General Assembly General Assembly

75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

 

Informal meeting of the Plenary on the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Council (25 January 2021)

 

Statement by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti,

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations

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Thank you Madame Co-Chairs,

Excellencies and distinguished colleagues,

 

I would like to begin by acknowledging the presence of President of the General Assembly H E Volkan Bozkir in this inaugural IGN meeting of the 75th UNGA session. His presence here and his active engagement with member states on the subject of Security Council reform leading up to this meeting demonstrate his commitment to achieving concrete progress during this session. Allow me to also welcome the flexibility he has shown in facilitating a spill-over venue where our experts can follow the proceedings of this session.

 

2. I would like to congratulate once again Ambassadors Joanna Wronecka, Permanent Representative of Poland, and Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar, as they take on the role as IGN co-chairs in the 13th year of this format. The early appointment of the co-chairs and their speedy issuance of a letter on the way forward bode well for our aim of “instilling new life” into the discussion of Security Council reform.

 

3. India aligns itself fully with the statements of St Vincent and the Grenadines on behalf of the L.69, and of Germany for the G.4. We also extend our support to the statementS of Sierra Leone for the African Group and of Guyana for the CARICOM.

 

Excellencies,

 

4. We all know that reform at the UN is supposed to be a process, not an event. However, sadly, there is no process here in the UN that has traversed the torturous pathways more than what this process of Security Council reform has. In terms of both length and inertia, it is unparalleled:

 

  • It is 13 years since the start of the IGN process in 2008;
  • It is 28 years since the passage of A/RES/48/26 in 1993 to establish an Open-Ended Working Group on Security Council Reform;
  • It is 43 years since inscription of the item on the agenda of the General Assembly in 1979 – A/34/246.

 

5. While the world is not what it was when we began the process, the objections to moving forward remain frozen in time. While global challenges of the 21st century have multiplied, we have been stopped by the naysayers to even adopt the process in order to move forward.

 

6. It is evident that inaction on our part is not without cost. The Security Council is being called upon to address increasingly complex issues of international peace and security. Yet, it finds itself unable to act effectively, for it is lacking inclusivity of those who need to be there, and therefore lacking legitimacy and credibility. Those who have created this impasse in the IGN should take responsibility for ensuring that the Security Council has come to this pass.

 

7. Changing decades-old multilateral architecture may require some time and may even be contentious. However, what is clearly deliberate is preventing the IGN from following some basic ground rules of multilateral processes.

 

8. More than a decade after the start of Intergovernmental Negotiations – and forgive me for using the word negotiations since what we have is anything but negotiations, the process we have is far from a normal United Nations negotiating process. A normal UN process entails an initial sharing of views, followed by written documentation provided by those stewarding the process, which is then the basis for transparent give-and-take negotiations through attributed additions, deletions or amendments. This is a sign of good faith and sincerity.

 

9. The IGN, so far, has been restricted to making repeated statements of known positions, without any effort to narrow differences. It is the only process of its kind in the UN where “negotiations” have been conducted in a multilateral setting without any text. While this may suit those who wish block progress, this goes against the very essence of multilateral diplomacy. We do not subscribe to the self-fulfilling prophecy of the nay-sayers on the lack of full consensus for reform.

 

10. I would therefore like to outline some key steps that must be taken in this session, if we are to achieve progress:

 

  • First - Immediate application of GA Rules of Procedure to the IGN Process: this will ensure openness, transparency, and an institutional memory for this process, which is essential if genuine negotiations are to take place.
  • Second – An outcome text: This draft outcome document should ideally be the result of a rolling text, updated after each meeting by the Co-Chairs, to capture the views and positions expressed by all delegations, with attributions.

 

These two are the minimum outcome we would like to see this session. In addition to these two, we will need the following operational changes:

 

  • One - Live broadcast/webcast of the proceedings: This issue of web-casting becomes even more critical this year, as the COVID-19 related restrictions threaten to hamper delegations’ ability to participate fully in the discussions.
  • Two - Making the best use of the calendar available to us by minimising the time spent on repetition of cluster-based positions, and by focusing on discussion of a single draft outcome document.

 

Excellency,

 

11. As I have mentioned in the past, we simply cannot allow the IGN to continue to serve as a convenient smokescreen for a handful of reform naysayers. I wish to state that for us, the success and continued relevance of the IGN will be measured by whether or not, we have a common text with attributed positions to base our future discussions on and whether we have UNGA rules for the IGN. I don’t think our Member States deserve to end up in the same position we found ourselves in August 2020, bereft of anything to go by except false promises. If this is the case, we will be forced to look outside the IGN, may be to this very General Assembly, for a process towards genuine reform. We cannot get a sincere outcome from an insincere process.

 

12. Our view on the subject of regional representation is well known, and has been stated in the relevant group statements delivered earlier. but I shall repeat it briefly, since the co-Chairs have invited us today to share our positions on this cluster.

 

13. It is absolutely essential that the category of permanent membership reflect contemporary realities and include adequate representation from all regions of the world. It is anachronistic that not one country from the entire continent of Africa or from the entire continent of Latin America is represented in the permanent category of the Security Council today. This is not just unjustifiable but a severe constraint on the credibility and effectiveness of the Council. Hence, our call for six additional permanent seats - two each for Africa and Asia, one for Latin America and the Caribbean, and one for the West European and Others Group and also for increase in non-permanent seats in line with what St. Vincent and the Grenadines articulated on behalf of L.69.

 

14. At the same time, our discussion of the notion of regional representation needs to begin by acknowledging that the term “regional representation” itself is not something mentioned in the UN Charter. The nearest reference in the Charter is to “equitable geographical distribution”. So lets stick to the term we know. Regional representation is at best a subset of the broader principle of equitable geographical distribution.

 

15. India fully supports the Common African Position as enshrined in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration. We are heartened to see the growing support for this position from other delegations and key groupings, including the L.69, G4 as well as the Non-Aligned Movement.

 

Excellencies,

 

16. The goal of a reformed multilateralism to preserve peace and promote security is a long overdue idea. For our part, India stands ready to play a constructive role in promoting the common objective of a comprehensive and structured reform process. Our delegation remains committed to working with the PGA and the two able Co-Chairs in ensuring the success of this round of the IGN, and we count on your leadership in helping us deliver concrete outcomes by the end of this session.

 

Thank you.

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