UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly has decided to continue the stalled negotiations to reform the Security Council in the next assembly session, with Pakistan emphasizing that the 15-member body’s restructuring should be guided by the principles of democracy and equitable representation.
Adopting the oral decision titled “question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters”, the 193-member Assembly on Wednesday decided to reaffirm its own central role concerning that question.
Speaking on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, which opposes any expansion of permanent member on the Security Council, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, the permanent representative of Pakistan to UN, expressed surprise at the opposition of some member states to including fundamental United Nations principles of democracy and representation in the text just adopted.
According to informed sources, the resistance to incorporating the two cardinal principles came from the so-called Group of Four — India, Brazil, Germany and Japan — the aspirants of permanent seats on the Council.
“Confronted with this opposition to the fundamental principles promoted by the United Nations, the co-chairs (of the intergovernmental negotiations on UNSC reform) were forced to keep them as issues that need further consideration with a view to achieving the objective of a more democratic Security Council,” the Pakistani envoy said.
On its part, the UfC seek expansion only in the non-permanent seats because the group says this is the only category in which members reflects equity among regional groups.
The Security Council is currently composed of five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and 10 non-permanent members that are elected in groups of five to two-year terms.
Full-scale negotiations to restructure the Security Council began in the General Assembly in February 2009 on five key areas — the categories of membership, the question of veto, regional representation, size of an enlarged Security Council, and working methods of the council and its relationship with the General Assembly.
Despite a general agreement on enlarging the Council, as part of the UN reform process, member states remain sharply divided over the details.
Ambassador Lodhi said the issue of expanding the Council membership required substantial attention, and once consensus was reached on the main principles, the next steps would be much more fluid.
“We also agree that the question of the veto is a key element of Security Council reform: if there continues to be a sharp and enduring disagreement among Member States on this issue, it is because of the demand for additional permanent members,” she pointed out.
Emphasizing that a serious discussion on the democratic nature of the Security Council could not be postponed any further, Ambassador Lodhi noted the emerging pockets of consensus, including on the issue of expanding the non-permanent membership.
Flexibility and a spirit of compromise would be critical in future negotiations on Security Council reform, the Pakistani envoy added.
“Building on these bases, the UfC group is looking forward to engaging in future negotiations with the sincere conviction that Security Council reform is possible and within reach.”