General Assembly: 38th Plenary Meeting, 77th Session

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18-Nov-2022 02:28:34
Concluding debate on Security Council reform, speakers in General Assembly urge more representation for developing countries, ending of permanent members’ veto power.

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(p)As the General Assembly today concluded its discussion on Security Council reform, Member States once again broadly agreed on the need to modernize the 15-member body to maintain the relevance of the United Nations in the twenty-first century but diverged over the appropriate use of the Council’s veto authority, especially in instances of mass atrocities.nbsp;(/p)

(p)The Assembly began its discussions on the need to reshape the Council, its sole body, with the authority to make decisions with legal force, in a way that enables it to better address current global challenges, on 17 November. (For more information, see Press Release GA/12472.)(/p)

(p)Georgia's representative said that unfolding events have made it clear that the Council is failing to live up to its raison d’être - the maintenance of international peace and security, with veto power reform particularly urgent. nbsp;The failed attempts to pass Council resolutions to stop the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine are a clear attestation to this, he said, cautioning against the use of the veto by a member who is involved in that conflict and hence is unable to exercise the power impartially.(/p)

(p)The representative of Ukraine said that his country’s experience speaks volumes, stressing that it is inappropriate that a country in the permanent seat has a privilege to exercise veto during consideration of a conflict it instigated. nbsp;Member States should focus on this issue during the next intergovernmental negotiations cycle of Council reform.nbsp;(/p)

(p)The veto is not a right, but rather a privilege unfairly granted to some Member States in violation of the United Nations Charter, the representative of Iran emphasized. nbsp;He also noted that the majority of the Council's members are Western nations.(/p)

(p)The veto power must go as it is anachronistic and counterproductive to the goal of maintaining international peace and security, said the delegate of Ghana. nbsp;But if it exists, it must be constrained by rules. nbsp;Given the entrenched interests made possible by permanent membership, some Council members may find it challenging to answer the question of what reform will look like. nbsp;“But the question that we should address is whether we want to keep a limited privilege over a dysfunctional system or to strive for a permanent influence over an effective instrument of world peace,” she said.(/p)

(p)However, the speaker for the Russian Federation opposed curtailing the veto power enjoyed by his delegation and other permanent Council members, especially since the prerogative incentivizes members to seek balanced solutions. nbsp;He agreed that Council reform is long overdue, but with a solution still lacking and the approaches of the main players still vastly divergent, if not at times diametrically opposed, there is no alternative to continuing to proceed patiently.(/p)

(p)Several Member States supported expanding both the permanent and non-permanent member categories when it came to the Council's membership. nbsp;Additionally, many speakers endorsed adding more seats for Africa.(/p)

(p)The representative of Zimbabwe said that Africa’s quest for two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats on the Council is a matter of right and wrong. nbsp;“The fact that Africa, a major geographic region, remains underrepresented and unrepresented in the permanent category of the Security Council is unjustified,” she stressed.(/p)

(p)Venezuela’s delegate said that Africa constitutes more than a quarter of the Organization’s Member States and over the years has been the subject of at least 70 per cent of the Council’s work. nbsp;Supporting Africa’s common position will lead to a correction of the persistent historical imbalances inherited from colonialism.(/p)

(p)The representative of France, a permanent member of the organ, supported the candidacies of Brazil, Germany, India and Japan for permanent membership as well as a stronger representation of African nations. nbsp;The Council's legitimacy must be strengthened, and measures must be taken to increase the Council's capacity to adequately carry out its duties in maintaining international peace and security, she said.(/p)

(p)Also speaking today were representatives from Poland, Syria, Saint Lucia, Philippines, Côte d’Ivoire, Mongolia, Guatemala, Belarus, Ireland, Senegal, Latvia, Cambodia, Barbados, Burundi, Congo, Zambia, Indonesia, Morocco, Kenya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nigeria.(/p)

(p)The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 21 November, to continue to discuss cooperation between the United Nations and regional and other organizations.(/p)
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