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 28 February 2018


Sitting here and listening to the discussion brings to mind an American aphorism - there are more ways than one to skin a cat. Now, English not being my mother tongue, I don’t know why anyone wants to skin a cat, and how skinning a cat one way is better than the other.  These are all nuances which perhaps English speakers can best explain, but to me, it seems that despite your following an Einsteinian logic, there seem to be as though we are coming across the validity of this age-old idiom. 


2.         That said, I would like to first of all thank you, two sages on the stage, for following the Einsteinian logic, being very predictable and following a pattern that you have set. Your set of questions is akin to dousing us with sort of a firehose from which we are asked to drink water.  There are so many good suggestions you have made and it is useful for us to absorb them and accept them and move forward.  I thank you for that.  We are all here sitting like guides on the side trying to give you suggestions, but you are the sages on the stage, we will go by your way of moving us forward.


3.         I would also support what our Italian colleague mentioned that perhaps, after the first day, if you could give some more time, it would perhaps be useful.  Maybe we have the discussions the next day afternoon or perhaps the day after in the morning to enable everyone to respond and we can continue in the afternoon, if required.  The logic that you are following at the end of the day of gathering your thoughts and disseminating questions is the right approach.  After all, if we are in negotiations, we need to be responsive to each other. 


4.         Coming to the questions/ issues that have been raised:


  • First, on structuring the paper and assist you in gaining greater clarity, I have not heard of any suggestions of an alternate model.  I did hear some saying that it is best to continue the present model, but no one has come up with an alternate model for ensuring clarity.  There will always be concerns of slight changes, but if there is no alternate model, this is a model which has been suggested.  It only builds upon what is already available and it brings clarity in terms of the cluster itself.  Our understanding is to focus on the clusters and that is the agreement in decision 62/557. There are five clusters.  Let us focus on the clusters and their interlinkages.  Suggestion 1 and suggestion 6 are about clusters and their interlinkages.  Our suggestion is if you have both the issues – Commonalities and Issues for Further Consideration listed together under each cluster by highlighting what are left in terms of issues for further consideration and what are the options available and also by attributing it, it will do two things – one is it may provide for greater clarity within the cluster and if you clearly state as to who said what in one cluster and another option in another cluster or a third cluster, the interlinkages become clearer in terms of clusters too.  Both intra-linkages within the cluster and inter-linkages across clusters are promoted by this option and I have not heard of a better option.  We are ready to be responsive if there is another better option.  Since there is none, why cannot we try this?  This is not the Bible, Gita or Quran that we cannot reverse it.  If it does not work, we can go back to an alternate model but let us try this as the only suggestion on the table.  That is my submission to the first question. 


  • I will come to principles a little later but let me respond to question 3.  We heard suggestions from L69 on specific elements which could be drawn from the Framework Document and that was b 29.  She also referred that there were other options available in 30, 31 and 32.  These are very interesting options because these are options of every modality on how the division among various regions in terms of allocations of seats.  We are hearing people talk about equitable representation amongst various regions.   Examining those alternative models would be useful.  We heard from our colleague from Italy outline this May a proposal of the UFC and the benefits in terms of  equitable geographical distribution of their model.  Let us go beyond the 69th and 70th sessions and put in the Italian model.  Let us be inclusive.  That is where I am moving to question 6.  Let us be inclusive, let us include the UFC model and let us put in what was available in Rattray document together.  We can debate thereafter.  It is time to address issues in an open manner, in an inclusive manner.  We stand ready to discuss every proposal.  If there are any other proposals or models of representation across regions, let them be put together in one document and let us all examine it.  This is an inclusive approach and does not leave out anybody, but it allows us all to discuss everything on the table.  It provides us of an approach of being respectful to every suggestion, including suggestions which we arenot comfortable with, but we can discuss them.  That is my response to 3 and 6.


  • Coming to question 5, the suggestion of whether Mexican-French proposal and ACT initiative should be discussed here or not.  It is very interesting that some want it and some do not want it.  That is understandable.  My view is ‘what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.’  We cannot say thatthe present permanent members are to be bound by a certain circumspection at best, but this will not apply if it is expanded.  Let me make it very clear.  My country has neither joined the ACT nor has supported the Mexican French proposal, thus far.  But I think it is fair to discuss these things.  We may have a different opinion and I will communicate that opinion when this comes up for discussion.  But not having a discussion is neither appropriate nor inclusive. I have one more suggestion to make.  As we are trying to bridge gaps between categories and the veto, it will be useful to look at issues of periodic review also in this context.  That is also interlinked with categories and other options.  It is useful to look at periodic review, whether we draw it from article 109 of the Charter or elsewhere, there are enough details available of what this would mean but it is useful to discuss this in the context of bridging different clusters. 


  • The last point is about the principles.  The story of the principles is a long one as has been enunciated by many before me.  I am particularly thankful to Guyana who drew our attention to the PGA who listed out 7 principles.  In the GA, these were adopted and agreed to by all.  As our colleague from Germany said, there are principles listed in the 2005 Outcome Document.  Now if there are other principles, thereis no harm in listing them.  Let us, maybe, begin like Africa said yesterday, with the first sentence being “Reform of the Security Council is committed to following the principles and purposes of the UN Charter”.  We are all committed to it.  Every principle has been listed.  If there is some principle and some feel that it is not listed, we are open to usinglanguage which has been agreed to before and listing it. 


5.         Having said that, the next point is, whether this needs to percolate to every level.  I understand the rationale for that.  But if we start this, the counter view would be, there are 7 principles already listed and which we have all agreed to in the process.  How many of us have followed that?  For eg. respect for each other’s proposals. Are we every time going to say, before any one talks, these are the principles, you are not following principle 1,2,3 and so on.  We have over the years imbibed these principles.  However, if some of  you feel that they need to be listed, sure they can be listed.  Following which, it is the responsibility of each delegation to imbibe them and follow them in their final decision making.  That is what it is all about.  All of us cloak every option of ours in principles. In fact, the problem that we faced yesterday is an interesting one.  Among the 50 speakers who spoke from very many countries, there was the African Group, Arab Group, CARICOM, L69 as well as many countries who suggested that expansion in both categories is their preferred option.  There was a representative from another group, maybe I heard wrong, who said expansion of permanent category with veto is an absurdity.  One group with more than 100 supporters, who have spoken in favour of the African common position, saying that this is what we want, this is our democratic aspiration, this is our desire and there is a small group of countries, I respect their position, saying that No, this is not so.  What happens next is for each member to decide which is democratic….is it all groups combined or that one group?  Each of us will make our own decision; it is not for us to keep pointing out every time that this is what you to follow.  We represent serious member states, we have imbibed these principles, we have agreed to them, we are ready to list them, we will take a final decision taking into account all our principles. 


6.         The problem actually is not that we have not listed all the principles.  It lies somewhere else. Latin is not my favourite language but there is a Latin phrase which says suum cuique. I understand it means ‘to each his own’. And perhaps that is the unsaid principle which all of us are following. That is not the principle which is written in the charter, that is the principle that is written into our thinking….suum cuique pulchrum est, which perhaps mean,‘to each his own is the most beautiful.’  I understand that logic.  Let us make that decision in internalizing the principles and deciding which principle should be given what weightage when we get to in our final decision making, rather than getting into a discussion on principles.  Because if suum cuique is valid and I understand its traces its origin to Plato, from Plato to Cicero to modern day, it has not changed.  Let us not try and rewrite history.  We are ordinary mortals. We can only work within our limits and let us try to work with respect to each other, rather than keeping on insisting that mine is the best and either it is my way or the high way.  We are ready to discuss every aspect, but respectful of each other and trying to accommodate.  If we do not agree, we agree to disagree and move further. Thank you.