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
“The Uniting for Consensus for Security Council Reform”
New York, 21 February 2012
I have the pleasure to speak on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
First of all I would like to thank you for convening this meeting. Our last meeting on the 26th of January was productive and constructive in the sense that it led to a frank exchange of views, shedding light on the views among the membership on the G4 proposal for Security Council Reform. We hope that the meeting today and the ones to follow, will be as fruitful.
Today, we take a closer look at the Uniting for Consensus letter of the 6th of September that sets out general principles for Security Council Reform. Many of these general principles are supported by Belgium and the Netherlands, and in fact by the broader membership. There is indeed an urgent need for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council.
We also subscribe to the principle that any outcome of this long debate should be supported by the largest possible majority. Full consensus might be too ambitious, and yes, the formal criterion is ratification by two-thirds of the members of the GA, including the Permanent Members, but the credibility and effectiveness of the Council will undoubtedly be strengthened if the reform is supported by a larger majority than that.
If we really want to come to a broadly supported reform of the Security Council, there will have to be a readiness from all sides to look at compromise solutions. This will not be easy, but only by finally starting a real negotiation process will we find out how far we can come.
Therefore, we welcome the eagerness for compromise expressed in the Uniting for Consensus group’s letter of September 6. Belgium and the Netherlands hope that this spirit of compromise will characterise the conduct of all groupings and member states in the coming discussions and negotiations.
In its Note Verbale on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus countries of the 15th of February, Italy drew our attention to the Colombian-Italian proposal of January 2010 for enlargement of the Council with longer-term seats and additional regular non-permanent seats. This excludes, if we understand the proposal correctly, new permanent members contrary to the proposals from the G4 and the African Group. Although this proposal contains certainly interesting elements, it requires further clarification and discussion.
Firstly, in our calculation the total size of the enlarged Council in this proposal comes down to at least 26 seats: 5 longer term seats and 6 regular non-permanent seats, 11 extra seats in total. Does this mean UfC opts for a large Council, which would see an increase in size of 70% or even more?
Secondly, as regards to option (b): term of two years with possibility of two re-elections. Would there not be a risk that this would lead to ongoing election campaigns while being member of the Council?
Thirdly, would countries, which run in the proposed new category, also be eligible to run for election for a regular non-permanent seat? Or do countries have to choose their category from the outset and is swapping categories impossible?
Fourthly, regarding the expansion of the regular non-permanent seats: what would be the impact on an already complicated system of the introduction of additional categories based on the size of states? Would for instance flip-flopping between one’s regional group and one’s size group be possible or would countries choose one of the groups from the outset?
Fifthly, as regards to arrangements for representation, do we understand it correctly that elections to all these seats will take place within the regional groups without an election in the General Assembly or with only a formal role for the General Assembly? And could this lead to diverging practices among the different regional groups?
These are five rather specific questions that we would like to ask to the representatives of the Uniting for Consensus today.
We would like to reiterate our position that REV. 3 reflects in our view all positions and proposals as put forward by Member States up to this stage, and that we would welcome further streamlining this text in order to make it a workable basis for negotiations.
One overarching principle that remains crucial for Belgium and the Netherlands is effectiveness of the Security Council. We should not forget that, in the end, this whole reform should lead to an efficient Council that can adequately respond to events and crisis in a rapidly changing world.
We are convinced that under your able chairmanship and with the support of the PGA, we will be able to finally make further progress. Only that way will we be able to preserve the credibility of the United Nations and improve the legitimacy of the Security Council.