Statement by H.E. Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group
On behalf of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group, I wish to thank you for convening this second meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform, focusing on three reform clusters: "categories of membership,” “the question of the veto,” and “regional representation.”
We are confident that our discussions of the three clusters not included in Ambassador Lucas’s paper will encourage the membership to continue last year’s work toward finding new elements of convergence that will help us achieve a consensual reform.
The issue of “categories of membership” requires preliminary clarification. In particular: how many and which categories do we envisage in a reformed Council? We believe the answer lies in the UN Charter. There are only two categories of membership: permanent and non-permanent. Article 23 of the Charter identifies permanent members by name, while indicating that non-permanent members need to be elected.
Elections and rotation are the key-factors. A non-permanent member, even a non-permanent member with a longer term, is still non-permanent. By the same token, a permanent member – with or without the veto, or with a suspended veto – is still permanent.
The UfC supports an expansion of the Council only in the non-permanent category, which automatically precludes the question of extending the veto to new permanent members.
On the question of existing veto power, while it would be ideal to consider abolishing it, we recognize the need to take a gradual and pragmatic approach. Thus, our negotiations should address how best to limit the use of veto. Along these lines, the French-Mexican initiative and the Code of Conduct put forward by the ACT group deserve our full attention. Many Member States have openly supported both initiatives.
The new Security Council we have in mind could number up to 26 seats, by adding eleven non-permanent members, for a total of twenty-one elected members. Nine of these additional eleven seats would have a longer term, and be assigned to regional groups, to ensure more balanced and equitable representation, mainly of the developing world. At the same time, Eastern European countries would be guaranteed increased representation in the Council. The UfC also supports the creation of an additional rotating seat for SIDS and Small States.
This formula would also assure increased and more regular representation to other Member States’ groupings. Let me explain: if more seats are available to regional groups, it will become easier and more feasible to ensure representation for cross-regional groups, such as the Arab Countries.
All twenty-one non-permanent members envisaged by UfC – whether two-year or longer-term – will be elected to the Council based upon their specified tenures. This is the essence of the democratic reform in which we believe: assuring the membership the opportunity to decide the composition of the Security Council on a regular basis and, at the same time, assuring all Member States greater possibilities to run for a non-permanent seat.
Fairer regional representation means that all regions should be represented in a more equitable manner, and that Council members – “the representatives” – should be more accountable to the UN membership – “the represented.” But enhancing regional representation cannot be achieved by expanding permanent membership. Such a move would serve no other purpose but to make the Council less accountable and diminish the opportunities for other countries in the same region to serve on the Council . Any new seats being sought on behalf of a region must remain available to all members of that regional group.
The Charter makes no reference to regional or equitable representation in its definition of the permanent members. For the non-permanent category, on the other hand, explicit mention is made in Article 23 of elections and geographical distribution as characteristics of “equitable representation.”
This is how we envision a modern reform of the Security Council, centered on new elective non-permanent seats. A reform that would enhance rather than undermine the Council’s democratic nature, accountability and effectiveness. This is the reform that UfC advocates, reflecting the reality of the twenty-first century, which is firmly grounded in the principles of democracy and accountability.
In response to Member States who support an increase in permanent members, one might argue that our differences are conceptual, rooted in how we define the meaning of a “more representative” Council. For the UfC, a more representative Council means much more than the general idea of enlarging its membership. This is why we have called for a discussion of the substantial principles underlying Security Council reform.
We heed your call for political will and spirit of compromise to move this process forward. The same will that led the UfC group to adjust its original position based on the sole expansion of two-year non-permanent seats and to show openness towards a compromise approach based on longer-term seats.
This is the approach that the UfC advocates for the sake of identifying an equitable formula, a win-win solution, that would pave the way for the reform we have been striving to achieve for too many years.
The UfC Countries are ready to engage with other negotiating groups willing to show the same flexibility and to search for a compromise solution that will finally unlock this reform process.