G4 Statement at the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on “the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council”, 26 January 2023

26.01.2023 - Speech

Statement delivered by Ambassador Leendertse, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations.

I deliver this statement on behalf of the G4 – India, Brazil, Japan, and my own country, Germany.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the presence of the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Csaba Kőrösi, in today’s inaugural IGN meeting of the 77th UNGA session. I also congratulate Ambassador Tareq Albanai of Kuwait and Ambassador Michal Mlynár of Slovakia for their appointment as Co-Chairs of the IGN. We have full confidence that, under your able guidance, we will be able to finally impart the much-needed momentum on reform discussions.

The G4 expects your strong leadership towards tangible outcomes during this session. Please rest assured that you will have the G4’s full support throughout the session.

In your letter of 5 December 2022, you have called on Member States to share views on the IGN process and to clarify their position on the cluster of Regional Representation, using the Co-Chairs’ Revised Elements Paper, circulated on 16 May 2022, as a starting point. On process, I would like to point out that the urgency of Security Council reform - which was once again clearly acknowledged by most of our leaders in the General Debate, last September, including developing and developed countries, from all regions of the globe, and most of the permanent members of this Council – is in absolute dissonance with the working procedures of the IGN.

It is curious to note that the membership expresses frustration on the inability of the Security Council to fulfil its charter-mandated obligations and yet is prepared to sit idly by observing the complete lack of progress in a process that could help to overcome the Council’s structure deficiencies.

We have been meeting in this informal format for 15 years now, with nothing concrete to show for our efforts. We do not even have a zero-draft consolidating the attributed positions of interested stakeholders, to base our discussions on. We do not have a single factual account or record of the IGN proceedings. This structural flaw in the format of the IGN contributes immensely to keep us going around in circles. We need to comprehensively change our approach to this process so that IGN discussions can finally live up to the importance and urgency of the matter. This appeal was clearly articulated in the recent document ‘A Call to Action’ signed by a diverse group of more than 30 UN members. In this regard, we would like to make a couple of concrete suggestions.

After 15 years since the creation of the IGN, it has become rather troubling to hear some delegations insist that basing discussions on a text would be premature. In any member-driven process, the progress of the whole undertaking must be captured in some way, and text-based discussions are the main tool members use to pave the way for tangible results. A common working text is the only means members have to fully express their views and their aspirations, and, by doing so, to take ownership of the process.

Our concrete suggestion is that we base our discussions on last year’s elements paper, circulated by the previous co-facilitators. We can discuss the document paragraph by paragraph, add members’ positions and transform it, by the end of the cycle, in a true member-driven text, with attribution, that will in due time allow for a real give and take process.

We also encourage, as much as possible, interactive debates, in order to test members’ positions and flexibilities. Members’ positions on all five clusters are well known and there is little need to repeat them, in the same context.
We need more dialogue and less prepared statements, and I cannot stress this highly enough.

Furthermore, as all five clusters are interlinked, we strongly suggest that the Co-Chairs see ways to discuss them in an integrated format, in order to explore the linkages and test possible compromises.

Finally, I feel the need to underscore that we have to be responsive to the needs of small delegations interested in the reform, but with limited means to follow the process. These delegations are only requesting that the very same tools generally available in UN discussions - such as webcasting, record keeping and the application of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly – be also available for the IGN. This is a simple and sensible request.

As the Security Council is called upon to respond to increasingly complex and challenging global issues, it is our shared responsibility to prevent one more wasted year of fruitless deliberations.
Failing to do so will call into question the continued relevance and credibility of the IGN process.

Turning to substance, on the cluster of regional representation, we would like to make the following points, in connection to the questions you posed in your 5 December letter and the still remaining divergences on the revised elements paper.

On cross-regional representation, the G4 is open to further exploring ways to improve cross-regional arrangements in order to ensure that the diversity of the General Assembly membership is adequately reflected in the Council. We also believe that Member States should give due consideration during the nomination and election of non-permanent members to adequate and continuing representation of small and medium size Member States, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Regarding African representation in a reformed Security Council, the G4 reaffirms its full support for the Common African Position. We believe that any outcome document of this IGN cycle should clearly recognize that there is an overwhelming support for the Common African Position, as enshrined in the Ezulwini Consensus and in the Sirte Declaration.

We also underscore the need to fully attribute all members expressing support for the Common African Position. On the concepts of “equitable geographical distribution” and “regional representation”, we would like to stress that equitable geographic distribution is a cornerstone of the international system because it is necessary for representativeness, legitimacy and efficacy. One need to look no further than the name of the very item we work under “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council”. Adequate regional representation is merely a means to guarantee equitable geographic distribution.

It is also important to clarify, in connection to divergence number 2 in page 10 of the Revised Elements Paper, that members of the Security Council act in their own national capacity on behalf of the entire membership. No member acts on behalf of a region. That is why Member states serving in the Council, in either permanent or non-permanent seats, were elected by the whole membership to perform this role. Article 24 of the Charter clearly states that Members of the Council have been granted the responsibility to act on behalf of the entire Membership, and not on a subset of the Membership, regional or otherwise.

We also want to point out that the discussions on equitable geographic representation are intrinsically linked to those regarding categories of membership. In order to adequately address the calls from different regions for better representation, the Security Council must be expanded in the permanent and non-permanent categories.

The expansion in both categories of membership is by far the one that garners the most support from Member States and is the only way to make the Council more representative, effective, transparent and legitimate.

We will be submitting these comments to you in writing, so that you are able to update the text with attribution of our positions. We once again urge all delegations and groups to directly engage with the Elements Paper so that we can begin the task of coming up with member owned document that includes all the positions, and can serve as a robust basis for future deliberations.

We look forward to our interactive session tomorrow, to have a deeper exchange of views on these issues.

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