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General Assembly - Informal Meeting on IGN

Date:

04/04/2019


General Assembly - Informal Meeting on IGN

Statement by Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, on behalf of the “Uniting For Consensus” Group, at the Informal meeting of the General Assembly on 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 ---

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus group, I wish to thank you for convening this third meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform, focusing on the two key-issues of “size of an enlarged Council and working methods of the Council” and “the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly”. We are pleased for this opportunity to reflect on the interlinkages between two important reform clusters, bearing in mind that a comprehensive reform - is our common objective.

And I really want to underline that this full room shows the interest and the vitality of the IGN and the way we are working together following a clear mandate of these Intergovernmental Negotiations.

“Size of an enlarged Council and working methods of the Council",
on the question of the size of an enlarged Council, it is important to note that the ratio of Member States to elected seats within the Security Council has increased dramatically in the last decades. This has had a major impact on how representative this body actually is: in 1945, with only six non-permanent members and 51 United Nations members, it was 1 seat per fewer than 8 countries. Today, it is 1 seat per 19 countries.

Better accessibility to the Council is an issue that must be addressed. It is closely linked to the pressing need to strengthen multilateralism through a more representative and legitimate Council. “To reflect the realities of the contemporary world”, we believe that the responsibility in the maintenance of peace and security should be shouldered by a much wider group of Countries. In particular, an emphasis should be placed on those regions of the world that are now under-represented: I am referring in particular to the African Continent, but also to the Arab Countries, to the Asian Countries, to Latin America and to the Small Islands and Development Countries. These are groups and countries that can provide a real added value to the work of the Security Council, especially on new challenges to peace and security - like climate change.

This is why the UfC supports an enlargement of the Council that would bring the number of elected non-permanent seats to twenty-one in a new twenty-six-member Security Council. For the same reason, an enlargement of the Security Council to a few new Permanent members, if implemented, would result in an even greater gap between Security Council representation and the UN membership, contrary to the intent of the Security Council reform.

On this subject, we would like to hear from other negotiating groups, as we heard from some, what are their views regarding the size of an enlarged Council, how many new members they envisage and, in particular, which ratio of permanent versus non-permanent members they foresee?

Working methods of the Council,
some may question whether the enlargement of the Security Council to 26 members could negatively impact its functioning and effectiveness. We think this will not be the case, for two reasons.

First, we are not proposing to increase the number of rights of veto which has proven to be one of the major obstacles for Security Council deliberations. Decisions will continue to be made according to the provisions of Art. 27 of the Charter, while the number of affirmative votes required for decision-making will be increased to remain consistent with the 60% circa affirmatives votes required in the current Security Council. And speaking of veto, I would like to ask to those colleagues who advocate for new permanent seats on a national basis how would a larger number of vetoes make the Council more effective?

Second, we propose to increase only the non-permanent members, who are the “elected members” of the Security Council. During our members’ recent term in the Security Council we experienced that coordination and action among elected members was a useful tool to overcome stalemates in the Council, to foster participation of civil society, and to shine a spotlight on crosscutting issues. In part based on this experience, we strongly believe that a Security Council enlarged with elected members can actually improve its functioning and effectiveness.

Let me underline that it is partly thanks to IGN work, work that is often underestimated, that the current working methods of the Security Council have improved: today we have more transparency, open-format meetings, informative briefings, and better access to information. IGN meetings are by some referred to as unproductive exercise, we disagree on this position. On the contrary, we think we should increase discussions on issues such as working methods where we can find many commonalities, even among negotiating groups with radical differences.

In this respect, I would like to commend the role played by Japan before, and now by Kuwait, as Chair of the Informal Working Group on documentation and other procedural questions, to improve the working methods of the Security Council. We fully support this work, especially the request to have a fair burden-sharing and equal distribution of penholdership and chairmanship of subsidiary bodies among permanent members and elected members. We firmly support the idea that the Council is a collective body, made up of a number of members that should act together on an equal footing as much as possible. And we believe that such fair and equal distribution of duties, for example through the practice of “co-penholdership”, is consistent with enlarging the Security Council with non-permanent members, and certainly not with the creation of new areas of privilege inside the Council. Let us not forget that it is the elected members who have historically supported improved working methods, legitimizing our belief that a more favorable ratio of non-permanent versus permanent members will improve the way the Council works and ultimately its effectiveness.

“Relationship between the Council and the General Assembly”,
on the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly, we believe that the two main organs of the United Nations can be effective facilitators of each other’s decision-making prerogatives. This relationship can be both complementary and mutually reinforcing, without prejudice to the fact that the General Assembly is the only UN body with universal representation. In this framework, allow me to stress that it is essential to have a Council accountable to the wider membership, and that a basic prerequisite for enhancing accountability in an enlarged Council is the periodic election of all new Council members by the General Assembly.

Transparency is the other principle indispensable for a truly democratic reform of the Security Council. Much has been done in this respect, but there is still room for improvement, especially as regards the mechanism of consultation between the Council and the broader UN membership, particularly, with interested States and regional organizations. For example, a more inclusive involvement of Troop and Police Contributing Countries is key to nurturing trust between these Countries and Council members. And I heard the Representative of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of the African Union, making the same point.

Another area where we believe it would be useful to focus discussion is how the Security Council can make better use of all available UN resources, including stronger cooperation with other UN organs, such as the Peacebuilding Commission. In this case, enhanced use of available UN resources could be leveraged to increase the Council’s capacity in the field of conflict.

On these aspects, we are curious to know how adding permanent seats would make the Council more transparent to the whole membership and more accountable to the regional groups and how the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly would be strengthened?

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

We look forward to tomorrow’s interactive session to get reactions on our proposals and questions and to provide further inputs for our collective work. As requested by you at the last meeting, UfC reached out to other members, meeting with several Countries and groups from different areas to identify new convergences. We believe this is the right approach and we will continue to work on it, supporting your efforts centered on the discussion of the main clusters of the reform of the Security Council and their interlinkages which is far from being exhausted and should continue in our next meeting.

We regret that again, today, we heard about questions and requests for text based discussions. We believe that no drafting, or “discussion”, of texts can fix what currently divides the membership. The only way forward is to persevere in the work we are doing through a membership-driven, inclusive and transparent process. The UfC is ready to cooperate with you and the whole membership to advance this process, for the common goal of increasing the Council’s legitimacy, authority and effectiveness.

I thank you.

 


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