General Assembly Hears Renewed Appeals for Substantive Security Council Reform But Speakers Differ on Representation, Improved Working Methods
More Talk without Real Action Akin to Titanic Going Down, One Delegate Warns
The General Assembly opened its annual debate on Security Council reform today, with speakers once again renewing their appeals for enlarging the 15-member organ and updating its working methods to make it more transparent, inclusive, representative, accountable and effective in a world gripped by a cascade of interlocking crises.
As in years past, however, they put forward divergent views on how to achieve that goal, even as the representatives of Slovakia and Kuwait were named Co-Chairs of intergovernmental negotiations which aim to take forward a process that has been on the Assembly’s agenda for 43 years.
“A choice is at hand: Does the Assembly continue its annual repetition of well-known positions or, moved by these crises, does it swing into action to find common ground and achieve breakthroughs?” said Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), President of the Assembly, who emphasized in opening remarks that success rests squarely in the hands of all 193 Member States.
The representative of the Bahamas, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that both the permanent and non-permanent categories of Council membership must be expanded, with a guaranteed presence for small island developing States. The urgency of the challenges before the Organization demands movement beyond rhetoric in search of greater common ground, he added.
India’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Four, which also comprises Brazil, Germany and Japan, said representation is an inescapable precondition for legitimacy and effectiveness. The longer Council reform is stalled, she added, the greater its deficiency in representation.
The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, speaking on behalf of the L.69 group of developing countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific, said substantive text-based negotiations, with clearly attributed positions, is the best way forward.
Sierra Leone’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said Member States must correct an historical injustice by providing Africa with five non-permanent and two permanent Council seats. “We will not compromise the integrity of the African position for the sake of having just any kind of reform that will not stand the test of time,” he said.
Bahrain’s representative, meanwhile, reiterated the Arab Group’s demand for a permanent Arab seat, as well as proportionate Arab representation among non-permanent Council members.
Italy’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus group, proposed nine long-term non-permanent elected seats distributed among regional groups, plus two additional non-permanent seats with two-year terms — one for Eastern Europe and another for small island developing States and small States.
The representative of the United States, one of three permanent Council members taking the floor today, said the question before the Assembly is whether we will defend an outdated status quo or reform the Council and empower the United Nations to take on the challenges of the twenty-first century.
China’s representative said the Council must not become a club for big and rich nations, and that failure to redress the overrepresentation of developed countries will make decision-making more undemocratic.
The United Kingdom’s representative advocated for a modest expansion of Council membership to “somewhere in the mid-twenties”, including permanent representation for India, Germany, Japan, Brazil and the African continent.
Brazil’s representative said that, with so much at stake, more of the same is irresponsibility at best. “To propose that the intergovernmental negotiations continue as they have over the last 14 years would be similar to asking the orchestra on the Titanic to continue playing music as the ship has started to sink,” he said.
Also speaking today were representatives of Luxembourg (on behalf of the Benelux countries), Maldives, Singapore, Thailand, Ecuador, Mexico, Türkiye, Switzerland, Germany, Egypt, Colombia, Australia, Malaysia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Lithuania, Cuba, Pakistan, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Japan, Argentina, Malta, Chile, Guyana, Uruguay, Canada, Spain, Estonia, Portugal, Slovenia, Bangladesh, Liechtenstein, Viet Nam and Algeria.
Representatives of India and Pakistan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 18 November, to continue its debate on the question of equitable representation on, and an increase in the membership of, the Security Council.
CSABA KŐRÖSI (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, noted that it has been 43 years since the question of the Security Council’s reform first appeared on the General Assembly’s agenda, 17 years since world leaders expressed their support for “early reform” as an essential element in the overall reform of the Organization and 13 years since the launch of the intergovernmental negotiations process. However, throughout a set of interlocking crises which have put the entire multilateral system under pressure, the Council has remained blocked. As the main guarantor of international peace and security, it was unable to fully carry out its mandate. “This is about the credibility and the relevance of the United Nations,” he said, adding: “A choice is at hand: does the Assembly continue its annual repetition of well-known positions or, moved by these crises, does it swing into action to find common ground and achieve breakthroughs?” Since the Assembly is the only body with a mandate to seek a solution to the question of Security Council reform, Member States must answer this call by driving urgently needed transformation.
He then reported that he had appointed the permanent representatives of Slovakia and Kuwait as Co-Chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations process, emphasizing that success will depend on Member States. The objective is to find solutions in a transparent manner along a well-designed process. Member States must decide whether and how to use the available techniques, he said, pledging his impartial, objective and open-minded support. “Let us persevere. Let’s break free of entrenched positions. Let’s go beyond the calculations of distrust and rivalry. Let’s focus on the common good,” he said.
INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), speaking on behalf of the L.69 group of developing countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, said that the Security Council has been rendered incapable of functioning effectively by virtue of its anachronistic architecture and its imperviousness to the logic of evolution. “We must begin by restructuring the framework within which we are operating and which is ineffective. Any attempt to deny this fact is to accept the stalled process and perpetuate the status quo.” It is time to begin substantive text-based discussions with clearly attributed positions, with every delegation having an equal opportunity to participate. The United Nations had always represented hope, and it must continue to do so, she said.
“If we fail to revitalize multilateralism, if we fail to reform the Security Council, we have not only neglected the peoples of the United Nations on whose behalf we act, but it is also a clear dereliction of our responsibilities, and we would therefore have failed as an Organization,” she continued. Today, the world is questioning the purpose and relevance of the United Nations, the pillar of peace and security upon which it rests is crumbling and its credibility and legitimacy are at stake. “We need a multilateral order that is not only capable of safeguarding peace, but willing to prioritize it.” She concluded by recalling that the Sustainable Development Goals include a target to broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance. This is not anywhere more necessary than in the Security Council, she emphasized.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India), speaking also on behalf of the Group of Four, comprising Brazil, Germany, Japan and her own country, voiced her regret over the lack of substantive work after four decades on equitable representation. Representation is an inescapable precondition for legitimacy and effectiveness, she said, adding that the longer Council reform is stalled, the greater its deficiency in representation. The intergovernmental negotiation process is voiding its own purpose through a lack of activity, the absence of a negotiating text and the unwillingness of some delegations to engage in substantive discussions. There must be a single consolidated text and renewed working methods which facilitate an open-inclusive and transparent process, apply the Assembly’s rules of procedure and include webcasting and record-keeping. A single consolidated text with attribution is the best way to identify commonalities and promote a give-and-take, she stressed.
Turning to the substance of comprehensive reform, she reiterated the need for an expansion of seats in both membership categories, equitable regional representation, transparency, inclusive working methods and enhanced relationships with other United Nations bodies. Being faithful to the original purpose and mandate of the intergovernmental negotiations is the only way to ensure Member States’ ownership of the process, she said, adding that the Group of Four reserves the right to raise the question of Council reform again during the current session. Member States must not allow the process to cocoon itself in perpetuity without letting their collective aspirations take a definite shape, she emphasized.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), speaking on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus group, said a reformed Security Council should be more transparent, representative, accountable, democratic and effective, with decisions taken not by an exclusive few who hold ultimate power, but by all Council members in a fully inclusive way. Opportunities for all Member States to sit periodically on the Council must be increased so that all regions and all voices are heard. The number of States with permanent seats would be limited to the current five, but their Charter-derived prerogatives, such as the use of the veto, would be restrained. Moreover, every new member of a reformed Council must be elected, with the number of two-year elected seats increased to ensure a fairer rotation.
Noting that 60 of the Organization’s 193 Member States have never served on the Council, he proposed the creation of long-term non-permanent elected seats, with the possibility of immediate re-election, to enable delegations to make a sustained contribution to the Council’s work. The Council would consist of 20 members on top of the current 15 seats. Nine long-term non-permanent elected seats would be distributed among regional groups, with three for Africa, three for Asia-Pacific, two for the Latin American and Caribbean Group and one for the Western European and Others Group. Also, there would be two more of the current two-year elected seats assigned — one to the Eastern European Group of States and one, as a rotating seat, to small island developing States and small States, allowing those States to have a fairer chance of gaining access to the Council, he said.
ALHAJI FANDAY TURAY (Sierra Leone), speaking on behalf of the African Group, reiterated the need for comprehensive reform of the United Nations system and the Council. The African Group is not in favour of any piecemeal or selective approach that contradicts and violates the spirit of comprehensive reform. As the only geographic region which is without permanent Council representation, and which is underrepresented in the non-permanent category, Africa demands two permanent seats with all the rights and prerogatives of the current permanent members, including the right of veto. There must also be five non-permanent seats for African nations, he added.
Urging Member States to correct an historical injustice done to Africa, he said that reform must make the Council more inclusive, democratic, transparent, accountable, legitimate and efficient as a global organ that properly reflects and adequately addresses present and future geopolitical realities. Reiterating the continent’s common position, as outlined in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, he said that while Africa opposes the veto in principle, it should nevertheless be available to all permanent members so long as it exists and as a matter of common justice. In addition, the African Union should be responsible for the selection of African representatives on the Council, including determining selection criteria. Highlighting the support of Heads of States and Governments, including those of the Council’s permanent members, he called on the Assembly to act. “We will not compromise the integrity of the African position for the sake of having just any kind of reform that will not stand the test of time,” he said.
OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the Benelux countries, said that in light of the unprovoked aggression by the Russian Federation, a permanent Council member, against Ukraine, a sovereign Member State, reform is more crucial than ever. The time has come to reinvigorate the intergovernmental negotiation process, he said, emphasizing that the use of the veto has increased significantly over the past years, preventing the Council from effectively carrying out its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. Supporting limits on the use of the veto, he added that the Assembly has a political responsibility to address situations when the use of the veto leads to paralysis in Council decision-making. He went on to say that the Council should be more representative of today’s world, with increased representation for developing countries and small‑ and medium-sized Member States.
STAN ODUMA SMITH (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that given a myriad of interlinked crises, the need for a more effective Council has never been more pressing. “At the same time, with the increased attention paid towards the Security Council and the United Nations as a whole by our populations, it is pellucid that a strong and effective United Nations is our best and only option.” To that end, Member States need to muster the collective courage and political will to implement reforms, uphold the commitments made by world leaders during the Assembly’s general debate and deliver concrete and actionable outcomes throughout the intergovernmental negotiations.
The current membership of the Organization is not equitably represented on the Council in its current size and configuration, he continued. Both the permanent and non-permanent categories of Council membership must be expanded, with a guaranteed presence for small island developing States. Given their size, remoteness, development status and inherent vulnerabilities, those States have distinct and practical perspectives on peace and security matters. They are therefore well placed to make a unique and valuable contribution to the Council’s work. The urgency of the challenges before the Organization demands movement beyond rhetoric in search of greater common ground, he added.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the Council must be made more capable and effective through a more representative, transparent, impartial and credible framework. The intergovernmental negotiations are the only forum for agreeing on Council expansion and reform. Reiterating the position of the League of Arab States, he demanded a permanent Arab seat in an expanded Council alongside a proportionate Arab representation among non-permanent members. The overarching objective is to ensure fair and appropriate representation of all geographic and regional groups. He emphasized that the Arab Group speaks for more than 400 million people in 22 countries which make up about 12 per cent of Member States, and that much of the Council’s work is related to the Arab region.
Turning to the Council’s working methods and procedures, he called for more efficiency and transparency, including by considering the adoption of permanent rather than provisional rules of procedure. Thought must also be given to reducing the number of closed meetings and informal consultations, while subsidiary organs should provide adequate information to Member States about their activities. He stressed the need to ensure cohesion among Member States and not detract from the credibility of the intergovernmental negotiations by imposing steps that do not enjoy consensus. He went on to say that any texts emerging from negotiations must accurately reflect the positions of all countries and groups, thus preserving the principle of ownership of the intergovernmental negotiations.
IBRAHIM ZUHUREE (Maldives), emphasizing that Council reform is a critical aspect of the revitalization of the United Nations, said the organ should reflect today’s realities. Its composition should reflect equitable geographical distribution, with increased representation of developing countries and small island developing States. Commending the substantial use of guiding questions and informal meetings which contribute to greater dialogue on areas of convergence, he said that the Assembly’s current session should move towards a single negotiating text that incorporates the positions of Member States and regional groups. Reform is also necessary to ensure that the Council can address emerging non-traditional security threats, including climate change and rising sea levels. Recognizing the need for greater cooperation and the participation of multiple stakeholders, he called for further improvement of the Council’s working methods.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), noting his country’s consistent support for an expanded Council in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, said any reform should address the concerns of regions currently unrepresented and underrepresented and should not disadvantage small States. There is a compelling case for new permanent seats for Africa, he said, noting the need as well to expand the non-permanent member category for greater representation and diversity. Small States in particular, including small island developing States, must have a greater opportunity to serve on the Council. Singapore does not support any new permanent members obtaining the right of the veto. He added that Singapore looks forward to Presidential Note 507, which contains a compendium of the Council’s working methods, being updated soon. In addition, the Council’s annual report must be detailed and analytical and, in that regard, identify areas where the Council was unable to reach a decision.
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand) said that reaching for low-hanging fruit on working methods could serve as a springboard towards further reform. In that regard, he pointed to Member States’ suggestions to promote the roles of elected Council members, further engage troop- and police-contributing countries and enhance information-sharing with regional organizations and non-Council Members. Such progress can increase the sense of co-ownership, efficiency and transparency while also building momentum towards structural reform. He added that the Council must also facilitate broader geographical representation, cross-regional balance and greater representation of developing countries. The concerns of various regions must be heard, he said, adding his support for the greater representation of African countries. He went on to say that the Council must also strengthen its cooperation and coordination with the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, among others, to ensure that enduring solutions are built on a tripod of peace, human security and sustainable development.
CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) said that the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC) already has candidates lined up for non-permanent Council seats for the next 31 years. Nineteen applications were made in the last four years and eight countries are candidates for at least two terms. This would be mitigated by increasing the number of seats for the region from two to four, he said, calling for an end to underrepresentation for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Stressing the need for fair representation of developing countries, including small island developing States, he said that Council reform must include robust mechanisms of coordination, feedback and information. He emphasized the importance of modernizing the Council’s working methods, particularly in those areas which do not require amending the United Nations Charter, and called for more opportunities for non-permanent Council members on subsidiary bodies.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), associating himself with the United for Consensus group, said that a reform focused on more permanent Council members goes against principle of the legal equality of States and would not help resolve the issue of unfair representation of some regions. The new realities of the world trigger the need to increase the participation of African, Arab, Latin American and Caribbean countries, including small island developing States. Recalling that Council membership is, above all, a service to the international community, he advocated against privileges for just for a few countries. He reiterated support for more elected members and longer terms, with the possibility of immediate re-election under new modalities. Council members must be subject to periodic elections in the Assembly, he added. Spotlighting the efforts of the Uniting for Consensus group to achieve an inclusive reform, he said informal dialogues are useful, but they are no substitute for intergovernmental negotiations.
ZHANG JUN (China), emphasizing that the Council does not exist in a vacuum, said its decision-making processes are greatly constrained by multiple factors, as the challenges it faces are a microcosm of global governance flaws. Noting that the Council lacks fair representation, he said reform must effectively increase representation from developing countries and correct historical injustices. Small- and medium-sized States should have the opportunity to serve on the Council and participate in decision-making on equal footing. “The Security Council should not become a club of the big and the rich,” he said. Failure to redress the over-representation of developed countries, and instead conferring more power to some individual political blocs, will make decision-making more undemocratic and the Council’s work less efficient and effective. That in turn would go against the original purpose of the Organization. Reform should embody equity and justice, with priority given to the concerns of under-represented regions such as Africa, he said.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Türkiye), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus group, said that the need for Council reform is undeniable. Permanent membership and the veto mechanism are the obvious factors that lie at the heart of the problem. “We need to acknowledge that they serve nothing but the national interests of those who hold those privileges,” he said, adding that the current system has made the Council dysfunctional, unaccountable and undemocratic. A better ratio between the non-permanent and permanent members will enable the Council to be more effective. Ideally, the veto should be abolished, he added, saying there is no justifiable explanation as to why certain members should have this right and others not. A more equitable representation of the regional groups and a fair system of rotation, including enhanced opportunities for underrepresented groups is a must in the reformed Council. He called on all Member States to demonstrate the political will and flexibility to facilitate the reform process pursued under the aegis of the intergovernmental negotiations, which is the sole legitimate platform to handle this matter.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland), joining others in calling for a more representative, accountable and effective Council, said its enlargement to reflect the reality of the world today would be welcome. Such an enlargement should offer better representation to certain groups, in particular the African Group. Further, Switzerland favours creating a third category, made up of a very limited number of non-permanent but renewable seats, that would allow the main regional actors to have a longer-term position on the Council. She went on to advocate voluntary constraints on existing veto rights in situations involving genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. In the face of such outrages, any decision to block Council action risks bringing it into collective disrepute, she said.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica), associating herself with the Uniting for Consensus group, highlighted the accomplishments of various elected Council members over the years. “From Namibia's extraordinary advocacy for children in armed conflict to Australia's insistence on reminding us of the threat that the proliferation and diversion of small arms and light weapons pose to civilians, States and international peace and security, elected members have shown us the leadership and capacity to effect positive change for humanity.” The time has come to seriously assess the geometry of Council representation and that can only be done by expanding the elected members’ category, she said. Elected members are a force to be reckoned with, as they have worked tirelessly to make the Council fully functional and insisted on successes worthy of what can still be, and must once again be, the most important chamber in the world, she added.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said the world is not the same today as it was in 1946 when the Council first met, as today’s challenges are more complex and interconnected. The United Kingdom has long called for expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, she said, adding that it supports the creation of new permanent seats for India, Germany, Japan and Brazil, as well as permanent African representation. The United Kingdom supports taking the total Council membership “to somewhere in the mid-twenties”. With these changes, the Council will be better able to respond decisively to threats to international peace and security. She expressed concern that the veto has recently been used “egregiously” in the Council to prevent action that would otherwise have saved lives and to censor criticism of the Russian Federation’s unjust war in Ukraine. Noting that the United Kingdom has not exercised its right to use the veto since 1989, she further emphasized that text-based negotiations will help all Member States to make swifter progress on the Council issue.
ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany), associating herself with the Group of Four, said recent developments show that reform is needed more than ever. While general awareness has been on the rise, this does not imply that all Member States agree with the necessity of reform, much less on what a reformed Council would entail. The issue at hand is that the body tasked with negotiations has been unable to live up to its name. Bound by consensus rules which go beyond those of the Assembly, it is constantly blocked in starting its work. With the deteriorating credibility and legitimacy of the Council at stake, Member States must reshape the mould if not break out of it, she said, adding that all reform-minded actors must reach across the lines on a common cause to deliver a well-functioning body whose representation and working methods reflect the world of today.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), aligning himself with the African Group and the Arab Group, emphasized the need for coordinated and aligned reforms of the Council, international financial institutions and the Bretton-Woods organizations to meet the demands of developing countries, especially on climate justice. The governance structures of international financial institutions must be more just towards developing countries, he added. On Council reform, he underscored the importance of consensus as the only way forward and the necessity to address the issue of the veto. Without a solution, the will of one permanent member will take precedence over the will of the entire African continent, he explained. Member States must put conflicts aside and let the ultimate goal of a more transparent, credible, just and effective Council serve as a compass. To that end, negotiations must not be led in a manner which erodes the comprehensive and organic unity of the African position, he stated.
SONIA MARINA PEREIRA PORTILLA (Colombia) reiterated that intergovernmental negotiations are the only adequate platform for debating Council reform. Calling text-based negotiations unacceptable, she encouraged Members to continue debating on substantive issues prior to focusing on issues of procedure. Pointing out the impossibility of accepting a reform based on an increase in the number of permanent seats and the extension of the right to veto, she noted that the veto is an anachronistic mechanism that hinders cooperation. She suggested increasing the number of elected members with the traditional mandate of two years and providing the possibility to be re-elected for a further two years. The model proposed by the Uniting for Consensus group opens the door to developing countries from all regions to have the opportunity to contribute to international peace and security on an equal footing.
MITCHELL FIFIELD (Australia), noting the Russian Federation’s flagrant violations of the United Nations Charter and its unilateral and illegal invasion of Ukraine, said the Council is integral to the rules-based international order. It is the only United Nations organ able to make decisions that are legally binding and it needs greater representation from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Its working methods should be improved to ensure it is more accountable to Member States, he said, adding that better standards need to be developed for the use of the veto, which must be more transparent and limited. He further urged Member States to move towards text-based intergovernmental negotiations and a more open and transparent reform process.
SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia) reaffirmed his country’s call for a text-based negotiation as the ideal step forward in the reform process. Malaysia, he added, is also open to exploring formats and alternatives. A comprehensive reform of the Council’s working methods and membership must ensure equitable and fair regional representation which reflects current geopolitical realities. The veto, he reiterated, must be abolished as it is an impediment to a more effective, democratic and accountable Council. There have been repeated abuses of veto power in cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, he noted with regret, adding: “It certainly is illogical to allow one country to possess a sole decision to destroy a deliberated, thoroughly negotiated resolution with just one vote.” Alternatively, the veto could be exercised by two permanent members, supported by three non-permanent members and backed with a simple majority of the Assembly, he suggested. He then called on all Member States to demonstrate openness, flexibility and greater political will to work towards a mutually acceptable conclusion.
KIM SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that Security Council reform is an urgent requirement in maintaining international peace and security. The Council should respect its role as stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations by thoroughly adhering to the principles of impartiality and objectivity. However, its failure to do so lies in the unjust and double-dealing behaviour of the United States and some of its following Member States. As long as double standards, unfairness, high-handedness and arbitrariness persist, the trust of the international community in the Council will further be degraded. The United Nations has grown into a universal organization in which the Non-Aligned Movement and other developing countries comprise the majority; however, they are not fully represented in the Security Council. He further reiterated that Japan should not be allowed to take any seat on the Security Council. That country is a heinous war criminal State that has inflicted immeasurable misfortune and suffering upon humanity by invading many Asian countries in the past century, he said.
RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania) said that the war against Ukraine has exposed the Council’s structural and procedural weaknesses, with the Russian Federation not only cynically disregarding its duties as a permanent member, but also blocking the Council as a whole from implementing its mandate to maintain international peace and security. Its current structure no longer reflects today's geopolitical realities, he said, emphasizing that its membership must include underrepresented regions — particularly Africa, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe — in the permanent and non-permanent categories. There is considerable room to improve the Council's working methods, even without the lengthy process of amending the United Nations Charter, he said, adding that this could be a good first step towards increasing Council transparency and inclusiveness.
GERARDO PEÑALVER PORTAL (Cuba) said a more efficient, democratic, transparent and responsible Council must include transparent informal negotiations, the adoption of rules of procedure, limited use of informal consultations and the issuance of minutes and an annual report. The Council must also expand its membership in both the permanent and non-permanent categories to redress the underrepresentation of developing countries with the inclusion of at least two countries from Africa and two from Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as two developing countries from Asia. The category of non-permanent members should be expanded to at least 15. While Cuba has always opposed the existence of the veto, any new permanent member must have the same prerogatives and rights as the current ones to prevent division and a deepening of existing differences. He went on to call on the Council to stop interfering in matters outside its mandate.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), associating himself with the L.69 Group and the Group of Four, underscored the need for an accurate diagnosis. The evident frustration in societies around the world and among Member States over the lack of progress and effectiveness is a telling sign. “To propose that the intergovernmental negotiations continue as they have over the last 14 years would be similar to asking the orchestra on the Titanic to continue playing music as the ship has started to sink,” he said, adding that “we must urge the passengers on the Titanic to go to the lifeboats”. The intergovernmental negotiations must have a means to take decisions and ascertain the will of the majority, cease discussing clusters in a stand-alone and distinct manner, move to text-based negotiations and put prepared statements aside. He added that as the process must be democratic and inclusive, there must be webcasting, documentation and records to assist small delegations. With too much at stake, more of the same is irresponsibility at best, he said.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus group, said that the inability to reach agreement on Council reform results from the refusal by a few countries to display flexibility and accommodate the views of other States. Describing the proposal of the United for Consensus group as a basis for consensus, he said that any attempt to formalize the reform process would prove counterproductive. He also drew attention to a proposed 26-seat Council, with the additional seats being distributed proportionally among the five regions. Each region could be allocated some longer-term seats with possible re-election, whereas small island developing States should be allocated one floating seat. Recalling that the European Union speaks on behalf of its member States during major negotiations, he suggested that the bloc’s representative take the place of the two European permanent members to better reflect Europe’s regional interests and contemporary global realities.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said that the United Nations as an institution is being tested. “The question before us is whether we will defend an outdated status quo or reform the Security Council and empower the UN to take on the challenges of the twenty-first century.” The United States supports the expansion of the Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories, including new permanent seats for countries in Africa and Latin America. The Council must better reflect the world, but to meet this moment, all permanent members must live up to their obligation to maintain international peace and security. That means exercising the veto authority responsibly, she said, adding that the United States will refrain from use of the veto except in rare, extraordinary situations. When a permanent member State does use its veto, they should have to defend their actions to the General Assembly, she said, adding that any permanent member that exercises its veto to defend its own acts of aggression against another Member State must be held accountable. “If we fail to do so, we undermine the very credibility of the UN Charter,” she said, recalling the Assembly’s overwhelming condemnation of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) said the lack of permanent African representation on the Council and underrepresentation in the non-permanent category must be corrected. “This lack of representation, apart from being historically unjust, also adversely affects the Council's ability to adequately address matters of peace and security on the African continent.” There is no longer any doubt that there is wide recognition and support for the common African position, she said, adding that text-based negotiations are the only way to achieve the commitments made by world leaders when the Organization marked its seventy-fifth anniversary. Any further delays will perpetuate an even more divided and increasingly polarized world and retain a Council structure that cannot fulfil its mandate in the interests of those who are affected every day by armed conflict and emerging threats, she said.
JOONKOOK HWANG (Republic of Korea), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus group, said that while there is a lot that Member States agree on, views still differ on a few critical points, particularly on whether to increase the number of permanent members. The Republic of Korea is of the view that adding permanent members will undermine the Council’s adaptability, sustainability and relevance over the long term. Expanding the permanent membership basically means adding particular countries to Article 23 of the United Nations Charter, “but once we add names, we cannot change them”. He added: “If we truly want the Security Council to reflect the constantly evolving international reality, there is no choice but to hold regular elections.” A one-time election that assures a seat forever is not an election in the true sense. Member States must seriously consider either adding particular countries to Article 23 or holding regular elections for representatives of an enlarged Council, he said, urging delegations to engage in-depth during intergovernmental negotiations.
FAHAD M.E.H. MOHAMMAD (Kuwait), associating himself with the Arab Group, said that, despite the rhetoric and incessant calls, the international community is very far from achieving Council reform because of a lack of political will and effort from member States, including the five permanent members. Intergovernmental negotiations remain the best forum in which to find consensus among Member States and to undertake reforms. Noting the need to reform other bodies of the United Nations, he stressed the importance of strengthening the Council’s working methods and its transparency. Recalling that much of the Council’s work relates to the Arab region, he stressed the need to ensure that Arab States can address their own issues within the Council through their own permanent member.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), associating himself with the Group of Four, warned that the Council’s credibility is in the gravest jeopardy since its creation. As the centre of the Organization’s collective response to global challenges, the Council must function, guide and facilitate meaningful discussions, act with purpose and be trusted and respected. In that regard, the Council needs to be reformed and strengthened, he said, welcoming the initiatives to limit the use of the veto. Turning to the intergovernmental negotiation process, he stressed the need for a text that could be based on the existing elements paper, duly updated after each meeting to serve as a record of Member States’ positions and proposals. For their part, the President of the Assembly and the two Co-Chairs should set a goal for the upcoming session to avoid repetition and provide much-needed direction. “We need concrete action now. It is high time we move to text-based negotiations,” he said.
FABIÁN ODDONE (Argentina), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus group, said that Council reform should mitigate global problems and reflect the changes the world has undergone. Accepting new permanent members would mean expanding the “club of the privileged” that accentuates injustices and creates a new institutional structure that will eventually go out of date. Should the elimination of permanent Members be unrealistic, then adding new members should be avoided. Only by increasing the number of non-permanent members can the Council be more effective, foster a new working dynamic and provide elected members with more influence and a greater degree of participation in decision-making, he said.
ADAM KUYMIZAKIS (Malta), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus group, said that intergovernmental negotiations should remain the tool to take Council reform forward. Expanding the elected seat category fundamentally leads to the Council being more relevant as it engages itself in serious conversations with those who are situated on the front lines of conflict, he added. Under the Uniting for Consensus group’s proposal, the Council would have a total of 26 members, with 21 serving in the elected seat category. Elected members, who earn their seat as a responsibility and not as an inherent privilege, will be given a greater chance to contribute and shape solutions for the international maintenance of peace and security. Smaller delegations will no longer fear to compete with larger ones simply to get a respectable seat at the table. This will make the Council truly beneficial to all Member States, he said.
PAULA NARVÁEZ OJEDA (Chile) requested that the discussions on Council reforms be analytical, constructive and focused on the substance of the matter. The essence of multilateralism and of the Organization is to have a legal structure that provides equal protection, respect and guarantees to all its members. “Perhaps for this reason, so much from the reform of the Security Council is expected,” she stressed. It must be accepted that the Council, in its unique role in the maintenance of international peace and security, cannot continue to postpone this reform. Otherwise, its legitimacy and authority could be compromised. She supported the expansion of Council membership in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, but without extending the use of the veto to any of the new members, and without predetermining the exact number of these new members.
CAROLYN RODRIGUES-BIRKETT (Guyana), aligning herself with CARICOM and the L.69 group, stated that the intergovernmental negations must adopt a framework that facilitates substantive negotiations. With a view that the negotiations can only achieve concrete results by employing working methods conducive to building consensus, she called for the commencement of negotiations based on a single text with clear attribution, in line with standard United Nations practice. Underscoring the need to ensure full, equal and meaningful participation of all delegations, she called for record-keeping and documentation to ensure that each Member State, specifically those that are constrained in capacity, has equal opportunity to participate in the process. On substance, she reiterated that her country advocates for the expansion in both categories of membership, as well as for a rotating seat on the Council for small island developing States. “We do not need another world war, or a victor thereof, to determine the membership of the reformed Security Council,” she emphasized.
CARLOS AMORÍN (Uruguay), spotlighting the Council’s functioning, especially since the invasion of Ukraine, underscored the urgent need for reform to deliver on a more democratic, transparent and effective body. There must be more transparent working methods and mechanisms for greater accountability. The Council should expand its membership and ensure a more adequate and representative regional and geographical distribution. To that end, it should provide more seats for the African Group and double the current number of members allocated to the Latin American and Caribbean region. New permanent members, he said, must not have the power of the veto since this privilege would be contrary to that body’s democratization. While it is not realistic to think about the veto’s elimination in the near term, there should nevertheless be reform, regulation and limitation on its current application. He then urged the Assembly and the Council to strengthen cooperation and complementarity.
ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada) reiterated that the Uniting for Consensus group has taken into consideration the positions of other Member States and groups with the view of achieving a broader consensus. Noting that a meaningful reform would require an amendment of the Charter, which would necessitate extensive intergovernmental processes in national parliaments and further ratification, he underscored the importance of ensuring that the “best possible proposal” is brought to the table. In this regard, he encouraged Member States to look for the best they can do under the circumstances, emphasizing that ratification is inseparable from deliberations. Calling the establishment of the non-elected members a response to the circumstances of the time, he noted that it has prevented the Council’s action and effectiveness. Adding more non-elected members will only add more regional animosity and reduce action, he said. Referring to the permanent members without a veto, he questioned whether it would be possible to predict which countries should be granted a permanent seat in 10 or 20 years. He thus expressed support for the veto constraint to make it more accountable. He suggested considering the Uniting for Consensus group’s proposal on increasing the size of the Council, guaranteeing more seats for developing countries and elaborating the terms of membership of the elected Council members.
ANA JIMÉNEZ DE LA HOZ (Spain), associating herself with the Uniting for Consensus group, emphasized the urgent need for realistic reform that aspires to achieve satisfactory results for all. Member States would have the ability to serve on the Council, with longer or successive periods for some, she proposed. The weight of elected members would also be strengthened as elections provide a greater degree of legitimacy to the Council’s members. Periodic elections also allow for greater scrutiny of the Council’s work and the ability to respond to changes. The Council, she continued, must strengthen the participation of underrepresented regions and interregional groups — including Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, small island developing States and the Arab Group — in a more democratic and transparent way that does not prevent Member States from assuming greater levels of temporal responsibility. Such reform will enable the Council to respond to the world’s realities and needs while providing flexibility and adaptability for the challenges ahead, she stressed.
REIN TAMMSAAR (Estonia) expressed alarm at the Council’s inability to take any substantive decisions on the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unlawful aggression against Ukraine. Any permanent Council member that exercises the veto to defend its own acts of aggression loses moral authority and should be held accountable. Elected members bring innovative approaches and increased transparency to the Council’s work, as well as greater willingness to find common ground. They are also more open to bringing forth discussions on new and emerging security threats, such as climate change and cybersecurity. All countries, but in particular small States, should have an opportunity to serve on the Council. Turning to the veto question, he said that the increased use or threat of use of veto by some Council members has left the organ paralysed and unable to react to situations where action is most needed. The failure of the Council to protect civilians from mass atrocity crimes adversely affects its credibility. Permanent members should refrain from using the veto to block the Council’s action aimed at preventing or ending situations involving mass atrocity crimes, he added.
ANA PAULA ZACARIAS (Portugal) called for a Council which is better articulated with the Assembly. Such a Council must incorporate a comprehensive view of security which recognizes the roles of climate change and food insecurity; cooperates closely with the Peacebuilding Commission; accounts for conflict prevention, peacebuilding and sustaining peace; and addresses new and emerging risks through holistic approaches. To that end, an inclusive, transplant and comprehensive reform process must generate solutions worthy of consensus. Permanent and non-permanent seats must be expanded with better representation for Africa in both categories, she said, while noting the need for better and more stable representation, including through permanent membership for Brazil and India among others. More opportunities must also be given to small‑ and medium-sized countries. Advocating for the continuous improvement of working methods, she urged Member States to support the Franco-Mexican Declaration and the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct on the use of the veto.
SAŠA JUREČKO (Slovenia) stated that the world today is not the same as in 1945 when the United Nations was established nor as in 1965 when the membership of the Security Council was expanded for the first and only time. For the Council to be able to carry out its crucial task more effectively, it needs to be more representative and reflective of the realities of the international community, as well as more accountable and transparent. On the question of representation, she noted that since the Council was last expanded in 1965 United Nations membership has grown by 76 Member States. She supported the African Group’s demands for more seats on the Council, as there is clearly a historical injustice that must be redressed. Similarly, because the number of members of the Group of Eastern European States has more than doubled in the last 30 years, she called for an additional non-permanent seat for this group. Finally, she believed that the holders of the right of veto should exercise this right responsibly. They should refrain from misusing it for national interests but should also not shy away from taking positive action when it is urgently needed.
MONWAR HOSSAIN (Bangladesh) agreed that certain underrepresented regions such as the African, Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions ought to have due representation in the enlarged Council, along with due consideration for small and developing countries. Any membership size in the range of the mid-twenties would perhaps do justice to the larger United Nations membership. While his delegation will join consensus that emerges on the veto, he called for measures to ensure its judicious application, by limiting its application only for certain compelling situations. He noted that earlier this year, the Assembly decided that its President shall convene a formal meeting within 10 working days of the casting of a veto by one or more permanent Council members and hold a debate on the situation, provided that the Assembly does not meet in an emergency special session on the same issue.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein), recalled that several years ago his country put forward an “intermediate model” that advocates for the establishment of long-term renewable seats for States without additional veto rights, noting that this model has the potential to better represent current political realities. Underrepresentation of some regions, in particular Africa, is unacceptable, he said, adding new veto powers cannot be considered beneficial for the effective work of the Council. Recognizing that a permanent presence of additional countries could help establish a healthier power balance, he reiterated his country’s support for the enlargement process. Welcoming the impetus on the veto initiative, he underscored his commitment to exploring further meaningful steps within the provisions of the Charter to address the veto issue. In this regard, he encouraged countries with veto powers to provide information on their future use of this right and more wide-ranging self-declarations concerning their principles and commitments. States aspiring to hold veto power should also provide such information to the Assembly.
DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam) said the Council should be expanded in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, with developing countries adequately represented to closely reflect their proportion in the Organization’s overall membership. Working methods should ensure increased democracy, transparency, effectiveness, agility and responsiveness. The use of the veto must be restricted and the Council’s agenda should be broadened and strengthened to reflect emerging issues — including climate change — that directly threaten international peace and security. Turning to intergovernmental negotiations, he said the process should be more substantive, with adequate tools and means for discussion. “We have had 14 years debating on this issue,” he added, calling for negotiations to be conducted in good faith and in a transparent manner.
MOHAMED ENNADIR LARBAOUI (Algeria), aligning himself with the African Group and the Arab Group, stated that his country considers that the intergovernmental negotiations are the best forum for discussing Council reform. Stressing the need to demonstrate more transparency and clarity regarding the procedural matters, he further called for a consensus-based text to be used as the basis of its work and an unrealistic timetable to not be upheld. Stating that “one topic or question should not be promoted to the detriment of any others”, he further stressed that tackling all the issues together is a precondition for making progress on the negotiations. Noting that the most recent intergovernmental negotiations have highlighted the need to meet the aspirations of Member States, in particular those of African countries, he emphasized that it is high time that the international community tackled this historical injustice and bolstered Africa’s presence in the Council.
Right of Reply
The representative of India, speaking in exercise of his right of reply, in response to Pakistan’s continued abuse of the Assembly through its unwarranted reference to Jammu and Kashmir, said that irrespective of what Pakistan believes, both are an integral and inalienable part of India. Pakistan’s desperate attempts to peddle falsehoods and bad habit of abusing the sanctity of multilateral forums deserves collective contempt and perhaps some sympathy as well, he said.
The representative of Pakistan corrected India’s factually incorrect statement, noting that the Council rejected that country’s claims over Kashmir. Through several resolutions, the Council has recognized Jammu and Kashmir as disputed territories where a final disposition will be determined through a free and impartial plebiscite under the Organization’s auspices. India’s continued assertions negate the principle of the right of self-determination and are a direct affront to the Charter and the Council. In pointing out that India rides roughshod over the Charter and the legitimacy and credibility of the Council by refusing to implement that body’s resolutions, he wondered how India would add to effectiveness and transparency.