Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter in the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform, February 16

16.02.2021 - Speech

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Dear Co-Chairs,

Distinguished colleagues,

Germany aligns itself with the statement delivered by Brazil on behalf of the G4. Allow me to add some thoughts of my own.

In your letter of 8 February, identifying the way forward for the IGN this year, you took the decision to “cluster the clusters”. I’d like to congratulate you for doing so. This decision has been long overdue and goes into the right direction. When decision 62/557 was taken in 2008, it never said anything about filling years and years of IGN sessions with the discussion of each and every one of the five “key issues” – thereby blocking any actual debate about context - and text. You rightly did away with these delaying tactics. Kudos to you!

Decision 62/557 also speaks about “good faith, mutual respect and an open, inclusive and transparent manner” in which the business of the IGN should be conducted. Right now, we are not living up to any of these demands. The complete absence of transparency is the most obvious violation. There is still no webcast, there is still no record-keeping. This is entirely anachronistic also in times of world-wide citizens’ engagement – from the UN@75 Declaration to the current UN Common Agenda process.


We were asked to speak about two clusters today – the categories of membership and the veto. So, for the non-existing record of the IGN, I’d like to point out - to no-one’s surprise -  that Germany believes there should be two categories of membership, namely permanent and non-permanent members. On the veto, Germany holds that it can be, and very often indeed is a hindrance to addressing global challenges head-on and in unison. We see ample evidence of this in the Council every day. However, its existence was essential for creating the necessary buy-in of the post-war great powers. Completely withholding this right from future permanent members would result in the creation of a third category of members.

It goes without saying that current - and future - permanent members would be free to decide to never use the veto, especially when grave human rights abuses are at stake. Some current permanent members have been doing that for years, and they have thus shown that they are truly responsible members of the international community. Germany has long been a supporter of pertinent veto restraint initiatives.

You have heard us make these arguments countless times. Indeed, we have talked about regional representation, categories of membership, the question of the veto, the size of the enlarged Council and its working methods as well as the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly endlessly in the past 13 years. This has held us back, as it did not leave any room for the real debate at hand: The debate about –: the text that is to be the long overdue result of all our deliberations.-Chairs,

It is important to devote all IGN sessions after the third session in March to this text. However, it is crucial to also talk about the content of documents, not just their status – or rather: the content of one single document that reflects all our commonalities and issues for further consideration. This single document would mirror all positions promoted on this floor in the last twelve years. We are not asking for any paper to merely reflect the G4 position, to the contrary. Indeed, we would be happy to have it contain as many different positions as possible so that we can then collectively select from the broad menu. The Common African Position should feature strongly. Diversity is a plus! As we have said so often, it is not about individual countries and their aspirations, but about our common framework for reform.


Now is the time to go the next logical step and circulate an updated version of the Revised Elements Paper, with attribution, in order to make it the basis of our remaining IGN rounds this year. We count on your continued determination to facilitate the process – in other words: to chart our way towards progress.

Undoubtedly, we will need more than just one single session to talk about such a text. Germany therefore strongly suggests holding IGN sessions in May and June as well so that the rollover in July can be thoroughly prepared. Current circumstances and COVID working methods make real exchanges difficult enough, no need to cut us short and waste important months.


I repeat what I said in this year’s first IGN meeting:

The G4 believes that if there isn’t a discussion of a single document with attribution 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 the debate will have to shift back to the General Assembly in a formal process.

By clustering the clusters and leaving room for a real discussion of the text, you have set us on a good course, which should enjoy everyone’s respect. As always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, however. We expect a single text from you after our third meeting in March. It should then be updated throughout all remaining rounds. We also expect to apply GA rules of procedure – after all, this is an informal plenary of the GA.

Everybody agrees that a reform of the Security Council is urgently needed.

At the same time, everybody can see that discussions in the IGN continue to be held in a format that has not allowed for any progress - not for one year, not for two years, but for 13 years.

This is why we urgently need to improve the format through text based negotiations based on a single document and the application of GA rules. These improvements are in the interest of everybody who wants to do the job we have been tasked to do: reform the Security Council – regardless of which vision they embrace in the substance.

Let me also put this the other way round: Nobody can seriously claim to be a champion of overdue Security Council reform while opposing to overcoming the obvious shortcomings of the IGN.

We count on you, co-chairs, to honor your responsibility and look forward to working with you on this process.

Thank you.

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