On behalf of the “Uniting for Consensus” (UfC) group, I wish to thank you for convening this third informal meeting of the 10th round of Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform.
In the past two meetings we have spoken about categories of membership and the veto. Every discussion of regional representation has shown it to be fully correlated with the other two. The quantity and quality of new regional seats would depend on the size of the Council. The type of seats would be tied to the prerogatives assigned to them, starting with the veto.
Some may argue that the UN Charter makes no reference to regional representation, but only to equitable geographical distribution. This is true. But does it mean that this concept should not be mentioned in our discussions? We are engaged in an intergovernmental negotiation to reform the parts of the Charter dedicated to the Security Council and related matters. To that end, regional representation is the most important development in international relations of the past 60 years, after the decolonization process. The regions play a larger and larger role in international relations, complementary to that of single States, sometimes accompanying them through coordination and other activities, and sometimes prevailing over individual national entities.
This negotiation is therefore an extraordinary opportunity to acknowledge this new reality, and reform the Charter if need be. Our goal cannot be to maintain the status quo by simply potentially granting national permanent seats to a handful of Countries (as some States would prefer) –without taking into due consideration the regional dimension or the need for accountability– while leaving everything else unchanged.
Africa’s position, adopted on behalf of and for the entire continent, is a concrete example of the regional dimension. The Arab Group has repeatedly expressed, also during the present session of the General Assembly, its aspiration to have a permanent Arab representation in any future configuration of the Security Council. The Organization for the Islamic Conference has also demanded adequate representation in any future expansion. As these positions show, the demand for regional representation, under the umbrella of regional seats, stems from important components of this Assembly: the Arab Group, which includes 22 Member States, and the OIC, which includes 57 Member States.
This position is completely absent from the G4 proposal. To us it seems quite logical to affirm that giving a Country a new permanent seat doesn’t mean that all the other Countries of the same region would feel better represented in the Council. Let there be no confusion: additional national permanent seats will not meet the demand for regional representation. No single Member State in this Assembly can advance the claim that it permanently represents all the States in its region, and without the accountability guaranteed can solely and exclusively by regular elections in the General Assembly.
Moreover, new permanent seats to be occupied on a national capacity cannot be interpreted as fulfilling the requirement of regional representation, even in its literal sense of “equitable geographical distribution”. First of all, those countries will not represent the interest of their regions. Secondly, by occupying the seat on a permanent basis, they will deprive the other members of that regional group of opportunities to serve on the Council. Any new seats sought in the name of a region/geographical group should in principle be
available for all members of that regional group. That is why we believe that non-permanent seats are the only way of enhancing regional representation on the Council.
The under-representation of some regions of the world, together with effectiveness and accountability, is one of the three main reasons for this negotiation, and one of the three priorities that we have to address. The historical injustice to the African continent is undeniable. There is a broad consensus that the under-representation of geopolitical realities has affected the efficiency and effectiveness of the Council.
The issue of under-representation also affects other regions and sub-regions for instance Asia, whose 54 Countries are demanding, as one, a greater voice in the Council or the Countries of the Eastern European Group, which are also justly demanding greater representation.
The question we have to ask ourselves today is how to redress the existing imbalances. UfC has some proposals that we wish to invite the membership to consider: 1) the creation of new long-term non-permanent regional seats; 2) the creation of what we could call “regular” non-permanent inter-regional seats.
1. NEW LONG TERM NON PERMANENT REGIONAL SEATS
Opening up the Council to regional representation through the creation of regional seats could redress this imbalance and a concrete solution can be found in some mechanisms that would reflect this dimension.
The first option could be the creation of regional seats that would have longer mandates than the current non-permanent seats to be allocated to the regional groups, as follows: Africa, Asia, Asia/Africa (on a rotational basis); the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States: and the Western European and other group/Eastern European Group (on a rotational basis). The new long-term seats could be distributed according to the following alternative options.
– Option 1: a three- to five-year term without the possibility of immediate re-election;
– Option 2: a two-year term with the possibility of up to two immediate re-elections (to be eligible to run anew, member states would have to take a break equivalent to the consecutive period they served on the Council).
These longer terms would assure a genuine development of regional representation, which by its nature extends beyond a purely national perspective. The fact that there are term limits and that these seats must stand for election would assure the accountability toward the regions to which they belong and to the general membership.
2. NEW REGULAR NON PERMANENT INTER-REGIONAL SEATS
While the small and medium-sized States command decisive numbers in the General Assembly, they are almost completely absent from the Security Council through no fault of their own. One way to meet their legitimate aspirations would be to reserve seats which would have a biennial mandate that wouldn’t be immediately renewable, to assure the maximum rotation, as follows:
– Small States
– Medium Size States
On one fundamental point we all agree: the Security Council that we are trying to create has to be updated to be more in tune with contemporary realities. Regionalism, which by its nature is interconnected to multilateralism, is perhaps the greatest new development of our time. In 1945 in San Francisco it was an embryonic phenomenon. Today it is a fully developed reality. Not to take appropriate consideration of it would undermine our reform at its birth.
Let me now add few comments in my national capacity.
My delegation would also be in favor of the strengthening the representation of the European Union in the Security Council. The EU is a political, institutional, economic and monetary reality. Everyone knows the role that the EU plays in the UN system, starting with the General Assembly. Many share the view that there is a wide gap between what the EU is already doing in various UN fora and what it could be doing in the Security Council. The European institutions and European public opinion are in favor of this aspiration and Italy has given voice to it for more than fifteen years. We think time has come to give it more serious consideration.
Thank you Mr. Chair.
*Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, permanent representative of Italy to the United Nations