Following Debate over Text-Based Process, General Assembly Adopts Oral Decision to Continue Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reforms
The General Assembly adopted this morning, by consensus, an oral decision by which it decided to “immediately” continue intergovernmental negotiations on reform of the Security Council.
In the debate, differences emerged between those who wanted text-based negotiations — the President of the Assembly and some delegations, including Japan and Germany — and others, such as the delegations of China, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea, who considered such a step premature and likely to break the consensus.
The oral decision reaffirmed the central role of the General Assembly on the issues of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council; and the commitment of Heads of State and Government representing the peoples of the world to instil new life in the discussions on the reform of the Security Council.
By the decision, the Assembly decided to immediately continue intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform in informal plenary of the General Assembly at its seventy-seventh session. The Assembly further decided to convene the Open-Ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters related to the Security Council during the seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly, if Member States so decide.
Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, affirmed that necessary reform of the Council must take place, recalling that said negotiations have gone on for 14 years. The world needs a more representative and fit-for-purpose Council, he said, welcoming increased convergence and underlining the need for a basic text so that the negotiations can move forward. The oral decision was a robust basis for further progress. “Let us demonstrate that we will, and are, listening and acting as required,” he stressed.
Speaking in explanation of position before the adoption, the representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, speaking for the L.69 Group [group of developing countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific], shared that position, underscoring that the process is stuck and “trapped in a long cycle of repetitions”. She called for substantive, text-based negotiations to move forward. Guyana’s delegate, speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), further called for instilling new life into the process of Council reform.
China’s delegate indicated that his country was not in favour of negotiations on the basis of a text and saw in this the expression of the sole personal will of the President of the Assembly. States are leading the negotiation process, he said, urging delegations not to “overinterpret” this decision to pursue negotiations. He stressed the need to preserve consensus on Council reform.
Pakistan’s delegate rejected any negotiation on the basis of a text, citing the need to reach agreement on the principles of reform on all five clusters of the issue. The desire for a text falls within the personal will of the President, he said, adding that any attempt to formalize this process would be rushed. The representative of Iran said his delegation does not support any text-based negotiations as they are “impractical and premature”.
Delegates of Belarus and Venezuela shared this point of view, while Syria’s representative said that the elements presented by the Co-Chairs are personal and therefore could not constitute a basis for negotiation.
Japan’s representative, speaking in explanation of position after the adoption, and on behalf of the Group of Four (Brazil, Germany, India, Japan), said he was very disappointed that the decision was a simple roll-over. He expressed regret that the efforts of the President of the General Assembly had been “blocked by those who do not want to let the IGN [intergovernmental negotiation] process move forward”, specifying that the Group of Four is in full agreement to start negotiations on a text. “It is unacceptable to roll over as if nothing has happened and start the discussion from scratch again,” he stressed.
The United Kingdom’s delegate stated it was possible to go beyond a simple roll-over towards a text. India’s delegate stressed that the technical roll-over decision was a missed opportunity, pointing out that, “without a single negotiated text, the intergovernmental negotiations could well go on for another 75 years without any progress whatsoever in the direction of reform”.
Italy’s representative, speaking for the Uniting for Consensus Group, acknowledged that the will of the President of the Assembly is not shared by all delegations, before noting the substantive obstacles that hinder the negotiations, which are persistent differences on substance. Political will is needed and can move the process forward, he said. Similarly, Denmark’s delegate, one of the two Co-Chairs, called for building on the tangible progress made this year, remaining convinced that there is new and further life in the process.
Sierra Leone’s delegate, speaking for the African Group, said it is crucial for Africa that the common African position is fully reflected in the negotiation process. He welcomed the broad support for this position and underlined the need to correct the “historical injustice” of African underrepresentation in the Council.
Before the meeting, the General Assembly observed a minute of silence in tribute to the memory of Shinzo Abe, former Prime Minister of Japan, and José Eduardo dos Santos, former President of Angola, who both died on 8 July.
Also speaking were representatives of the Russian Federation, Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Korea, Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Germany, Türkiye, Ethiopia and Kuwait.