Statement by H.E. Ambassador Jan GRAULS to the General Assembly on the occasion of the final meeting of the GA66 debate on Security Council Reform
I have the pleasure to speak on behalf of the Netherlands and Belgium.
I would like to thank you for your letter of June 11 in which you invite us to draw conclusions from our exchanges of the past few months and take a look at possible ways to move the intergovernmental process forward.
There is no doubt that the five debates we held since January of this year have been interesting and useful. Devoting time to each of the five initiatives of groups of Member States on Security Council Reform allowed us to better understand these initiatives and gave us the opportunity to really discuss their merits. Also, our exchanges allowed for a better assessment of the chances of success of each of the proposals. The Netherlands and Belgium would like to commend you, Mr. Chairman, for this excellent initiative.
Over the past few months positions have not changed much. At this point, none of the major existing initiatives seems to have sufficient traction to realize a breakthrough on its own. Still, the landscape of our negotiations on Security Council reform has somewhat changed.
In May, we witnessed the withdrawal of the initiative of the S5 on the improvement of the working methods of the Security Council. The G4, who elaborated a short draft resolution last year, did, until today, not table its draft. The Uniting for Consensus group presented a modified proposal which did not get more support than before. The African group reiterated its call for permanent membership. Although they remained on the table, recent debates focused also less on intermediate or interim solutions.
Despite the absence of a breakthrough of one of the existing ideas, or perhaps, exactly because of it, the debate shed some light on the broad contours of a reformed Security Council. A majority of states seems to be thinking in the direction of a model for Security Council reform with the following – non exhaustive – list of elements:
- an expansion in both the permanent and the non permanent category;
- African presence among the new permanent members of the Council;
- no consensus exists on whether these new permanent members should have a veto or not;
- a Council with a workable size. The Netherlands and Belgium would like to recall that an enlarged Council in their view should certainly not be too big, allowing it to remain effective.
Besides, the Netherlands and Belgium still believe that the debate on the non-political aspects of the working methods of the Security Council should not be held hostage by a lack of progress on the wider reform process. Rather, it should be handled on a separate track, as has actually already been the case in recent years.
According to the Netherlands and Belgium, these are the main elements that emerged from our exchanges when talking about substance. One way or another, they will have to be dealt with.
There is of course also a procedural aspect. We must acknowledge that our process, in its current form, has reached its limits. It was good to listen to each other and study each initiative in detail. We indeed had some very fruitful and at times interactive debates. However, time has come now to move from debate to negotiations. After all, we are all taking part in the eight round of intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform. Despite the title and mandate of our group, we have been doing very little negotiating.
The Netherlands and Belgium will enter these negotiations with a constructive mindset. We will be ready to explain and defend our preferences but at the same time, we will look for compromises and outcomes that can gather the broadest possible support among the membership. We have no national interest to defend in this matter, except the aim to have a Security Council which combines effectiveness with an equitable representation of the UN-membership.
We believe that we will only be able to start real negotiations on the basis of a text which is suited for that purpose. What we need now is a working document that is concise and yet broad enough for all parties to be accepted as a starting point. If we really want to move forward, such a document is a clear condition.
As we see it today, there are some options. There is, of course, Rev 3: a streamlined compilation of views that might offer a basis for talks. It is still a rather comprehensive document, but it has the advantage of being inclusive. Still, in our view it is not a document that can serve as a basis for a real negotiation.
Another option could, in our view, be a new comprehensive document based on the conclusions of our recent debates and today’s exchange of views. This document would focus on those proposals that gathered substantial support. This option implies an important role for our Chair, and would certainly require strengthening his mandate. It goes without saying that the Netherlands and Belgium would be prepared to help and support the Chair in this endeavor, if he wishes so.
Regardless of exactly which option we choose now to proceed with our work, it is clear that we need to continue and enhance our efforts to move this process forward. Status-quo is not an option. In the 2005 World Summit Outcome, there was a clear consensus among world leaders that an early reform of the Security Council is an essential element of overall efforts to reform the UN in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and transparent.
Today, seven years later, and in an ever more rapidly changing world, this consensus should be stronger than ever before. Only through real reform, that is: through real negotiations on the basis of a draft text, will we be able to improve the legitimacy of the Security Council and preserve the credibility of the United Nations.
I thank you.