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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
on Agenda Item 9 on the Report of the Security Council and Agenda Item 111 on
the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership

of the Security Council and Related Matters

General Assembly Hall, New York, 18 November 2008


Mr. President,

I would like to begin by thanking you for convening this plenary meeting for a joint plenary debate on Agenda Item 9 on the Report of the Security Council and Agenda Item 111 on Security Council reform. As to the latter, the Philippines commends and salutes you for your special interest in Security Council reform, particularly in light of the theme of your Presidency- " Democratization of the United Nations . " A very judicious, impartial, and objective reassesment and review of the fundamentals relating to or affecting the Security Council, especially on the patent imbalance in its composition or membership vis-a-vis the developing small Member States; the exercise of its powers, including abuse or misuse of the veto power; its decisions, resolutions and actions; and its working methods, readily disclose that the Security Council needs to be fully democratized. It is asserted, and quite correctly, in the Report of the Austrian Initiative 2005-2008, that the Security Council is “legislator, judge and executive“. Definitely when one body acts as such, democracy and the Rule of Law are unfortunately sacrificed, to say the least.

I thank H.E. Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica for introducing the Annual Report of the Security Council and congratulate the Costa Rican Presidency for its stewardship of the Council for the current month.

I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the efforts of H.E. Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd Session of the General Assembly, and the members of his Task Force-- the Permanent Representatives of Bangladesh, Chile, Djibouti and Portugal-- for their patience, dedication and hard work which paved the way and opened the door to the commencement of intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform through the adoption by the General Assembly, at the last hour of the life of the 62nd session, of the recommendations of the Open-Ended Working Group on Security Council reform, now embodied, with amendments, in General Assembly Decision 62/557.

Mr. President ,

On the Annual Report of the Security Council, while the format has remained the same, my delegation has noticed small changes in some of the narratives which, no doubt, indicate an effort to make the report more insightful, and not just a documentary. Nonetheless, the Security Council may consider looking at other options on improving its report to the General Assembly, including its format, to make it comprehensive, informative and analytical. I n its present form, the annual report is not actually a report according to the true meaning of the nomenclature. My delegation maintains its view earlier expressed during the Security Council open debate on working methods on 27 August 2008 that the Council should take note on how the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council presents information, and consider combining or merging the Annual Report and the Repertoire.

Mr. President,

As regards the ongoing process on Security Council reform, my delegation reaffirms its full support to General Assembly Decision 62/557 I mentioned earlier. This Decision clearly outlines the preliminary steps leading to the conduct of intergovernmental negotiations. In connection therewith, my delegation highlights two crucial dates to wit: February 1 and February 28, 2009. February 1 is the deadline fixed in paragraph (c) of the Decision for the submission by the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG), through its Chairman, of the report on its consultations on the framework and modalities for the intergovernmental negotiations. February 28 is the latest date for the commencement of the intergovernmental negotiations as mandated in paragraph (d) of the Decision. With these two time limits in mind, the OEWG must now begin its work so that it can submit its report to the General Assembly on or before the first day of February 2009 so that the informal plenary of the General Assembly can start intergovernmental negotiations not later than 28 February 2009. Collective political will and utmost cooperation in good faith must be mustered to keep to the timetable. Yesterday, the OEWG had its second meeting. I hope it can progress faster. My delegation, however, would like to reiterate its view, expressed in the last three meetings of the OEWG in the 62nd Session and yesterday in the second meeting of the OEWG, that the submission of the report by the OEWG under paragraph (c) of the Decision is not a condition sine qua non to the commencement of intergovernmental negotiations. While my delegation certainly prefers that the OEWG come up with its report within the time limit, its refusal or its failure to do so should not prevent the General Assembly, the superior body, from commencing, in informal plenary, with the intergovernmental negotiations not later than 28 February 2009. In short, the OEWG as a mere creature of the General Assembly cannot hold hostage the latter. In the New Testament we find these words: no slave is above his master (Matthew 10:24). Students of law are familiar with the maxim that the stream cannot rise higher than its source. This view should not, however, be made by the OEWG as an excuse for not working hard enough. It should not stain or blemish itself with a failure and go down in history in ignominy.

Mr. President,

Concerning the substantive aspect of Security Council reform, my delegation reiterates its position, articulated many times before, that reform in the working methods of the Council is the least controversial, is immediately achievable, and must forthwith be considered and adopted. In its statement during the Security Council open debate on 27 August 2008, the Philippines mentioned that the Security Council must, in its working methods – now principally condensed in its Rules of Procedure – strictly adhere to democratic practices and procedures; observe due process; and guarantee fairness, justice and equity to all concerned.

Among the essential elements of these guiding principles are, accountability, fidelity to the trust reposed on it by the Member States pursuant to Article 24 of the Charter of the United Nations, predictability and transparency. With these in mind, my delegation recommended, and now recommends again, the following: (1) the deletion of the word Provisional from the title of its Rules of Procedure; (2) amendment of Rule 37 of the Rules such that non-Security Council Member States which are under the Council’s scrutiny must have the right to be present and heard during all proceedings in regard to such scrutiny and in any incident which may thereafter arise therefrom; (3) the amendment of Rule 38 of the Rules so that the draft proposals or resolutions submitted by non-Security Council Member States shall be deliberated, acted upon and voted by the Security Council without the requirement of a request from a member of the Council; (4) the increase in the number of meetings, including informal meetings, to hear the views of Member States; (5) the providing of full information to all Member States on issues deliberated by the Council which can be done through its Annual Report by, inter alia, indicating therin how the Members of the Council voted and justified their votes and, in respect of the Permanent Members of the Council, their explanation of a veto; and (6) the release of periodic reports or substantive summaries to the General Assembly on matters the Council is seized with during the course of each year – given that the Annual Report to the General Assembly deals with matters considered during the preceding year.

On the issue of enlargement of membership of the Security Council, my delegation fully supports the enlargement proposal in both categories of membership—Permanent and Non-Permanent--based on equitable geographic or regional distribution in view of the increase in membership of the UN through the years, which may demand the application of the rule of proportional allocation, or require balance due to the geopolitical realities of the times. As the world’s model of a fully functioning, participatory democracy whose Charter affirms the equal rights of nations large and small, the United Nations should have institutions that reflect and genuinely give life to this ideal.

It would not only be a contradiction in principle and a factual anomaly, but also a gross injustice and a cruel inequality and inequity if the character and status of the membership of the Security Council, one of the U.N.’s principal organs tasked to maintain peace and security, will only perpetuate one or all of these anomalies.

Further to the adherence to and application of democratic principles in the United Nations, Security Council reform proposals should also include ways and means to curtail the exercise of special privileges reserved for a few in order lessen and remove discrimination against the vast majority in the general membership. A specific issue is the veto in its current form. My delegation looks forward to a judicious restriction of its use, such as (1) disallowing its use in cases of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity; and (2) disallowing its use if the Permanent member concerned is a party to an act under scrutiny or is involved in a conflict-of-interest situation. We may also add the establishment of mechanisms to override the veto. In this connection Member States should never forget that under Article 24 of the Charter, for the purpose of ensuring prompt and effective action, the Member States conferred on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of internatinal peace and security. Whether this be viewed as a surrender of part of the Member States sovereignty (Bruno Simma, The Charter of the United Nations, A Commentary, vol 1, 2nd ed., 449) or as a mere delegation of powers, the fact remains that both may be withdrawn and a veto may be overidden by the General Assembly should the exercise thereof be ultra vires. These are just and valid proposals to ensure the application and faithful observance of the principle of sovereign equality of all Member States as enunciated in paragraph 1, Article 2, Chapter 1 of the Charter of the United Nations.

There is yet one more aspect of reform, still in the area of democratization, in the Security Council. It is the patent and palpable discrimination against Member States which are not Members of the Security Council in the matter of the elections of Judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), contrary to and definitely against the principle of sovereign equality of all Member States solemnly enshrined in the Charter of the UN. In the election of the Judges of the ICJ the members of the Security Council are each given two votes-- one as General Assembly Members, and second as Security Council Members. There exists no valid and logical reason for this discrimination. This situation could even create a greater evil when a mere majority of the fifteen members of the Council will influence the final results of the elections in the General Assembly. This is an anomaly which should be corrected. It should be noted that in the elections for Members of the Security Council itself, the ECOSOC, the Human Rights Council, and other bodies in the UN system each Member State has only one vote. Worse yet, despite the criteria provided for in the Statute of the ICJ which only prescribe qualifications in Article 2 and representations of the main forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems of the world in Article 9, the Permanent Members of the Security Council always occupy a seat in the ICJ, resulting in and perpetuating a gross imbalance in the World Court. Why give the Permanent Members of the Security Council such a special privilege, which could result in a continuing violation of the representations requirements?

Mr. President,

Reforming the Security Council is akin to taking medicine for a chronic malady. We can no longer keep on postponing it or pretending to do something about it because the systemic sickness is already affecting the whole Organization. My delegation prays that the Open-Ended Working Group of the General Assembly would stay on course and seriously comply with their duties and responsibilities imposed on them by General Assembly Decision 62/557 and faithfully abide with the time limits therin prescribed. We expect intensive discussions, consultations and negotiations. The Philippines will do its part to contribute-- with heart, mind and soul-- to the birth of a reformed and truly democratic Security Council before the end of the 63rd session.

Thank you.

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