Security Council Reform: Statement by Ambassador Herman Schaper on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Herman Schaper
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations
on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands
to the General Assembly on the issue of “L69 proposals for Security Council Reform”
New York, 13 March 2012
I have the pleasure to speak on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
I would like to thank you for convening this meeting. Following the two earlier substantive, thought-provoking sessions on the proposals of the G4 and the UfC, today, we take a closer look at the letter of L69 of the 6th of September. We will also use this opportunity to seek some further clarification on the general position of the L69.
The essence of the proposal of the L69, as set out in their letter of 6 September 2011, is an enlargement of the Council in both the permanent and the non-permanent categories, and an improvement of the working methods of the Council. The similarity with the G4 proposal is obvious.
Still, in earlier documents, and also during the past debates, the L69 has provided us with details of their ideas that do show some differences with the G4. The L69 is very clear in asking extra permanent seats for Asia, Africa and Latin-America. More importantly, the L69 demands equal obligations and privileges for new and current permanent members, as the distinguished Permanent Representative of Jamaica underlined.
As we have said before, Belgium and the Netherlands are in favour of enlarging the Council with both permanent and non-permanent members. We therefore support that element in the L69 position, just as we support the G4 approach.
As far as the veto is concerned, however, the Netherlands and Belgium are of the opinion that an extension of the veto power to in total 11 possible Permanent Members of the Security Council would in the present circumstances not benefit the efficiency of the Council.
As we have repeatedly underlined: in the end, this whole reform should lead to a more efficient Council; a Council that, according to article 24 of the Charter, ensures prompt and effective action by the United Nations.
In the past, the L69 has declared that in principle, the use of the veto must be restricted, limited and discouraged. Belgium and the Netherlands think this is an interesting approach. The original Permanent Members should in our view be urged to limit, on a voluntary basis, the exercise of their veto power to actions taken under Chapter VII of the Charter and to abstain from using their veto power with respect to matters relating to crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes or ethnic cleansing. We would be interested to hear from the L69 how this limitation of the use of the veto could be put into practice.
Another question that arose while studying the proposal of L69, is how the group sees the selection or decision-making process to appoint the new permanent members of the Council. L69 speaks of permanent seats for Latin-America, Asia, and Africa. Does the L69 have any thoughts on which countries would be eligible? Will these regional groups choose the new permanent members through an internal process without involvement of the General Assembly? And could this lead to diverging practices among the different regional groups?
A third topic we would like to get some clarification on is the L69 idea to review the reform after 15 years. What is the purpose of this review? One could get the impression that the current L69 proposal is a final solution, rather than an intermediate one.
Lastly, the L69 is a broad coalition of countries from different regions in the South. Some of its members have also shown allegiance to other groups within the negotiation process on Security Council reform. Could the L69 elaborate on how to reconcile the apparent differences between the L69 and some of the ideas of these other groups?
We have stated this before: if we really want to come to a broadly supported reform of the Security Council, there will have to be a readiness for compromise from all sides. Of all proposals and ideas about Security Council reform, we still believe that, at this moment, the G4 proposal, which is supported by the L69, is the most concrete option for real progress, provided that all parties look at it with the necessary flexibility and openness. It is designed as a vehicle that can get negotiations going and that may set an incremental process in motion, which could eventually and hopefully lead to a lasting and balanced deal on Security Council reform along the lines of the existing mandate.
We again encourage the G4, with the help of the L69, to move its proposal forward, as a next step. Only by finally starting a real negotiation process will we find out how far we can come.