NAM Security Council Reform

Revised document is one owned by membership

Statement by Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative at an 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 on 6 June 2018



     I align myself with the statements delivered by the Permanent Representative of St Vincent and Grenadines on behalf of L 69 and Permanent Representative of Germany on behalf of G 4. I would like to make three supplementary points in my national capacity.


2.   First, it is customary to begin by highlighting what we want to welcome. So, let me begin by welcoming the reference in your letter of 18 May 2018 that your current effort is to “safeguard the ownership of the document by the membership.” To us, it means you see this new revised Elements of Commonality document as one owned by the membership. For starters, a big Thank you, to both of you for that clarity that this is the document which we as members own.

3.    Perhaps, that is why you have adopted a minimalist approach and incorporate points that you discern to be “least contested”.

4.     Perhaps, that is why the 'No' of a very few was given more weight than the 'yes' of the very many, including that of my own delegation, on a host of issues suggested to you.

5.   Perhaps, that is the rationale for the African Common Position not being reflected adequately as advocated by the many proponents, including my own delegation.

6.     Perhaps, again it is also the basis for transparency in the form of calls for attribution of proposals being interpreted by you to mean translucency - with some proposals being attributed in this document and others left to our imagination to decipher. 

7.      Perhaps, it may also be because some proposals are not even proposals of any delegation. 

8.     And in this context, I would like to deviate from what was my written statement and use an interactive opportunity to try and respond to Ambassador Cardi, who we will sadly miss when he leaves because unlike many of you, I worked with him in a previous avatar too; 20 years ago both of us were working in this IGN.  So we know each other from the 1990s.

9.    We just heard Ambassador Cardi refer to a proposal which was not the compromise proposal of the UfC; the proposal of 2005. Since all of you have the documentation here with you, may I please request that you have a look at this document and what it refers to.  Please look at page 114 of this lovely document that Ambassador Rhonda King and her team has prepared.   We are looking at a proposal made in 2005 and this is the proposal which is not the compromise proposal which Ambassador Cardi  feels is not reflected in the documentation.   On the top of that page, let us have a very close look at what he was saying and what is the actual proposal.  It says non-permanent members may be eligible for immediate re-election subject to the decision of their respective geographical groups.  This co-chairs, as you know is not the charter position. Look at Article 23 (ii) of the Charter.  It clearly does not provide for immediate re-election of a non-permanent member.  So, now let us go back to your document and look at number 4 - categories of membership.  What is written in the last line; enlargement of the Security Council with two year term non-permanent members.  Obviously, this is not the proposal of Ambassador Cardi because it is only enlargement of the Security Council with two year term non-permanent members.  It is not what is provided in 2005.  2005 proposal of the UfC provides for enlargement of the Security Council with two year term non-permanent members eligible for immediate re-election which is completely different from the Charter specified 2 year non renewable term.  So  I, in fact,  would like to concur with him on one point and that point is that there is confusion. That confusion is because there is no attribution. 

10.     We support what was just now mentioned by the Ambassador of Germany that when it is unclear about who is saying what then rather than try and make us decipher whose proposal is what it is best to attribute.  For example, there is no parentage to this proposal on page 6 of your document 'enlargement of the SC with two years term non-permanent member'.  Because just now I have read out to you, in 2005, UfC proposed enlargement of the Security Council with two year term members with immediate re-election and that is not the charter category. 

11.    We were grateful that Rhonda King who produced this handbook with which we were immediately able to co-relate.  Otherwise, we will never be able to co-relate what is being said and what was said in the past.  So my request to you is that attribution is key.  Attribution in 6J; attribution elsewhere, attribution in 4, attribution in 5 everywhere attribution is the only solution otherwise we will continue to dig into document repeatedly.

 12.    Let me come back to some other issues. Despite what I pointed out in terms of why you may not have focused on attribution, I would like to say that all is not lost.  And thank you for persevering with many of the commonalities that have been banked previously.  Some of the commonalities have been banked for the third consecutive year as in the case of segments 2 and 3 of the commonalities section; many of the commonalities are now being banked for the 2nd consecutive year -  as in the case of almost all of the rest of the commonalities section; some issues have made in the maiden appearance this year in the issues for Further Consideration such as references to the Common African Position, although nuances remain to be captured.  Also, reference to SIDS, as well as a reflection of distribution of 2 categories of seats in a reformed Security Council, as listed in 6(j).

13.    Yet what did we hear just now from our colleague from the UfC was that they would like further discussion.  Right.  My answer to them is that we are ready to extend the discussion beyond the next two days, because issues that they have raised need to be responded. We are ready to get into a serious discussion about the commonalities, whether some of them are commonalities or not; some others are there anybody’s proposals or not.  This will require time and therefore I would support what has been said before we want an extension beyond today and tomorrow.  One more session will perhaps help us try and address some of these issues that have been raised. 

14.    Co chairs, I just heard that this book was 400 pages.  But I understand in the USB stick, there are 1500 plus pages.  So we have 1500+ pages at our disposal. 

15.     Now it is our understanding based on this that all proposals are available with us.  Of course, some like Oliver Twist will want some more.  And we understand that.  We will address these issues as suggested by you tomorrow or seek to extend the meeting beyond tomorrow and address a lot of the other issues.

16.    Before that, I want to seek a clarification from both of you, because you would recollect, when I started this discussion some months ago, I had attributed Einsteinian logic to you.  And you had pursued that logic so far.  May I request you to look at your letter of 18th May.  You had said you intend to start tomorrow's discussion at 10 a.m.  However, I just heard you say that we start tomorrow at 11 a.m.    I don’t understand that logic.   If you have already given us the topic for tomorrow and you were writing your letter to say that we start at 10 a.m., why then should we start at 11 a.m?   When we are running short of time, every hour counts, for the last mile.  There needs to be a rationale.  If you are following a certain pattern, lets follow the pattern that you have given in your written document rather than at this stage.   My second point is related to the two sections that you are set to address. 


17.   Our response is simple to you.  Both these sections are in our view ripe for inclusion in the next phase as they are listed right now.  Little will come of discussing aspects of these without moving to the stage of give and take negotiations.   These two sections are being banked for the third time.   If we play baseball, three strikes and they are out.  Luckily we are not playing baseball.  So we are working for the third time on this.  Whatever we could has been distilled.  The next stage will decide which of us will move beyond reiterating statements and move to give and take negotiations.  These three years we reiterated all that we have said; it is time to move to the next phase.  For example, just look at the issue listed in 3 (a) about the Presidency by non-permanent members once during their term in the Council. 

Madam Co Chairs,

18.    We are in an age of artificial intelligence.  Who knows this better than you Madam Co Chair.  You come from a country with the world's first Minister for Artificial Intelligence.    Consequently, you are aware and all of us are that we live in a world where using the algorithm, Google is able to trawl millions of data and map every exact location of every business, every household and street number in a country; for example, I was told, like France, in less than 60 minutes.  Hence, should it be difficult to work out an arithmetically feasible arrangement where in an enlarged Security Council, each of the postulated 15 or 16 Non-permanent members, with two year terms can serve as a President once a month during their term; while those on the Council for longer than that, get to serve as President once in less than 3 years.  Yet, the latter will get more opportunities than the former.  Is this then such a difficult issue to address that we keep on discussing for three years or more?  We think that the Security Council which considers itself the master of issues of global peace and security can easily address this in time, at least equal to what Google does to map the entire globe, that is 60 plus  minutes.

Co Chairs,

19.    The point I am making is simple.  Questions are resolvable through solutions that can be arrived at as a compromise when we enter into a situation of give and take rather than painstaking reiteration of positions. If we want answers to questions that we have addressed for three years then we need to address them in a different manner.   Otherwise, even with the best of efforts like you have exerted so far this year, we will only increase the number of issues for further consideration as has been done in this revised document with no substantive addition of any commonalities.

20.    Finally, I come to my third point and that is as we work on this document one more time, let me draw your attention to some issues that we missed on all the previous occasions. For example, look at page 1 of this document.  Paragraph 1, on the first page in the first para, we see that in 1993 June had 39 days.  I hope that factually this year June does not have 39 days.  I do understand, this may be a typo.  But let us start at least by correcting these small things.   Similarly, on page 4, under the working methods, a) may I suggest that on line 3 the word is emerge rather than merge, a small addition of  an 'e' perhaps would do the trick.   Finally, let me refer to the general section under issues for further considerations. While you have not yet accommodated our request for attribution, perhaps you can do so in a small manner by cross referencing in 1 (a).  A small cross-reference can be made to the relevant GA document that is being referred to when you say member states express a desire to move to a next phase. There are GA documents available of who those members states are. Its perhaps time to cross reference that because these are available to the rest of the UN but should be available and known to all of us too.


21.    I can only hope that the outcome of today’s discussion will not be an exercise in fulfilling the prophesy of the great Persian poet Omar Khayyam, who summarized inviolability of the written word in his quatrain:

“The moving finger writes;

And having writ moveth on;

Nor all thy piety nor wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,

Nor all thy tears wash out a Word of it”.

Nothing is inviolable.  As diplomats working under your stewardship, we all deserve better. Let us look to try and improve incrementally some of the suggestions that have been made today.

Thank you co chairs.