Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi at the Informal Meeting of the plenary on the Inter-Governmental Negotiations on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and other Matters related to the Council (29 January 2019)

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

Let me begin by congratulating you on your assumption as Co-Chairs of the IGN process during the 73rd session.

We also thank you for convening this first meeting of the IGN, today.

My delegation aligns itself with the statement delivered by the Deputy Foreign Minister of Italy on behalf of the UfC.

Co-Chairs,

In your letter of 18 January, you invited member states to share views on ways in which the work of the IGN can be taken forward during the current session.

This is a fundamental issue and goes to the very heart of our discussions within the IGN.

For the question of ‘how’ to make progress cannot be addressed without first determining ‘what’ we want to achieve from the reform process.

Do we want a Council that speaks to the needs and challenges of the 21st century, or a Council that remains wedded to the outdated dynamics of a bygone era?

Do we want a Council that represents the interests of all member states, or a Council where power and privilege is the preserve of a few?

Do we want a Council that embraces and embodies the spirit of our times, or one that systematically undermines the ideals of a more democratic, representative, accountable, transparent and efficient body?

In sum, do we really want to move forward, or wish to remain anchored to the past?

If we are indeed, committed to reform, are we prepared to forsake narrow self-serving interests in order to find common ground?

This is the essence of multilateralism. As the cornerstone of a rules-based international order, it is imperative that the UN should remain fully imbued with these ideals.

They should also serve as guiding principles for comprehensive reform of the Security Council.

Co-Chairs,

It is appropriate that the PGA, an ardent and consistent advocate of multilateral cooperation, was present with us, this morning.

We were privileged to listen to her articulate defense of multilateralism, based on mutual respect and shared benefit, during her recent visit to Pakistan. She has made an equally impassioned call, today.

It is time to put our words to action – the reform process is not merely an end in itself; it is also a true expression of our commitment to norms of multilateralism.

At stake is also the future of the UN. We must therefore be wise and forward looking in our choices.

Co-Chairs,

Much as every new beginning, this session of the IGN should also be occasion for hope and optimism.

But we must also be under no illusion generated by any misplaced expectations.

For we have already heard the expression of cynicism from some delegations about the slow pace of the reform process.

There have been efforts by some to delegitimize the IGN. This not only raises doubts over the integrity of the process, but also runs the risk of undermining gains that we have so painstakingly made over the years.

Tellingly, while they remain firmly wedded to their own positions, they liberally blame others for being inflexible.

Despite knowing fully well that fundamental divergences exist between respective positions, they continue to structure procedural solutions to substantive issues.

Some seek to turn the Chairs’ document of the last IGN, as a ‘text’ for negotiations – giving an elevated standing to a document whose status and ownership is strongly contested between member states. In addition, neither decision 72/557 (29 June 2018) nor previous GA decisions prioritize any particular document over the others.

Hence, there is nothing “settled” about this document as the basis of our discussion during the current session.

What is required is a meaningful dialogue by all sides to address their fundamental differences. The five clusters of issues are not check-lists of items that can be conveniently ticked and moved away. They outline fundamental aspects of the reform process, and must be dealt with in a comprehensive manner.

Artificial timelines cannot be placed to pace this endeavour. Nor can this process be reduced to a majority-minority calculus. After all, what we seek is the widest possible political acceptance by all member states.

This is not a precondition to stall the process; it is in fact, a prerequisite for making meaningful progress.

Co-Chairs,

We welcome your emphasis on steering the IGN in an ‘open, transparent and inclusive manner’. This is essential to ensure the integrity of the member-state driven reform process.

Moving forward, the need to present a clear roadmap for the process remains equally important. This plan of action should be outlined expeditiously.

In conclusion, Co-Chairs, it remains our earnest hope that this round of negotiations would see the triumph of collective good over the individual ambitions of a few member states.

What is required is a spirit of flexibility and compromise by all sides. The UfC has lived by these ideals – our proposal aims to take onboard the concerns and interests of all member states – small, medium and large.

We hope that others will also eschew their maximalist and unilateral approaches ostensibly to advance the process and show the flexibility that the PGA has also urged.

We look forward to working closely with you and the wider membership towards this end.

I thank you.