Statement to the General Assembly 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
on the issue of “Security Council Reform”
New York, 16 April 2013
I have the pleasure to speak on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
I would like to thank you for convening this long overdue session of the Intergovernmental Negotiations under your much appreciated leadership. Spring has arrived late this year and so have the Intergovernmental Negotiations. After a long period of hibernation, the IGN have finally woken up.
We also welcome your letter including the technical update of REV. 3 we received on the 13th of April.
Let us go back in time. Seven months ago, on the 13th of September, the GA took an important step by prolonging the mandate of our open-ended working group and, in doing so, particularly took note of the proposals you, Chair, made in your letter of July 25th.
Indeed, during the 66th session, considerable progress was made through in-depth discussions of the different proposals, and in your substantial concluding letter I just mentioned. The 67th session has so far delivered the opposite result: no meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiations and a complete loss of momentum.
Belgium and the Netherlands deplore this setback. The negotiations on Security Council Reform are far too important to be put on a backburner. We should keep in mind that the agreed goal of our endeavor is a modernized and more legitimate Security Council, which reflects the geopolitical realities of the 21st century, and thus contributes to a more credible United Nations and a reinforced international system.
The current status-quo is therefore not an acceptable option. In the 2005 World Summit Outcome, there was a clear consensus among world leaders that an early reform of the Security Council is an essential element of overall efforts to reform the UN in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and transparent. To finally make progress, we need to look beyond our narrow national interests, and we need to be willing to look at compromises which ensure the largest possible support for a reform of the Security Council.
Having said this, the 67th session is not lost yet. Let us concert all our efforts to make progress during the coming months, with your Chairmanship in which I express my full confidence.
What are the options on the table today? You put forward several recommendations in your letter of July 2012. We would like to use this opportunity to further elaborate on them and see what else we could do.
First and foremost, we would like to take a look at your proposal to take the next logical step, by having a genuine give and take based on a concise working document. We believe that we will only be able to start real negotiations on the basis of a text which is suited for that purpose. What we need now is a working document that is concise, and yet broad enough, to be accepted as a starting point by all parties. Such a document would be a sound basis for our further work and would mark the beginning of the next phase of the negotiations.
If we really want to move forward, such a document is a clear condition. Any country that is in favour of an early reform of the Security Council should also be in favour of the elaboration of such a document.
Who should draft this concise working document? You recommended that this working document should be drafted by the Chair, in keeping with the membership-driven character of our process. This option implies an important role for the Chair. In this context we would like to reiterate that a membership driven process can very well take place with a strong role of the chair. Indeed, a strong and effective chairmanship is in many ways essential for the success of membership-driven negotiations.
There is also the option of establishing a Group of Friends of the Chair of the IGN, with a clear mandate and objective in support of the Chair of the negotiations. In order to be successful, we think that all relevant groups that are active in the IGN process should be represented in such a format with the aim of helping the Chair to guide the process in a way to obtain the broadest possible support. It would strengthen the membership-driven character of the process.
This group could also explore other options, such as the intermediate solution. Belgium and the Netherlands reiterate their readiness to assist in this effort.
In this regard we welcome your update Rev 3. We hope this is a first step towards a concise working document. Although it is still a rather broad document it has the advantage of being inclusive. While in our view Rev 3 is not yet a document that can serve as the basis for a real negotiation, it could be further streamlined through consultations with the different groups on their positions. Further technical steps should allow us to start a process in which similar considerations and proposals are grouped and merged.
A third suggestion that has been made to give a new impetus to the negotiations is setting a deadline; for instance 2015, which is ten years after the World Summit.
A fourth option touched upon your letter of July 2012 is increased involvement at the level of our capitals. You recommended organizing a high level conference if enough progress was made. Given the slow progress so far, this is not an option at this point of time, but it is an idea we could and should keep in mind, for a later occasion.
Another way to promote more involvement of our capitals could be the appointment of a high level envoy that will travel to different countries to listen to the different views on Security Council reform. He or she could be mandated to present concrete proposals at the end of his tour.
Some of the ideas just mentioned may be more feasible or concrete than others. But after the silence of the past months, we believe it is important to engage in some kind of brainstorming exercise on all these different proposals to see how we can best make progress.
We truly hope that all speakers today, and in particular the important groups UfC, L69, C10 and G4 will put forward concrete proposals on how to proceed, rather than repeating well-known, old positions.
If countries and groups are genuinely committed to Security Council reform, as we have heard in so many of statements these past years, we need to admit, as we have said before in this statement, that there will be no reform without compromises on all sides. Making concessions will be necessary.
If we are not prepared to do so, one wonders whether at this point in time, it makes sense to continue with our debates.
So, let’s now do our utmost in the coming 4/5 months so that the 67th session will not become a lost session.
We call on you, Mr. Chairman, to convene another two debates this session. Possible topics for our next debates could be precisely the proposals put forward by you last summer: the concise working document and how to realize it; and how to achieve more involvement at the level of our capitals. It might also be interesting to have a session on different intermediate models.
We count on you, Mr. Chairman, to lead us forward and to make sure that by next summer, we can look back at our work and the progress made with satisfaction.
I thank you.