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Security Council Reform
13 November 2007 / 12:02


Mr. President,

My delegation is pleased to participate in this joint debate on Agenda items [9] and [122] relating to the Report of the Security Council and the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and related matters. Djibouti aligns itself with the statements made by Angola on behalf of the African Group, and by Cuba on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

At the outset, we would like to express our gratitude to the Council and the Secretariat for the commendable efforts they have put toward the preparation of this year’s report, which, as in previous years, portrays an array of the intensity and variety of issues considered, and decisions taken. Over the last decade, the transparency of the Council’s work has been on the rise and it needs to be encouraged to do more, although the wider membership still finds the consultation process quite sketchy.

The holding of thematic debates once a month on a variety of topics ranging from global, gender, to regional issues have been found useful, enabling members of the Council to exchange views with the wider membership of the United Nations and relevant organizations.

It needs to be stressed, however, that this exercise though commendable may sometime stray into areas that are within the purview or that fall under the responsibility of other bodies of the United Nations. The Council must resist the temptation to encroach upon the mandates of other U.N. organs.

Mr. President,

The Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council seems only to rise in gravity with each passing day. The pace at which significant developments occur around the globe today is often unnerving, particularly when seen against the snail pace of evolution in the international governance mechanisms, i.e. the Security Council, the World Bank and IMF, just to mention the key ones. Conflicts within states remain a prime danger, given the number of people and resources involved, and the impact the conflict has on states in a region. There is a legitimate concern as well to what former Secretary General Kofi Annan described as “the focus on “hard threats”, forgetting the “soft threats” which can equally be disruptive --- such as the fight against poverty, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, environmental degradation, inequality and the desperation some people live under”.

If the world is to act collectively against the prevailing dangers and threats, perhaps the only viable mechanism available to nations and which confers legitimacy is the United Nations. Where action is to be taken in conflict situations that pose threats to international peace and security, the Security Council is expected to respond promptly, adequately and in a non-discriminatory and non-selective manner.

Mr. President,

As constituted today, the Council is not a representative body; rather it continues as the legacy of the Second World War. There has been little or no change in its structure or power base, particularly on such issues as permanent membership or veto privileges since its inception. Surely, there is an urgent need for an inclusive, transparent and democratic Council that takes seriously into consideration the interests of both developed and developing states. The membership and composition of the Council must reflect today’s global, political and economic realties, if it is to slow the erosion of legitimacy it suffers; given the vast numbers of excluded peoples, states and regions.

Mr. President,

The Security Council reform is currently stalemated not as a result of one country, one group, or a region; but due to growing hardening of positions by all. Briefly, the positions of major interest groups are as follows:

  • We all know about the unyielding stance of the five permanent members on the issue of veto; and to a lesser extent on the composition and size of the Council

  • In conformity with the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, Africa is asking for not less than two permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto, in addition to five non-permanent seats.

  • The G-Four countries [Brazil, Germany, India and Japan] propose to postpone extension of veto privileges to new permanent members altogether, and instead suggest to revisit this issue at a later date, perhaps after a decade or so, through a review process.

  • The United for consensus group is categorical on the increase of permanent seats as advocated by others, and has proposed variations and options; but advocates rigorously for the increase of non-permanent category for the time-being in the absence of an agreement on the permanent category.

It was against the backdrop of these ever-widening divergences, that, thanks to the remarkable persistence of the President of the 61st Session, wide-ranging consultations on all aspects of the Council reform had been undertaken through facilitators, whose bold, analytical and creative variety of options, approaches and formulation, have attempted to breathe new life into the negotiations. Throughout the entire process, the facilitators intensified efforts to achieve substantive breakthroughs on all the five themes under discussion, namely: size of an enlarged Council; categories of membership; question of regional representation; Question of veto; and working methods of the Council. The President mandated the facilitators to conduct open, transparent and inclusive consultations, with a view to making most accurate possible assessment on the state of play on Security Council reform.

At the outset, we all agreed that maintaining the status quo was unacceptable, regardless of the theme; and we further felt that flexibility on all themes by all members was key to achieving tangible results. It was also underscored that we have to always bear in mind in this exercise that any enlargement of the Council should address the under representation of developing countries, as well as small states.

So, over the course of the next several months in 2007, the facilitators engaged in comprehensive and far-reaching consultations on all themes, and on all aspects of the Council reform. The most interesting idea the facilitators proposed to consider related to the notion of a “transitional” approach, whereby issues not agreed upon could be deferred to a review process at a predetermined date into the future, while member states will continue to retain their initial positions. This so-called “intermediary arrangement” may sound fine on its face value; but in reality, it does suffer from an oversimplification of the prevailing profound differences. In place of achieving concrete progress now, through hard choices and compromises; it is proposed to consider a “mandatory review” as a solution to our stalemate. In effect, this means, whatever cannot be negotiated today would be deferred to the review, and none of the stakeholders will have to give up their original positions. Let us heed the well-tested saying: “Don’t postpone till tomorrow what you can do today”.

Our colleagues who succeed us tomorrow will grapple with the review process, only to discover that we indeed had abdicated in our responsibilities to deal effectively with crucial issues at the right time.

We, therefore, fully support the continuation of negotiations in this session, building upon the work done in previous sessions, in particular the last session, and with a view to achieving progress on all aspects of Security Council reform, which is an integral part of the overall United Nations reform process.

Mr. President,

Finally, our goal remains that of a safe world in which conflict is prevented before it erupts and causes incalculable destruction and loss of life. Many regions in the world, including the Horn of Africa, are beset by conflict and suffer from neglect and inattention. Some of these wars have lasted long, thus creating a generation of armed, uneducated and hopeless youth. The result has been state failures, an endemic poverty, violence, instability, social disintegration and collapse of governance. Such dysfunctional states also pose other threats, as potential breeding grounds of lawlessness, terrorism and other kinds of crimes. Obviously, the Council needs to demonstrate greater sensitivity toward poor countries embroiled in brutal conflicts. These states require urgent attention in peacemaking and peacekeeping considerations. Closely related to this is post conflict peace building commitments, which so far remain fragile with mixed results.

Thank you, Mr. President