Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at the Informal meeting of the UN GA plenary on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Council
Distinguished Mr. Co-facilitator,
We appreciate the convening of this informal plenary session of the UN General Assembly on the question of regional representation, membership and the right to veto.
It is an established fact, that Russia supports the increase of representation of the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America in the Security Council. These are parts of the globe where the majority of the Earth’s population lives, and the Security Council should reflect this. Specifically, I would like to emphasize that we have to right the historical wrong regarding the African continent, the representation of which in the Council reflects neither the modern role of the continent in the global affairs, nor the total number of African states. This is a particularly urgent issue, given that the majority of items on the Council’s agenda have to do with Africa.
Everyone who keeps track of the UN SC activities can clearly see that the mechanism is misbalanced in favor of Western countries. In particular, one third of the Council’s members accounts for the European Union, which is basically a relatively small group of countries. It is not even about the population of the European Union, which is only one third of Africa’s population in size (by 2030 this gap is expected to grow). It is about similar positions of the members of this union and their similar tasks to implement joint policy and speak in “one voice”. Here comes a reasonable question: What would the increase in the representation of the EU and the countries of the “historical West” add to the Council? I doubt that it would add diversity that everyone advocates. Therefore, our principal position is to level up the “profile” of developing countries in the Council, because they support the approaches that reflect interests and aspirations of the largest part of the Earth’s population.
However, we reiterate that in any event the Council should remain compact. Otherwise, the efficiency and promptness would be impaired. In this regard, we have taken notice of several reform models, some of them have been repeatedly proposed today, that do not correspond to these logical criteria. We are convinced, that the reasonable “membership ceiling” for the Council is low twenties.
As for the membership categories, this topic is the most contentious issue on the reform agenda. So far, none of the proposed formulae received the support of the majority of UN Member States. Quite reputable and influential countries took opposing sides. Our firm opinion is as follows: even if we fail to reach a consensus (though it would be preferable), it would be politically reasonable to ensure support of more Member States than the formal two thirds of votes that is usually required.
The modalities of expanding permanent membership in the Council are still obscure, that is why we urge you to have a closer look at the “interim model” with an extended presence at the Security Council lasting for more than 2 years. If this idea was implemented, it would satisfy the ambitions of powerful and reputable countries who wish to stay in the Security Council for more than two years. It would also be a compromise in a situation where the positions of the two major groups of countries regarding all membership categories stand in direct contrast: one group would accept extending the Council, the other would not.
We draw attention to the fact that some delegations continue their exercise in rhetoric on an advantageous – as they believe – political topic and suggest that the Council’s Permanent Member States should either voluntarily restrict their veto right or abandon it for good. In this regard, I highlight, that for Permanent Members veto right is a great responsibility rather than a prerogative.
The veto institution has long been the core element of the UN checks and balances system, but not only that. It is also central to the mechanism of collective decisions; it is the element that encourages the Member States to search for compromise. Veto right is the “cornerstone” of the UN architecture. Take it away – and the whole construction would lose its balance. Security Council would turn to a body that churns out decisions, based on questionable or imposed political stance in the global affairs. This stance does not always respect the legitimate interests of all the Member States. Finally, the consent of all the Permanent Members significantly increases chances to address the implementation of new decisions of the Council with due responsibility.
We are encouraged by the commitment of Co-facilitators to base their work on UNGA resolutions 62/557 and 72/557 that enjoy full support of the Member States. At the same time we would like to reiterate the need to stick to the “package approach” when it comes to reforming the Security Council. This approach entails the principle: “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. Compliance with this principle is key to success in our further work.
Thank you for your attention