New UN General Assembly President for action on Security Council reform

United Nations, Sep 14 (IANS) Expressing his commitment to Security Council reform, new General Assembly President Peter Thomson has called on the international community to move forward together in bringing about the change.

“The membership is unanimous in agreeing that reform is necessary to align the Security Council with the realities of the 21st century, not least of which will be the security consequences of climate change,” he said on Tuesday after taking the oath of office.

“The community as a whole must move forward together in resolving reform,” he said. “I am committed to facilitating this movement in the 71st session” of the Assembly which started on Tuesday.

Council reform is high on India’s UN agenda as it aspires to a permanent seat on the UN’s highest decision-making body.

The just-concluded assembly session that began in September picked up the reform agenda in earnest and held several sessions of Inter-governmental Negotiations (IGN), as the process is known, but it lost steam.

Now it is up to Thomson to give it another boost. “It’s called UN Security Council Reform, not UN ‘Security Council Do Nothing’,” he told the media after his swearing-in.

“There will be no surprises,” he said. “I will be consulting very widely on this as well as appointing leadership for the IGN process.”

The head of the IGN, Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg, is leaving the UN as her country’s permanent representative and Thomson will have to appoint her successor.

Council reform “is something where the whole membership (is invested in)”, Thomson said. “This is such an important issue for the house. The whole membership has to move forward together on this.”

Thomson recently visited New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

His predecessor Mogens Lykketoft told his concluding meeting of the assembly session: “If you are serious about reform, all key players including the permanent five (council members) have to change the script and be willing to compromise.

“The work this year, facilitated by Ambassador Lucas of Luxembourg and building on last year’s (negotiating) text and annex, points to a common understanding at least that we need an enlarged council — better reflecting the geopolitical realities of the 21st century,” Lykketoft said.

Earlier, at a news conference, Lykketoft said he felt personally impatient with the glacial pace of the reform negotiations, which he attributed to the need for a two-thirds majority in the assembly to amend the UN charter and the ratification by permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the US for changes to the council.

“Most people realise how much of a Catch 22 it is,” he said. “But what has happened over this year is still I think some small but important steps forward. (It’s) a realization that we need a Security Council reform so that the council at last better reflects the realities of the 21st century.”

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

–IANS

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