14 November 2005
Speakers Call for More Representative, Democratic, Accountable Security Council, as General Assembly Concludes Two-Day Debate
Many Urge Quick Action on Proposal Concerning Work Methods; Three Main Formulas under Consideration for Enlarged Membership
NEW YORK, 11 November (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly today continued to search for common ground in its decade-long effort to revamp the Security Council, with delegations renewing their determination to make the 15-nation body more reflective of the wider United Nations membership, and the actual distribution of power in the twenty-first century.
During a day-long joint debate, which included consideration of the Council's annual report, nearly all speakers emphasized the need for a more representative, democratic and accountable Council. Formed on the ruins of the Second World War, the Council has five permanent members with veto power -- China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States. Another 10 countries rotate for two-year terms.
Speakers today also made a strong push to fast-track a recent proposal put forward by Jordan, Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland, to make the Council's work more open and transparent and to improve its decision-making by enhancing its relationship with the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Calling for expansion of both the Council's permanent and non-permanent membership, Brazil's representative said that, although slow in coming, support for such change was growing and there was a greater than ever prospect for reform. The Council's working methods also needed to be modified, and there was an urgent need for that body to adopt rules of procedures.
He rejected the suggestion made by some delegations that the particulars of widening the Council's membership and improving its working methods would distract from its important work. On the contrary, those changes were essential to the Council's continued effectiveness. Countries hiding behind calls for consensus and claims that reform discussions were disruptive perpetuated current inequalities in the United Nations. Taking a vote on these issues ought not to frighten anyone, he said.
The Assembly's annual talks on equitable representation on, and expansion of, the Security Council -- responsible for United Nations decisions on war and peace, sanctions and peacekeeping operations -- kicked off yesterday with close to 40 speakers weighing in on various proposals and formulas for reform.
Among those was that of the so-called "G-4" -- Brazil, Germany, India and Japan -- which proposed expanding the Council membership to 25 by adding six permanent members, with veto power, and four non-permanent members. An African Union proposal calls for 11 additional members on the Council, with Africa gaining two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats. It also recommends that new permanent members gain all existing privileges, including veto power. The "Uniting for Consensus" group has tabled its alternative proposal: adding 10 non-permanent members immediately eligible for re-election to the Council, leaving formalities of re-election and rotation to regional groups.
Denmark's representative agreed that the Council's present composition was a reflection of a world that no longer existed. To become more effective in playing a decisive role in promoting peace, security, human rights and democracy, broader representation was needed. But, it was not realistic, and perhaps not even desirable, to attempt to change the basic facts of the Council: namely that it consisted of permanent and non-permanent members, and that permanent members had certain privileges, including veto power.
Instead, efforts should be aimed at levelling the playing field by ensuring a better balance in both membership categories, between countries from various geographical regions and different levels of economic development, he said. Adding additional permanent members, particularly from developing countries, would ensure greater equality within that category. He added, however, that there was no reason to expand the number of veto-carrying permanent members.
But Lesotho's representative believed that the issues involved in reforming the Council's working methods and increasing its membership were both capable of being resolved -- if Member States could muster the political will and genuine commitment to achieve progress. Further, it was obvious from the Council's report that it had been preoccupied with crises in Africa over the past year, as it had been in previous years.
So the cold hard fact was that Africa's representation in the Council must increase, so that the continent's interests and concerns were accurately reflected, he said, stressing that two permanent and five non-permanent seats in the Council would give Africa the appropriate presence. That position was not driven by the national interests of any one African country, but by the aim of empowering a region facing a host of crises relating to international peace and security.
Calling for "non-divisive" Council reform, Italy's representative said it was time for the Assembly to address the issues regarding reform with a fresh eye. He also advised generating the necessary political momentum to build up support for reform. If one were to take into account all the groups that sought regional representation, it would account for a third of the General Assembly.
He questioned whether the objectives of those seeking such representation were practical or politically based. In planning reform, it was necessary to protect the sovereign rights of all Member States. Whoever wound up on the Council would be there because the owners of the house -- United Nations Members -- had decided to put them there, by their votes. They would remain there until Member States decided that those representatives should no longer be there.
Wrapping up the two-day debate, Assembly President Jan Eliasson (Sweden), said there was general support for making the Council more broadly representative and transparent, so as to enhance the legitimacy of its decisions. But views on modalities still diverged, though delegations had urged progress to be made in response to the Summit's mandate, and had expressed the intention to table resolutions.
Calls had been raised for extending the work of the Open-Ended Working Group and that work would continue, he said. Suggestions for how to implement the Summit Outcome would be welcome, and would be included in his progress report on the matter to be submitted by the end of the year.
Also addressing the Assembly today were the representatives of Ukraine, Gambia, Argentina, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Belarus, Zambia, Ghana, Palau, Canada, Chile, Kazakhstan, Finland, Cuba Iraq, Guatemala, Sweden, Colombia, Nauru, Slovakia, Japan, Mexico, Czech Republic, Libya, Portugal, Greece, Paraguay, Latvia, India, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uganda, Uruguay, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Honduras and Benin.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Japan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The Assembly will reconvene on Monday, 14 November, at 10:00 a.m. to consider matters related to strengthening the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance.
The General Assembly met today to continue its joint debate of the Security Council's report and the question of equitable representation and increase in the Council membership. (For background see Press Release GA/10418 of 10 November.)
VALERIY KUCHINSKY ( Ukraine) said the Council's role in dealing with threats to international peace and security was unique in being able to mobilize the international community. International terrorism was the greatest of those threats and the comprehensive convention on terrorism should be concluded quickly, to help the Counter-terrorism Committee perform its crucial role. The Council must also play its role in multilateral efforts to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, to stabilize the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa, and to strengthen its cooperation with regional organizations.
Turning to Council reform, he said enlargement of both permanent and non-permanent memberships should reflect an increased representation of developing countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The Eastern European States should have an additional non-permanent seat, since the composition of that group had doubled in the past decade. Structural reform and improvement of working methods should go hand in hand, with those countries that contributed most to the Organization receiving a bigger role in decision-making. The use of the veto should be limited. The momentum of the September Summit should be maintained for early reform of the Council, since it was an integral part of the overall reform that would enable the Organization to react effectively to the whole spectrum of future challenges.
CRISPIN GREY-JOHNSON (Gambia) said that even though the Council's report to the Assembly had shown that progress had been achieved in tackling peace and security problems in some parts of the world, his delegation would have liked the document to include a more thorough analysis of that body's activities that could have served as a basis for improving its future working methods and procedures. And while Gambia was encouraged by the positive developments in some parts of the Middle East, it was nevertheless troubled by the restive and tense situation in Iraq, where the violence appeared to be increasing by the day. He called on all concerned to begin considering less confrontational, militaristic approaches to resolving the conflict in Iraq. Further, the Council must do everything in its power to prevent any eruption of violence in the countries neighbouring Iraq.
Turning to the Council's work in the African region, he said Gambia had been heartened by the steady gains that had been made on the continent in containing or reducing the scale of conflicts. But while the fires of war had been extinguished in Burundi, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau, there was still unfinished business in other areas, he said, calling particular attention to the "forgotten imbroglio" in Somalia, which had been without a central government for some 14 years. With incidents of piracy along Somalia's coast, as well as terrorist acts in and around the country increasing, he urged the Council to enter into a more proactive engagement with that country, in order to help bring it back into the comity of nations.
On Council reform, he agreed with the African position, that it was time to undo one of history's great injustices and provide the continent with two seats on that important body. Indeed, if, as the Council's report noted, " Africa figured, once again, at the forefront of the Council's agenda", was it not right for Africa to be at the table along with those taking the decisions that affected the continent's future?
DIEGO DESMOURES ( Argentina) said his country had promoted Council reform based on broad consensus. In the last few months, the international community had witnessed the negative consequences of trying to impose a reform process through the pressure of a vote. That had created a divisive atmosphere during negotiations over the reform document adopted by the Summit. He welcomed those consultations, and a working group could continue on a path of dialogue and consensus. A period of reflection was needed, so that diverse options regarding expansion and working methods could be considered.
He said the composition of the permanent membership was an inequity that should be corrected. If new permanent members were added, such asymmetry, which affected the legal equality of States, would become worse. Therefore, the best plan would be to give most of the non-permanent seats to developing countries, as proposed by the "Uniting for Consensus" group. Such proposals, with variations regarding the expansion of the number of elected seats, could include longer periods, renewable mandates and legitimate criteria for rotation. The Assembly should, therefore, give the working group a consultative character to continue looking at that complex and political question.
PAK GIL YON (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said the Security Council was established, along with the United Nations, with the mission of maintaining international peace and security. Regrettably, during the 60 years since its inception the world had never seen peace. The world was now unstable because of increasingly provocative unilateralism and the arbitrariness of the super-Power. Historically, impartiality had been a missing element in Council activities. As clarified time and time again in this forum, the United Nations command was, de facto, the United States command with United Nations helmets. The name of the United Nations had been abused to realize the United States strategy to dominate Asia.
He said it was urgent for the Council to ensure impartiality and fairness in its activities, in order to fulfil its responsibilities of maintaining peace and security. If reform was to be authentic, measures should be taken to remove all partial aspects in the activities of the Council, along with its enlargement. There must be full representation of Non-Aligned Movement countries and developing countries. That would provide all Member States with equal opportunity. The enlargement of permanent seats concerned sensitive and intricate issues, such as selection criteria and eligibility of veto power. His Government was opposed to Japan running for permanent membership of the Security Council, given that it had not sincerely liquidated its past crimes committed against humanity.
ROMAN KIRN ( Slovenia) said, in the last year, the Council had continued to be active on a wide range of regional and country specific issues. Sessions held outside of New York by the Council brought the Council closer to the rest of the world. Slovenia commended the Council's work in the past year on the inquiries it conducted in the Sudan and in Lebanon on the Rafik Hariri assassination. The Council's efforts to make the International Criminal Court fully operational, an organ that promised to make a major contribution to the maintaining international peace and security, was complementary to the work of the Council. In addition, the Council's creation of a list of State violators of the resolution on children in armed conflict, and work on the issue of women and peace and security, helped to protect many who were living in countries under vulnerable conditions.
Turning to the issue of reforms, he said the Council's use of the veto was in fundamental opposition to the idea of "to protect". There was also a need for more ambitious provisions in the Summit Outcome, related to the principals of the use of force. Better-defined guidelines on the use of force would contribute both to the predictability of action, as well as the Council's credibility. The increasing volume and scope of the Council's activities was an indication of the need to increase membership and end the right of veto, in order to better cope with the complex realities of today's world. Eastern European countries should not be left out when considering the increase in Council seats, he added.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS ( Belarus) said that the Security Council's work in the last year, which had been wide-ranging and had particularly focused on Africa, was commendable. He also commended States' efforts in their discussions of reforming the Council. In particular, he noted the proposals of Brazil, Germany, India, Japan and the African Union concerning reform. He supported increasing membership in the Council in order to democratize that most important organ of the
United Nations. It was also necessary to achieve the widest possible consent and compromise on how to reform the Council, improve its working methods and change its membership. That was necessary, for building trust in the Council. The principal element of his country's position was that there should be one additional seat on the Council for an Eastern European country, and that there should be representation for developing countries.
Unfortunately, he said, the most active discussions had been about expanding the Council, while the most important issue was the need to improve working methods. Belarus, therefore, endorsed the resolution put forth in the General Assembly regarding reform of the Council's working methods by Jordan, Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland. That document contained recommendations that would improve working relationships among the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and would speed up decision-making and make it more effective.
TENS C. KAPOMA (Zambia) said since the Open-ended Working Group began its debate to question the increase in Security Council membership and its working methods a decade ago, little progress had been made. The fifty-ninth General Assembly Session deliberated in depth on Security Council reform, but regrettably failed to reach an agreement on the enlargement of the Council. The three resolutions tabled before the General Assembly by the "Group of Four", African Union and the Uniting for Consensus group, did not receive the required consensus and were referred to the sixtieth Session. The Summit Outcome urged the sixtieth Session of the General Assembly to review the progress of the reforms by the end of this year. It was, therefore, incumbent upon the Assembly to implement what was mandated by heads of State and Government, as embodied in the Summit Outcome.
He said Africa, through the African Union, had its own position on Security Council reform. That position included having not less than two permanent seats, with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto; five non-permanent seats; and improved working methods. Africa was the only continent without a permanent seat on the Council. In his desire to have at least two permanent seats, he did not subscribe to the notion of having two categories of permanent members -- one with veto power, the other with none. He appealed to all Member States to engage in serious consultations in order to ensure a truly representative Security Council that would be accountable in all its actions.
NANA EFFAH-APENTENG ( Ghana) said his delegation appreciated the Security Council's comprehensive approach to ensuring peace and security in the past year. It welcomed the early issuance of its report and the fact that the two issues under review had been presented in a joint debate format. It hoped that the Council's intense focus on issues in Africa would translate into effective action, and would receive political and financial support. It hoped that the Security Council would continue to work to increase relations with the Africa Union. The special Council meeting in Nairobi was welcomed. It demonstrated a commitment to dealing with conflicts and further cooperating with regional organizations in Africa. The Council was encouraged to continue and escalate its involvement in Côte d'Ivoire, particularly in light of progress made in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
He said increased communication with non-member States and more cooperation with troop-contributing States was encouraged. Ghana welcomed and fully supported Nigeria's recommendations on reform of the Council. Half-baked solutions were to be avoided. It was imperative to press for comprehensive reform of the Council, and Africa should have two permanent seats, as well as two additional non-permanent seats. Reforming the Council was integral to reforming the United Nations, as a whole. Discussions had been continuing for a long time and should come to a conclusion by the end of the year.
STUART BECK ( Palau) said an overall effort to reform the United Nations was essential. The best means to accomplish that goal was expressed last year, when Palau co-sponsored resolution A/59/L.64, which came to be known as the "G-4 resolution". More equitable geographical representation in the Security Council on a permanent basis was simply better, not worse. Of most concern was the geographical distribution of the Pacific, which was underrepresented in the United Nations and often marginalized by its remoteness and isolation. His Government acknowledged Japan's position as a regional partner, with extensive knowledge of the unique cultures and vulnerabilities of its small neighbours.
He said Japan's knowledge of the region should become a permanent part of the collective wisdom of the Security Council. The expansion of the Council to include the other deserving countries referenced in the G-4 resolution would, in similar fashion, enable the Council to deal more effectively with a very changed world. His Government endorsed the notion of several other delegations that the working methods of the Security Council should be consistently adapted, so as to increase the involvement of the States that were not members of the Council. One inevitable result of the expansion of the Council would be a greater opportunity for enhanced involvement and understanding of the Council's work, particularly in underrepresented regions.
ALLAN ROCK ( Canada) said his country strongly supported enlarging the Council, but opposed adding permanent members. Additional African representation was especially important. The Council's working methods should be improved to increase transparency, promote evidence-based decision-making and limit the use of the veto. The normative framework should be updated to meet the demands of an evolving security environment and changes in the nature of armed conflicts. Outreach and consultation with Member States were more important than ever. The Council should make more frequent use of informal exchanges and increase the number of substantive briefings. Greater assistance was needed for states that needed to build capacity, for example in fighting terrorism. The Council also needed better aggregate data on trends in such issues as global conflict.
He said the veto had the inhibiting effect of dampening debate or delaying important decisions. Its use could rarely be justified. Originally, the veto had been intended to protect the interests of the great Powers, not as a tool for disciplining the rest of the council's membership or avoiding debate on important issues. Any use of the veto should be explained and justified. Voluntary restrictions should be placed on its use, especially in cases of genocide or crimes against humanity. He strongly supported the Assembly resolution on working methods circulated by Singapore, Liechtenstein, Costa Rica, Switzerland and Jordan, and encouraged the drafters to initiate broad-based consultations as soon as possible. Since concerns had been raised over the potential misuse of the "responsibility to protect", the Council should adopt guidelines on the use of force. It should also formally place on its agenda the conflict in northern Uganda, which had the potential to destabilize the entire region.
HERALDO MUÑOZ ( Chile) said he supported a renewal of the Council that would make it more representative, transparent and effective. Enlarging its membership, especially through the participation of more countries from the developing world, would help achieve that goal. Such efforts should be done in tandem with the strengthening of the Council's working methods. As recommended in the Summit Outcome, the Council should increase the involvement of States not members of the Council, enhance its accountability and increase the transparency of its work.
He said Chile supported the aspirations of Brazil, Germany, India and Japan to occupy permanent seats, but without the right of veto either at present, or at a later stage. Complete elimination of the veto was today unrealistic, but serious consideration should be given to intermediate formulas, such as restricting its exercise to matters under Chapter 7, excluding cases of genocide or crimes against humanity. The position of Latin America and the Caribbean on the Council's enlargement should not be seen as a detriment to that of other regions. Chile, at the current stage of the reform, would be available to contribute the consensus building that was needed for the successful reform of the Organization, and of the Council in particular.
YERZHAN KH. KAZYKHANOV ( Kazakhstan) said that progress had been made in recent years towards the improvement of the working methods of the Security Council. Kazakhstan welcomed the emerging practice of sending Security Council missions to the field, and was particularly pleased with the Council's continuing efforts to address ongoing conflicts. Also, he thought the Council had made a positive shift in focus, taking the debate from issues of peace and security, to a much broader concept of security, attaching special importance to the rule of law, the role of regional organizations, civil society, and economic and social factors, including HIV/AIDS.
Unfortunately the Council report only gave a historical recounting of what happened in the past year and did not offer enough substantive information, he said. The report should not be confined to what the Council had achieved; it should have addressed what it had worked on, and why. Non-Members of the Council had the right to be well-briefed about the work of the Council, and their views needed to be reflected in the report during the draft exercise. The Council needed to do more to increase the participation of Non-Members of the Council in its deliberations. For that to happen, a wider membership of the Council needed to become a reality. Equitable representation of Member States on the Council could strengthen its ability to face the challenges of the twenty-first century, and improve its ability to reach settlements in crisis situations.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG ( Brazil) said that while the Security Council's report was to be welcomed, his delegation believed that those reports should be more frequent, so that non-members could be more involved in the Council's work. The Council faced many new challenges. It was imperative that in addressing those new challenges, the United Nations Charter principles of sovereign equality, political independence and self-determination be upheld and protected. People's humiliation and degradation set the stage for violence and, therefore, the root causes of conflict had to be tackled at the source. Haiti presented a prime example of a conflict that had to be addressed by means beyond military action.
There was now agreement that the Council's structure did not reflect the current state of the world, he said. Both permanent and non-permanent membership had to be expanded and there had to be greater geographic representation. Although it would have been best to resolve the issue before the September summit, the lack of a decision did not signify that there had been no progress. Important support for change had grown and there was a greater prospect for reform than ever. In addition to expanding the Council, it was necessary to reform its working methods. There was an urgent need for the Council to adopt definitive rules of procedures and observe them more faithfully. Addressing the widening of membership and working methods, were not a distraction from other work of the Council. It was essential to its continued effectiveness. Countries hiding behind calls for consensus and claims that reform discussions were disruptive, contributed to the perpetuation of current inequalities in the United Nations. After 12 years of discussion, the issue was ripe for decision. Taking a vote on those issues -- a democratic and proven method of coming to a decision -- ought not to frighten anyone.
KIRSTI LINTONEN ( Finland) said international leaders must seize this opportunity to further the goals of reform that were set in the Summit Outcome. The momentum for institutional reform must not be lost. Her country strongly supported the reform and enlargement of the Security Council, in both permanent and non-permanent members. Any reform must be aimed at increasing the Council's legitimacy and effectiveness. The right of veto should not be extended to the new permanent members under any circumstances. The Council's working methods needed to be reformed, in order to make it more transparent, inclusive and accountable. Japan and Germany should be elected permanent members of the Council and developing countries from the southern hemisphere should also be included in the Council's membership.
RODOLFO REYES ( Cuba) said the Council's report should contain more analytical detail on issues, such as divided votes. It should also detail the political and legal foundations behind decisions, give an account of actions not accomplished and provide detailed information on closed door meetings. Those changes to the annual report should be made on an urgent basis. On the other hand, if the Council submitted the special reports required of it by the Charter, Member States could review the work of the body, limited in composition, to which prime responsibility for international peace and security was entrusted.
He said United Nations reform could not occur without a comprehensive reform of the Council. It would not be possible to re-establish the rule of law or democracy within the Organization, as long as the Council exercised totalitarian power. The veto was an unjust privilege, but its elimination would not stop the unacceptable aggressiveness of the most powerful country in the world. Developing countries should be given permanent seats, with all the prerogatives of current members, including the veto. The Council's working methods must also be democratized. The open meetings being currently held with more frequency offered no opportunity for non-Members to provide input. The uneven briefings gave little glimpse into the closed-door sessions held with increasing frequency at the request of the most powerful nations. Finally, the Council was causing concern by its increasingly voracious incursion into functions of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
SAMIR SHAKIR MAHMOOD SUMAIDA'IE ( Iraq) said it was necessary to expand the Council and improve its working methods. While discussions had been going on for a long time, little progress had been made. That could be attributed to the fact that the most difficult issues had been placed in the second cluster. Concentrating on improving working methods would bring the Assembly closer to reaching agreement on how to expand the Council. Increased accountability and transparency in the Secretariat were necessary to maintain confidence in the United Nations. While expanding the Council so that it was more representative, and so that its efficiency was not undermined, his delegation placed greater importance on improving the working methods, because it affected all members.
Of the cluster two issues, Iraq was especially concerned about the sanctions regime. Sanctions had to be designed so that long-term effects were taken into consideration, especially the effects on civilians from a humanitarian point of view. The purpose of sanctions, according to the United Nations Charter, was not to undermine States and shred the social fabric. That fundamental truth had to be used as a guide, as the Council worked to improve the sanctions regime. Reforms in the use of the veto should be added to cluster two. The use of the veto should be limited. Further, since terrorism was a social phenomenon, it had to be addressed on an international level. The committees the United Nations had formed to combat terrorism were, therefore, welcome. Strengthening cooperation between regional organizations and the two committees would improve the effectiveness of anti-terrorism efforts. It was a positive development that more Council meetings had been open in recent years and that non-members had been increasingly included in deliberations. These trends ought to be continued.
JORGE SKINNER-KLEE ( Guatemala) said that even though the link between the two items under discussion was obvious, the question of the Council's report was sufficiently important to warrant separate consideration. The report was the sole formal link between the Organization's two principal organs, and should, therefore, be more than a merely symbolic or ritualistic act. Despite efforts to improve its introduction, the report nevertheless continued to be mostly a collection of documents of a descriptive, routine and narrative nature. The report must cease to be a lifeless record, a mere yearbook, and become an annotated agenda on the Council's deliberations. In its present form, the report did not allow an understanding of the situations that impaired international peace and security. As a result, questions that affected all of humanity were being dealt with by less than one tenth of the Organization's membership.
He said that in the area of transparency and the attainment of a closer relationship with the States not represented on it, the Council had achieved notable advances, but there was room for progress. It should extend as far as possible the practice of holding public meetings. Council reform should not concentrate solely on increasing the number of members, but also address its working methods and the decision-making process. The number of permanent and non-permanent members should be increased, with care taken to ensure adequate geographical representation and the inclusion of both developed and developing countries. Better coordination among the Council, the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council was also needed, but the responsibilities specific to each organ needed to be safeguarded. The report lacked an analysis of such relations, however.
ANDERS LIDÉN ( Sweden) said his country was among those that had advocated Council reform since the early 1990s. For the Council to remain the primary body in the international community's collective security system, its legitimacy and effectiveness must be assured. The Council should be expanded to allow stronger representation from Africa, Asia and Latin America. It must also be an effective body that could act quickly and in a transparent way. For that reason, veto power should not be extended to new members. Instead, a veto-free culture should be promoted.
He said the Council's working methods, transparency and its dialogue with other United Nations bodies must be strengthened. From now until the end of the year, we should come to an agreement on how to invigorate the process and carry it forward into next year. Non-action on the matter was not an option. The momentum of the Summit must be used to continue to move forward on the issue.
MARIA ANGELA HOLGUIN CUELLAR ( Colombia) commended the Council's work on terrorism and Haiti. In light of the growth in both volume and scope of the Council's work, she said it was particularly necessary to review its working methods, to promote transparency and hold broader consultation with Member States, regional groups and other actors, so as to make better informed decisions for viable, long-lasting solutions. To be effective, however, the Council must focus on threats to international peace and security without straying from its core mandate.
Continuing, he said the Arria formula for consultations had proven successful with non-governmental organizations and civil society, so that a similar formula should be devised for States. The Council should also broaden its focus on follow-up to situations to ensure sustainable solutions since monitoring wasn't enough. The Council must also make suggestions to mobilize the system for crisis situations. Better identifying national needs would also help the Council respond more readily and durably to crises. On Council reform, a broad consultation should be held to elaborate proposals for improving the Council's actions in carrying out its mandate, according to a proposal put forward by Switzerland and others. The reform itself should take the regional approach outlined by the Uniting for Consensus group, so as to prevent a further increase in the difference of views.
MARLENE MOSES ( Nauru) said Council reform required the recognition of the intrinsic connection between the pillars of the United Nations system. The relative inaction by Member States on progress in that area was disappointing. In order to truly strengthen the pillars of the United Nations system, Member States needed to ensure that reform was being made in all areas simultaneously. Council reform must occur together with the Human Rights Council, Peacebuilding Commission and management reforms. Otherwise, the Organization would not be able to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.
She said the Group of Four reform proposal, introduced in the fifty-ninth session, was the only resolution that provided a proper and complete framework for improving the Council's current structure. It was the only resolution that protected the interests of all States, large and small, showing no bias to any particular region or group. Nauru would further welcome its reintroduction during the current Assembly session. An expanded Security Council must include Brazil, Germany, India and Japan.
LEBOHANG FINE MAEMA ( Lesotho) said more changes should be made to the Council's working methods to increase its transparency and its accountability to the entire United Nations membership, as heads of state had called for at the September summit. The proposals in the informal paper by Costa Rica and others, provided a useful basis for building upon.
The issues involved in reforming the Council's working methods and increasing its membership were both capable of being resolved, he stated. Only political will was required and a genuine commitment to progress. It was obvious from the Council's report that it had been preoccupied with crises in Africa over the past year, as it had been in previous years. The cold hard fact was that Africa's representation in the Council had to increase, so that its interests and perceptions were accurately reflected. The common African Position was well known; that two permanent and five non-permanent seats would give Africa the appropriate presence. That position was not driven by the national interests of any one country, but by the aim of empowering a region facing crises relating to international peace and security.
ENRIQUE BERRUGA FILLOY, ( Mexico), said it was an interesting question why so much time was devoted to Security Council reform. One explanation was that it was the body fraught with the most problems. One more likely explanation was that its work was of enormous importance and, therefore, its reform demanded greater attention. Another plausible explanation was that, in seeking to reform the Council, the balance of international power was subject to review. Whatever the explanation, it would provide perspective to keep these possibilities in mind as reform was considered.
The new Council would be judged by the results it produced. While planning reforms, it was necessary to keep in mind that the rationale for the Council had to prevail over institutional and structural arrangements. If the Council did not continue to preserve peace and security, reform would have failed. The degree to which the Council maintained legitimacy and support would also be an important test of the success of reform efforts. It was made evident last year that it would not be constructive to undertake reform of the United Nations without a diagnosis of its problems. The same was true of Council reform. The initiative by Costa Rica and other countries was a step in the right direction, as it gave priority to addressing operational questions in the Council.
DUSAN MATULAY ( Slovakia) said comprehensive Council reform was vital for the Organization's success, at a time when global challenges required strong international management and functioning multilateral diplomacy. The Council needed to be more representative, effective and transparent. Membership should be enlarged in both categories. The present structure was clearly imbalanced and did not reflect the current world situation. In order to rectify existing imbalances, the permanent category of membership should include countries of the global South. Several developing and industrialized countries had staked a claim for permanent membership. An enlarged Council should include Germany and Japan as permanent members. All existing regional groups should be maintained and able to nominate candidates.
He said the Council's working methods also needed to be enhanced. Reform of the United Nations was not an easy process. Without reforming its most powerful organ, that process would remain unfinished business. During its upcoming tenure, as a non-permanent member in 2006-2007, Slovakia would not spare any effort to contribute to making the Council as effective and efficient as possible.
KENZO OSHIMA ( Japan) said that, as Chair of the Council's Working Group on Peacekeeping, Japan had guided the group towards a more proactive approach to focus debate and bring attention to issues. The Group had held more frequent meetings with troop contributors and stakeholders, had held debate on thematic issues, such as sexual exploitation, and had improved information sharing and coordination with the Assembly's Special Committee on Peacekeeping.
He said reform of the Council and its working methods was long overdue. The realities of the twenty-first century were much different from 1945. For example, 70 per cent of the budget in 1946 was borne by the permanent five and, thus, they provided a solid power base for decisions and for implementing them. By 2005, the permanent five provided only about 37 per cent of the regular budget and 45 per cent of the peacekeeping budget. That shift in the power and resource balance was a major call for expanding the Council membership for effectiveness. The time had come to exert the effort and make the reform.
The permanent five should be more responsive and active on the reform, he said, because of their special role and responsibility. Adding new permanent members, in and of itself, could breathe new life into the Council's modus operandi. For the first time in the Organization's history, a number of resolutions were tabled, all calling for changes in the Council's composition. The draft headed by Brazil and others, had generated a momentum at Headquarters and in national capitals on an unprecedented scale. The momentum now demanded a concrete outcome and no effort should be spared to move the arduous process along.
LARS FAABORG-ANDERSEN ( Denmark) said the present composition of the Council was a reflection of a world that no longer existed. To become more effective in playing a decisive role in promoting peace, security, human rights and democracy, broader representation was needed. It was not realistic, and perhaps not even desirable, to attempt to change the basic facts of the Council, namely that it consisted of permanent and non-permanent members, and that permanent members had certain privileges, including veto power. Instead, efforts should be aimed at levelling the playing field by ensuring a better balance in both membership categories, between countries from various geographical regions and different levels of economic development. Adding additional permanent members, particularly from developing countries, would ensure greater equality within that category. There was no reason to expand the number of veto carrying permanent members, however. The G-4 proposal embodied those principles and was still the only one that would be able to gather broad support in the membership.
He said Council reform went far beyond questions of expanding the membership. It also concerned working methods. Organization of work within the Council needed to be reformed. There should be a more balanced sharing of the workload between permanent and non-permanent members, and rationalization of the way it conducted deliberations. A comprehensive reform approach that covered both enlargement and working methods was needed. Those issues should not be dealt with separately.
JANINA HREBICKOVA ( Czech Republic) said reform and expansion of the Security Council was long overdue. Making the Council a more representative, transparent and efficient body was seen as a key element of overall reform. However, the issue had proven too difficult to be resolved as part of the Summit Outcome. Her Government had consistently supported the enlargement of the Council in both the permanent and elected members categories. The Czech Republic supported the
G-4 draft resolution and believed that the proposal offered a viable model for the Council's expansion. States should also not lose sight of reform when it came to the working methods of the Council.
IBRAHIM DABBASHI ( Libya) said the working group had reached a dead end, due to the insistence of those who had privileges in the Council on keeping those privileges. The present situation was imposed on the entire international community by the victors of the Second World War. The Council lacked democracy, its veto right was abused, and it dealt with international problems in a selective and discriminatory manner. Aggressors were granted impunity, while punishment was imposed on those whose policies did not go along with the wishes of privileged members.
He said the African continent had suffered the most from those arrangements. Equitable representation meant the attainment of permanent membership in the Council for Africa. Even if comprehensive Council reform was not completed, Africa should be granted a number of non-permanent seats commensurate with its representation in the United Nations. Libya held firm to its support for a unified Africa position that the continent should receive two permanent seats with all privileges, including the right of veto, and five non permanent members. Permanent seats should be allocated to the African Union, not to any specific country, and should be rotated. When the day came that the veto was abolished, that would mean that real reform of the Council, and the United Nations as a whole, had been achieved.
JOÃO SALGUEIRO ( Portugal) said that overall Security Council reform must comprise concrete and ambitious proposals on both tracks: membership expansion and improving working methods. "We fully understand and accept that in many circumstances the Security Council must work with discretion. But the Council acts on behalf of the international community and we all have to feel we have a stake in its deliberations", he added.
Both permanent and non-permanent levels of membership in the Council should be enlarged, thus paving the way for an increased presence of developing countries, and allowing Africa to accede to permanent membership status. On the question of veto power, Portugal's longstanding position had been that the requirement for concurring votes, outlined in Article 27, Chapter 3 of the Charter, should not be expanded beyond the current permanent Council members. Finally, he added that whatever reform measures were eventually decided and acted upon, a review, perhaps in 15 years, should be undertaken to assess the merits on the moves and their impact on the work of the wider Organization.
ALEXANDRA PAPADOPOULOU ( Greece) said Security Council reform had been discussed at length, and that taking a decision by consensus would only delay action on that important issue. Taking a vote was necessary. It was necessary, too, to expand the permanent and non-permanent numbers of the Council. Doing so would enhance the Council's legitimacy and its multiculturalism and, therefore, its effectiveness. If the United Nations was to continue to play an important role in the twenty-first century, and in order for it to be able to effectively tackle the issues the world faced, reform had to be undertaken right away.
ELADIO LOIZAGA ( Paraguay) said the Council's report of its activities had improved, but there were still improvements necessary. The report had to be more extensive in order to allow non-members to have a better understanding of the details of its activities and to allow them to be more involved in the Council's activities. The Member States had the right and responsibility to know fully the activities of the Council. Progress had also been made in the Council's open sessions. That had enabled non-member States the opportunity to express their views on important matters. But, those States had felt that their views had not been sufficiently taken into consideration when decisions were made.
The Council had to adapt itself to the realities of the new century, he continued. It was necessary to increase the number of members. To achieve a more democratic and representative Council, there must be both more permanent and non-permanent members, as well as more developed and developing countries, especially the latter, represented on the Council. The veto ought to be gradually eliminated. At first, it should only be used with respect to matters having to do with Chapter VII of the Charter. The proposals for reform of working methods circulated by Costa Rica and others were welcome. Both the representation and working method issues had to be undertaken together. He hoped that the reform effort did not meet the fate of the provisional rules of procedure, which had long languished unresolved.
SLOVEIGA SILKALNA ( Latvia) recalled that global political leaders at the 2005 World Summit had requested an assessment of the status of negotiations on Security Council reform by the end of this year. If the Assembly was to meet that deadline, Member States would have to muster the collective courage and will to act decisively in the coming weeks. And while Latvia supported the proposal for expansion out forward by the "G-4" nations -- which would create a more representative body, as well as widen the base of financial and other resources available to help implement and enforce its decisions -- it also believed that improving the Council's working methods was an equally important process.
It was obvious that reforming the Security Council would take time and patience, but no progress would ever be made if Member States continued to move at their current pace. Given that no consensus had been reach during the past 12 years, how could the Assembly continue to delude itself that a broad consensus would ever be reached. "We can debate for twelve more years and wait for miracles, or we can act decisively", she said. "In a democratic organization like the United Nations, a vote is not decisive; it is a useful tool for reaching decisions and getting things done within a reasonable time span." The United Nations needed a modern, updated Security Council, the sooner the better.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said political and economic order in the United Nations was set in 1945 in an act of gerrymandering, and that had to be changed now. Now one wanted to downplay the importance of the "Big 4" in establishing the United Nations. But, it was important to understand the role that colonies had played too. The struggle would not be complete until the colonies of 1945 took their place as permanent members of the Security Council. Some permanent members of the Council who were blocking reform had said that the debates should not return to old ground. The Indian delegation hoped that the African Union would not be deterred from reintroducing its resolution in the sixtieth session, as a result of these remarks.
In early drafts, the Security Council was called the executive committee. If the executive committee usurped executive powers, then the international community would be on the way to dictatorship. There was no recourse for member States who did not agree with Council decisions. The International Court of Justice had limited jurisdiction to serve as such recourse. The only solution was to enlarge the Council's membership and to reform its working methods.
It was not true that a G-4 proposal was obsessed with an expanded Council. It was a balanced proposal. It would be unacceptable to say that reforming the working methods did not require a change in the Charter, or an enlargement of the representatives. Unless there was a move towards eliminating the veto, it would be impossible to achieve new working methods within the Council. India would support the proposal on new working methods, despite limitations. That was because it would be at least a declaration in words that indicated intent. Without a fundamental change in the balance of forces, no fundamental reform could be achieved.
JAVIER LOAYZA BAREA ( Bolivia) said the principal organs of the United Nations should credibly and effectively deal with the crucial themes of the international agenda. The Security Council, as the organ primarily responsible for maintaining peace and international security, must be the expression of the new reality of the international community in the twenty-first century. Bolivia supported the broader concept of collective security, which guaranteed the inclusion of all Member States. The Council's working methods, including its relations with the Assembly, were especially relevant to that topic.
He said the Council should be expanded in a way that resulted in a fair geographic distribution, since regional action was increasingly a determining factor in resolving crucial situations. A Council whose legitimacy was built on widespread participation would allow the United Nations to solve situations that had not been resolved satisfactorily in different parts of the world, as well as those which could arise as potential threats to international peace and security. Efforts should be redoubled to find a solution that was in step with the aspirations of peoples and Governments.
DIEGO CORDOVEZ ( Ecuador) said the Council's composition did not reflect reality. It should be reformed, and both its composition and its working methods must be made more transparent. Further, the Council must give more detailed accounts of its activities to States and there should be more dialogue between the Council and the Assembly, Member States, troop contributors and regional groups. Summaries of the Council's informal consultations should be made available immediately to non-members. The veto should be limited.
Twelve years of negotiation were enough, he declared. An enormous amount of energy and resources had been expended on the debate. The proposal headed by Japan was good enough for moving forward.
FRANCIS K. BUTAGIRA ( Uganda) said the Security Council shouldered a heavy burden maintaining international peace and security on behalf of the United Nations, so Member States must be fully confident that that body took their interests and concerns into consideration when decisions were taken. Very often, the Council appeared to adopt a "hands-off" policy. He said Africa, for instance had witnessed a number of devastating conflicts, but beyond "condemnation and appealing statements", the Council had not done enough. He said he would draw particular attention to the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
That region had become a haven for all manner of well-armed rebel groups. Indeed, a Uganda rebel faction known as the People's Redemption Army had grown in numbers to more than 2,000 under the watch of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). The Council must not let that region become a "conservation area" for rebels; fast action was needed to disarm them. The Council should provide MONUC with a robust mandate to disarm the negative elements or invite in a third party to do the job. On Security Council reform, he said he supported the African position calling for two permanent seats, including veto power. Africa was not begging for favour, he said, but demanding that a "historical wrong" be corrected.
MARCELLO SPATAFORA ( Italy) said the proposal circulated by Switzerland, Singapore, Costa Rica, Jordan and Liechtenstein deserved careful attention because of its non-divisive approach. There had been many interesting proposals made and the proposals of Pakistan were particularly commendable. While Italy sought non-divisive Council reform, it was important not to let the most important issues be derailed. It was time for all members to address the issues regarding reform with a fresh approach. It was advisable to build up the necessary political momentum to build up support for reform.
If one were to take into account all the groups that sought regional representation, it would account for a third of the General Assembly. He questioned whether the objectives of those seeking such representation were practical or politically based. In planning reform, it was necessary to protect the sovereign rights of the members. Whoever wound up on the Council, they would be there because the owners of the house -- the United Nations Members -- had decided to send them there, by their votes. And those representatives would remain in place until the Members decided by vote that those representatives should no longer do so. Successful Council reform would mean that no Member State felt marginalized.
SUSANA RIVERO ( Uruguay) said her delegation believed that much of the effort to reform the Security Council should be devoted to improving the 15-nation body's working methods. To that end, Uruguay supported the relevant proposal put forward by the so-called "small five" nations aiming to jump start negotiations on the matter. She stressed that increasing the transparency of the Council's work was also important in order to increase the organ's overall credibility. Uruguay was convinced that the large number of hours dedicated to the overall reform debate would be useful in arriving at a decision, set by Member States themselves, to adjust the work of the Security Council to the current times.
ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People's Democratic Republic) said some had become impatient with the slow pace of reform efforts, while others had cautioned that reform ought not to be carried out precipitously. It was clear that reform was necessary. To make the Council more representative and democratic, it was necessary to take into account present realities. There ought to be an increase in both permanent and non-permanent representatives from both developing and developed nations, based on the principle of equitable geographic distribution and taking into account the relative importance of countries. The working methods had to be made more transparent, with regard to decision-making in particular. The fact that Africa had no permanent seat on the Council was unjust. To correct that injustice, Africa ought to have permanent seats on an enlarged Council. The Council had to adapt to the realities of the new world. Members had to work in a spirit of compromise to make the Council more efficient, democratic, legitimate and transparent.
MARCO ANTONIO SUAZO ( Honduras) said that an in-depth systematic analysis of the Council's work was needed. Mere lists of its activities only offered a limited view of what was being done. Often, the rest of the United Nations membership did not know why certain decisions had been made or why some situations had been addressed urgently while, at other times, paralysis seemed to prevail. Summits were held every year, but they only gave a limited view of what the Council was doing. For the last two days, the debate of the past 10 years had been repeated. The Assembly was not advancing quickly enough and not in the right direction. The Summit and discussions had led to the hope that the current report would be more substantive.
He said the Council must be more representative, democratic and internationally legitimate. Japan and Germany constituted two members that met the requirements to be part of the Council because of their contributions in humanitarian, social, and economic fields. The path to reform and strengthening the Organization lay in the integration and legitimacy of its organs. The Summit Outcome gave a clear, precise mandate to analyze all efforts at reform, expand the Security Council and create a Human Rights Council and a Peacebuilding Commission. The international community should be working together to create that new international architecture.
JEAN-FRANCIS REGIS ZINSOU ( Benin) said his country had played a major role on some Council decisions during its term as a non-permanent member. For example, it had advocated the holding of an open debate on children in armed conflict and had looked into the problem of non-respect for arms embargoes imposed by the Council, particularly in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Neighbouring States should respect their obligations to abide with the embargo.
Reviewing situations in Africa and the Council's role in restoring stability to Sierra Leone, among others, he said the Council was generally associated with crises, but the Charter also gave it the responsibility to create peace. The Council should strengthen its consultations with Member States and should increase its transparency, including with regard to discretion about the situations before it. But, enlargement of the Council should come before a reform of its working methods, since the working methods of an enlarged Council with 25 members would be very different than those of a Council with only 15 members. Broad consultations on the matter should be held with non-Council Members.
Statements in Exercise of Right of Reply
Japan's representative, responding to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, said qualifications for membership should be based on contributions to the Organization and not on the historical past. Japan's Prime Minister had apologized for certain actions taken by Japan in the past, and bilateral talks between his country and the Democratic Republic had been resumed and were helpful.
Responding to Japan, the representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said the discussion on enlargement of the Council membership was a complicated one, particularly with regard to Japan's bid for a permanent seat. His country remained consistent in its position that Japan's commitment to international peace could not be trusted, since Japan's words did not match its actions in certain respects.
MR. ELIASSON ( Sweden), Assembly President, recapped the two-day debate by saying the views of Member States had been clarified. He said delegations had noted improvements in the depth, thrust and content of the Council's report. Others had called for more analysis and for strengthening the exchange between the Council and the Assembly.
On Council reform, he said there was general support for making the Council more broadly representative and transparent, so as to enhance the legitimacy of its decisions. But, views on modalities still diverged, though delegations had urged progress to be made in response to the Summit mandate, and had expressed the intention to table resolutions. Calls had been raised for extending the work of the Open-Ended Working Group, and that work would continue. Suggestions for how to implement the Summit Outcome were welcome and would be included in the progress report to be submitted by the end of the year.
The Assembly then took note of the Council's report and of the Secretary-General's notification of items on international peace and security before the Council.
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