Pakistan says aspirants for permanent Security Council seats main obstacle in reform of UN body

New York, 31 January, 2019

Pakistan has criticized a bid by the aspirants of permanent seats on the UN Security Council to scuttle the ongoing process aimed at restructuring the 15-member body because of the failure to accomplish its goals, and called on them to instead "review their own positions" that are responsible for the stalemate.

"We believe that the quest by some to gain permanent seats for themselves remains the primary stumbling block," Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, said Wednesday in the course of discussions in the Inter-governmental Negotiations (IGN) aimed at making the Security Council more efficient and representative.

She was reacting to the questioning of the IGN process by the Group of Four -- India, Brazil, Germany and Japan -- because of lack any progress towards reforming the Council.

"Those calling for a review of the IGN process, should instead review their own positions," Ambassador Lodhi said.

"We should not risk undermining the painstaking progress made within the IGN, just to advance the narrow interests of a few members states," she added.

Holding the IGN process for failing to produce results was like an attempt to blame the ‘storm’ on the ‘ship’, she said.

"As the ship of the IGN finds itself afflicted by deep divisions among member states, their suggestion is to abandon it, altogether. What we need is not to abandon ship, but instead, to join our sails to weather the storm – indeed, to ensure we remain on an IGN-centric course to make progress."

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

Despite a general agreement on enlarging the Council, as part of the UN reform process, member states remain sharply divided over the details.

The Group of Four has shown no flexibility in their campaign to expand the Security Council by 10 seats, with 6 additional permanent and four non-permanent members.

On the other hand, the Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group maintains that additional permanent members will not make the Security Council more effective and also undermine the fundamental principle of democracy that is based on periodic elections.

The Security Council is currently composed of five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- and 10 non-permanent members.

Ambassador Lodhi stressed the need to have more extensive discussions on the clusters of regional representation, categories of membership and the question of the veto. "All the more so, as positions on these issues are not only widely divergent, they are also deeply entrenched."

She said the onus of making the Security Council more democratic, representative, accountable, transparent and efficient was on member states.

"This is also an ideal that will make the UN ‘fit for purpose’ to confront the challenges of tomorrow," the Pakistani envoy said.

"After all, the UN will be as strong or as weak as we, the member states, wish it to be."