Statement of Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the Informal Meeting of the UN General Assembly on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Related Matters
Russia welcomes the convening of the first informal meeting of the General Assembly in the framework of the 15th round of intergovernmental negotiations on the reform of the UN Security Council. Our commitment to achieve effects within the boundaries of the existing discussion format remains unchanged. The platform of intergovernmental negotiations has both a unique and universal legitimacy for the whole package of issues related to the reform. It has to be preserved. Any deviation might end up in ruining the whole negotiation architecture and driving the process for several years back. This is inadmissible.
We will not conceal that we are bothered about all the artificial excitement that is being whipped up around the negotiations that start today. We have always proceeded from the assumption that this reform is a game changer for the whole world. Its depth, its all-encompassing and complicated nature require painstaking and patient work, whereby the interests of a maximum number of states should be taken into account. It should not become a zero-some game. Otherwise all the benevolent intentions to make the Council more representative, more efficient, more democratic will turn to ashes.
We do not think that proposals to set up some time lines or to link the progress with some anniversaries or any other artificial alignments might serve as a magical formula to solve all the problems about this reform. Rather on the contrary: such callings bring about inflated expectations that result in inevitable disappointments.
Amidst remaining disagreements – some of them being fundamental – about the whole reform process, it is reckless to try to push the negotiations, to subordinate them to the interests of specific groups of countries or to fit them into the Procrustean bed of textual discussions, that can only lead to a dangerous high run of emotions. We have already faced this before and the effects were opposite to what we had hoped for. In this regard we see no other option but to carry on the calm and constructive work without setting improvised schedules, imposing predestined modalities and striving to solve the complex problem of the reform by ‘cavalry charge’.
Russia’s position is well known, but we would like to repeat it once again. And this is not a ‘reading off of prepared notes’, as some would say to us, but an attempt to reach the minds of those, who demand immediate decisions ‘here and now’ and who ignore both the extremely complicated nature of the existing questions and the remaining deep-rooted contradictions between various groups of countries. The latter can be easily proven today. Our point of reference is to make the Council more representative, but without prejudice to its promptitude and efficiency. The best representation of the renewed Council is low twenties.
We cannot agree with the assertions that the Security Council is ‘ineffective’. First of all, this is a far too peremptory statement. The Council takes a sufficient number of agreed decisions. Besides, there have always been contradictions in the Security Council, they have reflected – and they still do – the contradictions that are immanent to the world we live in. Finally, what are the guarantees, that the reformed Council will be knowingly better than it is now? Our task is, and this will not be easy, to develop such a formula for this reform, that would make the Council more representative, but without prejudice to its promptitude and efficiency.
We are a permanent member of the Security Council, we are present there nearly every day and we see, together with our colleagues, probably we see it even better than anyone else, that the Council is misbalanced. In the first place, the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America are underrepresented.
Negotiations should focus on looking for such a reform model, which would lift this misbalance and find the broadest possible support among the member-states, which exceeds three quarters of voices required to make a decision in the General Assembly. In an ideal scenario – by consensus.
The issue of the Security Council reform cannot be solved ‘arithmetically’ by holding votes on this or that model in order to get minimal results. Results, effected in such a way would not add to the authority of the Security Council in particular and of the UN at large. And it certainly would not serve the purpose of strengthening the global Organization.
Any ideas that would impair prerogatives of the current SC permanent members, including the veto right, are unacceptable for us. We have to remember: this institution is not just a ‘privilege’ or a ‘curse’, but a significant factor that inspires the Council member-states to look for balanced solutions.
Besides there is hardly someone who will doubt that nuclear states, SC permanent members that have this right, are especially responsible for maintaining international peace and security.
We believe that all the five aspects of the reform, as they are defined in the decision 62/557, should be discussed together, inseparable from one another. Any attempt to ‘tear out’ separate clusters threaten to blur the package approach that is fundamental to the negotiations.
We see the role of the President of the 73 session of the General Assembly and the role of co-facilitators of intergovernmental talks, distinguished Permanent Representatives of UAE and Luxemburg Lana Nusseibeh and Christian Brown in giving maximum assistance to the talks and providing ‘fair brokerage’ to the participants. Naturally, it should proceed with the understanding that the ‘property’ in this process remains with the member-states.
We often get to hear that many member-states are disappointed, because the intergovernmental talks do not proceed as fast as they would want to. We cannot agree, that over the recent years we failed to move forward – there is certain progress in our work, we have come to better understand the outline of possible compromise that would let not only extend the Security Council, but ensure its equitable geographical representation while not paralyzing its work. The alternative to this would be to ruin the intergovernmental negotiations, and de facto bring the process back where it had begun. We believe, this is the scenario that we want to avoid.