UN Security Council reform: Stick to a time-table, says India
By Arul Louis
United Nations, Feb 13 (IANS) With UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Sam Kutesa reporting he was “heartened” to find support for a Security Council reform process based on a negotiating document, India has said that the text should be given the mandate of an Assembly resolution and the negotiations should stick to a time-table.
Speaking at a preparatory meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform (IGN) Wednesday, India’s Acting Permanent Representative Bhagwant S. Bishnoi said the negotiating text should “be in the language and form of a UNGA resolution”. He added: “That would clearly bring out areas of convergence and divergence as well.”
Bishnoi also suggested a time-table to keep the negotiations on track: “The first meeting of the IGN (should) be held before the end of the month. Thereafter, meetings should be held once a week so that the text can be negotiated, para by para and line by line.”
Earlier, Kutesa told the meeting: “I have had wide consultations with the member states and regional groups and I was heartened to hear support for the start of the intergovernmental negotiations, as well as the effort to move the process toward text-based negotiations.”
The current round of Council reform initiative began in 2005 at a summit of world leaders but has stalled because some countries oppose the creation of a negotiating text.
“We may hear some delegations calling for consensus to emerge before a negotiation text,” Bishnoi said. “This is putting logic upside down. A negotiation text is meant to facilitate the emergence of consensus. If there already is consensus, why would we need a negotiating text?”
He took a dig at the stalling manoeuvres and said: “Many of us are aware of the model UN that is practised in numerous schools all over the world. Even they do not get it as wrong as this.”
The reform process has received a vigorous push from Kutesa, who has focused on creating a negotiating text for the Council reform to make headway in time for UN’s 70th anniversary celebrations in September.
“It is now time to move this process forward, to enhance the Council’s effectiveness, legitimacy and implementation of its decisions,” he said.
A majority of members at Wednesday’s meeting asked the IGN Chair, Jamaican Ambassador Courtenay Rattray, to table a negotiating document in order to start immediate text-based negotiations and arrive at a solution by the 70th Anniversary Summit.
Among those who called for a text-based document were the L69, a broad-based group of about 40 countries advocating UN reforms, the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the G4, which unites India, Brazil, Germany and Japan that are lobbying for permanent membership in a reformed Council.
Bishnoi said a 2008 UNGA resolution gave “adequate guidance” for drafting a negotiating document and asked Rattray “to begin negotiations on the basis of a concise text and not a compilation that has deliberately been made unwieldy in order to subvert the process”.
Uniting for Consensus, a group led by Italy and including Pakistan, opposes adding permanent members to the Council and it advocates making its position paper the basis of negotiations.
Since its founding in 1945, the UN’s membership has grown from 51 members to 193 now. But the Council has not kept pace with the changed environment, retaining the original five veto-wielding permanent members while adding four temporary-elected members in 1965 for a total of 15 members.
Earlier this month, in an interview to the Observer in his home country Uganda, Kutesa reiterated African demands for two permanent members from the continent.
“The African continent has taken a consensus known as the Uzulwini Consensus (which) demands that Africa must get two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats which are rotational within Africa,” he was quoted as saying. “It’s not necessary whether we have Ethiopia, Uganda or else to become permanent members; we want two permanent seats for Africa and we can always appoint anyone from within to represent our countries.”
The Uzulweni Consensus on UN reform was adopted by the African Union’s executive committee in 2005.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at email@example.com)