By Mie Hansen
12 March 2012
On 21 February 2012 the third meeting in the eighth round of the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform was held, dedicated to the reform initiative of the Uniting for Consensus group. Based on statements delivered by Member States at the meeting as well as conversations with delegates and observers to the process, this report provides a summary of the meeting as well as an update on the current state of the negotiations.
As recently described by the Center , the Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council Reform, Afghan Ambassador Zahir Tanin, informed the Member States in late December 2011 that the subsequent five meetings in the negotiation round would be dedicated to each of the proposals of the five major reform initiatives, namely the G4, the Uniting for Consensus group (UfC), the L.69 group, the Committee of Ten African Permanent Representatives (C-10), and the Small Five group (S5). Accordingly, the first meeting was held on 26 January 2012 , dedicated to the G4 proposal, followed by the meeting 21 February 2012, as described below, dedicated to the proposal of the Uniting for Consensus group.
The current negotiations confirm that deep divisions still exist between the major interest groups on Security Council reform, and some delegates complain that the negotiations are in a deadlock due to the unwillingness from all sides to move away from entrenched positions. However, others take special notice of attempts from the opposing groups to approach each other and rumor has it that some Member States might secretly be more willing to seek a compromise than they indicate in the forum of the intergovernmental negotiations.
Meeting 21 February 2012
At the meeting on 21 February 2012, dedicated to the reform proposal of the Uniting for Consensus group, Italy delivered the statement on behalf of the UfC . The basis for the statement was the so-called Italy/Colombia proposal (A/64/CRP 1)  which Italy stressed was a “visible step forward” from the group’s 2005 position (A/59/L68)  showing the group’s willingness to compromise. Further the UfC underlined that its current proposal was not just a “take it or leave it proposal, but an invitation to negotiate and build a compromise”, as Italy put it.
The UfC stated that an enlargement of the Security Council should only take place in the non-permanent category, creating this way a more representative, accountable and accessible Council. The UfC suggested creating a new category of seats with a longer mandate of up to 6 years in addition to the expansion of regular non-permanent seats. Subject to negotiation, the UfC suggested either a 3-5 year term without the possibility of immediate re-election or a 2 year term with the possibility of up to two immediate re-elections. To be eligible for re-election, Member States would have to give a break equivalent to the consecutive period served on the Council. The longer term seats would be allocated to the regional groups, while the regular non-permanent seats would instead be allocated to Small States (population under 1 million) and medium-sized States (population between 1 and 10 million). Reportedly, some Member States were left a bit confused by this allocation plan not knowing exactly what category they fit into.
With regard to improving the working methods of the Council, the UfC proposed both more transparency and better access to the Council. The UfC further argued that a reformed Council, as the group proposed it, would enable greater accountability and hence better working methods – which in turn would improve the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly. In regard to the veto issue, the UfC said that either the veto should be abolished or its scope should be limited.
Concerning the issue of improving African representation on the Council, the UfC said that its proposal offered a realistic compromise that would meet the overall interests of the African Continent rather than the interests of single countries. With the UfC proposal Africa would be assigned 2-3 of the longer term seats on a rotational basis. The selection/rotation of the African representatives could be done by the African Union or the African Group for submission to the General Assembly for election. This might include Africa’s decision to allow its representatives to serve on the Council for any number of terms, with prior negotiation on general re-election modalities. The UfC stressed that it was ready to engage with Africa and namely the C-10 on making the proposal operational and seeking commonalities.
Several other UfC Member States delivered statements at the meeting, stressing their support for the Italy-Colombia proposal, among them, Spain , Mexico, Colombia, the Republic of Korea and Pakistan .
Pakistan  stressed that the only thing all delegations could agree on was expanding the number of non-permanent seats in the Security Council, and that for this reason, the Italy-Colombia paper was a realistic basis for forward movement in the reform process. Pakistan said that the UfC recognized the major differences existing among the Member States on the issues of categories but said that these obstacles could be transcended by following the UfC proposal. In regard to regional representation, Pakistan said that the UfC proposal would ensure representation of all underrepresented groups, especially Africa, and that the group’s proposal also offered realistic prospects for Small States to be secured presence in the Council. Pakistan said that the UfC was not blind to the differences between the UfC and the African group, but stressed the UfC’s willingness to try and bridge these differences. The UfC recognized the African demand to be treated as a special case and on priority basis.
Commenting on the UfC proposal were also the G4 members. Japan  highlighted, among other things, the Council’s recent failure to take action on Syria as a testament of the need for reform. Japan said that the in order for the Council to be effective it must represent the world of today. Japan further argued that nothing would really change without expanding the number of permanent seats in the Council and that without Africa represented in the permanent category, a reformed Council could not be deemed democratic or legitimate. Japan also said that from its national perspective the way to realize expansion in both categories ”may vary” and that although the goal of the G4 was an expansion in both membership categories, the group was tackling the issue in a flexible manner and remained open and ready to discuss.
Japan thanked the UfC for its stated flexibility but at the same time questioned to what extent the UfC proposal could be flexible and accomodating to other ideas. Japan asked if the UfC members were prepared to explore diverse possibilities and discuss various models, such as a ”stepping stone” model with a comprehensive review. Further, Japan said that it was not clear how the UfC would intend to oprationalize its proposal and how it would promote its initiative in concrete terms.
India , also a G4 member, commented on the UfC proposal concerning African representation on the Council, asking why the UfC said Africa had a “special case”. It was a matter of democracy – that Africa, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean should be permanently represented on the Council, India said. Concerning the fact that several UfC members stating that they did not want a straw poll because it would be divisive, India asked how the negotiations then could proceed. “The only way of verifying whether party A is right or party B is right is to test their strength through a vote”, India argued. India stressed that the Chair of the negotiations, Ambassador Tanin, for the first time, had an opportunity to take the process forward and to ensure that the Council would become more democratic, effective, representative and legitimate. But for that it was essential to reform the central core of the Council, namely, the composition of the existing permanent membership, India concluded.
Another G4 member, Germany , commented on the letter sent from the UfC to the Chair of the Negotiations in September 2011, saying that the letter had left the impression that the UfC initiative was the holding of the Rome Conference in May last year. Germany, who participated in the Conference, said that the oral conclusions issued after the meeting were not an outcome document as it had been referred to but a subjective assessment made by the host of the meeting, Italy. Germany also made a comment on the UfC being against streamlining the Rev.3 document, saying that conducting negotiations on the basis of a 30 pages document would not lead anywhere. Continuing, Germany said that some ideas presented by UfC members were not included in the Italy-Colombia proposal and asked what the UfC position was one these proposals. Germany specifically mentioned a proposal from Mexico, presented at the Rome Conference in May last year, suggesting an extension of the term of normal non-permanent seats to 4 years plus forming a new category of non-permanent members to be elected for 8-10 years with the possibility of immediate re-election.
Mexico later replied to this question, saying that the proposal put forward at the Rome Conference was an expression of the UfC’s openness to negotiations. As it had also been stressed by Italy in the presentation of the Italy/Colombia proposal, the UfC was open to discuss the length of the term of seats and the proposal presented by Mexico should be seen in this context.
Another Member State delivering its statement at the meeting was Liechtenstein , advocating for a compromise model, creating a new category of long-term, renewable seats with terms considerably longer than 3-5 years the UfC suggested. These longer terms would both allow members of this new category to acquire institutional memory but also the longer term length would make this approach interesting to those Member States advocating for permanent seats. In regard to reforming the working methods of the Council, Liechtenstein, as a member of the S5 group, expressed its appreciation for the ideas contained in the UfC proposal dealing with working methods reform. Liechtenstein, though, warned against making progress on working methods conditional on a breakthrough in the area of enlargement.
Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of the African Group lamented that the UfC proposal was moving away from trying to right the injustice done to the African Continent. This was backed by Egypt  who said that merely referring to Africa as a “special case” or offering expressions of sympathy was simply not enough. Egypt stressed that the UfC proposal did not meet the African demand for at least 2 permanent seats and 5 non-permanent seats. In regard to the veto, Egypt said that Africa agreed with the UfC suggestion to abolish the veto – but stressed that as long as the veto existed it should be fully extended to all new permanent members. Egypt underlined that this was one of the major differences between the UfC and the African position - but also the major difference between the African position and the G4 and the L.69 draft resolution suggesting permanent seats without the veto right.
Egypt then said that despite the differences between the Italy/Colombia proposal and the African position, Egypt noted openness and transparency in the UfC. Egypt was not sure, though, if the UfC position was considered an intermediate approach and if so, what the modalities and guarantees were to have full veto right after the intermediate phase.
The Permanent Members of the Security Council (P5) delivered, as usual, very short statements at the meeting, on the one hand confirming their commitment to Security Council reform in general terms but on the other hand stating for example that the current veto structure cannot be changed. France and the United Kingdom continue to express their support for the G4 proposal.
As this report reveals, Member States are still very much divided on the question of Security Council reform. The meeting 21 February 2012 was to a certain extent characterized by Member States and their various groupings repeating already known positions and some delegates complain of the deadlocked situation. However, some observers of the process take special notice of what seems to be attempts from parts of the opposing groups to clear the way for a possible compromise. As an example of this, one observer mentioned the proposal of UfC member Mexico to have longer term non-permanent seats up to 10 years with the possibility of immediate re-election. Presented at the Conference in Rome last year, this is not a novel proposal, but the observer still stressed this as an important attempt from a member of the UfC to open up for a compromise. In regard to the G4, another observer noted a change of tone in statement made by Japan at the meeting 21 February, expressing a slightly more open approach to the question Security Council reform than earlier. At the same time, rumor has it that some Member States might secretly be more willing to seek a compromise than they actually indicate in the forum of the intergovernmental negotiations.
Next meeting in the intergovernmental negotiations will be held tomorrow, 13 March 2012, and will be dedicated to the initiative of the L.69 group.
|A64CRP1.pdf ||182.8 KB|
|A59L68.pdf ||120.1 KB|
|Pakistan Statement 02.21.2012.pdf ||89.8 KB|
|Statement India 02.21.2012.pdf ||93.78 KB|
|Statement Liechtenstein 02.21.2012.pdf ||259.67 KB|
|Egypt Statement 02.21.2012.pdf ||86.08 KB|