By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – Brazil, Germany, India and Japan – also known as the G4 – have reiterated the compelling need for a protracted reform of the United Nations Security Council and restated their support for Africa’s appropriate representation in a reformed and expanded Council, which under the UN Charter bears primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
A Joint Press Statement, issued after a meeting on the first day of the General Assembly’s high-level General Debate on September 25, 2018, said: “The G4 [Foreign] Ministers reaffirmed the need for an early reform of the Council including the expansion of both permanent and non-permanent categories of membership to enhance its legitimacy, effectiveness and representativeness.”
The need for the reform is underlined by the fact that “the current composition of the Council does not reflect the changed global realities and they stressed that Security Council reform is essential to address today’s complex challenges.”
The meeting hosted by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and joined by Brazil’s Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, Germany’s Heiko Maas, and Japan’s Taro Kono stressed that adapting the UN to the contemporary needs of the 21st century necessarily required reforming the Security Council.
The Council has 15 members: 10 are non-permanent members, each elected for a period of two years. Germany has been elected to a non-permanent seat for 2019-2020. Permanent seats are occupied by USA, Russia, China, Britain and France. All of them wield veto powers. A single veto can block a decision.
This is critical because the Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.
The G4, which aspire to become additional permanent members of a reformed Council, reiterated their commitment to multilateralism, vowing to work “to strengthen the functioning of the UN and the global multilateral order as well as their support for each other’s candidatures.”
The G4 Ministers stressed that adapting the United Nations to the contemporary needs of the 21st century necessarily required reforming the Security Council. They reviewed progress towards this goal at the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) and discussed pathways to reform of the Council.
In this context, they noted with concern that next year would mark 40 years since the inscription of the item “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council” on the agenda of the General Assembly in 1979 and yet substantial progress had not yet been achieved.
They recalled the 2005 World Summit where all the Heads of State and Government had unanimously supported the “early reform” of the Security Council as an essential element of the overall effort to reform the UN. Despite an overwhelming majority of UN member states supporting Security Council reform, the IGN has not produced substantive progress over the 10 years since its launch in 2009.
The G4 Ministers emphasized the need to revitalize process of the Security Council reform, and they tasked their respective officials to consider the way forward to advance the reform.
The Ministers expressed their appreciation for the efforts by Dr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd session of the General Assembly towards enhancing continuity and credibility of the IGN process. In this regard they appreciated the work of the Co-Chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiations of the 72nd session of the General Assembly, including the finalization of the “Revised Elements of Commonality and Issues for Further Consideration” paper as an outcome of the work done by all Member States in the last IGN session.
Further, the G4 welcomed the commitment of María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd session of the General Assembly, to the ongoing reform process and expressed their readiness to extend full support to her with a view to launching negotiations based on a text comprising all positions and proposals by Member States.
Referring to technical details, the Joint Press Statement said the Ministers welcomed the compendium published by the L.69 compiling 25 years of deliberations on the issue of Security Council Reform. They agreed that all aspects of comprehensive reform had been thoroughly discussed several times in the IGN and General Assembly.
Therefore, the Ministers stressed that it was time to finally initiate text-based negotiations during the 73rd session of the General Assembly, in line with standard operating procedures of the UN General Assembly.
They reiterated their commitment to working with other Member States to realize the shared vision of the overwhelming majority supporting the initiation of text-based negotiations in a democratic and transparent manner.
In this regard, the Ministers recalled the rules and procedures of the General Assembly and reiterated that the General Assembly takes its decisions in a spirit of compromise and through the methods laid out in the UN Charter.
The Ministers emphasized that the G4 will intensify dialogue with other Member States, especially the like-minded countries and groups to achieve meaningful progress in the upcoming IGN session.
In this regard, they expressed support for reflecting the African Common Position as contained in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration in text-based negotiations on Security Council reform in the 73rd session. Accordingly, the Ministers reiterated their support for Africa’s representation in both the permanent and non-permanent membership of a reformed and expanded Security Council. [IDN-InDepthNews – 26 September 2018]
Photo: India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj hosted the G4 Foreign Ministers Meeting of Japan, Germany and Brazil to discuss progress on early reform of the Council, including the expansion of both permanent and non-permanent categories of membership. Credit: Twitter MEA India
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