India lashes out against countries preventing ‘concrete outcome’ on UNSC reform

With the Security Council paralysed during the Ukraine crisis impacting nations around the world, India on Thursday lashed out against those manipulating the Council reform process “to prevent any concrete outcome”.

Some countries are ensuring that Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) process for reforming the Council is “not being used to enable real negotiations, but to prevent any concrete outcome”, India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj told the General Assembly session on the reforms.

“The longer the Security Council reform is stalled, the greater its deficit in representation,” she said, “and representation is – an inescapable precondition for its legitimacy and effectiveness”.

Speaking on behalf of the G4, the group that includes Brazil, Germany and Japan, she called for the adoption of a negotiating text essential for the discussions on reforms to proceed.

“We all have a collective responsibility to ensure that the IGN live up to its original mandate, in which real negotiations on the basis of a text will pave the way for the early reform of the Security Council called for more than 17 years ago,” she said.

Several countries backed the immediate adoption of a negotiating text that lays out the positions of various nations on reforms so that they could negotiate on their differences and come to an agreement.

A group of 13 countries that includes Italy and Pakistan have blocked the adoption of a negotiating text, unless there is a consensus, although a consensus cannot be reached without meaningful discussions which require a basic document.

“The very purpose of its creation fourteen years ago – to launch actual negotiations – is being voided by the lack of activity, by the absence of a negotiating text and by the unwillingness of some to truly engage in substantive discussions,” the Indian representative said.

General Assembly President Csaba Korosi said of the blocking of the negotiating text, “One of the principles applied to the IGN during recent years was that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed'”.

“Would you like to follow the same principle or prefer another methodology?” he asked.

Kamboj said the IGN should come of the shadows by making the process transparent through webcasting it, keeping records of the proceedings, and following the General Assembly procedures.

“We simply cannot allow the IGN process to cocoon itself in perpetuity without letting collective aspirations of the member states to take a definite shape,” she said.

The paralysis of the Council, the UN’s highest decision-making body that is charged with taking action to end conflicts and ensure international peace, has brought a sense of urgency to the reform process.

Amid the myriad crises facing the world, “the Security Council – the main guarantor of international peace and security – has remained blocked, unable to fully carry out its mandate”, Korosi said.

“Growing numbers are now demanding its reform,” he said.

He noted that at the Assembly’s High-Level Week in September, “one-third of world leaders underscored the urgent need to reform the Council – more than double the number in 2021”.

“A choice is at hand: does the Assembly continue its annual repetition of well-known positions – or, moved by these crises, does it swing into action to find common ground and achieve breakthroughs?” he asked.

Korosi, recognising the impetus for reforms, has convened the Assembly session on reforms and appointed co-chairs of the IGN – Permanent Representatives Tareq M.A.M. Albanai of Kuwait and Michal Mlynar of Slovakia – earlier in the term of the Assembly than in many earlier sessions.

Sierra Leone’s Permanent Representative Fanday Turay underlined the need for text-based negotiations saying that an “elements paper” prepared at the least session outlining the positions of countries should be the groundwork for a negotiating text.

Representing the 55 countries of Africa, he said that to make up for the injustice of shutting out the continent in permanent membership, it should be given two permanent seats to ensure the region has an “equal say in matters on international peace”, especially matters affecting Africa.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Permanent Representative Inga Rhonda King speaking on behalf of the L.69 group of 29 developing countries that includes India, talked of a “toxic web” blocking the reform process.

She said that it was imperative to adopt a negotiating text to move the IGN forward.

Olivier Maes, the Permanent Representative of Luxembourg, speaking also on behalf of also the Netherlands and Belgium, backed the adoption of a negotiating text.

China’s Permanent Representative Zhang Jun opposed the adoption of negotiating text or setting a timetable for reforms warning that it will lead to “conflicts” and even “derail the process”.

He launched barbs aimed at India saying that some countries had their own agenda for reforms, seeking permanent membership to enhance their international standing.

He also attacked, without naming it, a suggestion made by India to seek an alternative venue for pursuing reforms if the IGN was unable to act.

Britain’s Permanent Representative Barbara Woodward reiterated her country’s support for India gaining a permanent seat on a reformed Council.

She said text-based negotiations would help speed up the reform process.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in and followed at @arulouis)

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