General Assembly General Assembly

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Bhagwant S Bishnoi, Acting Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations at the Informal Plenary Meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on ‘Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Council’ : Size of an Enlarged Council and Working Methods of the Council’

( 11 April 2014,  Time: 1000 hrs, Venue: Trusteeship Council )

Mr. President,

1.Thank you for convening today\'s meeting of the Informal Plenary of the IGN on the fourth cluster of ‘size of an enlarged council and working methods of the Council’  and outlining the broad parameters for this subject via your letter of 4 April.  

2. I would first like to align my position with the statements delivered by the distinguished PR of Nicaragua, on behalf of the L.69 Group of Developing Countries, as well as the statement delivered by the distinguished Permanent Representative of Japan on behalf of the G4.  I also support the proposals offered by my distinguished colleague on behalf of CARICOM.


3.Mr. President, the very fact that the size of the Council today is still stuck at a number arrived post 1945, is in itself a self compelling argument for it to be expanded to a size, which is reflective of contemporary realities.  A 15 member body speaking on behalf of 100 odd member states may have been viable back THEN in 1965, but for the same 15 member body to continue to speak, half a century later, on behalf of 193 member states is simply untenable.  Even the least possible expansion in both categories of membership requires the Council to be taken to atleast mid 20’s.


4. In this regard, I would like to briefly touch upon this oft cited argument of low 20\'s as being compact and efficient while mid 20\'s or one or two seats higher, as being non compact and inefficient!  Mr. Chair, if we have to extend the same argument to most other entities of the UN system, including the 54 member ECOSOC or the 47 member Human Rights Council, these would going by the same logic, be  non compact and inefficient creations! 


5.We therefore must recognise that the case for optimal size of the expanded Council needs to be built not just on evidence but on contemporary realities, as well as the need to ensure that all unrepresented regions, including Africa, Latin America and vast majority of Asia and Pacific, find their due place in this long overdue rejig.


6.   In so far as the working methods of the Security Council are concerned, the first and foremost   necessity   is   to   make   them   transparent   and   inclusive.   Access   to documentation and information is an issue of particular concern, and the tendency of holding closed meetings that have no records should be curbed.


Some concrete suggestions of my delegation on the improvement in working methods cover the following:

One, the Council should amend its procedures so that items do not remain on its agenda permanently.


Two, the reporting cycle should be practical and result-oriented so that issues do not come for consideration so routinely as to bog down the limited time that the Council has at its disposal.


Three, the mandate cycle should be streamlined to spread work throughout the year.


Four, Articles 31 and 32 of the Charter must be fully implemented, by consulting with non-Security Council members on a regular basis, especially members with a special interest in the substantive matter under consideration by the Council.


Five, ‘penholders’ should allow greater and systematic participation of elected members as ‘co-penholders’.


Six, non-members should be given systematic access to subsidiary bodies of the UNSC, including the right to participate.


Seven, participation of Troop and Police Contributing Countries in decision making concerning peacekeeping operations must cover the establishment, conduct, review and termination of peacekeeping operations, including the extension and change of mandates, as well as for specific operational issues.


It is our right, as troop contributing countries, in terms of Article 44 of the Charter, to ‘participate in the decisions of the Security Council concerning the employment of contingents’ of the troop contributing country’s armed forces. This provision of the UN Charter has been observed more in the breach. We have not had the opportunity to openly participate in the drawing up of peacekeeping mandates in the Security Council, although the credentials and experience of my country would make our views relevant to this task. After all, India has been among the original drafters of the UN Charter, a founder member of both the League of Nations and the United Nations, and contributed more than 170,000 troops to 43 of the 68 UN peacekeeping missions since the inception of UN peacekeeping more than sixty years ago.

Eight, countries having specific interest in a particular agenda-item must be consulted before an outcome document on that item is adopted.


Nine, the Council should concentrate its time and efforts on dealing with issues concerning its primary responsibility concerning international peace and security as mandated by the UN Charter, rather than encroaching upon the mandate of the General Assembly.


Ten, before mandating measures under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council should first make serious efforts for pacific settlements of disputes through measures under Chapter VI.  


In this regard, the Council must also improve its cooperation with regional organizations, particularly with the African Union, since a large proportion of the Council’s work concern the African continent. Such cooperation must be serious and include providing assistance for the AU’s capacity building as per their requirement, not only when some permanent members deem it in their interest.


8.   Mr. President, it is our expectation that some of these submissions, which have been expressed  by  the  wider  UN  membership, and also find reflection in Section Four of the PGA\'s non paper,  will be taken into account when you come up with you assesment of the proceedings so far. We are also hopeful that in the reformed Council these would find resonance not just in the Council’s work but also in its working methods.


9.  In conclusion, let me reiterate India\'s considered view that genuine reform in the working methods of the Security Council requires a comprehensive reform in the membership of the Council, with expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories, not only improvement in its working procedures. This is essential both for the credibility and continued confidence of the international community in this institution.


10.  Your decisive leadership is what we all are now looking upto, to steer this process forward. The Indian delegation remains committed to working with you in ensuring your success thereby helping the wider membership reach concrete outcomes by the 2015 Summit timeline. 


I thank you Mr. President.