Statement by Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative at the GA Plenary Meeting on Security Council Reform
Islamabad, November 17, 2020 (PPI-OT): I, Thank you, Mr. President first of all for convening this debate on one of the most important issues on the Agenda of the General Assembly and for your opening remarks, says a press release received here today from New York. My delegation fully aligns with the statement made earlier by the distinguished permanent representative of Italy on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group. We greatly appreciate your decision to appoint their Excellences, Ambassador Alya Al Thani of Qatar and Ambassador Joanna Wronecka of Poland, as the Co-Chairs of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) process and wish to congratulate both of them on their appointment.
We have full confidence in their proven experience and skills to guide the IGN process towards a positive outcome. I would also like to thank Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh of the United Arab Emirates for her contributions as the Co-Chair during the previous GA session. Let us acknowledge at the outset, that the multilateral system including the United Nations- even as it embarks on its 75th anniversary – is at an inflection point in history. The commitment of those who conceived the United Nations has weakened – although there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The Security Council has, on the one hand, accumulated all the power and authority of other UN organs, including the General Assembly. On the other hand, due to the tensions among its permanent members, the Security Council is in virtual paralysis in addressing the existing and emerging threats to international peace and security. The reform of the Security Council must be part of a broader revival of the multilateral system as it was conceived under the Charter.
The Council must be made more representative, responsive, democratic and transparent. At the same time, the balance between the Council and the General Assembly, ECOSOC and other UN organs must be restored to reinvigorate the entire multilateral system. The proposal of the Uniting for Consensus Group (UfC) for Security Council reform reflects the most suitable basis for an agreement on comprehensive reform of the Security Council.
To supplement what was stated by my Italian colleagues and other UfC representatives, let me cite the following reasons to endorse the UfC proposal: First, our proposal is fair and equitable. It respects the principle of sovereign equality of states and does not discriminate between states; Second, the change reality of the Assembly of the United Nations is that there are 193 member states instead of 100 when the Council was last reformed.
Therefore, UfC wishes to increase the opportunity for all member states including small and medium size sates to secure larger and more frequent representation on the Council; Third, our proposal will enhance the accountability of Council members through the democratic mechanism of periodic elections and, if agreed, re-elections; Fourth, our proposal is simple. It proposes a direct Charter amendment for approval of the Assembly. Fifth, the UfC proposal is realistic. If it is approved, it will obtain the largest possible support in the General Assembly and the essential ratification of all the 5 permanent members of the Security Council. And lastly, the UfC proposal is flexible.
It can, through variable arrangements, accommodate the aspirations and interests of the majority of the United Nations membership, including African and other regional groups such as the Arab Group and the OIC. The UfC does not endorse the bid of some countries to become permanent members of the Council and these are for several good reasons: First, the problem cannot be the solution. The oft-cited deficiencies of the Security Council flow primarily from the ever more frequent inability of the 5 permanent members to agree on early and equitable responses to conflicts and disputes. Adding new permanent members will multiply the possibilities of paralysis. We should not throw oil on fire; Second, acceptance of a few States as permanent members will be contrary to the Charter’s principle of sovereign equality.
The provision in the Charter for 5 permanent members was an aberration from the principle of sovereign equality. We could not change this when entering the United Nations. Yet, it does not imply that we as a sovereign equal state should accept the further compromise of this principle now when we would be a party to a decision to do so; Third, the proposal to endorse new permanent members will reduce the possibilities for the rest of the UN membership to be equitably represented on the Council.
Four, Five or Six new permanent members will mathematically reduce the number of the additional 10-11 additional seats for the 180 plus other UN Member States; Fourth, the proposal to add individual new permanent members will not command the widest possible support in the General Assembly and will not be endorsed by all the 5 permanent members, rendering the proposal infructuous and consigning the prospects of Security Council expansion to oblivion. Let me add that we respect the achievements and contributions of some of the members of the G-4. But in their regions and beyond there are other States with equally good credentials for service to international peace and security. Their self-identification as candidates for permanent membership is arbitrary and self-serving, if not arrogant. The one country which is most insistent on permanent membership comes from our region. This country has:
A proclivity for the use and threat of use of force. It has waged 20 wars since its independence;
It has fomented terrorism and instability across our region and especially against Pakistan. We have clear and ample evidence of this state sponsored terrorism;
It stands in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions calling for the final disposal of the disputed State of the Jammu and Kashmir through the exercise of the right of self-determination through a fair and free Plebiscite under UN auspices. It has deployed 900,000 troops to crush the legitimate freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people. It is committing massive human rights violations which are recorded in UN documents and It threatens aggression daily against Pakistan violates the cease fire to kill innocent civilians across the Line of Control in Pakistan’s territory.
The UfC sees the African position differently from the bid of the G-4 for permanent membership. The African Group is seeking to correct a historic injustice to the Continent. It is seeking a larger number of non-permanent and two empowered permanent seats for Africa. The UfC is prepared to explore with the African Group how their regional approach could be adapted to enable all regions to be able to select their own candidates for membership in an expanded Security Council. We hope to clarify and promote convergence on several issues emanating from the African position. This is an exercise and an example of our flexibility.
To those who have expressed support here to the African position including the G-4 – I would like to ask: Are they prepared to accept the African regional approach to the expansion of the Security Council. The General Assembly has decided unanimously that the reform should be achieved with the “largest possible agreement”, in other words, through a consensus. Consensus can be built through an interactive process in the IGN. This interactive process can be best pursued through in person meetings as in the past. We hope the Co-Chairs will be able to indicate a schedule of the IGN meetings for the session and the issues on which each session will be devoted.
In this process, we will need to reach broad agreement on each of the Clusters of issues involved in the comprehensive reform of the Council and the interlinkages between them. Only then can we attempt to articulate these areas of agreement. The two documents before the IGN indicate the wide differences that exist among Member States. Clearly, it is too early now to consider “text-based” negotiations in the light of these wide divergences. A consensus can be built through mutual accommodation and flexibility. Positions are strongly held and reflect core national security interests.
No one should expect that others will be obliged to compromise their positions through coercion or threats or threat to resort to other formats and procedures. Any resort to voting will be contrary to the agreement to promote widest possible agreement; it would kill the negotiating process and deal a fatal blow to the hopes for early Security Council reform. Similarly, webcasts and records of the negotiating process is likely to diminish, not enlarge, the prospects of compromise and convergence. The informal nature of the IGN is essential for productive negotiations. Let us proceed constructively, let us proceed cautiously and deliberately in the IGN to explore and build areas of convergence. That is the only avenue to an early and comprehensive reform of the Security Council.
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