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Statement by Italy on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) Group at 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

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Distinguished Co-Chairs,

On behalf of Uniting for Consensus (UfC), a pro-reform cross-regional group, I wish to thank you for convening this sixth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform (IGN), and for circulating the “Revised Co-Chairs’ Elements Paper” of which we have taken note.

Thanks to your dynamic guidance, this session of the IGN has seen the unprecedented active participation by a large number of Groups and individual Member States. It has reaffirmed the urgency felt by the wider membership for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations Security Council and served to reiterate the relevance and legitimacy of the IGN platform in discussing this matter.

As pointed out in your letter, the Elements Paper “reflects the Co-Chairs’ understanding of the current state of IGN discussions, including on procedural matters.” As such, we do not consider it to be a negotiating text or a document open to a collective drafting exercise. With this important caveat in mind, we welcome your invitation to submit comments or suggestions to ensure that the document truly reflects the elements of convergence and divergence that the delegations have identified and expressed during this session of the IGN. I will make a few general comments on the document, which reflect the UfC’s understanding of the discussions and positions.

With regards to the Elements of “General Convergence”, we continue to attach particular importance to the following notions that inform the process of reform of the Security Council:

  • the reform of the Security Council is a Member States driven process;
  • the IGN is the legitimate and most appropriate and entrusted platform to pursue reform;
  • the IGN should seek solutions that garner the widest political acceptance by the Member States, as mentioned in Decision 62/557 and, in light of the strong interlinkages between the five clusters, should adhere to the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

We particularly appreciate the fact that democracy is now listed among the core principles of the reform (which also encompass efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency) duly reflecting the discussions held in the IGN this year.

In this regard, we would like to underline, once more, that for UfC, the principle of democracy necessarily translates into a democratic mandate that can only be achieved through periodic elections. After the excellent presentations of the various models over the course of the last few months, and the fruitful discussions they generated, the UfC remains convinced that the introduction of new permanent seats, as proposed by some, runs completely counter to the democratic principle.

Under point 7), we note that you state that – I quote – “Member States support the inclusion of a review clause in the reform of the Security Council so as to ensure that the Security Council remains reflective of the evolving geopolitical landscape, efficient, effective, accountable, and relevant”.

We believe that this reference is not factually correct as currently drafted and cannot be listed as a convergence. Our model did not include a review clause and when asked for UfC’s views on the matter we clearly stated that we are not against it in principle and are willing to consider it in any future reform of the Council but that the review should not constitute an integral part of the reform solution, as we understand it is, for instance, in other proposals. For us, a review could be intended to assess if the reformed Security Council is indeed working, and if it is more efficient and transparent some years after the reform is adopted. This is, by the way, the essence of Article 109 of the Charter, or at least its original intention. We do not support any approach that would entail a review clause as a loophole for incremental gains for the benefit of some individual Member States or that would lead to a piecemeal reform. Furthermore, we do not believe that a review clause should serve the limited purpose of ensuring that the Council remains reflective of the geopolitical landscape or accountable, as these goals should be inherent in the initial reform. Such an approach could mean reforms every other year as the geopolitical landscape evolves. Reform in the terms of the UfC model would make sure that the Council is always accountable to the wider membership because the new Council seats would all be subject to regular elections and therefore the Council would constantly reflect the current geopolitical landscape. As the UfC has often argued, any fixed composition of the Council, on the contrary, will easily become outdated in the face of constantly evolving international realities.

We, therefore, suggest this point either be removed from the convergences or be correctly mentioned by clarifying what the convergence was related to. A possible wording could be “Member States expressed openness to consider the inclusion of a review clause in the reform of the Security Council so as to ensure that the Security Council continues to deliver its mandate and is fit for purpose.”

Furthermore, on point 12 related to the Working Methods of the Security Council, we agree that certain changes to the current work and functioning of the Security Council can be made without amendments of the Charter and can help to render the Security Council more efficient, effective, inclusive and transparent in the meantime. However, we believe it’s essential to specify that this discussion pertains to the working methods of the current Security Council. This distinction is crucial to ensure a focused conversation on immediate improvements while keeping separate the broader considerations for a reformed Council.

These “incremental changes” would refer in fact to the on-going and very necessary improvements of the working methods of the current Security Council.

The work carried out in the Security Council Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (IWG) is related to the on-going improvement of the working methods of the current Security Council, as well as addressing immediate procedural and documentation matters, and should be kept distinct from the discussion on the Working Methods of a reformed Security Council as part of a comprehensive reform.

On March 18th, UfC presented a comprehensive reform model addressing the five thematic clusters of the IGN, including Working Methods. We believe it would also be interesting to understand how other proposals consequently address working methods in a reformed Security Council.

When it comes to the last convergence listed in your paper under this section (paragraph 18), we would like to stress that when we are referring to the election criteria for new members it is important to recall that the criteria provided for in Article 23.1 of the United Nations Charter refer only to non-permanent members. Further clarification is required in this paragraph regarding which category of membership it relates to. The UfC therefore suggests adding after “new” the qualifier “non-permanent” in order to avoid misunderstandings.

With regard to the Clusters and specifically to the Relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly, while we are glad to see that there are only commonalities under this item, we nevertheless believe that in para 2.5, when addressing the GA Resolution 76/262 (so called “Veto-Initiative”), we should specify that the main aim of this initiative is to make the Security Council more accountable to the wider membership. Ultimately this can make the United Nations more responsive to challenges to peace and security but its primary goal is to hold the five Permanent Members of the Security Council accountable for their use of vetoes. We therefore suggest amending this paragraph by adding this specification in order to reflect this important point which, in our view, is not only purely factual but also consensual.

On the Categories of membership, we do not think that the commonality listed can be reflected as a convergence as drafted. We would strongly suggest the deletion of the new language (“that would entail an expansion also in another category either permanent seats or longer-term non-permanent seats) and revert to the more correct language of last year (that is to stop at “Security Council reform”). Alternatively, this whole paragraph should be moved to the divergences, in order to factually reflect discussions that have occurred in the IGN so far, and the positions of Member States.

In fact, we would like to recall that long-term seats, as suggested by the UfC, do not create a new category of membership, as they remain within the non-permanent category, subject to elections on the basis of criteria stated in art 23.1 of the UN Charter. In connection with this, not all Member States and negotiating groups agree with the fact that a comprehensive reform should entail expansion also in another category, let alone the permanent category. Quite the opposite, in fact. Allow me to reiterate that in our view the expansion of permanent membership on the Security Council, with or without the veto, contradicts the principle of sovereign equality, and would strip the rest of the membership’s opportunity to serve more frequently on the Council and further hamper the Council’s action and effectiveness.

In general, to avoid possible misinterpretations of the document, it would be necessary that some parts did not include qualifiers such as “significant” when referring to a number of delegations (as we see in point 2 of the divergences on this cluster of categories of membership). If you do keep these qualifiers in the document, it would be duly reflective of the discussions held in the IGN to state, under point 3, that an “increasing” number of delegations stress that only periodic elections of the members of the Security Council can guarantee full accountability of members of the Security Council to the General Assembly. We therefore suggest adding the qualifier “increasing” before “number of delegations”, as this is something stated by a greater number of delegations during our discussions.

As regards the commonalities on the question of the veto, we appreciate that new elements of convergence were added and to see that an overwhelming majority of Member States support limitations to the scope and the use of current veto. However, we cannot concur on the various options to limit the use of veto as currently drafted to be listed as convergences (we refer to roman numerals i, ii. iii. and iv). Those options seem to imply that there is a convergence among negotiating groups on the possibility of expanding the Council in both categories. We therefore suggest that these be moved back to the divergence segment as they were in last year’s Revised Elements Paper.

With regard to the commonalities on regional representation included in the document, we acknowledge that there has been overall agreement to the need for an equitable representation, including of certain cross-regional Groups. We see that in your document you name some of these groups such as the Small Island Developing States and Arab States group, but you don’t mention others. I will recall in fact that other cross-regional groups, such as the OIC, have also called for better representation, and this is, in the view of UfC, a request to which we should also pay close attention.

We would therefore suggest to add after “Arab States”, the phrase “and OIC States among others”.

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

With the expectation that these comments shall receive serious consideration rest assured that the UfC group remains committed to cooperating with you, showing flexibility and spirit of compromise, while trying to identify new areas of convergence in pursuing the ultimate goal of reaching a solution that will serve the common interest of a more representative, accountable, democratic, transparent and effective Security Council. The revised Elements Paper shows that tangible progress in our discussions is possible and that the IGN remains the only valid platform to advance our negotiations towards a reformed Security Council.

With that in mind, the UfC group looks forward to the IGN crafting the contribution for the Pact for the Future on Security Council reform, in view of the Summit of the Future in September 2024.

I thank you.