Photo: Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin. Credit: - Photo: 2016

India Stresses Urgency of Security Council Reform

By Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York

Following are excerpts from his statement on November 7, 2016 at the current Session of the General Assembly’s Agenda Item 122: ‘Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters Related to the Security Council.’

While aligning with the statements made by St. Lucia on behalf of the L69 (a cross regional grouping of 42 developing countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific) and Germany on behalf of G4 (including Brazil, India and South Africa), he highlighted a few additional issues in his national capacity. Excerpts follow.

UNITED NATIONS (IDN-INPS) – Many times the cause of human suffering is our habit of attending to urgent tasks at the cost of important ones. The never-ending carousel of discussions on UNSC reforms leaves many of us perplexed as the crucial reform of the Security Council has been delayed despite both its importance and its urgency.

I will be preaching to the converted if I were to talk about the importance of the matter. There is, however, much more to say and ponder over concerning the urgency of the issue and costs of our in-action.

One needs to just look at some of the Council’s decisions or lack of decisions on crucial issues of global importance. The inability to respond to humanitarian situations, terrorist threats and peacekeeping vulnerabilities during this year itself are part of the price that is being paid for our lack of progress on this critical matter.

This global governance structure addressing issues of international peace and security inherited by us in 1945 doesn’t cease to surprise us with its persistent inability to even effectively engage with the tasks at hand.

While on issues pivotal to international security such as Syria we see inaction; on other situations like dealing with the peacekeeping crisis in South Sudan we see fragmented action which is not implemented even months after being agreed upon.

While our collective conscience is ravaged everyday by terrorists in some region or another, the Security Council gives itself 9 months to consider whether to sanction leaders of organizations it has itself designated as terrorist entities.

The Security Council, struck in its own time warp and politics, can only be described as working randomly on the basis of a mix of ad-hocism, scrambling and political paralysis. Need one say more about the urgency of the need for reform of this relic which has long been unresponsive to the needs of our time.

The lack of representativeness of its membership, especially in the permanent category, which was decided upon 70 years ago adds to its lack of legitimacy and credibility.

Significant work has been done at the Intergovernmental discussions during the last two sessions, especially in working towards a text during the 69th session of the UNGA under the stewardship of (Jamaica’s Permanente Representative to the UN) Ambassador (Courtenay) Rattray. We are therefore happy . . . “to engage with greater flexibility in a process leading to substantive results”.

As they say, “get the process in place and all good things will follow”. We are hopeful such a process will be put in place. A process, which we can perhaps take the liberty of calling the “Thomson Process” (after the name of the UNGA President Peter Thomson). Hopefully, the “Thomson Process” can help us move from discussions to negotiations under the stewardship of the co-chairs.

For this to happen, it is normal practice to provide for a text. This will help us understand the scope for convergence on all issues as well as delineate the areas of divergence. This is the practice adopted in all inter- governmental negotiations in the General Assembly. It will clarify our thoughts, focus on all issues and help us in understanding in an open, transparent and comprehensive manner the correct picture of the current situation.

In this regard, we welcome the newly founded Group of Friends on Security Council Reform as a move to reach beyond long established groups from different regions. India has joined the Group as member.

We hope that the Group of Friends will work together with the aim of accelerating the negotiating process for a meaningful reform of the Council based on agreed objectives of – early reform, text-based negotiations and expansion in both categories of membership. We welcome other Member States joining the Group.

It is time to break the impasse. It is time to reflect the different hues in a text so that everyone can discern the trend lines and trajectory of thinking of Member States. In this manner we can collectively do justice to both the urgency and importance of the task of reform before us. [IDN-INPS – 13 November 2016]

Photo: Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin. Credit:

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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