Press Releases

    GA/10080
    15 October 2002

    DELEGATES WELCOME INFORMATIVE REPORT, AS GENERAL
    ASSEMBLY CONSIDERS REFORM OF SECURITY COUNCIL

    NEW YORK, 14 October (UN Headquarters) -- The need to reform the structure and working methods of the Security Council to make it more democratic and transparent was the focus of discussions today as the General Assembly began its consideration of the Council’s annual report and the question of equitable representation on and increase in the Council’s membership.

    Delegations welcomed the slimmer, more informative report produced by the Council this year, which had saved the United Nations some $300,000. A new feature was the description of the Council’s substantive business, which allowed for greater interaction and debate with the Assembly.

    While all speakers agreed on the need for reform in the Council, particularly an increase in the organ’s membership and improvements in its working methods, differing views prevailed over the exact nature of such changes. Some speakers, including the representative of China, warned that in addressing the present lack of balance in the Council and undertaking the necessary reforms, there could be no quick fixes. The process required a sense of urgency as well as patience and wisdom.

    Likewise, India’s representative cautioned against resorting to piecemeal and partial solutions. Expansion was needed in both categories of Council membership, and any attempt to do otherwise would not only be shying away from the main issues, but also perpetuating an international system characterized by inequity.

    The representative of the United States felt that a reformed Council, with Japan and Germany assuming permanent seats, and with an expanded number of rotating seats, would better enable the Council to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. However, the United States would continue to oppose efforts to limit or eliminate the veto, a condition that many delegations today called essential to making the Council more democratic.

    The purpose of the veto, remarked Singapore’s representative, was to promote collective, not national, interests. Yet each time delegations voted in either the Assembly or the Council, short-term national interests were put ahead of long-term collective ones. That presented a structural problem undermining the performance of both organs.

    Germany’s representative, who favoured an increase in both permanent and non-permanent seats, said the Council lacked legitimacy, as it did not reflect the new geopolitical order. He warned against proposals apparently aiming for interim solutions, such as increasing only the number of non-permanent seats, thereby restricting Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia to non-permanent seats forever.

    On the enlargement of the Council, Algeria’s representative noted that any expansion should take note of the wish expressed by Africa, whereby 11 seats should be added, including two permanent rotating seats and two non-permanent seats to be shared among African countries. The enlargement to 26 members would confer greater credibility and legitimacy upon the Council.

    At the outset of the meeting this morning, the Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s notification to the Assembly of matters relative to the maintenance of international peace and security that the Council was dealing with, and of matters that it had ceased to deal with.

    Also during today’s meeting, representatives expressed their condolences to the Government of Indonesia and the families of those who had lost their lives in the weekend terrorist attack in Bali.

    The Assembly also heard statements by the representatives of the United Kingdom, Sudan, Costa Rica, Peru, Cuba, Mexico, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Iran, Colombia, Namibia, Nigeria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Libya, Egypt, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Spain, Bangladesh, Argentina, New Zealand, Japan, Viet Nam and Pakistan.

    Martin Belinga-Eboutou (Cameroon), President of the Council for the month of October, introduced its report.

    The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 15 October, to continue its discussion of the Security Council.

    B
    ackground

    The General Assembly met this morning to consider the Secretary-General’s notification under Article 12, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations and the report of the Security Council.

    The Assembly had before it a note by the Secretary-General on notification under Article 12, paragraph 2 of the Charter of the United Nations (document A/57/392). It advises the Assembly of matters relative to the maintenance of international peace and security that are being addressed by the Council and of matters with which the Security Council has ceased to deal.

    [Article 12, paragraph 1 of the Charter stipulates that, while the Security Council is exercising the functions assigned to it in the Charter in respect to any dispute or situation, the General Assembly shall not make any recommendation with regard to that dispute or situation unless the Council so requests.]

    The Assembly also had before it the report of the Security Council covering the period 16 June 2001 to 31 July 2002 (documents A/57/2/and A/57/2/Corr.1). It describes the year ending 31 July 2002 as one of the busiest in the history of the Security Council, a year sadly overshadowed by the events of 11 September 2001, to which the Council responded quickly and unanimously. As a direct consequence of 11 September, the Council assumed major new responsibilities with the adoption of resolution 1373 (2001) and the establishment of its Counter-terrorism Committee. It noted that following 11 September, the Council’s work on Afghanistan also intensified.

    Noting that there was no let-up in the rest of the Council’s business, the report pointed out that the Middle East was a major priority. After failing to reach agreement on a number of draft resolutions in the early part of the period, the Council agreed on a total of four resolutions, most adopted unanimously, from March 2002 onwards. That, along with regular briefings, had allowed the Council to engage more regularly and pointedly with Middle East issues, although most of its resolutions remained to be implemented in full.

    Also during the same period, the Council: maintained its busy agenda on Africa; noted with satisfaction the independence of Timor-Leste; the progress made in the Balkans; and the need by both the Council and the United Nations to remain fully engaged there, particularly in Kosovo. The report also said the Council was delighted with the award of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize to the Secretary-General and to the United Nations.

    Statements

    Introducing the report of the Council, MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon), President of the Security Council for the month of October, said that the Council had been very active in the period from June 2001 to July 2002. With respect to Africa, the Council had dealt with crisis situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Burundi, Somalia, Western Sahara, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic. He welcomed the fact that some of those crises were gradually being extinguished.

    Also, he said, the Council had set up a working group on managing conflicts in Africa, which had done remarkable work since its establishment. He emphasized two points which had a significant impact on the way the Council now addressed Africa. The Council’s mission in May 2002 to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other countries in the region allowed it to go to the heart of the reality in the field. In addition, the workshop in July 2002 on the Mano River Union had helped the Council to better understand conflicts in that region.

    In its work, the Council went well beyond the strictly conflict nature of points dealt with, addressed cross-cutting issues such as protection of civilians. Furthermore, the Council had agreed on a new mechanism to improve its cooperation with troop-contributing countries and had this year adopted resolution 1442 concerning the legal situation of peacekeeping contingents. Another threat to international peace and security which had mobilized the Council was terrorism. Faced with that scourge, it had set up a committee against terrorism. It had also devoted a great amount of time to following up implementation of sanctions, and continued to consider best ways to improve its efficiency and reduce the negative impact of sanctions on civilians.

    The revised format of the Council’s report, about 300 pages shorter than previous reports, had allowed the Organization to save some $300,000, he noted. The large number of public meetings had showed the Council’s clear wish to make its work more transparent and effective. Another important improvement in the report was the inclusion of an introduction which set out an analytical summary of the Council’s work. Next week, it planned to take up an interactive debate on the Assembly’s consideration of the Security Council.

    JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) welcomed the slimmer, more informative report produced by the Security Council which provided a description of its substantive business, thus allowing for greater interaction and debate with the General Assembly. In fact, the Council had attempted, during the course of the last year, to make its work more transparent in quality and quantity. He was especially pleased with the interaction between the two organs pertaining to the work of the Counter-terrorism Committee. The Council had also become more targeted in its handling of the peace and security agenda. Since September 1999, it had enjoyed greater effectiveness in carrying out peacekeeping missions, he said, citing its work in Timor-Leste, the Balkans, Sierra Leone and the Great Lakes region of Africa.

    He also commented on the Council’s discussions of generic themes, such as gender issues, the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, children and armed conflict, and human rights under the rubric of peace and security. All those matters, including efforts aimed at conflict prevention and conflict resolution, formed part of the commanding underlying theme of the United Nations, namely, sustainable development. In that regard, it was significant that the lion’s share of the Council work continued to be conflicts in Africa. However, the scorecard for Africa was mixed: good for Sierra Leone, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, but less good for Burundi, Somalia and the Sudan. The Council had also done good work in Afghanistan, with its "light footprint."

    But the Middle East presented the biggest challenge, he said. Even there, though, progress had been recorded. It was necessary to rise to the challenge of Iraq’s repeated violations of international law. He said it must be made crystal clear that, this time, the goal in Iraq was complete disarmament or serious consequences. The Council should win the support of the general membership before it acted.

    In closing, he agreed on the need for reform in the Security Council. Such reform would lead not only to increased membership but continuing improvements in its working methods. He urged that prepared speeches and predictable national positions be abandoned during Council debates. "The way in which we debate and interact," he advised, "can make a significant difference."

    ILHAM IBRAHIM MOHAMED AHMED (Sudan) emphasized the Secretary-General’s reference to lack of progress and lack of clarity on the issue of equitable representation in the Security Council. She stressed that the process of strengthening the United Nations could not be complete without addressing the issue of reforming the Security Council. She added that that was in spite of agreements made by Member States.

    She said that the challenge before the Assembly was, therefore, to provide a practical solution to the challenge. In the interest of openness and transparency, she called for all sessions held by the Council to be open. As well as presenting its periodic mandated reports to the General Assembly, she urged that the Council’s working methods be improved.

    Observing that the question of equitable representation was provided for in the United Nations Charter, she called for giving Africa two seats on the Security Council as repeatedly requested by African heads of State. The increased United Nations membership -- many of the newcomers from developing countries -- made that necessary.

    She also called for the abolition of the use of the veto, saying that the reform process could not be achieved if only a few nations continued to hold and pursue their own narrow interests. She highlighted the situation in the Middle East, particularly the ending of the occupation of Palestine and other Arab territories as among the issues that remained critical to the maintenance of international peace and security.

    KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said there had been improvement in the transparency of the Security Council through increased numbers of open meetings, wrap-up sessions and briefings. The annual report was shorter, more statistical information on the Council’s activities had been provided, and there was an analytical overview in the introduction. The most significant innovation was found in the provisional verbatim record of the Council meeting at which the report was adopted. Yet, despite the time and effort put into transforming it, the General Assembly did not need to rely solely on the annual report to assess the performance of the Security Council. The successes and failures of the Council were clearly visible and tangible to those watching.

    Suggesting several criteria by which to assess the work of the Security Council -- including aspects of how successfully, efficiently, transparently and with what level of credibility and prestige it had operated in the past year -- he added that the question of whether the Security Council had responded adequately to the demands of globalization should be addressed. At a time when the world was racing ahead, multilateral institutions were standing still. One suggestion for improving the performance of the Security Council was to conduct more strategic reviews of its work.

    Moreover, the purpose of expansion of the Security Council was to enhance its performance, he said. In that respect, the question of the veto needed to be addressed directly. The purpose of the veto was to promote collective, not national, interests, yet each time delegations voted in either the General Assembly or the Security Council, short-term national interests were put ahead of long-term collective ones. That presented a structural problem undermining the performance of both the General Assembly and the Security Council. The only effective way to improve the performance of any organization was to hold it accountable -- which the Open-Ended Working Group on Security Council Reform could do for the Council.

    SICHAN SIV (United States) said a reformed Council, with Japan and Germany assuming permanent seats, and with an expanded number of rotating seats, would better enable the Council to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security under the Charter. Among the complex issues the Open-Ended Working Group had to resolve were balancing representation between the developed and developing countries, achieving appropriate and equitable representation among regions and ensuring that Council enlargement did not curtail its ability to act promptly and decisively.

    Despite those challenges, he wanted the Group to succeed in building as broad a consensus as possible. To move forward, it was necessary to seriously analyse the various models for an expanded Council, to determine how to make the Council stronger and more effective. That would require genuine and broad support. To get there, it was not possible to divorce the discussion from issues of the expanded Council’s ultimate size and composition. Doing so merely ensured more delay.

    It would come as no surprise, he added, that the United States would continue to oppose efforts to limit or eliminate the veto -- initiatives that only served to stifle progress on the important task ahead. The veto remained an essential element of the Council’s ability to maintain international peace and security.

    BRUNO STAGNO (Costa Rica) said no State can increase its security to the detriment of the others. Absolute security for one State means absolute insecurity for the others. He said that this problem could only be solved through multilateral action.

    He said the Security Council was the only global mechanism that made it possible for all States to enjoy security, and the Security Council could not be allowed to be weakened as a result of unilateral action.

    He said the Security Council must be supported and strengthened, and all States must observe the prohibition of the use of force. The members of the Security Council should remain inspired by the principles in the United Nations' Charter, and they should never act in pursuit of internal political considerations.

    He said that the Security Council must assume its responsibilities and reassume its leading role in the maintenance of international peace and security. He said that it could not react to political and military crises with weak declarations to the press.

    The adoption of resolution 1373 showed the Security Council's capacity to face new challenges, he said. Costa Rica would like to see the same readiness and commitment in the implementation of all other adopted resolutions, including those on the various arms and diamonds embargoes.

    He said the work of the Security Council must be genuinely transparent, and that true transparency would be attained when the consultations among the council's members and the periodic introduction of reports by the Secretary-General or his representatives are held in public meetings.

    The regulation and eventual elimination of the veto must be the main goal of the reform process, he said. The existence of the veto right as a unilateral privilege was an affront to the basic principles of justice.

    OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru), while praising the Council for producing a good report, said there was still room for improvement and a clearer vision of the maintenance of international security. He contrasted its report with similar ones produced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and outlined the steps to be taken to improve reporting methods to extend understanding of the Council’s work to the General Assembly membership. Greater clarity should be given to advances, difficulties and challenges to international security. He criticized the production of interminable, cryptic documents which could engender suspicion of the Security Council.

    During the past year, the Security Council had begun interactive work against terrorism. That was positive, he said. The Counter-terrorism Committee conducted ongoing open-ended debate with non-members of the Council. He urged the continuation of such meetings, but pointed out that that development had a negative side, since the proposals and ideas presented at those meetings did not go beyond the walls of the Council. Why not have summaries of such meetings, which, after all, were factual in nature, produced and widely distributed. Summaries could also be created for the exercise of the veto and for national decisions to ignore Council resolutions. Without that kind of reporting system, there would be no real understanding of the work of the Council. Such summaries would facilitate greater global access to, and better understanding of, the Council’s work.

    There was also, he noted, a need for transparency inside the Council itself, because at times there were debates which appeared to be the preserve of the permanent members. The Council worked for all Member States of the United Nations, and consequently had a responsibility to them all.

    BRUNO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) welcomed the new format of the report of the Council, including the inclusion for the first time of an analytical summary. The report should reflect not only what had been done but also what had not been done. Nothing could explain the fact that the Council’s rules of procedure remained provisional after 57 years. They should be properly set out and codified. While there had been more open meetings, informal consultations remained the rule and not the exception. The informative presentations of the Secretariat, unless in exceptional circumstances, should happen in open meetings and not in closed consultations.

    He looked favourably on the open debate which took place on the working group on Africa. At the same time, he wondered why that format had not been extended to the work of other working groups, such as the one on sanctions. A dangerous example of action taken by the Council in areas beyond its competence and mandate was the adoption of resolution 1422 (2002) related to the International Criminal Court, which extended to an unacceptable level the authority of the Council to amend international treaties. At the same time, he was concerned with the lack of action by the Council on other issues such as Palestine.

    Reform of the Council was the most urgent priority task of United Nations reform, and its results would dictate to a large extent the future work of the Organization, he noted. The Council was not democratic, equitable or representative. Even non-permanent members were practically ignored, as permanent members decided on matters of great importance. It was inexplicable that Africa should not have a single representative among the permanent membership. To correct that situation, there should be, among permanent members, at least two members from Asia, two from Africa and two from Latin America and the Caribbean. Also, the use of the veto must be eliminated.

    ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said that in recent years a significant number of Member States had tried to improve the transparency of the Security Council by promoting more public meetings to enable those that were not members to get more information on which to base their decisions.

    As part of its work in the Council since January 2002, Mexico had promoted greater transparency and democratization in its organization of the working methods of the Council and hoped there would be greater rapprochement between the General Assembly and the Council. Mexico hoped for the institutionalization of those working methods and rules that had thus far only been provisional for the past 50 years. Noting that this was one key aspect of the reforms, he pointed out that, in recent years, positions of a majority of members on Council reform had been the result of efforts by non-permanent Council members.

    He said the majority of delegations wished to see the exercise of the veto limited to decisions taken under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter. On the question of increasing the Council’s membership, Mexico was in favour of increasing the number of non-permanent members. This had been under discussion for a long time, but had not been very successful.

    Any reforms to the Security Council had to bear in mind new realities such as the European Union, he said. Negotiations in the working group were at an impasse regarding that issue, and the only way to make progress was for Member States to make even greater efforts in those negotiations in which all members would take part. Those negotiations would also include the views of the five permanent members who held the veto. The limitation or elimination of the veto was an important element in that dialogue.

    ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) paid tribute to the delegation of Singapore for its efforts to bestow the current format on the report of the Council following last year’s debate. The document was a considerable improvement over reports of previous years. On the Council’s functioning, he noted that it had held a greater number of public meetings with the participation of a greater number of States. However, he believed it would be appropriate for consultations to be open to facilitate the hearing of views of non-members, so that the Council could have a better understanding of the issues and would be enabled to make better decisions.

    The Council’s missions were useful in that they dealt with the heart of the problem and sought the cooperation of the parties concerned. He encouraged such missions, which had a positive impact on local actors, and suggested that they be formalized and expanded to other troubled areas. Nevertheless, he regretted that the Council had shown hesitancy to act on some matters. Certain important resolutions of the Council had remained a dead letter and had not been enforced. In the Middle East, where the Council had manifest responsibility, it had not made significant progress moving the peace process forward or protecting civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories. It was the credibility of the Council that was at stake.

    It was time, he noted, to institutionalize the Council’s rules of procedure. In addition, the use of the veto should be restricted to matters under Chapter 7 of the Charter until such time as it was abolished altogether. On the enlargement of the Council, he noted that any enlargement should take note of the wish expressed by Africa for the addition of 11 seats, including two rotating permanent seats and two non-permanent seats to be shared among African countries. The enlargement to 26 members would confer greater credibility and legitimacy on the Council.

    HANNS SCHUMACHER (Germany) said that the Council did not reflect the new geopolitical order of the world -- it lacked legitimacy. Neither the changes in contributions to peace and security nor the increasing stake of all regions of the world in international affairs were presently reflected adequately in the Council’s composition. That situation had to change if the United Nations system as a whole wished to maintain and increase its authority. Therefore, he supported an increase in the number of seats in both categories, a review process, a first step towards a veto reform as suggested by Foreign Minister Fischer and further progress in reforming the Council’s working methods.

    He warned against proposals apparently aiming at interim solutions, such as increasing the number of non-permanent seats only and, thereby, restricting the great regions of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia forever to non-permanent seats. While understanding the desire to breathe life into a rather deadlocked reform debate, heading in the wrong direction would, in the end, only cement forever the present state of affairs. Therefore, he would not be able to support such a proposal.

    He continued to believe that narrowing and consolidating the various reform options contained in the report of the Open-Ended Working Group might be a first step towards embarking on meaningful Council reform. In addition, the question should be permitted whether, after 10 years of work, the Working Group had not exhausted its means and should receive a new political impetus and mandate from the Assembly.

    ZHANG YISHAN (China) stressed that the Council’s annual report had made use of the new format, highlighting main points and reducing its size. In the past year, the Council, as the primary organ for the maintenance of international peace and security, had adapted to situations and had given consideration to major issues. Particularly after 11 September, the Council had swiftly passed resolution 1373 (2001), which set up the Counter-terrorism Committee, thus playing an indispensable coordinating role in global anti-terrorism efforts. The Council should grasp the opportunity to work with African nations and organizations to resolve ongoing conflicts on that continent. He added that the Council actions regarding the situation in the Middle East were far from satisfactory.

    On Council reform, he noted that the United Nations membership had grown in the past 50 years, with more developing countries than developed ones. The Council should march with the progress of time and carry out the necessary reforms. The primary task of such reform should be to address the present lack of balance in the membership of the Council. Improving the Council’s working methods was an important part of that reform. There could not be any quick fixes in that connection. The process required a sense of urgency as well as patience and wisdom. The Open-Ended Working Group was the appropriate forum for such discussions.

    AARON JACOB (Israel) offered his country’s sympathy to the victims of the terrorist attack in Bali, especially to Australia because it had sustained the greatest loss of life. That attack underscored the danger of international terrorism.

    He said Israel joined with others who called for change in the United Nations. The past 57 years had shown that the world had changed considerably. But change in the United Nations was slow in coming. The last change the Council had undergone occurred in 1965, but the global structure had been drastically transformed. All those changes had influenced the Security Council in fulfilling its mandate.

    The end of the cold war and globalization had all contributed to advancement in the world but had produced new challenges, he said. There were new threats and unseen enemies, such as terrorism, rampant disease and the developmental divide which, together, posed a new sort of challenge to international peace and security. The United Nations had to adapt to those changes. So, too, did the Security Council. The Council had to be expanded to faithfully reflect the nature of the change in membership and new geopolitical realities.

    He also said there had to be improved access to Security Council proceedings which would be in its best interest. There ought to be greater reliance on open meetings which would make the Council’s decisions better understood at large. Greater effectiveness would depend on greater cooperation rather than divisiveness within the body. He said the Council had to display in its membership the broadest range of culture and opinion.

    MOHAMMED AL-TAIEEB (Saudi Arabia) was concerned that most of the Council’s resolutions on the Middle East had not been implemented, as was shown in the Council’s report. Israel had refused to implement relevant resolutions and had prevented the investigation into the actions in Jenin. That showed Israel’s scorn for the decisions of the United Nations and the Council in particular. Israel’s persistent refusal showed its determination to maintain its occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories and undermine efforts at peace. The international community must take necessary measures to maintain the credibility of the Council.

    He agreed with the need for the Organization to adapt to new circumstances. No reform of the United Nations would be complete unless it involved reform of the Council, which had been so long awaited. The setting up of the Open-Ended Working Group on Council reform reflected the agreement among Member States on the need for such reform. He deplored the fact that the Working Group had not come up with agreement on a number of issues, including the increase in the number of both permanent and non-permanent seats.

    Any reform, he warned, should not endanger the effectiveness of the Council. The role of the Council should not be limited to maintaining peace and security, but should also include the prevention of conflicts and the consolidation of peace after conflicts. Also, all Member States should abide by the Council’s decisions. In addition, there was a need for increasing transparency in the Council’s work.

    HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) expressed deep regret at the loss of life in the terrorist attack in Bali. On the substantive aspects of the Council’s work, he noted that there had been a tremendous increase in its workload during the reporting period, and he welcomed the establishment of the ad hoc working group on Africa.

    Noting that the Council could claim its fair share of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Secretary-General and the United Nations as a whole, he cited the successful establishment of the transitional Government in Afghanistan, peaceful elections in Sierra Leone and the independence of Timor-Leste as among the outstanding achievements of the Council during that period.

    He registered disappointment, however, that on the issue of the Middle East and Palestine, the Council had not been able to play the role expected of it. He welcomed the Council’s more frequent discussion of the Palestinian issue, with several open debates and regular monthly briefings on the situation. Unfortunately, that increase had not impacted on the situation on the ground. "Either Israel continues to ignore or manipulate the Council’s resolutions or, more often than not, the Council is not able to do anything meaningful because it was prevented from doing so," he said.

    Malaysia strongly believed that had the Council approved the establishment of a United Nations or international monitoring presence in the occupied territories, much of the violence could have been avoided and the situation today would have been more conducive to a negotiated settlement. Although the question of Palestine was one of the oldest on the agenda of the Council, the failure of the Council to exert its authority on that issue undermined its credibility. It was time for the Council to play a more active role.

    He said that Iraq was another issue on which the Council continued to be at an impasse, and that the unresolved question of Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction had stood in the way of lifting sanctions on that country. In addressing the question of Iraq, the Council should heed the word of the Secretary-General when he urged Members, on 12 September 2002, to rededicate themselves to the principles and purposes of the Organization and the centrality of the multilateral process.

    MOHAMMAD H. FADAIFARD (Iran), noting that visible improvements had been made to both the content and format of the annual report, said it was more analytical and had taken into account the basic criticism leveled at it for many years. The working methods of the Council had also improved in the past few years. Better procedures and working methods could generate more efficiency and effectiveness and bring the Security Council in tune with the general membership.

    The period under review in the present report was an extraordinary one, he said. After the events of 11 September 2001, the Council had dealt in a united way with the chaos created by the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, by pushing for a comprehensive implementation of the Bonn Agreement. It was important that the Security Council continue to contribute to both the fight against terrorism and uphold the effective engagement of the international community in Afghanistan.

    While the Council had been effective in dealing with terrorism and some conflict situations -- such as those in Afghanistan, East Timor and Sierra Leone -- some of the issues on its agenda needed more attention, such as Africa and, particularly, the Middle East, he added. Moreover, on the subject of reforming the Security Council, significant differences on matters of size and composition remained, particularly in terms of permanent membership and the veto power. The fundamental concern was to make the Security Council more representative and democratic, but no less efficient. Thus, reform should not be subject to any predetermined and superficial timetable that might impose a premature and hasty decision on the delicate process of reform.

    ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) expressed solidarity with the people of Indonesia and family members of those affected by the terrorist attack in Bali. That attack would, he was sure, attract the attention of the United Nations as it carried out its responsibilities.

    The joint debate was taking place at a very important time, he said. A successful effort at a new format for reporting on the work of the Council was before delegates. The new report worked in the Council’s favour, allowing for greater transparency. In the past, the Council’s methods had frequently been questioned and criticisms of the Council’s format had been justified. Much of those criticisms had been aired in such quarters as today’s meeting. He praised Singapore for its views in that respect. He was pleased, too, that the United Kingdom, a permanent member of the Council, had always shown an interest in change.

    The lesson from what had transpired thus far was that change could be made without disruption, he said. But, he withheld unqualified endorsement for the new report until it was deemed to have had the desired impact. That would come when Member States of the United Nations and the wider global community expressed greater appreciation for the work of the Council. So far, changes carried out by the Council had had limited effectiveness; hence, there was need for continued reform. Attention had to be paid to the proposal by the Secretary-General on reform in the United Nations, when considering other changes. While he recognized that expansion was a contentious issue, he suggested that, under the guidance of the President of the Assembly, and with realistic goals in mind, change might be possible.

    MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) observed that for more than eight years now, the Open-Ended Working Group had deliberated on how to make the Council democratic, representative and responsive to the needs of all Member States. It had become ritualistic for General Assembly sessions to take note of the Working Group's report, welcome progress made and decide that the succeeding Assembly session would continue to consider Council reform.

    During the Working Group's second session, he said, discussions with Council members had stressed that steps had been taken with regard to the Council's working methods, including improvement in the Arria Formula, meetings with troop-contributing countries and contributors to peacekeeping operations, the Council President's briefings to non-Council members and other activities that added value to the Council reform process.

    Noting that it was logical for developing countries to call for appropriate representation on the Council, he expressed his country's support for the African Union's position that the region deserved two permanent and five non-permanent seats. The position that the two permanent seats should be held on a rotating basis demonstrated the collective, representative and democratic spirit in which Africa was pursuing that issue. The democratization and enlargement of the Council should be seen as an integral part of United Nations reform and the indefinite deferral of the Council's enlargement and democratization amounted to the gradual erosion and relegation of the General Assembly, he pointed out.

    ARTHUR C. I. MBANEFO (Nigeria) expressed satisfaction that the Security Council had begun to respond positively to demands that its report be more analytical, concise and readable. Additionally, he said, the report’s introduction, which summarized Council activities as they related to specific conflict areas, made the report easier to read and the information contained therein more accessible.

    Referring to situations in Sierra Leone, the Mano River Union, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, and on the issue of terrorism, he said that while the Council had made progress in the resolution of some conflicts, more still needed to be done to make the world a peaceful place. In particular, Nigeria endorsed the involvement of a wider society of regional and subregional organizations, non-governmental organizations, international financial institutions and developmental agencies in conflict prevention, management and resolution.

    Commending the recently introduced system of briefing troop-contributing countries before the report of the Secretary-General on a mission, he said that the continuation of this process of consultation would eliminate friction and facilitate effective peacekeeping operations in the field. Moreover, ad hoc missions to conflict locations would enhance the Council’s ability to assess situations on the ground and to anticipate, prevent and respond adequately to them. Finally, on the issue of reform, he said permanent and non-permanent membership of the Security Council should be increased on the basis of equitable geographical representation, with at least two permanent seats for Africa.

    SRGJAN KERIM (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said that making the Security Council relevant to the critical issues of the day was the most appropriate way to elevate its significance, stature and authority. His country looked forward to an open Security Council debate on the situation in Iraq, which would be necessary and useful. That debate, initiated by the Non-aligned Movement, was scheduled to be held later this week.

    For the sake of strengthening the authority of the United Nations and in the spirit of multilateralism, Macedonia thought it appropriate to adopt a Council resolution on Iraq which sent a strong and clear signal. The Security Council had submitted a sound report which listed satisfactory improvements in the working methods of the Council. However, he wished the Council would assume its responsibilities in other situations within the reporting period, when the world had been confronted by nuclear threats from Member States involved in disputes of a bilateral or regional character but with potentially global consequences.

    In the Middle East, the search for a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict was the most painful and sensitive issue faced by the Security Council and the United Nations as a whole, he said. But he urged the Council to remain steadfast in its efforts to implement resolution 1397 (2002), as well as resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), including the peace initiative adopted by the Arab Summit in March this year.

    He added that it was Macedonia’s deep conviction that the Security Council should support the International Criminal Court unconditionally, ensuring that essential principles of international law were not compromised. In that connection, he supported efforts by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to ensure that all indicted war criminals were brought to justice without further delay.

    JUMA AMER (Libya) said that today’s joint debate was a good start to further rationalize the Assembly’s work. The report of the Council this year did not include all the voluminous information included in previous reports, but it carried adequate information on the Council’s deliberations. Libya looked forward to more improvements in future reports. Calling on the Council to further expand its cooperation with the general membership as well as regional and subregional organizations, he expressed the hope that it would conduct a general review of its procedures to improve its working methods. Enhancing the relationship between the Council and the other main United Nations bodies, such as the Economic and Social Council and the International Court of Justice was important, he added.

    The Council should be impartial and objective and avoid any double standards, he emphasized, calling for an immediate end to its closed consultations. It was also necessary to enhance the equitable geographical representation on the Council as well as to increase the non-permanent seats. The veto only further complicated the work of the Council and was contrary to the principle of sovereignty and equality of States.

    AMR ABOUL ATTA (Egypt) agreed that the Security Council had allocated the larger number of its meetings to Africa and demonstrated its ability to bear the heavy responsibility for maintenance of peace and security on the African continent. That raised hope for the Council’s seriousness in bearing its mandated responsibility to resolve conflict in Africa. Yet there were three basic foundations it must consider for future dealings with Africa: to establish a constitutional and regulated relationship with African organizations on African issues; to address all armed conflicts on an equitable basis, not just those founded on special interest; and to make the Council’s response to conflict in Africa commensurate with the volume of conflict -- as could be demonstrated by giving further attention and resources to existing peacekeeping operations on the continent.

    Committed to the position of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Union, he expressed support for a "package deal" on reform in permanent and non-permanent membership and the right of veto. However, delay in achieving reform should not be interpreted as an acceptance of the current situation. In the short term, steps should be taken to: reduce the growing number of closed meetings, which had affected the Council’s transparency; address the opinions of Member States affected directly and indirectly by each issue; inquire after the wider opinion held by the United Nations membership, so as to increase the Council’s credibility; deal with all threats to international peace and security on an equal footing; and implement all resolutions equally.

    ALFONSO T. YUCHENGCO (Philippines) commended the efforts of the Security Council in fighting terrorism, in particular the work of the Counter-terrorism Committee, which had made considerable progress over the past year. He believed that to enhance more effective implementation of Security Council resolution 1373, the provision of technical assistance would be more than helpful.

    He recognized the significant role of the Council in the establishment of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNMISET), which led to the independence of Timor-Leste. On the Middle East, he said the Security Council had a crucial role to play in finding an effective solution to the conflict and it must continue work to that end. The recently adopted declaration of the quartet, specifying its three-phased solution to realizing the vision of two states living side by side, was a positive development. He emphasized, however, that the international community could not impose peace. "The success of the quartet formula rests on the parties concerned. We reiterate that there is no military solution to the Middle East conflict. The way forward is through political negotiations," he said.

    On reform of the Security Council, the Philippines was committed to promoting agreement on measures aimed at achieving a more open and transparent decision making process, as well as to finding an acceptable compromise on the expansion of the number of permanent and non-permanent members of the Council.

    SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) supported the new cost-effective format adopted by the Security Council for its report. That format ought to be continued and strengthened.

    Reviewing the work of the Council over the last year, he said the terrorist attack of 11 September 2001 had allowed the international community to take united action through the Security Council. That was also evident in the adoption of resolution 1373 and the creation of the Counter-terrorism Committee. While there had been successful missions in Afghanistan and East Timor, there had been no respite in the Middle East. The Council had laid the groundwork for peace in that region, he wished the "quartet" negotiators success in their efforts to bring lasting peace to that region, within the framework of relevant Security Council resolutions. He commended the Council for its achievements in Africa, referring to the cessation of some civil and inter-State conflicts in the continent, and in Europe.

    Assessing the working methods of the Council, he said the views and observations of the wider membership of the United Nations should be reflected in the work of the Council. There had to be greater transparency as well. The way the Counter-terrorism Committee had been at work, offering regular briefings by its chairman, was an example to be emulated.

    He said responsibility for consideration of reform of the Council should remain with the Working Group, as mandated by the General Assembly. Because a growing number of States was contributing to the work of the Council, it should be expanded to reflect that development. More non-permanent seats should be available. Whatever changes were made, they should bring about greater unity and cooperation

    INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said that progress had been made in the working methods of the Council, including the holding of more open meetings and the participation of non-members in the Council’s work. The current report was a considerable improvement and was closer to the expectations expressed by numerous Member States.

    In spite of its achievements, the Council was giving preference to informal consultations and closed meetings, he said. The question of the Council’s working methods was not an idle matter. The majority of Member States wanted reform that would make the Council more representative and democratic. Unfortunately, the general membership was still far from consensus on major aspects of the reform. One of the key aspects of the reform was the decision-making process of the Council, namely the use of the veto. The immense majority of States wanted that instrument of power to be eliminated or reduced in its scope. At the same time, it was well known that those who had the veto were unlikely to give it up, even partially.

    IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) suggested that the Council and the Assembly hold quarterly meetings to review the implementation of Council decisions, with areas of cooperation and coordination being identified and worked out by their respective offices in coordination with the Secretariat. Also, Council meetings should be held in public or private formats depending on the need for confidentiality. The use of informal consultations should be restricted to exceptionally sensitive cases, he added.

    On the Council’s relationship with troop-contributing countries, he proposed the holding of periodic meetings between the Council and those countries instead of the last-minute pro forma meetings generally called prior to the renewal of peacekeeping mandates. In addition, the Council should function in such a way as not to invite the criticism of doing too little too late, as it often did, he said.

    Noting that the Council should be proactive rather than reactive, he said it should address issues more on the basis of developments than as calendar events determined by the submission of reports or the expiration of mandates. Regarding the Council's expansion, he supported an increase in its membership by not less than 11, based on the principles of equitable geographical distribution and sovereign equality of States. However, Bangladesh did not favour any partial or selective enlargement of the membership to the detriment of the developing countries.

    ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said that the objective shared by all was to make the Security Council more transparent, representative, democratic and accountable. Last year’s debate on the report had not been in vain; rather, the criticism expressed about format and substance had been taken into account by the Council, which had presented a shorter and more useful report this year. However, room for improvement remained. The report was still a formal description of events that did little justice to the substantive work of the Council.

    On the subject of reforming the Council’s working methods, he supported the codification of Council practices, arguing that it would improve legal certainty on procedure and diminish the permanent members’ procedural leeway. Additionally, much of the substantive work of the Council continued to be conducted in closed sessions. The number of such meetings should be reduced and States parties to disputes who were not Council members, should be allowed to attend informal sessions under specific conditions. Moreover, as previously suggested, newly elected members should be allowed to attend informal consultations for the month prior to assuming their seat on the Council.

    Progress was still needed on the issue of Security Council reform, he added. Argentina was against the veto, which was an anachronistic institution running contrary to the principle of sovereign equality of nations. However, as it would not be eliminated in the short term, its application should be restricted to Chapter 7 issues. Moreover, past inequalities should not be perpetuated by establishing new permanent seats following the 1945 model, which would only deepen the present imbalance.

    TIM MCIVOR (New Zealand) welcomed the positive changes that had been made to the format of the Council report, describing them as consistent with the demand for a report that was more substantive and analytical. It would be beneficial to build on those changes, he said, adding that next year there should be a fuller analysis of issues coming before the Council, revealing what worked well, what did not and why.

    On consultations and working methods, he expressed support for the codification of recent improvements, saying that his country appreciated the use of open-ended meetings and wrap-up sessions. Adjustments to the mode of operation should be made according to circumstances. At times, national positions must be set out during formal sessions and at other times, the discussions should be more free-flowing. The selective use of additional committees or working groups in dealing with the increasingly complex issues before the Council should also be undertaken, he added.

    Transparency counted most when it related to matters of substance, he noted. Smaller missions ought to be informed about key developments, particularly those that involved deploying limited resources outside the Council chamber. And while closed-door sessions were necessary to achieve consensus, New Zealand nevertheless saw transparency and participation as keys to credibility and effectiveness. The Council’s standing would ultimately depend on how it was constituted, he said, adding that a change in membership was due and that the time had come to end the right of any single State to hold the power of the veto over the entire membership.

    KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) expressed satisfaction with the progress made thus far, as exemplified by the Security Council’s unity in addressing matters of international peace and security and complicated issues like the Middle East and the International Criminal Court, as well as responding to the criticism of non-members on the subject of its annual report.

    In relation to meetings with troop-contributing countries, he suggested that the mechanism for convening joint meetings should be clarified. Moreover, the effective functioning of peacekeeping operations required the involvement of countries supplying civilian personnel and financial contributions. He also suggested that clear explanations about where and why Security Council missions were dispatched -- including transparency in their costs, criteria and composition -- should be given.

    As the challenges to international peace and security were rapidly changing, both quantitatively and qualitatively, it was important that countries with the necessary will and adequate capacity be actively engaged in contributing to world peace and stability, he said. Though the United Nations membership was now 191 countries, the size of the Security Council had been determined 40 years ago when there were only 118 Member States. The discussions of the Open-Ended Working Group should be focused on the number of seats on an enlarged Council.

    VIJAY NAMBIAR (India) urged the Council to make transparency an essential feature of its functioning. A major effort should go towards making closed meetings an exception. He also expressed appreciation for efforts to introduce greater informal interactions between the Council and representatives of organizations that could provide valuable inputs into the Council’s workings. At the same time, he said, in an effort to increase transparency, the Arria Formula should not introduce controversy that could ultimately do more harm than good to the issue, nor should it prove divisive within the Council’s membership.

    He said that the structure and composition of the Council was out of touch with realities on the ground and was no longer capable of meeting the expectations of the international community. The solution lay in comprehensive reform and restructuring. The present composition of the Council made it unrepresentative and anachronistic.

    The developing countries, which constituted the vast majority of the Organization’s general membership, had no place among the permanent members and were inadequately represented in the non-permanent category, he said. That served only to further highlight the unrepresentative and unbalanced nature of the Council. He cautioned against resorting to piecemeal and partial solutions, noting that expansion was needed in both categories of the Council membership. Any attempt to do otherwise would not only be shying away from the main issues, but also perpetuating an international system characterized by inequity.

    NGO DUC THANG (Viet Nam) welcomed further measures enabling non-members of the Council to participate more actively in discussion of important issues, as that would help the Council to better equip itself to deal with future crises. He joined with other speakers in calling on the Council to make a critical evaluation of the effectiveness of sanctions imposed on Member States, which had caused untold suffering to innocent people, particularly women and children. Sanctions were outdated and should never be used indefinitely, he said. Welcoming the Council’s decision to lift the embargo on the Sudan and calling for a similar decision in the case of Iraq.

    Reform of the Council, he said, must be comprehensive, pursued in the context of strengthening the authority of the General Assembly, and be based on transparency and democratic principles. Reform must reflect the three basic components of the process -- increase in the Council membership, and improved decision-making processes and working methods. It was urgently necessary to correct the current imbalance by ensuring more balanced and equitable geographical representation and by increasing the participation of developing countries, emerging regional players or centres of economic power. Viet Nam supported enlargement of both the permanent and non-permanent categories, he added.

    MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) took note of the report’s new, analytical format and of the effort to reduce its size and avoid repetition. Regarding the Council’s effectiveness, he said that besides its visible successes in Sierra Leone, where both the General Assembly and the Security Council had learned appropriate lessons, the Council had made a significant contribution to combating terrorism by adopting a series of resolutions. It had also shaped events in Afghanistan, but those achievements were under threat unless President Karzai’s authority was consolidated. For that to occur, additional international forces must be deployed in the country. The Middle East crisis continued to challenge the Council’s credibility, as the behaviour of Israel in the occupied territories made a parody of its work in that region.

    Turning to the situation in South Asia, he said the Council’s failure was most glaring in that subregion, where India had amassed 1 million troops along the border with Pakistan and there were daily exchanges between the two protagonists, both of whom possessed nuclear weapons. In handling that matter, the Council could not afford to substitute conflict management for conflict resolution. The Council’s credibility was being eroded by non-compliance with its own resolutions, a situation that was aggravated by the Council’s acceptance of double standards and discrimination. Its resolutions had to be comprehensively respected by all.

    He described as centres of privilege the existence of permanent Council membership and the exercise of veto power. He also found it strange that after 57 years, the Council’s rules of procedure remained provisional. Furthermore, under rule 48, the Council was supposed to meet in public, yet its decisions continued to be made behind closed doors. Calling on the General Assembly to encourage the Council to be more open, he said that its working methods should be codified; closed meetings and informal consultations should be kept to a minimum; a compendium of resolutions that had been ignored should be drawn up so that remedial action could be taken; and consideration should be taken of Chapter 6 of the Charter and of greater collaboration with the Secretary-General and with other United Nations bodies in carrying out its mandate.

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