Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen on behalf of the G4 in the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform, January 25

26.01.2021 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

Mr President,

Co-Chairs, excellencies, distinguished colleagues,

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

Of course, I would like to start out by congratulating once again Ambassadors Joanna Wronecka, Permanent Representative of Poland, and Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar, for their courage and dedication to take on the role as IGN co-chairs in what constitutes the 13th year of this format. As I already said in the General Assembly in November, the early appointment of the co-chairs and their speedy issuance of a letter on the way forward on 8 December are to be welcomed – as is the fact that in that letter, you indicated that you intend to “instill new life” into the discussion of Security Council reform, as we have all been tasked with by our respective Heads of State and Government in the UN@75 Declaration.


The ball is now in your field. You have the opportunity to really make progress this time, to work with all reform-minded countries to actually bring about progress. We trust that you will directly pick up where we left the IGN process in mid-air in March of 2020. We insist that following the trodden path of five IGN rounds, each discussing one of the five clusters will not at all be helpful. It would merely mean going round in circles and repeating arguments we heard countless times. Going round in circles somewhere on Coney Island is a better use of time. So we trust that you do not have the intention to waste your valuable time – and everybody else’s for that matter, in sticking with this approach. We suggest a concrete way forward by merging the two documents rolled over last year– in order to start discussing text. The two papers could easily be merged into one, and comments could be provided by delegations in IGN sessions – or even between rounds in writing. I would like to hear also from other groups and member states what they would feel about such an approach going forward.

Otherwise, what we are fearing now is that – despite all your best efforts, which we of course continue to appreciate – you will not be able to break the curse that seems to hold the IGN under its spell. If we once again devote each of the five IGN sessions to cluster-discussions, we will end up exactly where we were in 2020.


This would mean that we would need to face the fact that the IGN is no longer the forum in which Security Council reform can realistically be achieved. A dozen years of repetition have proven this beyond any doubt.

Of course any delegation saying that the IGN in its current arrangement is the one and only forum to negotiate Security Council reform is effectively preventing any reform from happening. And this is most likely also their intention. However, they are thus accepting the Council to become less and less legitimate and undermine its authority. And they are also simply wrong: the IGN was established by the General Assembly, and the General Assembly can decide to establish something else. It is the master of its processes – and of its working methods. We have shown a great deal of adaptability over recent months, also in the GA, adapting to our new “virtual world” in which we had to work recently. How come the IGN is incapable of doing the same? Just because a few do not want it to?

However, we have a job to do. Our Heads of State and Government have clearly asked us to. We cannot, therefore, allow the IGN to be nothing but a smokescreen, blocking any progress and catching delegations in an endless déjà-vu.

Two things can save the IGN as a format:

  • negotiations that deserve that name, of a single document with attributions, to be shared by the co-chairs with the member states immediately after the third and well before the fourth IGN session this year. To that end, we request that all of the five clusters be discussed in the first three IGN rounds and you, Co-Chairs, update the document after every round. This single document would contain all the various positions issued on this floor in the last twelve years. We are not asking for any paper to merely reflect the G4 Position.
  • the application of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly. Only by moving away from handing everybody a veto, and giving the power to change things to the majority, can we achieve any progress.

If these two things cannot be achieved this year, the IGN will have run its course for us. Let me be very clear.

I said it before and I will say it again: prior consensus is not needed to talk about text. Just imagine how absurd it would have been for the drafters of the UN Charter 75 years ago to have full agreement before they had even had their first drafting session. There were other extremely difficult issues – from migration or COVID to Agenda 2030 to the UN@75 declaration – where co-facilitators listened – and then put pen to paper. That is their job: to present a text.

One point unfortunately still needs stressing in this forum: Africa needs to sit at the Security Council table – and it needs to do so permanently. The G4 is fully behind this request and supports the Common African Position as enshrined in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration. The L.69 do so as well, as do other groups. If you do not support two permanent African seats with veto powers, you do not support Africa. Period.


To put it in a nutshell: the G4 believes if there isn’t a discussion  of a single document before the fourth meeting of the IGN this year and the application of GA rules of procedure, the IGN will have run its course and then the debate will have to shift back to the General Assembly in a formal process. We know that there is strong support for this in the room. Strong support for making headway. It is our firm belief that in order to “instill new life” in the debate, we need to start a proper conversation and negotiation based on a single text with GA rules of procedure.

As the G4, we stand ready to work with you on this in an open, transparent and result-oriented approach.

Thank you.

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