29th Plenary Meeting - General Assembly 75th Session

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17-Nov-2020 01:08:34
Delegates call for veto power limits, more permanent seats for Africa, as General Assembly concludes debate on Security Council reform.

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The General Assembly concluded its debate on Security Council reform today, with delegates calling for limits on the use of the veto by its permanent members and improved geographical distribution, particularly for Africa, on the 15‑member organ tasked with upholding international peace and security.

Namibia’s delegate echoed long‑standing appeals for Africa to have no fewer than two permanent and five non‑permanent seats in what would become a 26‑seat Council. “Indeed, it is time that the reform process addresses the obstacles caused by the imbalance resulting from the determination by some to preserve their entrenched self‑interests,” he said.

Senegal’s representative, warning against half‑baked measures, emphasized that Africa is the only continent without a permanent seat, yet it accounts for most of the issues on the Council’s agenda. Moreover, the Council must be as efficient as possible so that its decisions have legitimacy and are effectively implemented.

Ukraine’s delegate emphasized that comprehensive Council reform must address the question of the veto, given how permanent members, including the Russian Federation, have wielded that power in breach of their obligation to maintain international peace and security. As such, he called for phasing out the veto as well as immediate initiatives to limit its use, especially in situations of war crimes, genocide and other violations of international law that involve permanent members.

Viet Nam’s representative, whose country is midway through its two‑year term as a non‑permanent Council member, expressed support for more members in the permanent and non‑permanent categories, together with equitable geographical representation, especially for the underrepresented, unrepresented and developing countries.

The Assembly began its annual debate on the agenda item “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council” on 16 November ahead of a new round of intergovernmental negotiations that were cut short earlier this year by the COVID‑19 pandemic. (See Press Release GA/12288.)

Also speaking today were representatives of the Philippines, Venezuela, Guatemala, Burundi, Lesotho, Congo and Malta.

The Assembly will reconvene on Monday, 23 November at 10 a.m. to, among other things, take action on a draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and other organizations. It will also consider a proposal from the Secretary‑General to extend the term of office of Filippo Grandi as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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