General Assembly: Statement by Ambassador Braun at the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform


Mr. Chairman,

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the G4 countries Brazil, India, Japan and Germany.

As we have reached the final session of yet another round of the Intergovernmental Negotiations, we wish to thank you for your able steering of the process. 

As for today’s topic, the “cross-cutting issues”, we wish to refer to the suggestions included in section 6 of the non-paper submitted by the President of the General Assembly. The provision for a review in particular, which also finds a basis in Art. 109 of the UN Charter, deserves further scrutiny. We believe that a review could help address some of the concerns raised by member states related to an expansion of Council membership and other reform aspects. We are confident that we will be able to reach convergence on the scope and timing of such a review if and when we finally start genuine, text-based negotiations.

Mr. Chairman,

This also leads us to more general concluding thoughts on this 10th round of IGN discussions. Most importantly, of course, is the question as to whether we have made any progress. Having once again discussed the five reform clusters, have we in any way come closer to achieving an early reform of the Security Council?

Certainly - the discussions were again lively, and we may even have heard a new nuance here and there. But overall, one cannot but feel a sense of déjà vu. Having gone through the exact same exercise in 2009, you, Mr. Chairman, wrote to us back then that “member states … have now looked at the five key issues from virtually all possible different angles.”

Today, five years later, the situation seems hardly any different. And this is the crux of the matter. No matter how long we discuss, no matter how often we meet, from which angle we look at the issues, there will be no progress until we have a concrete text as a basis on which we can embark on a genuine give-and-take negotiation process.

The fact that this has yet to happen is, of course, not for lack of trying - at least on the side of G4 and many other reform-oriented groups and member states.

Colleagues will recall that in late 2009, 135 member states joined the G4 in requesting from you, Mr. Chairman, a text with options that would serve as a basis for negotiations. We are grateful that you responded to this call with a comprehensive compilation text. You have also undertaken to streamline the text to serve as the basis for real negotiations, instead of being simply a mere listing of each and every position on every issue. The G4 and numerous others welcomed this initiative to arrive at a real negotiation text. Nevertheless, some member states demand to this very day that consensus be required for such a step. Although they represent a minority view, they wish to exercise a veto over the entire process. And this in spite of the fact that they themselves had tabled a resolution affirming a 2/3rds majority and not consensus as the rule of the game.

Colleagues will also recall that you, Mr. Chairman, made useful proposals in July 2012, on how to reenergize the IGN process. You suggested further focused discussions, you asked the membership to task you with drafting a negotiating text, and you suggested that a high-level meeting could be held to increase political buy-in. The G4 and many others welcomed your proposals as result-oriented and forward-looking. But again, there was strong opposition from the same small group, and the momentum that your letter had created grinded to a halt.

And we of course all remember that last year, the President of the General Assembly, our distinguished colleague Ambassador John Ashe, took the initiative to establish an advisory group and submit a non-paper meant to guide the IGN discussions. The G4 and many other member states supported this initiative as a way to focus discussions and identify convergences. Again, the same few delegations chose to oppose the initiative taken by the President from the very start and categorically rejected any output.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished colleagues,

Let us take a step back and look for a moment at what we are really talking about. We are not talking about the imposition of one reform model on the membership. We are not talking about the need for the entire membership to agree to one proposal submitted by any one group.

What we are talking about here in the IGN is the need to finally start a process, based on a text that allows for a genuine give-and-take among delegations. How the Council will be reformed will ultimately be decided by a vote in the General Assembly.

The G4, along with the overwhelming majority of member states, is committed to progress, not the status quo. Is it too much to ask that the Chairman provide a negotiation text as is common practice in numerous other UN negotiation processes? Is it really too much to ask the Chairman to provide even a mere summary of the discussions that accurately reflects the mood of the house?

Mr. Chairman,

The G4 countries have full confidence in you to produce an objective summary of the discussion that is fully in line with your valued approach as IGN Chairman: impartial to individual positions but partial to progress.

Not surprisingly, there is loud opposition from a few well-known colleagues to such a summary. What we have yet to hear is a convincing reason. It is simply not enough to categorically reject any attempt to move the process forward. Subjecting the IGN process to artificial consensus requirements is not tenable. It only serves the narrow national interests of a few, not the interest of this organization. What it does, is to create artificial delays with the sole purpose of ensuring that we discuss Security Council reform ad infinitum. This would mean that we accept a process that step by step diminishes the relevance of the United Nations. This cannot be the objective of any member state.

If we have reached a point where the mere stating of objective facts is being denounced as divisive and detrimental to the IGN process, one may as well put into question the validity of the entire process. After all, we do not come together, year after year, meeting after meeting, to simply agree to disagree.

The G4 countries, and I am sure the overwhelming number of member states, want to finally move this process forward to a decisive outcome in 2015.

It is in this spirit, that we would like to offer some of the observations that we, the G4, have made during this last IGN round:

First and foremost, we once again applaud General Assembly President Ashe and the members of his advisory Group for their valuable initiative and input in the form of the non-paper submitted by President Ashe in December last year. As we have seen during our discussions, the non-paper has helped focus attention on concrete proposals, has served as a useful reference, and has helped to highlight where convergence can be achieved. Other than those who objected to the paper before it was even drafted, we believe that the non-paper should thus remain on the table as one of the key reference documents that guide the IGN process.

On categories of membership, we once again saw a clear and undisputable majority speaking in favor of expansion in both categories, new non-permanent and new permanent members. We have heard this from the African Group, the L.69 group, CARICOM, the Arab Group, the G4, numerous other member states from the WEOG, Eastern European Group and the Asia-Pacific Group and a majority of permanent members. You yourself, Mr. Chairman, concluded twice, in 2009 and 2012, that the majority of delegations taking the floor had demanded an expansion in both categories. This round of discussion has not only confirmed your assessments - it further strengthened them, with CARICOM and the Arab Group having since then added their voices.

There are of course others - a dozen or so – who have spoken out against new permanent members. Based on their national interest, this position may be understandable. But this does not mean that the entire membership must agree, let alone share their interest - however vocally promoted. As our South African colleague reminded us recently, the membership is not evenly divided in half – one half for, the other half against new permanent members. There is a clear majority view and a clear minority view. And as our distinguished Brazilian colleague has repeatedly reminded us, in democratic processes a decision is formed around the majority position.

Regarding the veto, we felt an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction from the floor with its current use. In this connection, we saw broad support for initiatives addressing the use of the veto in certain circumstances. The question of whether the veto-right should be expanded to new permanent members saw two views. A large group, including Africa, the L.69, CARICOM, and the G4, are of the view that as a question of principle, new permanent members should have the same rights and responsibilities as the current P5. Other member states object to expanding the veto to new permanent members. The G4 proposal for new permanent members not to exercise the right until a decision is taken within the framework of a review, could provide a way for compromise.

On regional representation, we all agreed that the Council needed to better reflect the geopolitical realities of the 21st Century. We also agreed that the Council membership should be more representative, particularly of the developing world, to enhance its legitimacy and effectiveness. We saw convergence around the view that Article 23 of the UN Charter should serve as the yardstick, referring to the contributions of member states to peace and security, as well as to adequate geographic distribution. This would also apply to the election of new permanent members.

On size and working methods, we saw an overwhelming majority for an expanded Council membership in the mid-twenties. Here, the non-paper provided by the President is particularly illustrative: All models proposed foresee a membership in the mid-twenties as the best way to meet the criteria set out in Article 23 of the Charter and thus make the Council more representative and effective. There was also broad agreement that the Council’s working methods would need to be improved so that an expanded Council would remain efficient in addressing the challenges of the 21st Century.

On the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly, there was a clear understanding that the respective roles and responsibilities of these two principle organs should be respected. Members stressed that it is in all our best interest if the relationship between the two was marked by a spirit of cooperation, not competition. Again, pertinent proposals as to how this can be achieved are contained in the PGA’s non-paper.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, distinguished colleagues,

We are confident that convergence on all these issues could be achieved once we finally start real negotiations. The positions are known, the issues are clear. Fifteen years after the Millennium Summit and ten years after the 2005 Outcome Document, the overwhelming majority among us wants progress, while only a few still prefer the status quo. What is required now from all of us is the political will to allow for genuine, text-based negotiations to start.

We are confident that a summary provided on this round of the IGN will provide an objective and constructive input towards this goal. Most importantly, it will help us to finally fulfil the mandate given by the World Leaders in 2000 to make the UN fit for the 21st Century and beyond.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

© GermanyUN

Reform of the United Nations

The United Nations is a product of its times: founded in the wake of the two disastrous world wars of the previous century. Its organs and modes of functioning reflect the political balances of power and peace-building moral concepts of that era.