General Assembly: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on the Security Council's Annual Report and Security Council Reform

Nov 7, 2013

(as delivered:)

"Mr. President,

Let me at the outset thank the Representatives of China for presenting and the USA for preparing the report of the Security Council to the General Assembly.

Allow me to add my appreciation for your calling of today’s debate.

The Annual Report of the Security Council discussed today also covers a period during which my country has been a member of the Council.

Looking back, one issue certainly stands out in my memory: This was the long deadlock in the Council caused by three double-vetoes, and the terrible impact this had for the Syrian people.

While the Council has found a common voice again, it is too late and too little for the more than 100.000 dead, the wounded, starving, and displaced.

But even beyond Syria, this episode also begs the question: Is the Security Council as we see it today still able to effectively address current and future challenges?

You know our view: No, it is not.

In this context, I would like to associate myself with the statement delivered earlier by my colleague, Ambassador Yoshikawa, on behalf of the G4 countries.

Let me, Mr. President, add the following points in my national capacity:

After many years of discussions on Council reform - first in the Open Ended Working Group, now in the Intergovernmental Negotiations – we have reached a point where the positions of member states are well known to all, where everything has been said, and much has been tried to move forward.

But despite all stated commitment to reform, we are being held at a stand-still. Understandably, frustration is growing among member states.

We welcome new initiatives, such as the establishment of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) Group and the French proposal on veto-limitations. But important as these initiatives are, they do not go to the root of the problem.

Germany remains convinced that only a real, structural reform of the Council will make it more effective and representative of the world we live in today.

I will not go into details of Germany’s position. It is well known and has been placed on record numerous times. Let me rather make a few remarks on how we see that the current stand-still could finally be overcome.

Mr. President,

Your initiative comes at the right time. We strongly welcome your decision to establish an advisory group of eminent Ambassadors to provide an input reflecting the pertinent opinions on the issue and indicating options as a basis for the resumed IGN process.

We appreciate your explanation of the purpose of the group, which shows that the criticism we heard regarding your initiative is indeed unfounded. I would also like to congratulate our colleagues on their appointment to this group and look forward to the result of their work.

The work of the Advisory Group can provide much-needed momentum. In our view, shared by many here in this room, the most useful product of your initiative would be an operational text that would enable Chairman Tanin to resume the IGN process on that basis. Let us be honest: despite the most laudable efforts from Chairman Tanin, the IGN is thus far a negotiation process only in name, not in substance.

Of course, differences exist among member states on the content of a reform. But frankly, this is no excuse for not being able to agree on one simple aspect: Namely to finally start real, genuine text-based negotiations as we are used to do it on a daily basis in the GA and its committees.

We hear calls for compromise and flexibility. But at the same time, no such flexibility or willingness to compromise is forthcoming from those, who call for it, when it comes to allowing negotiations to start. This runs counter to the normal processes of this organization and basic logic of multilateral diplomacy.

We have said repeatedly that we stand ready to actively contribute to genuine negotiation in a spirit of flexibility.

Let us start a negotiation process whereby we can identify common ground and see if and how positions of member states evolve. Let us finally engage in a real give-and-take negotiations on this important issue.

Mr. President,

To summarize: Enough talk, let’s see some action. Germany stands ready to contribute.

I wish to thank you once more for your important initiative and for giving the issue of Security Council reform the attention that it deserves.

If anything, today’s debate will make clear to everyone where member states stand on the issue: Are they part of the broad majority that wants progress, or part of the blocking minority that is eager to maintain the status quo.

Thank you."

© GermanyUN

Reform of the United Nations

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