G4 nations pitch for expanding UNSC's permanent members

United Nations: Decrying the "out of date" structure of the UN Security Council, G4 nations including India have said the problem of "imbalance of influence" in the Council cannot be corrected if only non-permanent members are added to the powerful world body as part of its reform.

"We have heard some oft-repeated arguments that expansion in the permanent category would be 'undemocratic'...in our view, expansion in both categories particularly in the permanent category is essential to reform the Security Council and make it democratic, legitimate, representative, responsive and effective," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said in a statement on behalf of the G4 group at the United Nations on Monday.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Besides India, other G4 nations are Brazil, Germany and Japan.

Akbaruddin stressed that the Security Council's present structure is not reflective of contemporary realities and "not fit for purpose."

Expansion in only the non-permanent category will not solve the problem presented by a Council whose structure and composition is "out of date" of the present day realities and not representative of the major shifts in geo-political and economic order, he said at the informal meeting of the General Assembly on Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform.

"We do 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 is not going to solve the problem.

"It will actually widen the difference between permanent and non-permanent members even more, tilting further the scales in favour of a dispensation that was valid in the special situation in 1945 but is no longer now," he said in the meeting, convened on the issues of 'Categories of Membership' and 'Regional Representation'.

Akbaruddin said the decision-making process in the Council must be more participative and democratic and expansion in both categories is the "only way" to ensure an equitable distribution of influence and equilibrium that reflects the current situation.

"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 and 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," he said.

Taking the opposite view, Pakistan's UN envoy Maleeha Lodhi said more permanent members would diminish and not enhance the Council's democratic credentials and effectiveness.

Italy's UN envoy Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, speaking on behalf of the 'Uniting for Consensus' group, of which Pakistan is a part, proposed establishing a new category of longer-term non-permanent seats with the possibility of an immediate re-election.

He said focus should be on an increase in non-permanent members as they will foster a "new dynamic between elected and existing permanent members within the Council, contributing to decision-making, representativeness, transparency, working methods and, ultimately to the effectiveness of the Council." 

On the election process for additional permanent seats in a reformed Council, Akbaruddin underlined the G4’s view that new permanent members should be elected "obviously" by a vote of two-thirds of the General Assembly members through a secret ballot in line with the provisions of the UN Charter.

Outlining the G4's position on the issue of categories of membership, Akbaruddin said it is evident from the positions submitted in the text circulated by former UNGA President in July 2015 that an overwhelming majority of member states support expansion in both categories. In all, 129 member states out of a total 152 or about around 85 per cent support expansion in both categories.

He urged the IGN chair to consolidate the names of those in favor of the expansion as well as those proposing additions of 5-6 countries in the permanent category.

On expansion in the non-permanent category, he said there is significant convergence and no member state opposes the idea of adding non-permanent members through the currently followed procedure.

On the key issue of regional representation, he said it is "untenable" that entire continents such as Africa are not represented or underrepresented in the permanent category of the Security Council.

The UN, which had 51 founding members, saw its membership increased to 193 in the last seven decades, he added.

"The Security Council as the crucial and deciding forum of the UN needs to reflect these changes. The Security Council is also not representative of the geo-political and economic realities 70 years after its inception," Akbaruddin said adding that new major powers have emerged and the voice of all regions needs to be heard in international security policy.

A majority of member states have called in their submissions for equitable geographical representation and voiced support for developing and small states.

Akbaruddin repeated G4's call for a consolidated and shortened negotiating text reflecting the convergences and delineated divergent positions that have emerged so far.

He told the meeting it is "unfortunate" that nations have been discussing the "crucial matter" of UNSC reform for more than two decades without any concrete outcome.

"The world has undergone a sea change while we are engaged in the same discussions which started in 1993. While we were busy in our debates, around 1.7 billion people were added to 'we the peoples'- in whose name the Charter was adopted and the UN membership increased from 184 to 193.

"Change is the only constant everywhere else over these two decades and therefore the Security Council has become less and less representative and more and more out of date with current realities thus eroding its legitimacy and
effectiveness," he said.


Published Date: May 03, 2016 11:48 am | Updated Date: May 03, 2016 11:48 am


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