Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan in the Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on the Report of the Security Council; and the Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters (07 November 2013)

Mr. President,

I thank you for convening this meeting on two very important subjects: how the Security Council has been working in the past one year and how its reform has been proceeding.

We thank the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Liu Jieyi, for presenting the Council’s annual report.

The leitmotif of this discussion is the accountability that goes with the Security Council’s primary responsibility/ for the maintenance of international peace and security. Accountability helps improve the Council’s efficiency and effectiveness. It also creates conditions for a comprehensive reform of the Council’s composition and working methods.

Mr. President,

Small, incremental and yet significant measures have been taken on working methods in the form of Presidential Notes. The Council has focused its efforts on transparency, interaction and dialogue with non-Council members, and strengthening cooperation with the troop and police contributing countries.

The process of appointment of the chairs of the Council’s subsidiary bodies is also being made more transparent, balanced and inclusive.

Wrap up sessions, revived under Pakistan’s Presidency of the Council in January this year, have been widely applauded. Pakistan has also reenergized the Security Council’s Working Group on Peacekeeping, which has this year taken up important subjects of safety and security, new technologies, robust peacekeeping, transitions and drawdown.

The Council owes much of its success to UN peacekeeping, particularly its multidimensional missions. Pakistan takes pride in its role as a troop contributing country. Resolution 2086 on a multidimensional approach to peacekeeping, adopted during Pakistan’s Presidency in January this year, gives a blueprint for handling complex crises, inducting post-conflict peace-building in the conceptual and early planning and stages of peacekeeping missions, and preventing relapse of conflicts.

In terms of conduct of its business, the Council is efficient and effective. The agenda is for the most part predictable. Very little time is devoted to procedural debates or wrangling. Members go straight to the heart of the substance. Even the configuration of the agenda is well known. Roughly two thirds of the agenda relates to Africa. And the working environment is collegial. Of course, there are differences on a wide range of issues which are resolved through negotiations.

We have proposed that communication between the Permanent Five, non-permanent members and general membership, during serious crises, be improved by using the office of the President.

Mr. President,

On issues not related to the Middle East, the Council’s delivery and results range from good to outstanding, depending on various situations.

The Security Council has succeeded in Somalia, Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia. It has attained impressive progress in Mali despite daunting challenges. The Council has shown resilience in chronic conflict situations in DRC, CAR and Sudan and South Sudan, which require strategic thinking and support of regional partners for achieving durable peace. Yemen is moving towards stability and democratic governance and Timor-Leste is undergoing a successful transition.

In the years to come, we would welcome the United Nations’ close involvement in Afghanistan as it negotiates delicate and momentous political, security and economic transitions.

New paradigms and concepts have emerged from Council’s resolutions in the realm of peacekeeping. These are: One, a region-wide approach such as for the Sahel and the Great Lakes Region. Two, robust peacekeeping manifested by the induction of an intervention brigade in MONUSCO. Three, deployment of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and growing demand for them. Four, the increasing cooperation of the Council with regional and sub-regional organizations, especially in Africa.

On the Palestinian issue, the Council plays a peripheral but a very significant role. The Council, through its debates, keeps the spotlight on the Middle East. We sincerely hope that the negotiations between Palestine and Israel, renewed with the help of the United States, will lead to a genuine and result-oriented peace process.

The Council has made swift movement in launching a process for securing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons. We hope that the newfound goodwill between countries with influence in the region and the successful collaboration on the chemical weapons issue would pave the way for the Geneva-II Conference and enable it catalyze a political solution.

Mr. President,

Now let me turn to the issue of Security Council reform.

Pakistan fully associates itself with the statement made by Italy on behalf of the UfC.

While addressing this Assembly in September this year, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan said: “We need a reform that reflects the interests of all; not the ambitions of a few...The intended reform must plan for a dynamic future, not entrench or replicate historical patterns, based on prerogatives and privileges”.

Mr. President,

We oppose in principle the notion of new individual permanent members because it runs counter to the avowed objectives of transparency, democratization and inclusive decision-making. There should be no new centers of privilege.

Pakistan is a member of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) Group, which is one of the major stakeholders in the reform process. We also subscribe to the NAM and OIC positions. We will engage constructively with all sides to make progress on reform.

Within the confines of this approach, we have also expressed our respect and understanding for the African common position, the Ezulwini Consensus, which we see as a collective demand of the entire continent, a position based on consensus and legitimacy. This is fundamentally different from the individual pursuit of permanent membership by a few countries from other regions, which runs the risk of exacerbating divisions and tensions. The African position is a special case and should be treated as such.

We will continue to be supportive of Africa’s just cause for a greater role in the Security Council

Mr. President,

We need to explore the best ways of moving forward in the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN). At this stage, it is better to have clarity and common understanding, or the 'common ground' mentioned in your letter of yesterday. Decision 62/557 clearly spells out the framework and mandate of the IGN process; and sets the following parameters:

We are now into the sixth year of the IGN, a process that has swung between high expectations and frustrations.

The rationale for starting the negotiations was that no proposal for reform of the Security Council had been able to muster the required support in the General Assembly.

All member states and groups agreed to engage in a negotiating process to find a solution. Such an engagement would be useful only in an environment of flexibility. Without the readiness to meet halfway, progress was bound to be difficult. In the past five years, the IGN Chair has also made frequent calls for flexibility. This incidentally is the crux of your letter issued yesterday and your remarks made today.

Mr. President,

In comparative terms, let us look at the negotiating positions and postures of some groups.

The UfC has always been ready for negotiations and has demonstrated flexibility. It took the bold initiative to unilaterally shift from its initial position and come up with a revised proposal, the Italy-Colombia document. Our compromise proposal is an attempt to aggregate and reflect the interests of large, medium-sized and small states as well as regions. Ours is not a take-it-or-leave-it-proposal. It is subject to negotiations.

On the other hand, we see the G-4 sticking to their original position, while paradoxically asking others to be flexible. They would rather foist their position as a fait accompli.

For them, other reform issues are peripheral. Their position seems to be anchored in power politics. They seem to be saying that because of their political stature and economic prowess, they now qualify to have a special status at the United Nations; whereas other UN members do not. At times one gets the impression that they scuttle negotiations or press the Chair to produce documents that do not reflect wider interests.

I am afraid that in this process, the majority-minority calculus would not work. We cannot precipitate decisions by mounting political pressure before important anniversaries. And there are no procedural shortcuts.

In all sincerity, last year the IGN Chair sought approval of the general membership to produce a short document to serve as a basis for negotiations. But since this would have been contrary to the comprehensive and member-states-driven nature of the IGN process, the Chair was not given this mandate.

Mr. President,

We have immense respect for you because of your high standing and professional qualities. You have been unanimously elected by the entire membership. You have our support for the entire spectrum of issues on the agenda of the General Assembly. We respect your prerogative to seek advice and consult.

We were, however, dismayed when we received your communication of 22 October 2013. The UfC has responded to your letter along the following lines:

Mr. President,

As stated by Italy on behalf of the UfC, we do not recognize the advisory group as entitled to perform any drafting role on behalf of other member states or imposing any kind of negotiating text. This would run counter to the membership-driven nature of the process.

Privately, you have conveyed to us, and you have also reiterated today, that you have not authorized the advisory group to draft a resolution or a document that would serve as a basis for negotiations. Your assurance on record should quash the misperception created by the earlier communication. However, misinterpretations persist, as we have also heard today by some, who have shared their understanding and perception that the Advisory Group created by you will in fact produce a concise text that would form the basis for negotiations. And a new new term - PGA's text - has been used.

Mr. President,

At this point, it is very important to have absolute clarity about the next steps in the reform process. Course correction is important to ensure transparency and inclusiveness and to pursue Security Council reform in full conformity with the IGN framework.

We remain confident that on your watch there would be no “cherry picking”, no slant towards one position or the other.

We deeply appreciate Ambassador Zahir Tanin's resolute efforts, as Chair of IGN process for the past five years.

It is important that we make progress. This is the time to build bridges and forge consensus. As President of the General Assembly and asa neutral and independent guardian of this process, you are best placed to play that role.

I thank you.