Germany’s approach to UN Security Council reform

May 13, 2011

Fact sheet: Germany’s approach to UN Security Council reform

The Security Council must preserve its place at the heart of the multilateral system. With its unique legitimacy in principle and its indispensable functions as outlined in the Charter of the United Nations, it must remain the body that deals with threats to peace and security in the world. For its resolutions to be respected and implemented by all states, the Council needs to have the required authority and legitimacy. This means it has to be representative.

The Council's present composition is no longer representative of a world which since 1945 has seen 141 new countries join the United Nations. It has to be adapted to the realities of the 21st century: Africa, Asia and Latin America do not have the representation on the Council which their current standing demands, and they therefore call for the Council's makeup to be adapted to the new realities.

The Charter of the United Nations expressly states that countries contributing considerably to the UN should be members of the Security Council. The Charter also calls for a balanced geographical distribution of seats.

We have to ensure that the Security Council can play its role in the 21st century. The overwhelming majority of Member States considers this aim to be served best by an expansion in both categories of Security Council membership – permanent and non-permanent. Like our African partners and many others, Germany and its G4 partners support this model of expansion. That was a clear result of the 64th session, and it is reflected in the negotiation text which was put forward by the Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations.

The Member States are at the very heart of the United Nations, there is no alternative for them as to drive the reform process forward. This should, however, not be misunderstood as if there were 192 individual vetoes to the process: instead, the member-driven process should serve as a platform to achieve the broadest possible support for the reform itself.

Our aim is to achieve an expansion of the Security Council in both categories. On the way there, we might think about interim solutions. But let there be no doubt: any interim solution must be constructed in a fashion so as to pave the way for an expansion in both categories. An interim model must allow Member States to make a decision at a review conference for a transition of the interim model into a permanent expansion in both categories.

Models that are based on rotational schemes are not necessarily the silver bullet. Often they are not more than window-dressing and help perpetuate the current status quo while depriving the – so far underrepresented areas of the world – of a representative and balanced Security Council. We should arrive at a reform which changes the Council for the better: those who significantly contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security should assume their rightful place among the permanent members. And for regional balance a permanent African presence on the Council – according to the African Union not subject to regional rotation, and a permanent presence of other countries from the South – from Latin America, but also from Asia – is of the essence.

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