General Assembly General Assembly

 

 

Co-Chairs,

      Thank you. Let me begin by saying it is a pleasure to welcome you as you begin your stewardship as Co-Chairs of this forum. We congratulate you for in a spirit of understanding that you have ventured to initiate a dialogue with all Member States as to where we are and what needs to be done.  

2.     In many ways what your endeavoring to do  reflects the essence of multilateralism and perhaps one can sum it up in a Latin phrase which goes as follows - “nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit” – “No mortal is wise at all times”. We, therefore, welcome your effort at ascertaining all views, before you proceed further, because here in this room we are all mortals. We may be wise on some occasions and on some other times there will be shortcomings, if we believe in the validity of the dictum that no mortal is wise at all times.  

3.    Let me also thank the President of the General Assembly for his statement earlier today demonstrating his commitment to strive for a credible process. 

4.    We align ourselves with the Statement made by the Permanent Representative of St. Vincent & the Grenadines on behalf of the L.69 and the Permanent Representative of Germany on behalf of the G-4. I would like to highlight a few additional issues in my national capacity.  
  
Co-Chairs,

5.    Your letter of January 18th, inviting us to reflect on our activities, comes at a time when we are in the 25th year of the consideration of this agenda item by the GA on a regular basis.  We are also entering the 10th year of the IGN process. 

6.    As I look around this hall, I see generations of diplomats who have been engaged in this process over the years, and a few like me who are now re-engaged in this process in new avatars. Yet the process has continued.  Also, as the PGA has just said, this issue has been in the minds of our leaders.  Looking again around the room, I notice that at least three of the groups involved in this process - C-10, CARICOM and G 4 - have met at the Summit level in the past and repeatedly asked for an early reform. The African Union has addressed this issue many a time at the summit level. We have the World Summit Outcome of 2005 for those who need to be reminded of the vision of the reformed Security Council that all our Heads of States & Government had agreed to. I recall all these so that we could acknowledge that there has been no shortcoming in terms of interest or efforts to achieve progress on this issue. 

7.    That begs several questions - why have we not made satisfactory progress if all are agreed on the need for reform?  What is it that we can do now that will enable progress towards the goal of reform of the Security Council? What is it that hasn’t been discussed? What is it that can open the magical door for negotiations or what is it that can bring momentum into our work?  
Co-Chairs,

8.    The answers to these questions are rather indirect and do need a reflective approach to our work. I can well understand that we are permeated by a feeling of “path dependency”. The path that we have adopted is of articulating positions, at times clarifying them, and orally responding to views. Even in the 10th year of the IGN, we have yet to have a normal negotiation process. What does one mean by a normal process? A normal process in every other room in this building entails an initial articulation of views, followed by written documentation, which is the basis for negotiations that are carried forward from one meeting to another, perhaps one session to another. The lack of a rolling document is the bane of our current process. 

Co-Chairs,

9.    As decided by you, I will focus on taking forward decision 71/553 as referred to in your letter as the basis of further progress. 

10.    In this decision, we have three documents/papers which are referenced in the decision 71/553, which are the outcome of discussions between the member states on all five clusters. We have with us a collation of the positions of all groups and countries in the Framework Document, prepared very creatively by the then Chairperson Amb. Courtenay Ratray, in 2015. Subsequently, we discussed at length in 2016 & 2017, issues in all five clusters under the stewardship of Amb. Sylvie Lucas and Ambs. Khalid Khiari & Amb. Ion Jinga. We have also engaged in discussion of the linkages of various issues and have a paper on the commonalities and issues for further consideration, prepared innovatively last year by your distinguished predecessors. 

11.    It is, therefore, clear that Co-Chairs have produced documents & papers in each of the last 3 sessions and we have engaged in discussion on the documentation submitted to us. 

12.    Going forward, we desire that you build on these documents, rather than begin an entirely new approach. 

13.    It is not our case that the document that you prepare needs to have only one option. It can have, in every cluster, every option that can be distilled. Such a document will provide clarity to where we stand, what are the options, who is proposing what & what are the interlinkages. Documenting positions in a holistic and transparent manner is what we seek from you as the way forward.  

14.    Yes, one can say that the last paper that we discussed had some shortcomings. For example, it did not reflect the African desire to specify the common African position. This can and must be rectified. Africa’s desire for addressing the historical injustice due to lack of representation in the permanent category needs to be documented and reflected.

15.    There are others who may feel that certain principles have not been mentioned. Yes, the document that you present needs to reflect principles that some delegation or the other find important to reflect as an option for others to consider.  While none can object to it, none can also ask that my submission of principles should be discussed first and then only rest follows.  The first principle of multilateralism is equality.  What we are suggesting is equal opportunities for everybody to present their options in a document.  What we would request is an -
 
•    An inclusive and holistic document for our transparent consideration so that we can involve in negotiations on it. 
 
•    What we seek is continuity in terms of building on available documentation and a change in terms of style, so as to focus on negotiating the rolling document.

•    We seek a structured format of a single document that can be negotiated, one issue at a time, with the usual understanding that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed to.  

16.    It is possible that we may hear some cynical voices say that a document will not ensure progress. Those advocating this have not explained why is it that something which works in every process at the UN, and is the modus operandi of multilateral diplomacy, will not work in this process. Also, when everything else has been tried, the possibility of this option working is now not merely a choice anymore, it is a necessity. 

17.    One of the leading statesmen of our times once said that cynicism didn’t put a man on the moon, cynicism has never won a war, or cured a disease, or built a business, or fed a young mind; Cynicism is a choice. And hope will always be a better choice.  The 164 member states, who have joined hands in the call for text based negotiations, have opted for hope as the better choice. 

Co-Chairs,

18.    Opposition to a certain position is normal and indeed democratic; opposition to normalizing the process is not. Allowing drift in terms of normalizing the process endangers the legitimacy and credibility of this mechanism and the General Assembly itself. We cannot any longer be seen as not having a normal process even as all other aspects of UN reform, launched much later, move towards fruition. We cannot do so even as the Secretary General often says that “No reform of the UN would be complete without Security Council reform.”  A piecemeal reform effort, in our view, is neither adequate nor sustainable.

19.    We, therefore, invite you the Co-Chairs, to facilitate from the next meeting onwards, a normal process based on an inclusive and holistic document that enables us to structure our negotiations transparently in a rolling document with the goal of early reform.

Thank you, Co-Chairs.