Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, on at the Interactive Session of the IGN (June 7, 2018)

Co-Chairs,

We welcome the opportunity to reflect on ways to advance the IGN process during this interactive session. While sharing our perspective on the way forward, I will also respond to some of comments made from the floor, yesterday.

It is axiomatic that reform of the Security Council is fundamentally different than any other reform process in the UN. It involves the strategic interests of member states. By its very nature, the process entails that the views and interests of all member states are taken on board. This is not a partisan assessment but an essential condition for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council.

The process is too important to be artificially paced. Nor can progress be measured by any arbitrary timeline or achieved by any procedural maneuver.

Let me also say, metaphors apart, what we have here is an intensely serious issue, one that will eventually -whenever agreement is reached -entail an amendment in the UN Charter. This is not a football match or even cricket. This is a serious multilateral process and should be treated as such. Anything less trivializes this process.

This has to be a win-win process, from which everyone should gain.

Co-Chairs,

While we share a sense of exasperation, often expressed at the slow pace of reform, we do not agree with the assessment that the IGN has only served as a platform for consultations without making any meaningful contribution to the reform process. In fact, we don’t have to look beyond the progress achieved in the Working Methods of the Council, to appreciate a clear and tangible imprint of the IGN on Council reform.

At the same time, progress has proven to be much more elusive in others areas of reform. Your paper offers an illustrative insight. We can see that the sharpest divergences exist on issues associated with the perpetuation of entrenched ‘privilege’ like categories of membership and the question of veto.

These differences in fact mean that the membership can only agree to disagree, even on ‘commonalities’. Further, several elements of convergence only point to certain broad guiding principles, as for example, the imperative to ensure a ‘balance’ between representativeness and effectiveness in an enlarged Council, without providing any agreed understanding about them.

Co-Chairs,

Now, if this situation does not impel the need for further discussions, then what does?

It is equally important to recognize that we are not operating in a vacuum. We need a common reference point. For unless we know where we are going, any road will take us there. And none of us wants to take this road to nowhere.

A ‘text’ can be that point of convergence, but we have to reach that stage. We cannot hope to be miraculously transposed there.

Our discussions during the current IGN have shown that we are nowhere close.

We cannot even agree to the status of a document. There are clearly contrary interpretations of its status.

In any case, we are not convinced that lack of progress can be attributed to the absence of a ‘text’ – in fact, we have had texts in the past, including Rev.2 and the Framework document, but they could not take us forward.

The reason is obvious, because differences persist on fundamental aspects of the reform process. This then raises the question: how can we move forward?

We believe, we can do so by identifying our convergences, and building on them. There is consensus on expansion in the non-permanent category of seats. The UfC has gone a step further, by proposing longer term non-permanent seats as a ‘compromise’ solution.

A compromise, by definition, is less than ideal, but then, perfect should not be the enemy of the good, especially when the ‘good’ is the only possible solution.

This entails a spirit of flexibility and compromise by all sides.

Unless we are willing to go that extra mile, progress will remain elusive. While the UfC has lived by these ideals, we have yet to see that spirit matched by some other negotiating groups. We do not, therefore, consider any ‘value addition’ to the process by extending the IGN beyond its last meeting, today.

We also lend our voice in support of calls for a procedural rollover decision, to continue our discussions during the next session of the General Assembly.

We have closely followed the discussion on means to strengthen the working practice of the IGN, including through enhancing its institutional memory.

This is not merely a matter of procedure; it has a direct bearing on the conduct of the IGN process.

As an area of interest to all member states, our continued engagement will be important to reach a broad convergence of view.

Co-Chairs,

Yesterday, some of my distinguished colleagues considered the UfC position to be opposed to the African aspiration to membership in the Security Council.

Let me again set the record straight. We fully acknowledge the Common African Position that is emblematic of the legitimate African aspiration to play its rightful role on the global stage. This is inherently different from the narrow national ambitions of some member states.

As the African Union will determine its own representation on the Council, we can logically expect that those representing Africa will be guided by common positions, emanating from the African Union.

We look forward to continue our engagement with Africa over this consensus-based model of representation that prioritizes collective good over individual interest.

As for the UfC, we do not stand against any position - we stand for a principle – the principle of a more democratic, representative, accountable, transparent and efficient Council.

This is an ideal that we all espouse. This is also an ideal that will make the UN ‘fit for purpose’ to confront the challenges of tomorrow.

The onus is collectively on us. After all, the UN will be as strong or as weak as we, the member states, wish it to be.

We cannot and should not fail this test.