General Assembly General Assembly

Intervention made by Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative at an informal meeting of the Plenary on the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters to the Council on 2 February 2018




     While we discuss in a closed room,at times things that happen outside also have an impact on us.  As I was coming in earlier today, my young colleague, First Secretary Eenam Gambhir smilingly mentioned that today is Groundhog Day. Although I have not much knowledge of this Germanic tradition which has since been adopted in the US & Canada, I understand that Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who is considered a seer decides whether we are going to have a spring or  6 more long weeks of winter today.  Having seen the way both of you have conducted the meeting so far, maybe Punxsutawney Phil may not see his shadow and we may have spring, rather than long weeks of winter.  

2.  Why do I say that?  We have heard eloquent presentations and we heard Amb. Cardi mention that the UfC is flexible on the format.  That is a step forward for all of us.  We are grateful for that submission by the UfC of its position.  I understand from the discussions this morning that Punxsutawney Phil has predicted that there is going to be six more weeks of winter.  That said, I also understand only 43% of the time does he gets it right.  Let us hope spring is in the air.  

3.  In short, I have said in a convoluted manner that you have done a great job thus far.  I am just wondering if it was a coincidence that you chose this day, but I understand that the film Groundhog Day was released 25 years ago and we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of discussion on Security Council Reform.  If it occurs once, we treat it as coincidence, but twice cannot be by chance. Perhaps the stars have conspired this as a good omen for all of us. With this hope, let me try to respond to queries that you have raised.

4.  To commence with the easy queries - these relate to how would we see the outcome of the 70th session, 71st session and other documents merge together.  Unlike Amb. Sabri, I have not spent 35 years following this, but I have spent the last few years.  Looking at the documents of the previous three sessions, 69-71, we realise that Amb. Sylvie Lucas’s documentation paper has already been subsumed in great measure by the paper creatively produced last year by Ambs. Jinga and Amb. Khiari.  For example, the issues related to the relationship of the Council and the General Assembly already exist.  They are reflected in both the papers and much of the contents are reflected in the commonalities section which means that all of us here have agreed on those at least.

5.  On the other hand, there are some parts of the Lucas paper which are not in the commonalities section but they are very interesting and important parts but do not find reflection in the Jinga/Khiari paper.  For eg. Adopting of working methods of subsidiary organs of Security Council, this is something that Amb. Christian of Liechtenstein has been promoting for some time.  Also, there has not been a reference to the need for formal adoption of rules of procedure.  These are two important instances which figured in the paper of Amb. Sylvie Lucas but did not figure either in the commonalities section or under issues for further consideration section last year.  These are elements that could easily be mentioned under issues for further discussion when you work on a single document.  

6.  What do we do with Amb. Rattray’s framework document?  I think the discussion today seems to indicate that several delegations feel that their submissions are not reflected.  The language provided in Amb. Rattray’s Framework Document could be useful in this case.  For instance, the Italian PR, the Malta PR and the Mexican representative said that the UfC position was not being articulated and responded to.  We would like the UfC to come on board and put down their position as part of one document.  Some members articulated compared their position with other options, including the African position.  Let the membership decide - if that is a good choice, we all abide by it.   All of us have views and let everybody decide.  After all, all of us cannot decide or prejudge for others as to what is best for them.  In the market of ideas, let every proposal be put on an equal pedestal.  

7.  On the point about principles, those are reflected in great detail in Amb. Khiari and Amb Jinga’s paper and I quote: 

“The objective of the reform is to make the Council more ‘broadly representative, efficient and transparent and thus to enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions’, as stipulated by the ‘the World Summit Outcome Document’”.

And repeated again in the subsequent para as: 

“Member States consider that reform of the Security Council shall ‘ensure a transparent, efficient, effective and accountable functioning of the Council”.

8.  These are principles which are already in the commonalities section.  There are one or two other principles which were reflected in the Issues for Further Consideration segment and that was not because anybody opposed them; it was because they were not adequately discussed last time.  When we discuss the revised version of this paper, we can all discuss on all of these with the objective of having a more democratic Security Council.  The Amb. of Thailand made a brilliant suggestion that as part of a single document, this could be the objectives part of it.  All of us should discuss, put forth our views and acknowledge whatever we can accept and whatever we can reflect.  We do not see a problem in discussion and summation of principles as long as they are linked to concrete negotiations; we cannot discuss these in abstract terms.

9.  On your third query on interlinkages – one way is to use Amb. Rattray’s formulation where he has provided for some interlinkages.  I agree with the PR of Liechtenstein who said that it is very easy to highlight what the linkages are; it should not take much time to highlight what the linkages are.  All of us can focus on one document rather than be distracted with multiple documents.

10.  The last suggestion about African position.  My delegation fully supports reflection of the African position.  There are two ways of doing this.  One is we take the African position which is clear.  Amb. of Zambia provided details of every segment of African position.  We could take it, reflect those segments along with other options available. Alternately, if people have an issue in this, I hope the African Union will not be averse to it and   I plead with them to put forth their written submission as the basis for text based negotiations.  We could structure the text around the African position as the first step.  There are two choices, whichever we adopt, in both cases, the African position must be reflected.

11.  On other suggestions made today, here for the first time, I differ with a suggestion.  It was mentioned that when we do look at discussions, we also need to see the ability of a proposal as to whether it will be ratified or not.  As diplomats, we need to provide ourselves space.  We are working in a process where we are, as was told at the first step.   Let us not constrain our space in thinking about distant fears.  If that were the case, would we have had UNFCC today in place?  Or would the Rome Statute be in place if we went by this thinking. Would we have had ITLOS convention in place?  Each of these have had objections from the important members here.  But it did not at least circumscribe us at the beginning of the process to bring these fears right now.  Down the line, we can discuss this and we have the belief that important states with major stakes always decide wisely when making significant choices.

12.  On the last point on numbers for outcomes, I entirely agree with the Amb. of St. Vincent and Grenadines who said that there is no starting point in terms of minimum numbers required to start text based negotiations defined anywhere.  Legally, numbers are written into the end game and that is very clear.  Article 18 of the Charter provides for a number for the outcome of the General Assembly. This is 2/3rd of the members present and voting.  That said, I am not saying that that is the threshold.  I would like to pay tribute to great Italian maestro Amb. Fulci with whom Amb. Cardi worked in the 1990s.  Amb. Fulci produced a document, this was an Italian proposal, and that document was adopted by the General Assembly.  It is resolution 53/30.  That document raises the bar beyond Art. 18 of the Charter.  That document can be indicated as having the widest possible acceptance because if we change into numbers, that is the highest number ever provided in any GA document.  We cannot put arbitrary numbers beyond that.  If anyone has a definition of a threshold higher than that I would appreciate if they can provide a document to support their claim. I am only talking of numbers in response to those who asked for numbers.  This is an end game issue. Our view is we can deal with it in the end phase.  

13.  In this phase, there has never been an issue of co-chairs providing documents.  Your predecessors produced a document, and their predecessor produced a document, and her predecessor produced a document which was adopted by the GA. Then why cannot you produce a document that has not been an issue in this negotiating forum at least.  Every time, we have discussed the outcome products of efforts of the previous chairs and we hope that with Spring in the air, we will discuss the outcome of your efforts too. 

Thank you, Co-Chairs.