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

(16 February 2021)

 

Statement by

Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations

 

 

Thank you Madame Co-Chair,

 

Thank you for convening this second round of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Security Council reform.

 

2. At the outset, I would like to align my position with the statements delivered earlier today by the distinguished Permanent Representative of St Vincent and the Grenadines, on behalf of the L.69 Group of Developing Countries, as well as the statement delivered by the distinguished Permanent Representative of Brazil on behalf of the G-4.

 

3. I would also like to thank you, Co-Chairs, for your letter of 9 February 2021, which outlined your plans for the IGN’s agenda and meeting schedule, and invited us to discuss the clusters “categories of membership” and “the question of veto” in this meeting. We deeply appreciate your efforts to engage and listen to different groups and Member States before preparing your proposed program of work.

 

4. We also appreciate that the co-Chairs have taken on board some of the suggestions that were put forward in the first round of meetings, regarding streamlining of the agenda to allow for the discussion of two cluster themes in one meeting. This will allow us to complete the thematic cluster discussions by the end of March and discuss further our proposals.

 

Co-Chairs,

 

5. Before turning to the two thematic clusters we are discussing today, I would like to reiterate our call for a normalized IGN process under the GA Rules of Procedure.

 

 

6. Opposition to a certain substantive position is normal – but opposition to normalizing the process itself is not. A process that operates outside the commonly accepted multilateral negotiating methodology endangers the very legitimacy and credibility of this mechanism and the General Assembly itself. We can no longer be seen as not having a normal process, even as other aspects of UN reform, launched much later, move towards fruition. We cannot do so, even as the Secretary General often says that “No reform of the UN would be complete without Security Council reform.”

 

7. As I stated in our last meeting, for India, the success and continued relevance of the IGN will be measured by whether or not, by the end of this session, we have a common text with attributed positions to base our future discussions on and whether we have UNGA Rules of Procedure applying to the IGN.

 

8. I would like to emphasise that the rationale for streamlining of the calendar is that this will allow us sufficient time to discuss the draft single outcome document with attributions, which we expect will emerge by the end of March, from each of our cluster based discussions.  This will start a genuine negotiating process.  We, therefore, look forward to the guidance and direction of the Co-Chairs on how this will be achieved, and assure you of our full support in your efforts.

 

9. Coming now to the two thematic clusters we are discussing today, India’s position on both is well known, having been repeated several times on this platform, including as part of the statements delivered on behalf of the L.69 and G-4 groups. I add the following further comments in elaboration:

 

“Categories of membership”:

 

10. India is in favour of expansion of UN Security Council membership in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, as this is the only way to achieve genuine reform of the Security Council and make it democratic, legitimate, representative, responsive and effective.

 

11. This position is clearly supported by the majority of Member States, and this fact is on record. In the 2015 Framework Document, on the issue of “Categories of Membership”, a total of 113 Member States, out of 122 who submitted their positions in the Framework Document, support expansion in both of the existing categories specified in the Charter. This means that more than 90% of the written submissions in the document are in favour of expansion in both categories of membership specified in the Charter.

 

12. This data is readily available in the Framework Document of  2015 and just needs to be reflected clearly in our single negotiating document.  Complementing an updation of this data with positions expressed from the floor during subsequent IGN meetings, including today’s proceedings, provide us a clear way to assign attributions to the various position on this particular cluster in a single consolidated text.

 

13. We have heard some arguments that expansion in the permanent category would be 'undemocratic'. We do not understand how something that is clearly being called for by the majority of the membership would be ‘undemocratic’.  We cannot continue to be hostage to a minority in the IGN.

 

14. Further, we all acknowledge the fact that the present structure of the Security Council is not reflective of contemporary realities and that there is urgent need to reform it. We believe that the problem lies in the imbalance of influence within the Security Council between the permanent and non-permanent members. Expanding only in the non-permanent category will not solve the problem – in fact it will widen the difference between permanent and non-permanent members even more, further entrenching a  dispensation that may have been relevant in the immediate aftermath of World War II, but is no longer valid. This is why a balanced enlargement in both categories is the only way to ensure an equilibrium that reflects the current situation.

 

15. This is also the only way to make the Council more participative and democratic. A larger permanent membership will ensure enhanced representation and say in the decision making from the regions and members which are currently not represented or under represented compared to their role and input so far. This would increase the legitimacy, effectiveness and responsiveness of the Council by ensuring that the decisions taken reflect the interest of the broad membership and thus will be better implemented.

 

“Question of the Veto”:

 

Excellencies,

 

16. When we come to the “veto” issue, the biggest veto we are facing now is the “informal veto” in the IGN process by a small group of bigger countries under the guise of supporting small and medium countries.  I call on these countries to remove this veto first before they speak about abolishing veto elsewhere!

 

17. Be that as it may, the issue of the veto is a complex one.  Our own national position has been and remains that all permanent members must be treated as equals, and must enjoy the same rights, responsibilities and prerogatives. This means that as long as the veto exists, veto must be held by all permanent members. We therefore support the Common African Position in regard to the veto.

 

18. We are aware that given the history of use of the veto, many options regarding its role in a reformed Security Council are on the table. A number of Member States have called for abolition of the veto. Some suggest that if this is deemed not possible, we should limit or curtail its use to the extent possible. Also, a number of Member States support voluntary restrictions on the use of veto in situations such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and gross human rights violations.

 

19. As a measure of flexibility and willingness for compromise, we have expressed our readiness to work with other delegations on these ideas to seek areas of convergence.

 

20. This brings me back to the point I began with – for such give and take to happen on any substantive issue such as the question of the veto, we need a single text clearly reflecting the positions of all stakeholders. The fact remains, we still do not have an updated compilation of all suggestions and proposals made so far in this or any other cluster, simply because a few among us do not want any progress – thereby wielding a  ‘veto’ over the process of Council reform itself.

 

21. I would end by agreeing with those here who have said that each of the thematic clusters are complex and inter-linked with each other. They need to be addressed as part of a genuine negotiation process that has detailed, attributed proposals available on paper, not through repetition of general statements. The earlier we go down the path of negotiations based on a single text, the greater are our chances of clarity and progress. As I said, we are ready to go down this path immediately.

 

I thank you.