Remarks by Ambassador Wittig on Security Council Reform in the General Assembly

Nov 8, 2011

(Remarks by Ambassador Wittig in the informal plenary of the General Assembly on "the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters" - as delivered)

Mr. President,

Today’s debate on Security Council reform provides a good opportunity to take stock and to further build on the momentum achieved during the past session of the General Assembly.

In this regard, allow me to highlight the three lessons learned from last year’s experience:

First, we have made progress. I wish to highlight in particular that the process of intergovernmental negotiations was continued in an important session under the able chairmanship of Ambassador Tanin. However, when it comes to concrete and forward-looking initiatives presented, one lesson is clear: Only one concrete proposal has received the support of a large majority of member states from all regional groups. This was the initiative taken by the G4 countries for an expansion of the Council in both permanent and non-permanent seats as well as for an improvement of its working methods. I dare to say that this initiative may not be the only, but surely the strongest game in town. It should thus also be at the centre of our discussion in an ongoing intergovernmental process of negotiations.

Secondly, a number of meetings and conferences on Security Council reform were held both within and outside the United Nations. This clearly demonstrates that member states are eager to achieve progress on this issue. But if we want to ensure substantive discussions among the entire UN membership, we need the intergovernmental negotiations to take place more frequently. We thus urge the Chair of the informal plenary on Security Council reform to resume these negotiations as soon as possible and to maintain a regular meeting schedule. Also, Mr. President, if there is any other format you deem appropriate to achieve substantial results, we would assure you of our support.

Thirdly, Mr. President, we all agree that the process for Council reform should be membership-driven. But negotiations during the last session of the General Assembly have demonstrated that we cannot negotiate reform on the basis of a 30-pages document. We will need the assistance of Ambassador Tanin in focussing our discussions on a realistic range of options. As a first step, we suggest to continue discussions based on those options that have proven to reflect majority positions. Let us focus on those principles on which we have reached broad agreement – and use those as a starting point to narrow down our differences.

Mr. President,

In September, during the opening of this GA session here in New York, the majority of  Heads of Delegation called for the UN system to be reformed. This includes a reform of the Security Council at its core. Reform is urgently needed, not least because other institutions of global governance are gaining influence, such as the G8 or the G20. The Security Council has to adapt to remain the centerpiece of the international peace architecture in the 21st Century. We thus need to redouble our efforts to achieve concrete outcomes in the current session of the General Assembly. My country, Germany, stands ready to contribute its part.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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