13 July 2005
Twenty-Eight more Speakers State Their Positions in General Assembly Debate on New Draft Proposal for UN Security Council Reform
United States, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Germany and India among Speakers, as Two-day Discussion Ends
NEW YORK, 12 July (UN Headquarters) -- Moving at the present stage to a vote on any proposal involving Security Council reform was bound to be divisive, the representative of the United States said today as the General Assembly concluded its second afternoon of debate on the so-called Group of Four (G-4) draft resolution.
She said that while her country supported expansion of the Security Council and had on several occasions strongly supported Japan’s candidacy for permanent membership -– the G-4, whose draft was introduced on Monday by Brazil, also includes Germany, India and Japan -- reform of the Council on its own would not address the most pressing issues facing the United Nations. Nor would proposals to alter the Council garner the support needed to amend the Charter unless there was broader reform. No single area of reform should be addressed to the exclusion of others, and the United States would oppose any proposal, regardless of timing, that would make the Council less effective than it was today.
Security Council reform required broad consensus and world opinion was still highly divided on the issue, she said. Council expansion required amendment of the Charter, Article 108 of which required lengthy constitutional processes in many nations, including the United States. American Senators, as well as officials of the Executive Branch, would be looking to see if Security Council enlargement was part of a broader package of needed reforms and whether it made the Council more or less effective in discharging its mandate.
She stressed that efficiency was essential, saying that the Council had been an effective body and was more relevant today than ever. Once consensus had been reached on new permanent members, Member States should consider some expansion of non-permanent membership that maintained representativeness, but without making the Council so large that it became ineffective. All countries should consider and ask the critical question: Did it serve to strengthen the United Nations? The United States did not believe that it did, and her delegation would work with other Member States to achieve enlargement of the Security Council, but only in the right way and at the right time.
Germany’s representative said that the adoption of the proposed G-4 proposal would leave the United Nations free to deal with the development agenda, adding that failure to make progress on Security Council reform would compromise the success of the September Summit and hamper implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for years. A Council with a more balanced composition could only be achieved by expanding both the permanent and non-permanent membership, while restricting the expansion to non-permanent members would maintain the status quo and increase the disparity. Enlargement by “two or so” members could not achieve the geographical balance that new political realities required and would perpetuate discrimination against large parts of the developing world.
Reviewing a number of objections to the G-4 draft, he recalled that some current permanent members had opposed the Council’s enlargement in 1963. But, in the end, they had shown the wisdom not to be spoilers and had ratified it despite their initial opposition. The same wisdom and respect for the majority should prevail again. The G-4 proposal would serve the interests of the permanent members by strengthening the Council’s problem-solving capacity. The G-4 proposal was an indispensable, complementary element of the comprehensive reforms being undertaken for the United Nations, and adoption of the resolution would give a strong political thrust to getting results on the other important issues of development, human rights, security and institutional reform at the September Summit.
The representative of the United Kingdom expressed support for increasing the number of both permanent and non-permanent members, saying that an enlarged and strengthened Council would better represent the wider United Nations membership and be more capable of meeting the challenges of today’s world. The United Kingdom also favoured a Council that was more transparent, that engaged better with other United Nations bodies and consulted more effectively with the wider membership. That greater openness would enable the Council better to perform its Charter responsibilities. In his address to the Assembly last September, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had underlined the United Kingdom’s longstanding position in favour of permanent membership for the G-4, as well as its support for permanent membership for Africa. The United Kingdom would, therefore, vote in favour of the G-4 proposal. But it should be clear that the extension of the veto beyond the current five permanent members was not a necessary feature of expanded permanent membership, nor would it be in the wider interests of the United Nations.
Indonesia’s representative said that criteria to determine expanded membership should include a country’s contribution to peacemaking and peacekeeping, its role in regional peace and stability, as well as its commitment to democracy and human rights. According to the G-4 proposal, a region was allocated a certain number of seats, an approach that ran the risk of overrepresentation for some regions and underrepresentation for others. It was obvious that developing countries had diminished opportunities to be represented proportionally. The current trend was towards underrepresentation for Asia, which comprised 56 countries and more than 50 per cent of the world’s population. For that reason, any decision on expansion would be inappropriate if the realities prevailing in Asia were not fully taken into account.
India’s representative said that the critics of the G-4 proposal would do well to remember that its genesis was the High-level Panel and the Secretary-General’s report, “In Larger Freedom”. The G-4 proposal ensured a win-win outcome for all Member States while others sought to preserve the status quo. The G-4 sought to change the Council’s structure, which was the only way to change the Council’s policies and political culture. The G-4 had also been unswerving in supporting the aspirations of the African countries and had worked with Member States, as well as regional groups, on a reform package that would serve the interests of all. The G-4 appealed to the African Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for their support and understanding in the joint endeavour to give the developing countries their due in the highest echelons of the United Nations.
Mexico’s representative said his country supported a reform of the Security Council that strengthened its representation, effectiveness and accountability, adding that periodic election and re-election to the Council would give those members greater political and moral standing in the global arena than the occupancy of permanent seats. The international community should carefully consider the proposal circulated by the Uniting for Consensus countries, which reflected the values and principles needed to prevent the United Nations from heading down a path of antagonism and division during the reform process.
Other speakers today were: the representatives of Canada, New Zealand, Uruguay, Belgium, Denmark, Chile, Ukraine, Russian Federation, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Czech Republic, Greece, Norway, Haiti, Madagascar, Samoa, Palau, Turkey, Costa Rica, Portugal and Spain.
Algeria’s representative spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 14 July, to take action on a number of unrelated draft resolutions.
The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue considering the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters. It had before it a draft resolution on Security Council reform (document A/59/L.64). (For background, see Press Release GA/10367 issued yesterday, 11 July.)
ALLAN ROCK (Canada) said he would vote against the pending resolution. He agreed that the Council should be enlarged so that there was better representation of all States, however, the number of permanent members should not be increased. Such a step would destroy the foundation upon which the United Nations was founded and betray the values it had fostered, including democracy, accountability, flexibility and fairness. An enlargement of the permanent members of the Council would widen the two-tiered privileges allocated in a bygone time. The Council created in 1945 was an anomaly to be accommodated and not a model to be emulated.
Regarding the draft resolution before the Assembly, he said that enlarging the Council membership in the manner proposed would not be an act of democracy since no democracy allowed a single vote to elect someone to office in perpetuity. Another effect of the proposed change would limit opportunities for States to gain seats on subsidiary bodies which now held seats dedicated to permanent Council members. Such action would lock into place a rigid regime that was unsuited to a dynamic world. Who knew what the world would need 20 or 40 years from now? he asked.
He said Canada favoured an approach to Council enlargement that would reflect the values all sought to promote. Italy had circulated a Uniting for Consensus draft proposal with Canada as a co-sponsor. That text would add permanent seats based on a regional approach. It would keep the Council flexible to adjust to evolving needs.
ROSEMARY BANKS (New Zealand) said the current structure of the Security Council was unrepresentative and anachronistic, and reform should ensure that the Council was more effective and representative for the twenty-first century. She added that any satisfactory expansion should include Japan.
New Zealand remained opposed to any extension of the veto and believed the current draft was not unequivocally clear on that point. She believed firmly in the principle of accountability. With respect to the addition of new permanent members, the Council needed a mechanism which provided for permanent membership to be “reviewable”. And, as Sweden had suggested, the review should be periodic and not a once-only process. The resolution as currently worded did not reflect these core principles.
SUSANA RIVERO (Uruguay) said that her country, as a founding member of the Organization, fully supported the purposes of United Nations reform, which was to strengthen the multilateral system. Reform should only be carried out with the greatest political support by all Members of the United Nations. It was necessary to analyse carefully all the proposals and all the possible consequences without undue haste.
Her country did not support the right of veto for a larger number of States, she said. Uruguay opposed the very existence of the veto, which contradicted the principle of sovereign equality of States. The veto did not favour democracy in the least and definitely did not favour the furthering of democracy. In addition, while Security Council reform was an important aspect of reform, there was also a need to consider other areas of United Nations reform, such as the revitalization of the General Assembly and reform of the Economic and Social Council.
JOHAN C. VERBEKE (Belgium) said that for 10 years his country had been actively involved in the reform discussions. It had coordinated its thinking within the Group of 10, which sought a balanced reform. Belgium’s only motivation was the conviction that it was in the interest of the Organization to preserve the legitimacy and prestige of the Council. To do that, it was indispensable to adapt the Council’s composition to today’s realities. The ideas and proposals that the Group had come up with were now found in the proposal initiated by the Group of 4. He recalled that the proposal included expansion in both categories; balanced expansion between geographic groups; a revision clause allowing the Council to be in line with world developments; and a stress on working methods to guarantee greater transparency in the Council’s work.
The presence of permanent members made the Council effective in managing questions relating to international peace and security, he said. Non-permanent members must also be able to actively contribute to the Council’s work. The non-permanent nature of their mandate would allow the Council to draw on approaches that were innovative and avoid having that occur in a “closed club”. The draft resolution would allow countries of the South to become permanent members. In particular, it would give two permanent seats to Africa, which was an important gesture. Not taking action today was not an option. Not taking a decision would only perpetuate the status quo in a world that was developing rapidly.
MARGRETHE ELLEN LØJ (Denmark) said her delegation was a co-sponsor of the G-4 draft resolution and believed in a strong United Nations that reflected the world as it looked today. The time was ripe for a reform of the Security Council, the present composition of which reflected a world that no longer existed. The Council must continue to play a decisive role in the promotion of peace, security and human rights, but it must be made more representative by increasing its membership in both categories. The draft not only reflected that view but also met the need for a more balanced regional representation whereby countries around the world would have a much stronger voice and the Council would be more responsive.
She emphasized that the multilateral approach was a way of dealing with the world of tomorrow, adding that the review clause was an excellent mechanism as well. If the General Assembly only agreed when there was total consensus, it would never move forward. The issue of Security Council reform had been on the agenda for more than 12 years, and a rapid decision would be a great leap forward that would send a clear message to the world. It would be a response to the need for a stronger United Nations that was capable of responding to the new threats and challenges confronting the world.
HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said he was in favour of comprehensive reform of the United Nations to bring it up to date with a new era. Council reform seemed to be an important aspect of overall reform, but it should not monopolize that reform. Chile was seeking renewal of the Council to give it greater representativeness, transparency and effectiveness. The expansion of its membership would achieve that, and went hand in hand with enhancing the body’s working methods. Draft resolution A/59/L.64 embodied positive aspects aimed at adapting the Council to the new challenges facing the world.
He supported the inclusion of new permanent members, but without the right of veto, in keeping with the way in which his country cherished the sovereign equality of States. The total elimination of the right of veto seemed unrealistic, but serious options such as restricting its use solely to matters falling under Chapter VII should not be renounced. Chile had supported Brazil, Germany, India and Japan’s bids to hold permanent seats, as their inclusion would enhance the representativeness of the Council. Chile would continue to support building consensus for the successful reform of the Organization. In spite of its dramatic impact, “this was just one more act in a play that was being performed”.
VALERIY P. KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said that as a co-sponsor of the draft resolution, his country fully endorsed yesterday’s introductory statement by Brazil. Ukraine’s support for the proposal logically stemmed from its overall approach to the issue of Security Council reform, based on five principles.
First, Security Council reform should be implemented in strict compliance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, he said. Second, the enlargement of the Council must be carried out in both permanent and non-permanent categories. Ukraine supported increased representation of developing countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. Preserving the status quo in both categories would only complicate existing problems. Third, since the composition of the Group of Eastern European States had doubled over the last decade, it should have an additional non-permanent seat.
Fourth, Security Council reform should result in the improvement of its working methods, he said. In particular, those countries that contributed most to the Organization militarily, diplomatically and financially should be more involved in the Council’s decision-making process. And, finally, Ukraine consistently stood for the limitation of the use of the veto by the permanent members. Overall, the G-4 model of Security Council reform corresponded to Ukraine’s approach, and its support for that formula was in no way intended to challenge the interests of any particular country of group of countries. Ukraine fully supported the need for the broadest possible agreement among Member States on the issue of Security Council reform, and agreed with the Secretary-General on the need to take a decision before the September Summit.
ANDREY I. DENISOV (Russian Federation) said his delegation was ready to support any reasonable option for the Council’s enlargement if it was based on the widest possible agreement within the United Nations. The voting in the Assembly should not cause a split among Member States and should not lead, as a result, to the weakening, instead of strengthening, of the United Nations and the Council. Security Council reform should meet several principles. First, the task was to increase the effectiveness of the Council and to provide for a better balance of the Council’s membership through the inclusion of major and influential developing States.
At the same time, he said, making the Council more representative must not undermine its effectiveness. That was why he was advocating the preservation of the compact size of the Council, and insisted that after enlargement the number of members in a new Council should not exceed a reasonable size, for example, “20 plus”. Also, there should not be any a priori granting of the veto right before the list of new permanent members of the Council was defined, in case of a decision in favour of the Council’s enlargement in both categories. Any dilution of the status of the five current permanent members, including the right of veto, was categorically unacceptable.
DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands) said his country recognized the need to reform the Security Council and believed that a balanced expansion of its membership would increase the Council’s credibility, legitimacy and effectiveness.
He said the proposal for a Council membership of 25, as advocated by the G-4 and Uniting for Consensus, stretched to the limit the fine balance needed to increase the Council’s representativeness while maintaining its efficiency and effectiveness.
The Netherlands also favoured a limit on the use of the veto in general, and opposed extending the veto to new permanent members. On another crucial point, his country also supported the creation of a binding, periodic review clause to ensure that new permanent members were held accountable.
He said the Netherlands sympathized with the G-4 ambitions, as well as with Africa’s desire to obtain a permanent presence in a reformed Council. He looked forward to a further exchange of views on the outstanding issues.
SHIRIN TAHIR-KHELI (United States) said that no single area of reform should be addressed to the exclusion of others. The United States had worked extensively with a large number of countries to ensure that United Nations reform was comprehensive and successful and it urged all Member States, including members of the G-4, to consider the potential impact on the Organization and its vital work of pressing forward with the vote at the present time.
She said her country supported expansion of the Security Council and had on several occasions expressed its strong support for Japan’s candidacy for permanent membership. It anticipated that other countries would qualify for permanent or semi-permanent membership and had proposed criteria to that end. But Security Council reform alone would not address the Organization’s most pressing issues, nor would proposals to alter the Council garner the support needed to amend the Charter absent broader reform. Regardless of timing, the United States would oppose any proposal that would make the Council less effective than it was today, and would oppose calling for votes on proposals that did not command the breadth of support necessary to be put into practice. The United States did not believe that any proposal to expand the Council -- including one based on its own ideas -- should be put to the vote at the present stage.
Moving to the vote on the draft resolution before the Assembly or any other involving Security Council reform was bound to be divisive at the present stage, she said. The Charter had been designed in such a way that reform required broad consensus, and world opinion was still highly divided on the issue. There were major differences regarding what kind of expansion should occur. Security Council expansion required amendment of Article 108 of the Charter, which required lengthy constitutional processes in many nations, including the United States. American Senators and officials of the Executive Branch would be looking to see if Security Council enlargement was part of a broader package of needed reforms and whether it made the Council more or less effective.
The search for a broader consensus should be based on agreement on criteria. Security Council expansion was necessary, with far-reaching consequences. Instead of choosing between a body that was representative but too large and unwieldy to deal with emergent security issues, or one that was efficient at the expense of representativeness, the founders had created a system with multiple bodies that had different roles. To deal with security, they had formed a body of countries with demonstrated capability to contribute to international peace and security; to ensure worldwide representation, they had created the General Assembly. The only way to approach Security Council expansion was to ensure that those nations accorded permanent seats met appropriate criteria for the tremendous duties and responsibilities they would assume.
She stressed that efficiency was essential, saying that the Council had been an effective body and was more relevant today than ever. One of the first principles of reform should be “do no harm”. Once consensus had been reached on new permanent members, Member States should consider some expansion of non-permanent membership that maintained representativeness, but without making the Council so large that it became ineffective. All countries should consider and ask the critical question: Did it serve to strengthen the United Nations? The United States did not believe that it did. Her delegation would work with other Member States to achieve enlargement of the Security Council, but only in the right way and at the right time.
Y.J. CHOI (Republic of Korea) said that expansion of permanent seats in the Council ran counter to the goals of Council reform and to the fundamental principles of the United Nations. It was with regret that he noted the submission by the G-4 of a draft resolution that provided for six new permanent members in addition to the existing five. Among other things, the addition of new permanent members was inequitable and unfair. The predominance of 11 permanent members would alienate the other 180 States, depriving them of the opportunity and political will to make substantial contributions to international peace and security. Also, an increase in permanent members would heavily impair the accountability of the Council; seriously undercut the effectiveness of the Council; and create a cascade effect within the United Nations system, adversely affecting the fair and equitable distribution of membership in other bodies.
He observed that no permanent member had represented the interests of the region to which his country belonged. If regions were to be represented adequately, each regional group should be given a fair share in the Council that enabled States in the region to gain a presence in a fair and equitable manner, with accountability ensured through election or rotation. The Uniting for Consensus proposal did not contain any increase of permanent seats, and demonstrated that equitable, fair and democratic reform was possible. That proposal was a simpler yet complete package for Council reform that could be achieved without complicated multi-stage processes.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said the adoption of the proposed G-4 resolution would leave the United Nations free to deal with the Development Agenda and the Millennium Goals. Failure to make progress would compromise the Summit’s success. The repercussions from a failed Security Council reform would hamper implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for years.
He said a more balanced composition for the Council could only be achieved by expanding both the permanent and non-permanent membership. Restricting the expansion to only non-permanent members would maintain the status quo and increase the disparity. Enlargement by “two or so” members could not achieve the geographical balance new political realities required and would perpetuate discrimination against large parts of the developing world. The G-4 resolution was the only proposal to start reform of the Council’s working methods instead of kicking the question back to the Open-Ended Working Group. It was the only proposal on Council reform capable of garnering enough support to be adopted, and it included the vital element of a review clause by which the step now taken would be evaluated in 15 years.
Reviewing and countering a number of objections that had been raised to the resolution, he said some current permanent members had opposed enlarging the Council in 1963. In the end, they had shown the wisdom not to be spoilers of reform and had ratified despite initial opposition. The same wisdom and respect for the majority should prevail again. The G-4 proposal would serve the five permanent members’ interest by strengthening the Council’s problem-solving capacity. Once two thirds of the entire membership had adopted the resolution, the opponents of the proposed reform could decide if they wanted to block development and a change that would benefit all.
The G-4 proposal was an indispensable complementary element of the comprehensive reforms being undertaken for the United Nations, he said. Adoption of the resolution would give a strong political thrust to getting results during the September Summit on the other important issues of development, human rights, security and institutional reform.
HYNEK KMONÍČEK (Czech Republic) said his delegation had no vested interest in the reform, except for one -- the better functioning of the whole United Nations. As for Council reform, it was time to move on. Further analysis and deliberations would only lead to more talk and absolutely no action. The problem of Council reform would be as divisive as it was now, and as it was before the dialogue. Voting on such an issue was the most obvious way of solving it and the Assembly should not be shy about doing so.
The G-4 resolution reflected his country’s long-lasting position regarding the enlargement of the Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories. That text also mirrored his support for voluntarily limiting the use of the veto. The present situation was unsustainable. He called for other countries to understand what was at stake for everyone and to support the resolution.
ENRIQUE BERRUGA (Mexico) said his country supported a reform of the Security Council that strengthened its representation, effectiveness and accountability. He believed that countries that were elected and re-elected periodically by the international community would have a higher political and moral standing in the global arena than through the occupation of permanent Council seats. Council members’ performance would then be rewarded or rejected through periodic re-elections.
He said he trusted that the international community would carefully consider the proposal circulated by the Uniting for Consensus countries. That proposal reflected the values and principles needed to prevent the United Nations from heading down a path of antagonism and division during the reform process. With that model, geographical groupings of countries could decide on the modalities and distribution of seats allotted to them.
Mexico also believed that a proposal to create six more permanent members and hand them all veto power would, in practice, guarantee the paralysis of the Security Council, he said.
ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece) said that the Council could not, in the present time, provide the solution for the problems of 2005. The debate on Security Council reform had been going on for 12 years and there had been further extensive debate over the past seven months. The time was right to move forward. While a unanimous decision would be welcome, decisions were voted upon every day without any consensus. Enlargement in both categories of Council membership would enhance accountability and the multinational character of the Council, and its decisions would have a better chance to be implemented by all. However, there were no perfect solutions.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said her country had argued for a balanced enlargement of the Security Council with both permanent and non-permanent members and advocated the interest of small countries in the rotation for non-permanent seats. Its main priorities had been to ensure the Council functioned with cohesion and effectiveness and that its composition better reflected the current configuration of United Nations membership. With that in mind, Norway was pleased with the modalities for enlargement reflected in the draft resolution. The addition of six permanent and four non-permanent seats struck a proper balance between the demands for enhanced effectiveness and legitimacy. Moreover, due to the current underrepresentation of the African and Latin American and Caribbean regions, it was particularly satisfactory that the proposal adequately reflected their interests.
Inextricably linked to the question of Security Council composition was the question of veto rights, she said. In line with the recommendation of the High-level Panel, and as a means to ensure the Council’s efficiency, the Norwegian view had been to refrain from extending the veto power to new permanent members. Norway had also consistently advocated limiting the use of the veto and had noted the decline in recent years of its use by the current permanent members. Norway expected also to see in the future the same restraint being exercised. In that regard, Norway took note of the wording of paragraph 5 (b) of the draft resolution and welcomed the statements made by G-4 representatives that they had no intention of exercising the veto right. Norway stood ready to support the draft resolution.
LÉO MÉRORÈS (Haiti) said the Organization’s founding fathers, at the end of the Second World War, had given the Security Council the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. Today, the Council’s composition did not reflect the current international system. The legitimacy of the Council was considerably lessened. Council reform was seen as a historic necessity to reflect the world panorama, and must make up for the lack of democracy and representativeness. The time had come to act.
The draft resolution, he said, would lend greater legitimacy to the Council, giving it both permanent and non-permanent members. It was democratic and reflected the international environment. The inclusion of permanent members from various regions was welcomed. At the same time, the debate on expansion should not overshadow other subjects. He agreed with the idea of a renewed United Nations serving all its members. The G-4 resolution would allow for balanced reform of the Council. He supported the resolution and appealed to others to proceed along the same lines.
ZINA ANDRIANARIVELO-RAZAFY (Madagascar) reaffirmed solidarity with the African position, saying his country belonged to the great African family and intended to remain within it. Madagascar recognized, however, that consultations must continue in a spirit of openness, tolerance and mutual understanding in order to arrive at a positive result. Madagascar had no objection to Japan’s candidacy for a permanent Security Council seat.
ALI’IOAIGA FETURI ELISAIA (Samoa) said he supported the G-4 resolution in the context of his unequivocal support for enlarging the Security Council in both permanent and non-permanent membership. The G-4 resolution was the only avenue in the foreseeable future to accomplish that end, and Council expansion was both necessary and desirable to reflect present-day realities and to enhance the Council’s effectiveness and legitimacy. The proposal to include Japan and Germany was founded in their record of contributions to the international community.
A least developed island State such as Samoa had little practical chance of ever serving on the Council, he said. The Assembly would have to bring about big changes to make that possible. Still, he supported the proposal in the resolution. Those calling for more debate or for caution in approach to the question should recall that more than 10 years of debate had already gone into the question, which was ironic considering that on other issues there was an insistence on “action-oriented” and “time-bound” resolutions as the only way to gauge progress.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said that his country supported expansion of the Council in both categories. An enlarged and strengthened Council would be more representative of the membership of the United Nations, and better able to meet the challenges of today’s world. He also favoured a Council which was more transparent, engaged better with other United Nations bodies and consulted more effectively with the wider membership. That greater openness would enable the Council better to perform its Charter responsibilities.
He recalled that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had, in his address to the Assembly last September, underlined the United Kingdom’s longstanding position in favour of permanent membership for India, Brazil, Germany and Japan. The United Kingdom also supported permanent membership for Africa. Therefore, he would vote in favour of the draft resolution. But it should be clear that the United Kingdom had never believed that the extension of the veto beyond the current five permanent members was a necessary feature of expanded permanent membership, nor would it be in the wider interests of the United Nations.
STUART BECK (Palau) added his voice to those who stated that failure to act now would only perpetuate the status quo, and thereby neglect to address the great changes that the world had seen since the formation of the United Nations. More geographical representation was simply better, not worse. More representation of developing countries, with their peculiar sensitivity to the links between development and security, was better, not worse.
Because of Japan’s proximity and commitment to remote island nations such as his, the Pacific Island States had all benefited from the generosity of a regional partner. That understanding should become part of the collective wisdom of the Council. Other countries with similar regional understanding, could add wisdom to the debate, and Council expansion was designed to capture and use that understanding for the benefit of the world.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY (Indonesia) said that in the G-4 resolution, the allocation of additional seats for each region was merely based on geographical distribution, whereby each region was allocated a certain number of seats. That geographical approach ran the risk of overrepresentation of some regions and underrepresentation of others. It was obvious that developing countries had diminished opportunities to be represented proportionally. As such, there was a danger of creating an inequitable Council. Moreover, there was no indication that the criteria for an expanded membership were either specific or appropriate.
Criteria to determine expanded membership should include, among other things, a country’s contribution to peacemaking and peacekeeping, as well as a role in regional peace and stability. Also, a country’s commitment to democracy and human rights merited consideration. Asia, she noted, consisted of 56 countries and more than 50 per cent of the world’s population inhabited the region. Unfortunately, the current trend was towards underrepresentation for Asia. For that reason, any decision on expansion would be inappropriate if the realities prevailing in Asia were not fully taken into account. Council expansion must be based on a consensus and on appropriate criteria to determine new membership.
BAKI ILKIN (Turkey) said his delegation did not find it absolutely necessary to increase the number of permanent Security Council members because the concept of permanent membership was contrary to the principle of sovereign equality, the very foundation on which the United Nations was built. Turkey would like to see a more representative Security Council that would better reflect the present membership of the Organization, and felt that the number of non-permanent membership should be increased adequately so as to make the Council more representative.
The criteria for membership should be reasonable and achievable so that a majority of Member States could seek a seat on the Council, he said. Raising the bar too high would lead to selectivity, which would, in reality, enable only a small number of Member States to join the Council. On the other hand, it would be far more desirable if every member of the Organization could aim for Security Council membership when they believed there was a role that they could play. Turkey was prepared to accept flexible and renewable non-permanent membership, which could allow Member States to be re-elected if they and their regions so wished.
BRUNO STAGNO UGARTE (Costa Rica) said Member States must not let pass any opportunity to limit the use of the veto with a view to its eventual elimination. In that sense, and as a first step, it was indispensable to move towards the definition of concrete limits on veto power through specific amendments to Article 27.3, such as a prohibition on the use of the veto on matters relating to genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and massive human rights violations.
Without an in-depth reform of the Council’s working methods, there would be no real reform of the Council but just a mere adjustment, he said. Democracy, transparency and accountability all depended on the working methods. Consequently, it was essential to prepare a draft resolution, or an annex to the draft outcome document prepared by the Assembly President, containing clear and concrete measures to substantially improve those working methods.
He said he had been unable to couple the creation of new permanent members with the calls for greater democracy and rotation. Permanent status did not foster the accountability of those who were unchangeable. With assured permanency, they would have no worries or concerns. Based on the basic principle of democracy and rotation, Costa Rica valued those proposals that created new seats subject to periodic elections and to effective accountability.
JOÃO SALGUEIRO (Portugal) recalled that, 12 years ago, his country had declared that it was in favour of an enlargement of the Council in both categories. It had also in the past expressed its support for permanent membership for Germany, Japan, Brazil and India. Draft resolution A/59/L.64 was the first concrete proposal to try to advance the goal of Council reform. If adopted, the resolution would be a major step forward towards a more effective multilateral system with the United Nations at its centre. Among the text’s merits were that it provided an historic opportunity for the accession of developing countries to permanent membership; increased the chances of countries from all regions to be elected to non-permanent seats; and allowed for a significant increase of African representation, including through the allocation of two permanent seats for Africa.
In addition, he said, the text foresaw a democratic method for the selection of the new permanent members through election and secret balloting; established that the veto would not be exercised by the new permanent members; and put forward concrete proposals on the Council’s working methods. Further, it included a review clause ensuring that the reforms to be adopted now would be subjected to an evaluation 15 years after their entry into force.
JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) said Council reform should not be treated as an isolated element of the issues to be addressed at the September Summit. Although it was matter of tremendous importance, that crucial issue must not overshadow other substantive matters to be resolved by the Assembly’s high-level meeting, such as meeting the Millennium Development Goals and overall reform of the United Nations. There were at least four proposals aimed at possible reform of the Council: one presented in the draft resolution; the African Union’s proposal; one circulated by Uniting for Consensus; and specific suggestions by various delegations.
The overall thrust of the Uniting for Consensus proposal involved enlargement based on equality, responsibility and unity, he said -- equality because small and medium-sized States would have greatly enhanced opportunities to have access to the Council and influence it. The addition of new permanent seats would not lead to proper accountability for all Member States. The only way to enhance the accountability of the members of the Council was with the renewal of mandates through election or re-election. Decisions of such far-reaching importance should be based on broad consensus. The Uniting for Consensus proposal had features that might be appealing to a great majority of States, such as the fact that it was democratic.
The drawbacks of the G-4 proposal, he said, included a composition of the Council that would change the proportion between permanent and non-permanent members, so that they would almost be equal. Also, creating new permanent seats would not help improve the participation of non-members in the Council’s work. The Assembly should not be hasty in proceeding to a vote on something that would lead to a major fragmentation among Member States. The Assembly President should hold consultations with sponsors of various proposals to garner the broadest possible agreement on how to move forward.
NIRUPAM SEN (India) said that the critics of the G-4 proposal would do well to remember that its genesis was the High-level Panel and the Secretary-General’s “In Larger Freedom” report. The G-4 proposal ensured a win-win outcome for all Member States; other proposals sought to preserve the status quo. The G-4 proposal sought to change the Council’s structure; only through change in structure would it be possible to change the policies and political culture of the Council. Also, through the inclusion of the review clause, new permanent members would be held accountable. The Assembly would continue to be the master of the review process. The G-4 had not sought to hijack the discussions for the September Summit, or to introduce their text during the discussions on the outcome document for that Summit. The Council reform process the G-4 was proposing would benefit overall United Nations reform.
Efficiency of the Council could not be achieved without the inclusion of new permanent members, he said. The G-4 had also been unswerving in supporting the aspirations of the African countries. The critics said that the other proposals would be better because they would be supported by the five permanent members. It was precisely for that reason that those other proposals would be worse. The critics of the G-4 resolution continued to support the dominance of past structures. As for the suggestion that the G-4 proposal would be divisive, he asked how it would be possible to find out if there was broad agreement without a process of voting. The Assembly should take a vote, and vote in favour of the G-4 resolution.
The sponsors of the G-4 proposal had worked with Member States and regional groups on a reform package that would serve the interests of all, and would continue to engage with them, he said. He appealed to the members of the African Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for their support and understanding in the joint endeavour to give the developing countries their due in the highest echelons of the United Nations.
Right of Reply
The representative of Algeria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said he would clarify his statement of yesterday since the representative of Germany was spreading confusion about Algeria’s position.
He said Algeria had played a major role in initiating, drafting and approving the African draft resolution during the African Union Summit at Sirte, Libya. That draft, to be officially tabled tomorrow, was co-sponsored by all African States. Perhaps the German delegate would have liked Africa to support the G-4 draft even if it divided itself, but the African States would defend the united text that they had adopted and could not support any other. The G-4 draft was absolutely unacceptable and incompatible with the legitimate aspirations of Africa, as confirmed at Sirte, and Algeria would not subscribe to views that verged on obsessing over obtaining a permanent Council seat “at a discount”.
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