Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) – 10th Round Categories of Membership (13 March 2014)

Mr. Chairman,

Pakistan associates itself with the statement made by Ambassador Cardi of Italy on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus.

We thank you for convening IGN meetings this year and today's meeting on categories of membership. We express confidence in your leadership; but we know it is a tough balancing act for you as you try to remain fair, impartial and equidistant.

You have conveyed your expectations to us: a constructive debate, genuine flexibility, willingness to compromise, and a true spirit of give and take.

You have asked us to avoid repetition, which is a fair point, given the need to overcome the impasse. But we would not make progress if some members keep citing the wrong reasons for the deadlock.

Let's objectively look at the core problem.

Categories of membership, the topic for today, is not a self-standing issue. It is directly linked to the overall UN reform process. Unlike ECOSOC that underwent significant reform and expansion in its membership twice since 1945, the Security Council was enlarged only once, during the 1960s. While that reform was only about expansion in size, the UN membership, fully realizing that Security Council reform will not happen every now and then, consciously agreed and decided that this round of reform should be comprehensive to cover “equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council”.

More importantly, this round of reform is to lead us to transparency, inclusive and democratic decision-making, improved working methods, and restoration of the balance between the General Assembly and the Security Council. A reformed Council would be more effective and accountable.

The problem arises when a few countries try to foist their national ambitions on the reform agenda, and equate the universal demand for reform with their claim to permanent seats in the Council. They want reform, but only on their own terms.

This self-centric approach has polarized the membership, stymied the reform process, and blocked a possible compromise.

The UfC is opposed, in principle, to addition of new individual permanent members to the Council. We believe that the very concept of permanent seats runs contrary to the agreed reform objectives, which were so articulately put across by Italy earlier today. Adding 4 seats for 4 countries, and 4 seats for the rest of 184 countries may be astute politics, but not good mathematics. I am sorry this does not add up.

It is also not clear if the aspirants for permanent seats are holding dialogue with the P-5 or the general membership. If the general members are their intended interlocutors, they must be attentive and sensitive to their aspirations, in addition to theirs. They must listen to them.

There is no indication from the other set of their interlocutors - the P-5, including those who support expansion in both categories, that they are ready to share their privileged status with new members.

Mr Chairman,

There is a fundamental difference between the demand for individual membership, and a consensus-based regional demand for adequate representation such as by the African Union’s. Similarly, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab Group demand adequate representation in any future configuration of the Council.

The Council’s composition was conceived in a bygone era. There is a need now to reflect contemporary realities and imperatives of the future in the reform calculus. The realities of our times, however, do not translate into permanent seats for four or five countries. A significant number of countries – small, medium sized and large - have the will and the capacity to support the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security. What is more, they have been consistently making their contribution to the United Nations for the past several decades. Should they also demand permanent seats at the Security Council table because of their proven record and projected potential? These countries have said no to that option. But should these countries and the wider membership be ignored in the context of reform?

We should not entrench the outdated dispensation of 1945, but work out a modern, democratic and flexible system which is attuned to the present day realities and responsive to a dynamic future.

Years of debate has shown us that individual permanent membership is not a realistic option. In fact this demand is hampering reform.

Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s 2005 report In Larger Freedom, based on the recommendation of his High Level Panel, ruled out addition of new permanent members as they exist in the Charter. Instead, the Panel proposed two options: Model A, with a new kind of long-term seats without veto, euphemistically termed as “permanent”; and Model B, with 4-year-renewable-term seats.

In 2007, the 5 Facilitators appointed by the then President of the General Assembly, after extensive consultations, suggested an approach, which would enable all sides to explore and eventually accept a compromise that could command the support of widest possible majority of the UN membership. The options listed in the Facilitators’ Report excluded creation of new permanent members. A large majority was ready to work on the basis of that Report; but the aspirants for permanent membership rejected it.

The same group of countries has refused to engage in real negotiations ever since the launch of the IGN. While asking others for flexibility, they display none themselves. They insist on text-based negotiations but have given no indication that they are prepared for give-and-take and a compromise.

But the UfC has moved forward. The UfC was the first major group that responded to the new situation by unilaterally shifting from its original position and submitting to the IGN a fresh initiative - the Italy-Colombia Paper - in 2009. In addition to the regular non-permanent seats, the formula provides for long-term seats with the option of 3 to 5 year term, or the option of re-electable 2-year term seats for a maximum of 6 years. It proposes specific seats for small and medium-sized countries.

Many other countries recognized the opportunity offered by the IGN and expressed willingness to consider intermediate solutions since none of the original proposals on the table had the required support. Search for a compromise was in fact a new dynamic in the IGN.

That is evident from the Chair’s document Rev-II, which I must state, is the only agreed text on the table, and the only possible basis for our work during this round.

Of the various positions, and paragraphs, listed in Rev-II, an almost equal number relate to the following:

    • Positions that favour expansion in both categories
    • Those favouring expansion in non-permanent category or opposing expansion in the permanent category
    • Those acknowledging the need of reaching a compromise in the wake of serious differences

The only common strand in these positions is that all agree to expand the Security Council in the non-permanent category. Beyond this, the issue of categories remains divisive and controversial. Inter-linkage of this issue with other key issues including veto, regional representation, size, working methods and relationship with the General Assembly further complicates matters. Not all proposals for permanent category are similar. Some provide for veto; others do not. Some are based on the principle of regional representation and regional consensus; others pursue individual status, which serve neither the objectives of reform nor the interests of the wider membership.

The challenge is to set aside the original positions and explore a compromise solution through negotiations that are imbued withthe spirit of flexibility and give and take.

An inherent flaw in the case of permanent membership is that it is presented as a non-negotiable fait accompli even before negotiations commence. While we do talk of the two “categories” of membership, permanent members do not constitute a category per se. In the Charter, the permanent members are mentioned by name, and have special privileges and powers, including in decision-making, namely, veto. There are no listed criteria for their membership. They are there forever, in perpetuity. There is no way to remove them except with their own consent, which is highly unlikely. While we did not have a say in 1945, we cannot, and we should not, now anoint new permanent members. That would be a mistake.

“Non-permanent” is the only “category” which has attributes that can be discussed, negotiated and realistically modified. That is where lie the opportunities for innovation, flexibility and compromise. Only this category provides us with the space to work with models of different size, while ensuring equitable representation for the wider membership, including regional and other groups. This category allows us to explore an intermediate approach that may involve the creation of additional regular non-permanent seats and new seats of longer than two-year duration, through extended terms, immediate re-election and their various combinations. Through such a composition, we can maximize fair and equitable representation for all UN member states, through periodic elections and rotation, without discrimination and in accordance with the principle of sovereign equality.

Mr. Chairman,

We reiterate our openness to discuss the various intermediate options derived from the non-permanent category. With the Italy-Colombia proposal, we threw down the gauntlet a long time back. Despite its eminent merit, we do not say that this proposal is cast in stone. It is not a take-it-or- leave it proposal. It is open to negotiations. We are eager to see if others are ready to step up to the plate.

I thank you.