Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, at the General Assembly Plenary Debate on the ‘Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council’ (20 November 2018)

Madam President,

My delegation aligns itself with the statement delivered by Ambassador Zappia of Italy, on behalf of the UfC.

Madam President,

In your inaugural address to the 73rd session of the General Assembly, you invoked the Andean principle of ‘minga’ – a joining of ranks by the international community, to address the complex and interconnected challenges confronting the globe.

We heard an equally impassioned call for collective action by world leaders during the High Level week of the General Debate.

This firm commitment to international cooperation, based on mutual respect and shared benefit is the very essence of multilateralism; an outlook that prizes a spirit of flexibility and compromise to achieve the common good, as against unilateralist approaches that aim at achieving narrow self-serving interests.

As the foundation of a rules-based international order, it is imperative that the UN should remain fully imbued with these ideals – an organization that does not merely act on behalf of member states, but rather acts for them; one that not only embraces the spirit of our times, but also epitomize these values.

The contemporary reality is a ‘democratic’ reality - a credible UN is therefore, a representative UN, reflecting the interests and views of all member states - small, medium and large.

This is also a point of departure for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council; and serves as a guiding principle for my country and the UfC, in seeking a more democratic, representative, accountable, transparent and effective Council.

For us, the reform process is therefore, not an end in itself; it is also a true expression of our commitment to the fundamentals of multilateralism.

Madam President,

As the IGN process marks its ten years, it would be appropriate to reflect on the progress achieved thus far in relation to the goals that we have set forth – a democratic and representative Council that is in sync with the ever-changing and dynamic global landscape surrounding it.

Evidently, while there is consensus on expansion in the non-permanent category, fundamental questions persist on the very need or desirability of expansion in the permanent category.

The reasons for this are obvious.

New permanency is seen as nothing but an imitation of old permanency, for it seeks to address inherent dysfunctionalities of the Council stemming from permanent membership and the veto, by reinforcing instead of reforming them.

It also undermines the democratic and representative nature of the reform process; for it not only denies the larger membership their democratic right to hold Council members to account, in an environment where nearly a third of the membership have never served on the Council, an expansion in the permanent category at the cost of non-permanent members would significantly diminish prospects for many smaller states in particular, SIDS, to ever be elected to the Council.

Those who base their claim for permanent seats on the imperative to address contemporary realities in fact offer ‘fixed’ solutions to ‘transient’ situations.

The question of veto is another byproduct of permanence. If the Council cannot reconcile the interests of its five permanent members, how will it cope with the interest of a bigger membership and still be effective?

Madam President,

If progress is indeed to be made, we must debunk the fallacy that expansion in the permanent category is intrinsic to reform of the Security Council. Work and effectiveness of the Council is not a function of its composition, much less of its permanent members.

It is non-permanent members who have traditionally championed greater inclusiveness and transparency in the work of the Council, especially within the framework of its provisional rules of procedure.

It is also in the non-permanent category that the Council’s deficit of representation can be addressed. A solution that offers more seats to all the regions provides better opportunity for all member states, including cross-regional and sub-regional groups to serve on the Council.

This is why the UfC proposes a significant increase in the number of elected seats for all regional groupings, especially Africa.

It also sets into perspective our firm opposition to creation of new permanent seats, for fresh chains of inherited privilege would invariably threaten, not strengthen, norms of democracy, accountability and transparency in the Council.

Madam President,

What is required now to move this process forward is to identify our convergences, and to build on them. Finding common ground requires flexibility and compromise by all sides.

There are after all no procedural quick fixes to that can substitute for or sidestep the need to forge a consensus.

Unless we are willing to go that extra mile, progress will remain elusive.

The UfC has not only lived by these ideals but will continue to be guided by these in our engagement for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council, which takes into account the positions of all member states.

Anything less would be regression not reform.

After all, the burden of a large, unwieldy and inefficient Council confounded by an enlarged clique is an outcome that the international community neither seeks nor is it prepared to support.

I thank you.