Pakistan urges fairer representation in reformed Security Council

New York, 28 March, 2018

At the UN, Pakistan called for equitable representation on the Security Council by adding more elected seats to the top UN body.

Speaking in the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi said that equitable ‘representation’ has been the primary impulse behind all Security Council reform efforts, and its importance cannot be over-stated.

“In 1945, the Security Council represented 20% of the membership of the UN; today, it represents 8% of the membership”, she asserted, also pointing out that nearly a third of the membership has never served on the Council.

The Security Council is currently composed of five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, and 10 non-permanent members that are elected in groups of five to two-year terms.

Full-scale negotiations to restructure the Security Council began in the General Assembly in February 2009 on five key areas — categories of membership, the question of veto, regional representation, size of an enlarged Council, and working methods of the body and its relationship with the 193-member Assembly.

Arguing that representativeness and accountability were two sides of the same coin, she said, the greater the accountability, the better the representativeness and added that one cannot co-exist without the other.

“Applied in the context of the Security Council, it is evident that these conditions cannot be met by an expansion in the permanent category”, she stressed. “This is acknowledged by UN charter itself, wherein permanent members are identified by name without creating any pretense of regional or equitable distribution”, she argued.

Criticizing the Group of Four position, who seek permanent seats in the 15-member Council, Ambassador Lodhi said, “Without prejudice to the Common African Position for representation on behalf of an entire region, we are at a loss to understand how proposals that seek to promote the national aspirations of some member states, can enhance the representative nature of the Security Council, when the region in question, has neither bestowed that privilege on them, nor does it enjoy the right to hold them to account”.

On the other hand, she said, it is the non-permanent category where the elements of equitable representation are embedded; elections and geographical distribution in article 23(1), and a specific term with rotation in article 23(2). Separate these two articles and the concept of representation goes out of the window, she said.

Despite a general agreement on enlarging the Council, as part of the UN reform process, member states remain sharply divided over the details. Known as the “Group of Four” — India, Brazil, Germany and Japan — have shown no flexibility in their campaign for expanding the Security Council by 10 seats, with 6 additional permanent and four non-permanent members. On the other hand, Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group opposes any additional permanent members. As a compromise, UfC has proposed a new category of members — not permanent members — with longer duration in terms and a possibility to get re-elected once.

Ambassador Lodhi concluded by expressing Pakistan’s commitment to constructive and meaningful engagement in carrying forward this process. But, she said, the process itself has to be a membership-driven one. She urged the chair to ensure that the process remains on a consensual and inclusive path to achieve the progress everyone wants to see.