importance of formalizing the current provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council to enhance transparency and clarity in its decision-making processes.

We propose to improve and enrich the quality of the analytical content of the Security Council’s Annual Report, that is periodically presented during a special session of the General Assembly.

UfC supports measures to increase the transparency of the Council’s work and its subsidiary bodies, including by improving the quality, frequency and availability of formal and informal reports, summary records, briefings for non-Council members, and interaction with regional and sub-regional organizations.

We advocate for inclusive working methods that allow all non-Council members to access draft resolutions, presidential statements and press statements, as well as other Security Council documents (Elements to the Press and Notes by the President), fostering a more participatory and representative decision-making process.

Many other measures can be identified. Many of these do not even require amending the UN Charter (like the greater involvement of the elected members of the Council in drafting resolutions, either as penholders or co-penholders), though implementing them would help to make the Council more responsive to the needs and concerns of the membership and the international community overall.

  1. Conclusion

Distinguished colleagues, now that the main pillars of our proposal have been spelled out, I wish to make a few additional points.

We believe that the proposals to reform the Security Council must truly resolve the root causes that affect the adequate functioning of the Security Council, and our model brings this to the table.

How does the UfC model take into account Africa’s under-representation? We are aware that what we are proposing does not contain the specific request of the African Group, in accordance with the Common African Position, which consists in creating new permanent seats with same rights and prerogatives as the current P5. We are committed to finding a practical solution that respects the aspirations of the African continent. We acknowledge and are aware of this. We genuinely sympathize with Africa, whose quest is for a Continent, not for individual States ambitions. We want to address Africa’s concern through a viable option, not by promising something that has been proved to be unattainable over the last decades, and would not benefit Africa as a whole. Continuing like this, the injustice towards Africa will never be addressed, and no reform will be possible. With a compromise, instead, reform will be possible, and Africa will benefit from it. We believe that regardless of the future composition of an enlarged Council, no decision should be taken by the Council concerning Africa without the full involvement of the African members at the Council table.

How can the UfC proposal be further operationalized? Once Member States acknowledge that confrontation prolongs the deadlock and state their readiness to compromise and move forward on the important convergences that we already have  the details of a compromise solution can be negotiated and made operational.  The P5, whose approval is required  for the corresponding Charter amendment, would not be opposed to this proposal as it falls within the stated convergences. And the stated converegences, I mentioned before, but I will repeat, are the need to expand the elected category to under-represented regions, to ensure that some states that have the will and the capacity can enjoy a longer mandate in the council, and the need to limit the scope of the use of veto.

In conclusion, distinguished colleagues, after decades of deadlock in the IGN no formula has enjoyed the required overall acceptance as set out in resolution 53/30 and the relevant Charter provisions. We want to work on a compromise which is what the UfC has been standing for and has reflected throughout the intergovernmental negotiations with actions. Our proposal is meant to be a step forward, a search for middle ground between longstanding, diverging visions that proved unable to reform the Security Council. Uniting for Consensus remains committed to an open and constructive approach to negotiations within the IGN, recognizing the evolving nature of the reform process.

Our proposal is perfectible, but it represents a comprehensive framework for Security Council reform that prioritizes democracy, representation, accountability, and effectiveness, in line with the aspirations of the entire UN membership. Our model is and remains flexible and open to further adjustments based on feedback and inputs coming from the membership. We look forward to genuine negotiations which should focus on all the core issues and the substance of reform – not just aimed at adding a few seats on the Council as a magical solution.

Thank you, colleagues, for your attention and your time and we will answer any question you may have.